Mozambican government plans to create Special Economic Zone in former Textáfrica neighbourhood

The neighbourhood of former cotton factory Soalpo, later called Textáfrica, in Chimoio, the provincial capital of Manica, will be transformed into a Special Economic Zone, the Mozambican Prime Minister announced during a meeting with former workers of the textile factory that has been at a standstill for over 20 years.

The idea of transforming the neighbourhood into an industrial duty-free zone is intended, according to Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, to create conditions for national and foreign investments that enable the emergence of companies and job creation for locals, especially young people, some of whom are descendants of former company workers.

The prime minister, quoted by daily newspaper Notícias, announced that all industrial, commercial and other developments that will be implemented in the future Soalpo Special Economic Zone will be exempt from taxes and customs duties on equipment imports.

Do Rosário announced that the Government has already paid US$1 million to Banco Internacional de Moçambique (BIM), that Textáfrica owed to the bank, resulting from a loan secured by the houses where the former workers currently reside.

Last July, the President of Mozambique announced that the Government was looking for solutions to monetise Textáfrica’s facilities, and even admitted the possibility of changing the activity in order to make the facilities of practical use.

Over the years the factory has been the focus of a series of announcements of intent by provincial and national officials.

In February 2019, Manica Provincial Governor Manuel Rodrigues stated that South African textile-related companies, which he did not identify, had expressed an interest in reactivating the factory and had even visited the textile facility, once one of the largest factories in the sector in Africa.

In February 2018, the Prime Minister of Mozambique, Carlos Agostinho do Rosário, said that he had met with the provincial government, managers and other stakeholders in the process, “to understand the situation and to take appropriate measures to revive the sleeping monster, in order for it to operate and create jobs.”

In April 2016, then-provincial governor of Manica Alberto Mondlane announced that the central government was conducting studies to restore Textáfrica to operation.

The stoppage of two textile factories, Textáfrica and Empresa Moçambicana de Malhas (EMMA), both originally owned by the same Portuguese group, led the cotton crop to be reduced in that area of Mozambique, and their bankruptcy resulted in the dismissal of more than 3,000 workers.

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