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France - Mozambique

Hollande, Guebuza see work start on big Mozambique ship order

Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza with french President François Hollande (R) at the Elyqée Palace
Mozambique's President Armando Guebuza with french President François Hollande (R) at the Elyqée Palace Neidy Ribeiro/RFI

French President François Hollande travelled to the northern French port of Cherbourg on Monday, accompanied by Mozambique’s leader Francisco Guebuza. They visited a shipyard and watched work start on 30 boats that are to be built for the Mozambican government.

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The order, announced last month by French shipbuilder Constructions mécaniques de Normandie (CMN), was a welcome piece of good news on the jobs front and a sign that heavy industry still exists in France.

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But, while the French goverment has hailed the deal as good for jobs and business, Mozambique has remained very discreet on the matter.

The order of 24 trawlers, three 32-metre patrol ships and another three 42-metre ships is estimated to be worth around 200 million euros.

Earlier this month French Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg declared it was a huge boost for CMN, which was struggling with low orders and about to lay off some of its 400 skilled workers.

The contract will ensure two years of full work at the shipyard, with construction due to begin in early October.

The shipyard is owned by Privinvest, a holding based in Lebanon and Abu Dhabi, which is controlled by Lebanese-French billionaire businessman Iskandar Safa.

Neither Privinvest nor Maputo has made much information public on the deal.

This new flotilla of trawlers and patrol boats would allow the Mozambican economy to diversify.

When the deal was announced Mozambique’s Deputy Defence Minister Agostinho Mondlane told RFI that the patrol boats would “combat piracy, terrorism and illegal fishing".

The money is believed to come from a 370-million-euro bond issued by a new Mozambican state company, Ematum.

While in Cherbourg, Hollande was also due to call for tenders for the construction of two stream turbine projects off the French coast.

The plan, announced at this month's government-sponsored environmental conference, would use underwater currents to provide clean energy.

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