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Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

What happens when Nordic countries work with Mozambique?

Bilateral cooperation between Mozambique and Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) is now into its 70th decade. When Mozambique was fighting for political Independence (1964-1975) from Portuguese colonialism, Nordic countries began providing diverse forms of assistance to Mozambican people - including medical services and treatment, educational assistance, food support, and other humanitarian help. On gaining independence, State-to-State cooperation started up. In almost four decades of cooperation, there have been many positive developments. Recently, we interviewed three Nordic Ambassadors and a political advisor in Maputo - namely Matti Kääriäinen (Ambassador of Finland), Mogens Pedersen (Ambassador of Denmark), Tove Bruvik Westberg (Ambassador of Norway), and Karin Bolin (political advisor at the Swedish Embassy). We asked, what has Nordic cooperation brought, and what will it bring, to Mozambique? The Ambassadors replied with the following accounts:

Denmark: transparency and access to information

According to Ambassador of Denmark in Maputo, Mogens Pedersen, the Nordic experience of inclusive and sustainable development has been shared with Mozambique - but "not everything can be transferred mechanically". Mozambique has been reaching strong economic growth in the last decade, but it is not yet a wholly inclusive economy. Danish cooperation helps to transform the strong economic growth in Mozambique into inclusive growth. The natural resources that Mozambique has (especially, gas and coal) should benefit everyone.

"These resources should be used for inclusive growth," said the Ambassador - adding that Denmark works with Mozambique "to promote transparency and access to information".

Norway: a taxation system and oil industry management

L-R: Tove Bruvik Westberg (Ambassador of Norway), Matti Kääriäinen (Ambassador of Finland), Mogens Pedersen (Ambassador of Denmark), and Karin Bolin (political advisor at the Swedish Embassy)

Norway, with experience of managing remote oil resources from 1969, when the country discovered this resource, offers the world's best example of management of oil. Ambassador Tove Bruvik Westberg explained that his country has "strict laws" on oil companies, with a "strong system of taxation”, ensuring the State “uses oil incomes to fund social programmes."

This is the experience that Norway is transmitting to Mozambique, where more than 10 oil and gas companies are engaged in exploration and the exploitation of these resources.

"We will not give solutions - but we are sharing positive experiences with Mozambique. We continue cooperating with Mozambique,", said the Ambassador - adding that "Norway has worked with Mozambique in the oil sector to improve the management of legislation for oil."

Sweden: strengthening civil society and accountability 

Among several areas of cooperation, Karin Bolin, political advisor at the Swedish Embassy in Maputo, highlighted the contribution of this Nordic country to the strengthening of Mozambican civil society - thus contributing to internal debates for transparent and inclusive governance. The Embassy of Sweden is the main funder of the 'Programa AGIR' - Actions for Responsible and Inclusive Governance - which started in 2010 and runs until 2014. The programme covers more than fifty Mozambican civil society organisations, providing tools and funding for their participation in the political and social life of the country.

"We are working with everyone. We are contributing modestly to help Mozambican civil society to participate in governance with deep discussions. Civil society might be heard by the decisions-makers,” said Ambassador Karin Bolin - who explained that Sweden has contributed to the transformation of Mozambican public administration into a modern, better management operation. “The Administrative Court currently works to a local model, with Swedish influence,” she said.

Finland: rural poverty reduction and management of forest resources 

The main thrust of Finland's development cooperation with Mozambique has been through the support of poverty reduction, improved access to basic services - and the promotion of democracy, human rights and good governance. Focus areas for cooperation have included rural development, education, and science and technology - as well as general budgetary support. 

With its long experience in forestry management, Finland has worked for years with Mozambique to improve the administration of forest resources. Mozambique has large forests - mainly, in the central and northern regions - but these are not benefitting the local population greatly. Finland's core aim is to ensure that the forest resources of Mozambique can benefit everyone in the country.

In terms of forestry development, Finland had been administering an approved fund of 11.45 million Euros for implementation in Mozambique between 2009 and 2014. By 2012, about 3.1 million Euros had been applied - but the programme was stopped by the Finnish government, due to a lack of transparency in its implementation by the Ministry of Agriculture of Mozambique. 

Finland currently focuses its cooperation with Mozambique on: improving agriculture to alleviate rural poverty; strengthening human resources and capacity to respond to the needs of economic growth and transition; and greater transparency and broader participation of stakeholders to consolidate the transition for democratic governance. 

Finland expands support for multilateral actors, too - and, so, for ongoing work with non-governmental partners such as research institutions and civil society and private sector organisations. Annually, according to Ambassador Matti Kääriäinen, Finland's Official Development Assistance in Mozambique totals about 30 million Euros. 

Borges Nhamirre

(The interviews with Ambassadors were recorded in the Embassy of Finland, in Maputo, during the public presentation of the book titled 'Elements for inclusive growth in Mozambique' - which summarises the lessons of the first Nordic-Mozambique conference, held in Maputo, in May 2012.)