Mozambique: Improving our understanding of the potential of manufacturing.

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Mozambique's manufacturing industry is facing many challenges. Nevertheless, we should not underestimate its linkages to the rest of the economy and its potential in terms of job creation and structural transformation.

On 23 April 2018, the Inclusive Growth in Mozambique (http://igmozambique.wider.unu.edu/) project hosted a public forum to share the results of its report on the business landscape for Mozambican manufacturing firms (http://igmozambique.wider.unu.edu/report/survey-mozambican-manufacturing-firms-2017). Project partners, business owners, students, researchers, the media, as well as policy makers participated in the debates of the public forum in Maputo.

What I really liked in this event was that so many people seemed to be deeply interested and keen to know more about the private sector, and especially manufacturing firms in Mozambique. Already at the start of the project we knew that there's not a lot of existing data and statistics on manufacturing firms that would be publicly available or known. But it has been particularly striking, however, to realize how deep the lack of reliable information is or is perceived to be. Both the policy makers and business community acknowledged that this certainly doesn't help policy formation or analysis, nor does it support business development.

The 2017 Survey of Mozambican Manufacturing Firms (IIM 2017) is one step to overcome the lack of information on the subject. It builds on data collected in 2012 to trace how the changing economic conditions have affected the development of firms in the manufacturing sector. The survey encompasses economic performance of the sector, its commercial relations and business networks, credit and finance, informality, workforce, as well as its leadership characteristics.

Hit by the economic crisis

It was also very alarming to hear that the recent economic crisis that escalated in Mozambique in 2015 had a much bigger effect on manufacturing activity and especially on the workforce than generally thought. Many enterprises closed down, with surviving firms being forced to reduce the number of workers and substitute full-time with part-time workers. In addition Mozambique did not improve its business and legal environment in recent years, and thus its ranking in the Doing Business classification (http://wvvw.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/mozambique) did not improve...

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