Almost five centuries as a Portuguese colony came to a close with independence in 1975. Large-scale emigration, economic dependence on South Africa, a severe drought, and a prolonged civil war hindered the country's development until the mid-1990s. The ruling Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO) party formally abandoned Marxism in 1989, and a new constitution the following year provided for multiparty elections and a free market economy. A UN-negotiated peace agreement between FRELIMO and rebel Mozambique National Resistance (RENAMO) forces ended the fighting in 1992. In 2004, Mozambique underwent a delicate transition as Joaquim CHISSANO stepped down after 18 years in office. His elected successor, Armando GUEBUZA, served two terms and then passed executive power to Filipe NYUSI in 2014. RENAMO’s residual armed forces have continued to engage in a low-level insurgency since 2012.
At independence in 1975, Mozambique was one of the world's poorest countries. Socialist policies, economic mismanagement, and a brutal civil war from 1977 to 1992 further impoverished the country. In 1987, the government embarked on a series of macroeconomic reforms designed to stabilize the economy. These steps, combined with donor assistance and with political stability since the multi-party elections in 1994, propelled the country’s GDP from $4 billion in 1993, following the war, to about $35 billion in 2016. Fiscal reforms, including the introduction of a value-added tax and reform of the customs service, have improved the government's revenue collection abilities.In spite of these gains, more than half the population remains below the poverty line. Subsistence agriculture continues to employ the vast majority of the country's work force. Citizens rioted in September 2010 after fuel, water, electricity, and bread price increases were announced. In an attempt to lessen the negative impact on the population, the government implemented subsidies, decreased taxes and tariffs, and instituted other fiscal measures.A substantial trade imbalance persists, although aluminum production from the Mozal Aluminum Smelter has significantly boosted export earnings in recent years. In 2012, the Mozambican Government took over Portugal's last remaining share in the Cahora Bassa Hydroelectricity Company, a significant contributor to the Southern African Power Pool. The government has plans to expand the Cahora Bassa Dam and build additional dams to increase its electricity exports and fulfill the needs of its burgeoning domestic industries.Mozambique's once substantial foreign debt was reduced through forgiveness and rescheduling under the IMF's Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Enhanced HIPC initiatives. However, in 2016, information surfaced revealing that the Mozambican Government was responsible for over $2 billion in government-backed loans originally secured between 2012-14 by state-owned defense and security companies without parliamentary approval or national budget inclusion, which prompted the IMF and international donors to halt direct budget support to the Government of Mozambique. This sizable external debt burden, donor withdrawal, elevated inflation, and currency depreciation contributed to weak growth in 2016 and forebode weaker economic growth in the next few years.Mozambique grew at an average annual rate of 6%-8% in the decade leading up to 2015, one of Africa's strongest performances, but growth slowed in 2016 to about 3.5% as low commodity prices reduced export earnings. However, many forecasts predict an increase in growth in 2017 as coal exports grow. Two major international consortiums are seeking approval to develop massive natural gas deposits off the coast of Cabo Delgado province, in what has the potential to become the largest infrastructure project in Africa. The government predicts sales of liquefied natural gas from these projects could generate several billion dollars in revenues annually sometime after 2022.