Back

Country Reports

Mozambique Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

Individuals traveling to this large Portuguese-speaking country (population 28 million) in southern Africa should be prepared for various security and health concerns.

AREAS TO AVOID

Security conditions in the north and center of the country have improved considerably following a truce declared by rebel forces in May 2017. However, individuals are advised to be alert along the EN6 and EN7 highways, both located in Manica province, as well as along the EN1 highway located in the province of Sofala, where robberies and criminal assaults have been reported. Travelers are also advised to be vigilant in the provinces of Zambezia and Tete - areas where armed groups are present and where attacks and police operations are regularly carried out. Since October 2017, sporadic armed attacks have been taking place in the Northern regions of the country, specifically in the Cabo Delgado province.

There have been various episodes of civil unrest along the country's borders with Zimbabwe and Malawi in the northern and central provinces. It is recommended to avoid these areas.

Piracy along the coast of Mozambique is rare but remains a security concern. Sailboats are specifically targeted and there is a risk of being taken hostage. Therefore, it is strongly discouraged to sail in the maritime zone between Mozambique, Somalia, and the Seychelles.

SECURITY

Due to the indefinite truce, deadly confrontations between pro-government and armed opposition groups have ceased in the greater part of the country's northern and central provinces. However, security incidents such as abductions continue to be reported in the central province of Manica.  

Although operations to clear mines left from the 1977-1992 civil war have officially been completed in Mozambique, it is nonetheless advisable to remain vigilant when traveling in remote border regions.  

Deteriorating security conditions have been reported in Cabo Delgado province (north), especially in Mocímboa da Praia district, where suspected Islamist militants attacked three police stations in October 2017, leading to the deaths of 16 people. Since then, the security situation has remained tense; in late November, gunmen attacked several villages in the area, burning down 30 houses and a church.

SOCIOECONOMIC RISKS

Mozambique experienced a relatively stable period following the ratification of a peace agreement signed in September 2014 between the two main rival parties, the FRELIMO (Frente de Libertação de Moçambique), which is in power, and the opposition political party RENAMO (Resistência Nacional Moçambicana, a former guerrilla group). Tensions rose again from June 2013 through 2014, as violent skirmishes broke out in Sofala province.

Despite the September 2014 peace agreement, the presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections held in 2014 revived old tensions between both groups. RENAMO refused to recognize the victory of FRELIMO's leader, Filipe Nyusi, in the most recent election. The leader of RENAMO, Afonso Dhlakama, threatened to create an autonomous republic in the central and northern parts of Mozambique, namely in the six provinces where his party received majority support. Once parliament rejected a proposed law submitted by RENAMO in April 2015 on the autonomy of those six provinces, tensions and confrontations increased between the new government and RENAMO.

In 2016, both sides sought to revive peace talks, but some fighting resumed leading to various anti-violence demonstrations being organized by civil society groups.

On December 26, 2016, a productive telephone call between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi led to the announcement of a seven-day ceasefire; on January 3, 2017, RENAMO agreed to renew the ceasefire until March 4, 2017. RENAMO's leader vowed to halt armed attacks against the government during the ceasefire. According to both the government and RENAMO, the truce was intended to bring both sides back to the negotiating table to effectively implement the peace process. On May 4, 2017, RENAMO announced an indefinite extension of the truce pending the signing of a new peace agreement between the two parties. 

Beyond these political tensions, the country's poor economic situation could also lead to further unrest.

It is recommended to monitor the evolving political situation and to avoid demonstrations and gatherings of any sort due to the risk of a violent escalation.

CRIME

Assault and theft (e.g. pickpocketing, carjacking, burglary, and home invasion) afflict major cities, including Matola and the capital Maputo, especially around year-end celebrations. An increase in petty crimes has been reported as a result of the worsening economic situation since the beginning of 2016. Assailants are often armed and target foreign nationals due to their perceived wealth.

