His Excellency Carlos dos Santos, High Commissioner of Mozambique with Hugh Richmond Business Development Manager of Clarke Energy in Knowsley
For the past two days it has been my pleasure to break off from normal politics to do something really useful! I have been hosting a visit to Liverpool by The High Commissioner (Ambassador) of Mozambique to the UK, Sr Carlos Dos Santos and his lovely wife Isabel.
There were really three purposes for the visit:
Firstly, to let people know about Mozambique and I certainly learnt a lot! It is the only former Portuguese Colony to join the Commonwealth (although there are two French former colonies and two more former French colonies wanting to join). It is twice the land mass of the UK with only 25,000,000 people living in it and it is a place of great opportunity. Its economy has grown at between 7 and 8% a year for the last decade. They have vast mineral deposits and now have found natural gas reserves which will make them the third biggest producer of LNG in the World with more potential reserves being explored in coming years. They want help; they need help and they are very hopeful that the UK will be able to provide on terms that are mutually beneficial. They have a large natural deep water port being constructed in North Mozambique with not only a new international airport which opened last weekend but in the time we have talked about HS2 they have constructed a 900km railway line to service it! The High Commissioner visited the Echo and appeared on the Roger Phillips Show to talk about these opportunities.
Secondly, we then visited two Universities, Liverpool JMU and Liverpool Hope. Only the shortage of time prevented a visit to the Liverpool University. The opportunities for joint activity are great. Mozambique is massively expanding its education services as you might expect with financial support available and a high birth rate. They need help in establishing their education infrastructure; in filling it with trained teachers and then in providing undergraduate and post graduate relationships in the next few years across a wide range of disciplines. Both the Universities can help with these and both showed a readiness to take things further in the New Year.
Thirdly, we looked at trade opportunities. In this we were greatly helped by Lynne Gillen the Africa specialist of UKTI in the North West. In the morning we visited the Chamber of Commerce. Here we looked at ways in which the High Commissioner can work with the Chamber of Commerce to support local companies wishing to export products and services to his Country. A number of very practical proposals will eb followed up in the New Year. We next visited Liverpool Vision where an explanation as given of IFB 2016. The High Commissioner was very interested in this and promised to take details back not only to his own Government but to look at ways in which all the High Commissioners and Ambassadors from Africa in the UK could involve their Countries in what should be a great event.
In the afternoon we visited 2 great companies. Clarke Energy in Kirkby is already targeting Mozambique and the High Commissioner, who rapidly saw that the localised electricity generation capacity was just what was required has offered to help with further introductions to both public and private sector contacts. The second company in Speke is Yanco, a company which produces very low cost mosquito extermination products. Again the High Commissioner saw tremendous opportunities here and has offered to look for local distributors which can not only sell the product but also deal with the necessary licensing of the product by the Ministry of Health.
So what will happen as a result of this visit? Well its early days yet but the High Commissioner thinks that the following are possible:
• Work with the Chamber of Commerce to identify companies that can export to Mozambique
• A visit to Liverpool by all the High Commissioners from Southern Africa
• A visit to Liverpool from a deep water port in North Mozambique; representatives of that council; representatives of a University and a College; representatives of the Government; representatives of businesses looking for two way trade opportunities.
• Clarke Energy and Yanco may be assisted in exhibiting their products in (Southern) Africa in a number of ways in the early summer.
• Enhanced African participation in IFB 2016.
So altogether not a bad two days’ work. I believe that Africa will become much more important in economic terms over the next 20 years than it has been hitherto. There is tremendous affection for the UK through the Commonwealth – an affection which can appropriately take advantage of to stimulate our own trade and industry. We spend far too much time looking at opportunities in China which never seem to materialise. There is a whole continent where our Country has many friends. The visit by Sr dos Santos shows that these opportunities can be realised to the mutual benefit of the UK and Africa. I look forward to welcoming a much bigger delegation back to Liverpool from Mozambique next year.
It also shows me how right we are to develop a Liverpool Commonwealth Association here to improve and develop those links. There are another 53 Commonwealth Countries out there. If we can develop the links with them that we can clearly make with Mozambique then the Liverpool City Region can have a rich future indeed.
If any business person reading this would like to know more about trading with Mozambique in general or southern Africa more generally please let me know and I would be delighted to include you in future discussions. I must make it clear that I will do this as a councillor free of charge and not as a consultant looking for paying clients!!