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African Journey - Part 9

Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe


We begin part 9 of our African Journey in Lilongwe, Malawi which is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast, and Mozambique on the east, south and west. Malawi has an estimated population of over 18 million. Lake Malawi takes up about a third of Malawi's area. Its capital is Lilongwe, which is also Malawi's largest city. The name Malawi comes from the Maravi, an old name of the Nyanja people that inhabit the area. The country is nicknamed "The Warm Heart of Africa" because of the friendliness of the people.

Malawi is among the world's least-developed countries. The economy is heavily based on agriculture, with a largely rural population. The Malawian government depends heavily on outside aid to meet development needs, although this need (and the aid offered) has decreased in the last 20 years. The Malawian government faces challenges in building and expanding the economy, improving education, healthcare, environmental protection, and becoming financially independent amidst widespread unemployment. Since 2005, Malawi has developed several programs that focus on these issues, and the country's outlook appears to be improving, with a rise in the economy, education and healthcare.

The Great Rift Valley runs through the country from north to south, and to the east of the valley lies Lake Malawi, making up over three-quarters of Malawi's eastern boundary. Lake Malawi is sometimes called the Calendar Lake as it is about 365 miles long and 52 miles wide. The Shire River flows from the south end of the lake and joins the Zambezi River 400 kilometres farther south in Mozambique.

Malawi's capital is Lilongwe with a population approaching 1 million people, and its commercial centre is Blantyre with a population of over 800,000 people.

The economy of Malawi is predominantly agricultural. Over 80% of the population is engaged in subsistence farming, even though agriculture only contributed to 27% of GDP in 2013. The services sector accounts for more than half of GDP (54%), compared to 11% for manufacturing and 8% for other industries, including natural uranium mining. Malawi invests more in agriculture (as a share of GDP) than any other African country: 28% of GDP.

The main agricultural products of Malawi include tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, sorghum, cattle and goats. The main industries are tobacco, tea and sugar processing, sawmill products, cement and consumer goods.

For this leg of our journey we will be using the Hilux Double Cabin which maintains the core values of durability and reliability which our customers love and which have been built into the Hilux for almost 50 years stretching back to 1968 and takes these to yet another level. It is a pickup which sets the benchmark for the category by surpassing other vehicles with SUV-like comfort. Now in its 8th generation, the Hilux retains its renowned refined toughness and achieves this with more comfort than ever before. This Hilux gives more of what users love and is even more advanced than ever before. We know from customer feedback that the versatility of the Hilux is unsurpassed – 1 tonne load carrying combined with up to 6 people. To this TGS recommends that you add a 140 litre replacement fuel tank.

Additional fuel capacity is essential for any 4WD heading off into remote areas. Installing a larger fuel tank is a safe and simple way to increase your vehicle's travelling range.

The journey from Lilongwe to Maputo is over 1100 miles so the replacement fuel tank will definitely be a benefit in this case.


TGS has been present in Mozambique as recently as 2017 when we ran Technical Training courses for MSF and Peace Corps.
This image shows the Peace Corps training group:

Mozambique is located in Southeast Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west, and Eswatini (Swaziland) and South Africa to the southwest. The capital and largest city of Mozambique is Maputo.

The voyage of Vasco da Gama in 1498 marked the arrival of the Portuguese, who began a gradual process of colonisation and settlement in 1505. After over four centuries of Portuguese rule, Mozambique gained independence in 1975.

Mozambique is endowed with rich and extensive natural resources. The country's economy is based largely on agriculture, but industry is growing, mainly food and beverages, chemical manufacturing and aluminium and petroleum production. The tourism sector is also expanding. South Africa is Mozambique's main trading partner and source of foreign direct investment, while Belgium, Brazil, Portugal and Spain are also among the country's most important economic partners. Since 2001, Mozambique's annual average GDP growth has been among the world's highest. However, the country is still one of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries in the world, ranking low in GDP per capita, human development, measures of inequality and average life expectancy.

The only official language of Mozambique is Portuguese, which is spoken mostly as a second language by about half the population. The country's population of around 29 million is composed of overwhelmingly Bantu people. The largest religion in Mozambique is Christianity, with significant minorities following Islam and African traditional religions.

As far as transport is concerned, Mozambique has over 30,000 km (19,000 mi) of roads, but much of the network is unpaved. Like its Commonwealth neighbours, traffic circulates on the left.

There is an international airport at Maputo, 21 other paved airports, and over 100 airstrips with unpaved runways.

On the Indian Ocean coast are several large seaports, including Nacala, Beira and Maputo, with further ports being developed. There are rail links serving principal cities and connecting the country with Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Mozambican railway system developed over more than a century from three different ports on the Indian Ocean that served as terminals for separate lines to the hinterland. A parastatal authority, Mozambique Ports and Railways, oversees the railway system of Mozambique and its connected ports.


Moving from Maputo to Harare, Zimbabwe entails a journey of around 700 miles. TGS was recently in Harare providing Technical Training in 2019.

This event focused on the Safe Drive Certification, which is certified by BIOFORCE and FLEET FORUM and designed to professionalise the required key competences of a driver's role and responsibility. The aim is therefore to certify drivers at a standardised level deemed as a professional qualification recognised within the humanitarian community.

Zimbabwe is a landlocked country in southern Africa. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the west and southwest, Zambia to the northwest, and Mozambique to the east and northeast. Most of the country is elevated, consisting of a central plateau stretching from the southwest northwards with altitudes between 1,000 and 1,600 m. The country's extreme east is mountainous, this area being known as the Eastern Highlands, with Mount Nyangani as the highest point at 2,592 m

The highlands are known for their natural environment, with tourist destinations such as Nyanga, Troutbeck, Chimanimani, Vumba and Chirinda Forest at Mount Selinda. About 20% of the country consists of low-lying areas, (the low veld) under 900m. Victoria Falls, one of the world's biggest and most spectacular waterfalls, is located in the country's extreme northwest and is part of the Zambezi rive.

Zimbabwe has a tropical climate with many local variations. The southern areas are known for their heat and aridity, parts of the central plateau receive frost in winter, the Zambezi valley is also known for its extreme heat and the Eastern Highlands usually experience cool temperatures and the highest rainfall in the country. The country's rainy season generally runs from late October to March and the hot climate is moderated by increasing altitude.

Minerals, gold, and agriculture are the main foreign exports of Zimbabwe. Tourism also plays a key role in its economy.

The mining sector remains very lucrative, with some of the world's largest platinum reserves. The Marange diamond fields, discovered in 2006, are considered the biggest diamond find in over a century. In terms of carats produced, the Marange field is one of the largest diamond producing projects in the world, estimated to produce 12 million carats in 2014 worth over $350 million.

Tourism was an important industry for the country, but has been failing in recent years due to a diminishing wildlife as a result of poaching and deforestation. Numerous reports indicate that the loss of wildlife combined with widespread deforestation is potentially disastrous for the tourist industry.

Next month our African Journey will take in Zambia, Angola and Democratic Republic of Congo.