chapter  14
20 Pages

Industrialisation, state intervention and the demise of manufacturing development in Mozambique


Having been, in the early 1970s, the sixth most industrialised economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, industrialisation concerns have traditionally occupied a prominent place in policy debates in Mozambique. Manufacturing development in Mozambique has its origin in the late colonial period, during which there was a fast expansion of manufacturing activities encompassing a relatively broad number of industrial sectors. Independence from Portugal in 1975 led to a massive disruption of economic activity and a fundamental shift in Mozambique’s political economy. Yet, industrialisation concerns remained at the top of the economic policy agenda of post-independence governments: first, as a set of interventions aimed at salvaging the industrial infrastructure inherited from the colonial period and resuming manufacturing activity; later as a fundamental component of a broader strategy aimed at achieving rapid economic growth and ending underdevelopment by the 1990s through a process of accelerated industrialisation. Since the mid-1980s, the government has pursued an agenda of comprehensive economic reform and liberalisation. Whilst the adoption of this new approach has involved a radical change in the government’s approach to economic development, private sector development remains an important part of its developmental strategy. Liberalisation has coincided with a recovery of economic activity and of aggregate levels of industrial development, but also with a process of growing concentration of manufacturing activities, and a thinning of Mozambique’s manufacturing base.