Landlocked Malawi and Zimbabwe eye Indian Ocean river link

Landlocked Malawi and Zimbabwe eye Indian Ocean river link

The transport ministers of landlocked Malawi and Zambia and Mozambique, which lies on the Indian Ocean, have met in the Malawian capital Lilongwe to discuss the feasibility of using the Shire and Zambezi rivers to gain access to the ocean.

The ministers are considering a report by consultants on the navigability of the Shire-Zambezi Waterway (SZW) project. The proposed route is from Nsanje in Malawi to Chinde, the small Mozambican town at the mouth of the Zambezi. Most of the 343 km long route is through Mozambican territory.

This is not the first time that the project has been studied. Indeed, five years ago Malawi spent $20m building a port at Nsanje, only for Mozambique to ditch the concept.

Once again, Mozambique is unlikely to approve this navigational upgrade with the nation’s transport minister Carlos Mesquita telling reporters earlier this week that the “chances are very limited that Mozambique will adopt the report”.

Another landlocked neighbour of Mozambique, Swaziland, has recently outlined plans to build a canal through to Mozambique and the Indian Ocean, something that is also unlikely to see the light of day with Mozambican authorities dismissing the idea.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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