South Africa : Mpumalanga's Maputo Development Corridor project to grow economy

By Luyanda Makapela

Nelspruit - The Mpumalanga Provincial Government will launch the Maputo Development Corridor, one of the province's "Big Five" flagship projects, which aims to unleash economic development while growing the regional economy.

According to the provincial government, the project, which will be launched on Tuesday in Nelspruit, is regarded as one of the largest spatial investment initiatives in the Southern Africa region.

The corridor will link the Maputo harbor through a road to Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

The flagship projects include the Maputo and Moloto Development Corridors, Water for All, Accelerated Capacity Building, Heritage-Greening Mpumalanga and Tourism.

The launch, officiated by the Mpumalanga Premier Thabang Makwetla, is a provincial initiative announced in February 2008, during the premier's State of the Province Address.

This after the 'Big Five' flagship projects were adopted by the Mpumalanga provincial cabinet in September 2006.

The projects aim to enhance the economic potential of the of the Maputo Corridor while unlocking its potential to make a lasting impact in support other government efforts to grow the regional economy.

The flagship projects were recently given a major boost, when the provincial government during its Mid-Term Budget Review in November and allocated an additional R52 million for the remainder of the 2008/9 financial year.

According to the Office of the Premier, the launch is taking place just weeks after the province renewed and signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maputo as part of efforts to maximise investment opportunities along the corridor while increasing South Africa's economic cooperation within the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Among other sub-projects of the Maputo Development Corridor Flagship, to be launched, are a food technology centre, tourism info centre at the Lebombo border, truck stops and rest areas along the N4.

It will further create an English-Portuguese Language Institute, Freight and Logistics Call Centre, and new financing model for community based projects along the corridor.

The launch of the flagship will be preceded by a second round of technical cooperation meeting of senior officials from Maputo and Mpumalanga, aimed at finalising the details and implementation plan of the recently signed MoU.

The Mpumalanga Provincial Government has recently commissioned an economic scoping study on behalf of all the municipalities situated along the N4 Corridor in order to open the economic competitive boundaries of each municipality, taking advantage of the available funds and specialist project management unit established to fast track projects and investment. - BuaNews