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Manuel Costeira da Rocha

MOZAMBIQUE - Energy & Mining

Positive Angle

Managing Director, Efacec

Bio

Manuel Costeira da Rocha was born in Portugal. He completed his PhD in Sustainable Energy Systems at the Faculdade de Engenharia da Universidade do Porto, and studied management at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa. He also holds an Executive MBA in international trade (ESADE/IEP) and an MBA in intermodality freight transport (University of Porto Business School).

"We stay in line with the government's strategy and the evolution of the economy and investment trends."

Winterfell recently purchased shares of the company. What is the significance of this acquisition, and how will it impact Efacec’s operations?

The acquisition by our new shareholders was important for our company. It provides a breath of fresh air into the company. Nowadays, we are refocusing our strategies and of course, for Africa, it is positive as the new shareholders are from Angola. We all expect that even though the strategy of the company will allow us to maintain interest in European markets, the company will also address business in Africa in a stronger way.

What is the significance of the southern African market, specifically for Mozambique?

The Mozambican market is responsible for less than 10% of the company’s turnover, but it is growing. We believe that there are multiple opportunities available, not just in Mozambique, but across southern Africa as a whole. We expect that the significance of these markets will grow inside our company.

Power supply is a major challenge in Mozambique. In which way are you working with EDM and Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) to improve access to electricity in the country?

At the moment it is quite challenging because of the characteristics of the market, not just in the Mozambican economy, but all over Africa. The first challenge is to maintain the assets, to implement strategies to keep the assets fit, and to allow them to last longer so that the main investment can be directed toward other assets. In this particular field, we have been partnering with Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa for a couple of years. We are renewing all of the power transformers at the power plant and training Mozambicans perform these tasks. We are also doing asset maintenance with EDM, with whom we started slightly later. The government has a lot of challenges ahead, such as the financing, the exchange rate, credit capacity, and so on. We try our best to partner with local institutions to implement projects successfully, but this is a major challenge when local entities have no capacity to sign credit.

What role did you play in the expansion of the Coca Cola factory?

The project is a milestone for Mozambique and we are proud to cooperate once again with Coca Cola, which is a client of ours in several other countries as well. Coca Cola is a trendsetter worldwide, and we also consider it as an alliance. In Mozambique, we applied all the medium-voltage equipment and power transformers to the project. One thing that we underline in this project is the involvement of local people. Companies stress that skilled people are hard to find in Mozambique and that education is a considerable challenge, but we were happy that Coca Cola has been successful in addressing it. We had the possibility to train local technicians from Coca Cola’s staff for the maintenance of the factory and our equipment, which is quite relevant, and we are very happy with that.

What important projects do you have lined up for the coming years?

The challenge is substantial when you realize that only 50% of the population has access to potable water, for example, and even less than that have access to electricity. These are the sectors that we are prioritizing in Mozambique—electricity and water. We are planning to expand our activities, reinforce the team, and expand the influence of EFACEC from the main cities to all the provinces where relevant projects are underway. In the past, we were concentrated around Maputo, where most of the investment is, and in the past few years we have cooperated with local authorities to reinforce the high voltage electrical network around the capital. We were in a JV with other companies to expand the water treatment plant in Umbeluzi. Now it is time to go north and to take on the opportunities and challenges that are happening there.

What provinces will benefit the most from your efforts over the next five years?

We stay in line with the government’s strategy and the evolution of the economy and investment trends. There are a number of sectors in Mozambique that will become more relevant in the future, like gas. They depend a lot on global market prices and, nowadays, Mozambique is in a difficult situation because coal and gas prices are down, and this is not helping projects to develop. These sectors are localized, like coal in Tete province and gas in Cabo Delgado. We have to recognize that big investments mobilize the entire economy and, when you are mobilizing the entire economy, you have to provide people with power and water. But even when these big investments are delayed, power is still a critical issue all over the country. We always have to properly address these challenges and the evolution of market demand. There are other sectors that the government is trying to develop, like agriculture and agro-industries. They are key drivers of development and require power and water to expand.

What role will the Mphanda Nkuwa Dam play in the coming years?

The Mphanda Nkuwa Dam is a project on the Zambezi River, which is one of the main rivers on the continent. Mphanda Nkuwa, together with the Cahora Bassa North Bank, is both important for Mozambique and the southern Africa region as a whole for power generation. It is also crucial for controlling the course of the river in Mozambique and helping to avoid floods. The process of building a large dam like Mphanda Nkuwa is long and complex and requires huge investment. One needs to learn from other projects completed before, such as Cahora Bassa, and use the knowledge that was acquired when negotiating the power purchase agreements and the financing. If we learn from the past, we can speed up in the future.

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