Published on Africa Can End Poverty

A Mozambique Paradox

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There is widespread consensus that financial development is critical to economic growth, globally, and in Africa. Yet Mozambique, a country with very low levels of financial development (in a recent survey, only 13 percent of firms had obtained credit from the banking sector, rural credit is almost nonexistent), registered a GDP growth rate of over 8 percent a year over the last decade.

On a recent visit to Mozambique, I tried to understand this apparent paradox, but ended up with even more puzzles. A group of prominent bankers said the problem was that enterprises lacked managerial and accounting skills, which is why they didn’t want to lend to them. They insisted that subsidizing credit will not solve this problem. In a separate meeting, one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Mozambique said that even he has trouble getting credit; he needs to put up his factories as collateral, and even then it takes about seven months. Finally, the government’s plan to stimulate agricultural production includes a program of credit subsidies to farmers to buy tractors and other inputs.

So, while everybody seems to agree that access to finance is a constraint (which begs the question of how Mozambique grew so fast), there are different views on how to relax that constraint. I look forward to your comments and suggestions.


Shanta Devarajan

Teaching Professor of the Practice Chair, International Development Concentration, Georgetown University

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