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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 20:24 GMT
Mozambique's devastated economy
Flooded roads
Floods have submerged much of the country's infrastructure
Foreign donors have promised more than $100m to help Mozambique after the floods that have devastated the country and its economy - previously one of the fastest growing in the world.

But according to Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano, this money will not be enough to rebuild the country's shattered infrastructure. He has appealed for about $250m in aid.

A large part of the money provided will have to be used to repair roads, bridges and railway lines which have been swept away, leaving large areas isolated.

Various roads in the country have been destroyed, including important links between the north and the south and the vital route to South Africa, which is reduced to light traffic only.

The road between Beira and Xai-Xai has been repaired for light traffic and by Thursday the link between Beira and Macia will also be reopened.

But it is still impossible to know when important links such as Sofala-Inhambane and Xai-Xai-Palmeiras will be open.

These roads are crucial for transport between the capital Maputo and Macia, 250km to the north.


chissano
President Chissano has asked for $250m in aid
Another link between north and south has been cut off in five different places in the central province of Sofala.

Helicopters remain the only way to transport goods or people between those points.

Railway damages

The floods have also done extensive damage to the state owned Mozambican Ports and Railway Company (CFM).

Its chairman, Rui Fonseca, said the company is losing about $50,000 a day because the floods paralysed the rail system.

The worst damaged line is the Limpopo, which links Maputo to Zimbabwe. Four kilometres of the line are submerged and a further four kilometres are hanging over huge gullies.

Mr Fonseca says it will take at least a month to repair the damage.

He adds that "under normal circumstances, repairing a kilometre of track costs between $300,000 and $400,000".

The state owned electricity company EDM has estimated that the damage caused by the floods to the transmission lines from the Cahora Bassa dam is about $1m.

Agriculture

The government also needs money to keep a long-term food aid programme, as it is estimated that a quarter of Mozambican agriculture has been damaged.

According to the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP), the country has lost at least a third of the staple maize crop and 80% of its cattle.

External debts

As part of a relief programme to Mozambique, several countries have already announced that they will forgive part of the country's external debts.

On Tuesday, the US became the latest country to announce it was prepared to write off all of Mozambique's debts.

"We are prepared to relieve 100% of US bilateral debt at the earliest possible multilateral opportunity," the US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers said.

However, Mozambique has a relatively small amount to pay to the US - about $5m, according to the estimates of the US Treasury.

The country's total debt is about $8bn, most of it owed to Russia, as the former Soviet Union was a close ally during the cold war.

This year alone, the country has to pay $87m to creditors - about $57m to different nations and $30m to multilateral institutions.

This situation has prompted Mr Chissano to ask all west countries to cancel Mozambique's debt.

The Mozambican Government says this is vital for the country's economy to get back on track.

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02 Aug 99 |  Africa
Mozambique debt written off
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