In the Mozambican capital city of Maputo, US authorities report that aggression and theft occur mainly on United Nations Avenue (Avenida Organização das Nações Unidas), and Fernão de Magalhães Avenue (Avenida Fernão de Magalhães) until 16 June Square (Praça 16 De Junho). Assailants target both pedestrians and drivers alike, the latter by throwing stones at vehicles forcing them to stop. French diplomatic authorities recommend individuals avoid traveling on Avenida Marginal (on the waterfront), Avenida Friedrich Engels (parallel to Avenida Nyerere), and the harbor district Baixa (especially the surroundings of Jardim Tunduru).

Travelers are advised not to walk on the street at night, walk alone on the beach, or carry conspicuous valuable objects. Furthermore, it is recommended to drive with doors locked and windows closed, withdraw money from ATMs during the daytime only, and avoid cities in remote locations.

Cases of police harassment have been reported, specifically relating to theft and bribes.

Credit card fraud is increasing in the country. It is encouraged to use indoor ATMs instead of those on the street.

The risk of kidnapping for ransom is present in the capital city of Maputo. Although foreign nationals are typically not specifically targeted, constant vigilance is required. On February 16, 2017, the owner of a factory in Machava was abducted at the factory entrance. On March 14, 2017, unknown individuals abducted the owner of a tourist resort in Bilene, Gaza province. It is advised to be on alert for any suspicious behavior and inform local authorities. If confronted, do not escalate the situation and comply with all reasonable demands (e.g. surrender wallet, purse, or other valuables). Remain vigilant at all times and take precautionary measures such as varying your itinerary, reinforcing personal security, communicating any travel with a trustworthy individual, and, if necessary, evacuating family members.

TRANSPORTATION

Road accidents are common in Mozambique due to aggressive and potentially dangerous local driving habits (excessive speed, driving while intoxicated, etc.). In case of an accident, it is advised to immediately travel to the closest police station in order to avoid a hostile reaction, and potential violence.

In Maputo and other major cities, the risk of assault, theft, and carjacking exists. It is advised to hide your personal belongings in a safe location and drive with locked doors and closed windows. It is advised not to park in isolated or dimly lit areas. Outside Maputo, remain particularly vigilant when traveling between Boane and Swaziland as cases of carjacking have been reported, notably at the border crossing between Namaacha and Goba. It is recommended not to pick up foreign nationals or to stop on the roadside if there are pedestrians or drivers in distress on the motorways; these are techniques often used by criminals. It is also advisable to remain vigilant when driving along the coast, as violent criminal activities have been reported in coastal areas. Finally, drivers taking the EN7 between Vanduzi and Tete should be extremely careful as there are reports of robbery, extortion, and physical assault taking place along the route. It is advised to monitor the situation and consider postponing any travel if warnings point to tensions in the destination zone.

Traveling can be dangerous outside major urban centers due to the absence of signage as well as poorly maintained roads, especially during the rainy season that lasts from November through April. Furthermore, night driving should be strictly avoided due to poor street lighting and infrastructure disrepair. It is recommended to only travel during the day. Gas stations throughout the country are often located far apart from each other. National Road 1 (north-south) is the country's main motorway and is in decent condition. National Road 6 between Beira and the border with Zimbabwe is poorly maintained between Beira and Inchope (where it crosses National 1). The roads to and from South Africa are in good condition but should be crossed using 4x4 vehicles.

Police frequently monitor vehicle speed using radars. Drivers should respect speed limits, typically 60 km/h (37 mph) in urban centers and 120 km/h (75 mph) on national roads, although speeds are limited in some sections to 100 km/h (60 mph). Police officers often seek bribes from tourists; it is advised not to agree to their demands. Request a reason justifying the arrest and pay a fine at the police station, if necessary.

Day driving using a 4x4 vehicle with a convoy of at least two vehicles, stocked with sufficient water, food, and gas provisions, is recommended. Also, it is advised to travel with spare parts (tires, cables, etc.) and arrange for means of telecommunication. Always travel with identification and car insurance documents as police patrols and checkpoints are common. However, prior to handing over your ID documents, make sure that the person is an official civil servant.

