ProntoPack

A chameleon in Africa:
Alice Zordan tells us about her first 6 months in Mozambique

A chameleon in Africa

On September 19, 2022, the research experience in Mozambique had begun for Alice Zordan, more specifically in Beira, one of the country’s major cities and a location where she spent six months that were as stimulating as they were intense.   

The project was made possible thanks to funding from ProntoPack Foundation and logistical support from the Consortium Associations with Mozambique, in collaboration with the TALETE Honours Program, a course of excellence sponsored by the University of Trento, at which Alice is studying Building Engineering-Architecture. 

Alice’s mission to Mozambique  

In these first six months (of the total nine months included in the program) Alice pursued a twofold objective: first, to gather data for the writing of her graduation thesis, and second, to explore the competitive packaging landscape in Mozambique.   

Neither activity was easy, as in order to pursue the two activities in parallel, it was appropriate to both carry out site surveys in order to map areas deemed strategically relevant, and to make contacts with social actors who could facilitate entry to the field of study and lend themselves as guides within the various neighborhoods.  

We ask her what she found out and how she will continue her journey! 

Alice, before you left, did you do any preliminary analysis? What did you find out?

A.Z.: “From an initial general analysis, we can see that in Mozambique 64 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.[1]

In a context worsened by the lack of urban planning, people are relegated to living without the most basic infrastructure to ensure minimum sanitation levels, such as sewerage, electricity and an efficient road system. Beira is no exception, and its situation is aggravated by its location on the coast, which exposes it more and more frequently to cyclonic phenomena, which have intensified over the past few years. The devastation caused by cyclones Idai in 2019 and Freddy in 2023 are recent news, where in both cases the violence of the disturbance reached peak speeds in excess of 200 kilometers per hour, causing damage estimated in the billions of dollars.”

What are the difficulties you have encountered?

A.Z.: “Working in contexts where most trade and settlements are largely governed by spontaneous and informal processes and dynamics brings with it the need to deal with the lack of official and reliable data.   

However, what at first appeared to be an insurmountable difficulty later turned out to be an opportunity to come into greater contact and empathy with the population, thus allowing me to understand their real needs, enrich my background and directly observe the context and relational dynamics from the same perspective as the locals.”

What are your conclusions after these first six months? 

A.Z.: “So far, the data collected mainly concern the geographical and the socio-economic environment. In Beira, it has been possible to get to know and make contact with various actors in the logistics and transport sector, one of the most important sectors in a country where imports far exceed exports [2], despite the fact that the road network is still underdeveloped.  

In a context where most products are also imported in the packaging sector, two main producers stand out, both based in Maputo, the capital, and specializing in paper products. For this reason, in the coming months I will try to get in touch with the two, proceeding on the research field as was done in Beira.   

Through a comparative perspective between Beira and Maputo it will be possible to return in a more meaningful way what market dynamics underlie the production and consumption of paper products.”

We wish Alice good luck in writing her thesis and look forward to reading her packaging-themed market research!

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