Natural resources may be booming in Mozambique with one of the world’s largest new coal finds and a growing tourist industry, but most people still make a living from agriculture.
Agriculture employs about 80 percent of the country’s workforce but constitutes 20 percent of Mozambique’s gross domestic product. Fishing is one area of the economy said to be immune to rural insecurity. Mozambique’s offshore waters offer up lobster, prawns, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies.
Maputo has malls and formal shopping, but on the streets you’ll find Mozambicans selling coal, seafood and just about anything else you need. The economy of Maputo appears to be one massive mobile marketplace. You don’t have to go to them. They’ll come to you.
Here are a few examples of what ordinary people do for a living in the formal and informal sectors of Maputo, Mozambique. It’s part of our AFKInsider series, Africa at Work.
The magnificent colonial-era building is a big part of the attraction at the Natural History Museum in Maputo, across from the Hotel Cardoso. This is not your usual museum experience. Signs on the exhibits are hand-written and sparse. But there’s a reason the museum ranks in the top 10 Maputo attractions. It’s fascinating inside and out. To get the most out of the experience, you have to reserve judgement. This woman displayed tiny, hand-made cards for me in the museum gift shop.
Luisa Freitas adjusts a bedside lamp in one of the seven spic-and-span rooms at Lokal 2896 Guest House on busy Avenue Vladimir Lenine in Maputo.
One of the lower-priced accommodations in Maputo, the guest house is helping to fill a gap in the market for quality, lower priced lodgings, Freitas said.
This Mozambican native is really really busy. He doesn’t just own one of the few mostly organic restaurants in Maputo. He cooks there too. Dino Capelaó, owner and chef of Txhapo Txhapo, grows his own produce, butchers his own meat and changes the menu daily because, he said, in Maputo, supply is unreliable.
Global mining giant Rio Tinto agreed to sell its coal mine and associated projects in Mozambique for $50 million in 2014. On a street corner in Maputo, street sellers sell lumps of coal for pennies.
Belhina cooks fresh fish and seafood at the Maputo Fish Market.
A waiter sets spotless glasses on the table at Maresia restaurant on Avenida Marginal. With just 11 tables and beachfront views, this small restaurant is a popular place to close big deals in Maputo.
At the Maputo Fish Market you can buy seafood and shellfish so fresh it’ll squirt you as you walk past.
This produce stall was set up in the upscale Sommerschield neighborhood of Maputo, where houses can fetch $1 million and up.
A well-known local lawyer, Mudjabura dresses in signature flamboyant attire. He invited me to take his photo in front of La Dolce Vita Cafe on busy Julius Nyerere in Maputo.
Amilcar Ferreira works as an auditor consultant for Deloitte. He also helps out with reservations at Palmeira’s Guest House, his family’s business in Maputo.
Nuno and Rute Pestana own and operate Taverna Portuguese Restaurant, Taverna Doce bakery next door, and most recently, they opened a third restaurant –Taverna Italiana.
“We invested $3.5 million in the Doce, restaurant, kitchen and bakery equipment,” Nuno said as he gave me a tour of his spotless kitchen. And it all came from Portugal. For the Italian restaurant, he imported kitchen equipment from Italy.
The magazine Exame reported that theirs was the largest-ever private restaurant investment in Mozambique, Nuno said.
Waiters and waitresses dressed as medieval knaves and wenches grab your attention the second you enter O Medieval restaurant in Maputo.
The medieval theme has been faithfully adhered to from the texture of the walls to the paint on the doors to the massive candelabras dripping small waterfalls of hot wax.
An art and food market, the Feira de artesanato flores e gastronomia de Maputo ranks No. 2 for things to do in Maputo.
You’ll find traditional art done by local artists. Just be prepared: the vendors are persistent. There’s great batik work, beautifully hand-carved wooden bowls polished to a high shine, and giraffes made out of aluminum soda cans. You can also find women’s clothes handmade out of the iconic Mozambican fabric, capulana.
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