As a reminder, cars drive on the left side of the road in Mozambique. Additionally, a valid international driver's license is required. For those individuals planning to stay in the country for a relatively long period of time, a Mozambican driving license is compulsory. Car insurance is also required but can be bought at customs. It is necessary to travel with two reflective warning triangles as well as reflective gear in case the vehicle breaks down or is parked on the side of the road.

Although mine-clearing operations have been completed, it is advised to remain vigilant during any travel to the remote border regions of Mozambique.

Public transportation is not reliable due to worn out vehicle conditions and faulty roads.

A rail service exists in the country, notably between Maputo and Johannesburg. Nonetheless, security is weak and there are frequent accidents. It is advised to avoid public transportation.

Individuals should avoid sailing along the Mozambican coast due to the risk of piracy.

It is recommended to avoid taking Mozambican airlines - except for LAM - as they are all on the EU's blacklist.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Local internet service is slow and expensive throughout the country, including in Maputo.

Despite heavy rains recorded in the south of the country in late 2016 into early 2017, the Pequenos Libombos reservoir, the main source of water for the Umbeluzi water pumping station that supplies the capital city Maputo and its surroundings, remains low. On January 5, 2017, only 14 percent of the reservoir was full, forcing the authorities to restrict the water supply in the area for a couple of weeks.

NATURAL RISKS

Mozambique is exposed to a number of natural hazards. The rainy season lasts from November through April, often causing flash floods and landslides, notably in the Zambezi River valley. Beginning in 2015, the northern and central parts of the country experienced severe flooding, including in the Zambezi and Licungo basins, causing dozens of deaths and displacing millions of people.

Cyclones may hit the coastal region. In January 2012, Cyclone Funso caused a dozen deaths and thousands were left homeless. Similarly, in February 2017 the southern province of Inhambane was hit by a violent cyclone, Dineo, which caused severe damage to infrastructure and displaced hundreds of people. 

A high risk of drowning exists along the entire coast of Mozambique due to strong winds and powerful currents. Swimmers are advised to remain close to shore; beaches are not monitored in Mozambique. Shark attacks are rare but possible.

LEGAL

Modest dress is recommended and individuals are strongly discouraged from wearing revealing bathing suits at beaches.

It is forbidden to take pictures of government buildings, airports, military installations, security personnel, or government officials without prior authorization from the Mozambique Information Office (Gabinete de Informação - GABINFO).

HEALTH

The purchase of insurance covering medical care abroad and medical evacuations is strongly recommended before traveling. Hospital infrastructure is poor, especially outside of the capital city, and there are few doctors. In the event of a serious health issue, it is highly recommended to seek medical care in South Africa.

Although there is no yellow fever in Mozambique, an immunization certificate is required for travelers above the age of nine coming from active local transmission countries (or having spent more than 12 hours on layover at an airport where the disease is present) to enter Mozambican territory. Individuals without a certificate may be barred from entering the country. Travelers should have an immunization record on hand as it could be requested upon crossing the border.

Malaria is present in the country and individuals should take personal protective measures against mosquito bites and seek proper medical treatment. Similar precautionary measures should be taken for dengue fever.

Do not drink tap water; diarrheal diseases are common. In February 2017 there was a cholera outbreak in provinces across Mozambique. The most affected areas were the Meconta and Monapo districts in Nampula province, Tete province, and the cities of Maputo and Matola in the Maputo province. An additional 75 newly diagnosed cases were registered in January 2018; the sudden hike is being attribted to a lack of sanitation during the rainy season. Only drink bottled or purified water, avoid eating raw or undercooked foods, and wash your hands several times a day.

In order to avoid any risk of parasitic contamination (e.g. schistosomiasis), it is recommended to avoid bathing and washing clothes in stagnant water. Do not walk barefoot.

It is advised to take personal protective measures against the HIV virus, which infects a large part of the population.

Climate

Mozambique has a tropical climate. The rainy season lasts from November until March with temperatures fluctuating between 26°C and 31°C, higher in the north of the country. Rainfall is heavier in the northern and central regions (high plateau, inland) than in the south. The dry season extends from April until October and conditions during this period are significantly cooler (15°C to 20°C). Mozambican skies are often sunny and blue.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +258

There are no emergency services in Mozambique.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

More