Mozambique Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

In 2020, Mozambique had a network of 6,950 kilometers of paved road.

In Mozambique you drive on the left, which is remarkable because it has never been a British colony. This is because Mozambique borders former British colonies which all drive on the left. Before 1928 Portugal drove on the left but this change was never implemented in Mozambique. This has changed in other Portuguese colonies such as Angola and Guinea-Bissau.

The road network is of limited development, there is one long north-south route (N1) from Maputo to Pemba that serves most of the larger towns and is 2,477 kilometers long. The number of east-west roads is limited, the main one running from Maputo to the border with South Africa. Another east-west axis (N6) runs from the port city of Beira to the border with Zimbabwe. A road also runs from the Quelimane region to southern Malawi (N11) and a through route from Blantyre in Malawi to Harare in Zimbabwe crosses northwestern Mozambique (N7).

Motorways

According to wholevehicles, Mozambique has no real highways, the only road that could somewhat be considered a highway is the N2 in the west of Maputo. The bridge over Maputo Bay is also highway-like.

National roads

A national road in Mozambique is called an estrada nacional. They are divided into a primary class and a secondary class. The roads of the primary class are almost always asphalted, those of the secondary class are often not. In the road numbering system they are numbered in one series.

The national roads are paved and the improved roads are often modern designed, although the speed limit of 120 km/h is ambitious. The condition of maintenance often dictates the actual driving speed, as well as the environment. Some areas of Mozambique have a densely populated countryside, which means that there are many houses along the road and a lot of slow traffic on the way. In other parts of Mozambique, the population density is much lower and higher driving speeds can be expected if the road condition is good.

All major cities in Mozambique are served by a series of 14 national roads. The only omission is a national road to the Tanzanian border. Also, south of Maputo, there is no paved road to the southern border of the country. The network of the 14 numbered national roads is relatively thin, but Mozambique has no developed countryside.

Estradas nacionais in Mozambique
N1 • N2 • N3 • N4 • N5 • N6 • N7 • N8 • N9 • N10 • N11 • N12 • N13 • N14

Road classes

The main estradas nacionais in Mozambique.

In 2010, Mozambique had a network of 30,056 kilometers of classified roads, of which 6,286 kilometers were paved. The road network is divided into four road classes:

Road class Length Hardened unpaved
Primaria 5,971 km 4,728 km (80%) 1,243 km
secundaria 4,915 km 838km (17%) 4,078 km
Terciaria 12,603 ​​km 667 km (5%) 11,936 km
Vicinal 6,567 km 54 km (1%) 6,513 km
Total 30,056 km 6,286 km (21%) 23,770 km

Toll roads

There are several toll roads in Mozambique. There are several toll roads around the capital Maputo, such as the N2 as the western approach road, the bridge over Maputo Bay as the southern approach road and the northern ring road. There are also toll roads elsewhere in Mozambique.

Road management

The national road authority in Mozambique is the Administração Nacional de Estradas (ANE). ANE was established in 1999 to manage and develop all classified roads in Mozambique. ANE manages 30,056 kilometers of road, of which 6,286 kilometers is asphalted.

The road fund (Fundo de Estradas) was established in 2003 to pay for road construction.

History

The Ponte Maputo-Katembe.

The N7 between Vanduzi and Changara.

In the past there were virtually no connections between the north and south of Mozambique, the Zambezi River split the country in two. In 1934 the Ponte Dona Ana opened at Mutarara, this was originally just a railway bridge. With a length of 3.7 kilometers it was the longest bridge in the country for a long time. Damaged during the Civil War in the 1980s, the bridge was rebuilt in the early 1990s with support from the United States and converted into a narrow road bridge, the first across the Zambezi in the east of the country.

The infrastructure of Mozambique developed especially in the last years of the Portuguese colonial period, especially in the 1950s-60s and early 1970s Portugal invested heavily in the country’s industry and transport, during this period the most of the current road network, including several major bridges over the rivers. In 1968 the Ponte Samora Machel opened over the Zambezi at Tete, this is a medium-sized suspension bridge and was the first road bridge over the Zambezi in Mozambique. This was the only road bridge over the Zambezi in Mozambique for about 25 years, until the rebuilt Ponte Dona Ana opened.

At independence in 1975, Mozambique was relatively developed for Sub-Saharan Africa. It had a fairly large industrial sector and a reasonably functioning infrastructure, more in the south than in the north. During the Mozambican Civil War little came of the further development of the road network. The civil war erupted shortly after independence and lasted until 1992. During that period, the government controlled only the larger cities, while the countryside was controlled by the opposition. During the war, the colonial infrastructure was damaged and in some cases destroyed. During the war, land transport was dangerous because of robberies and banditry. In fact, most of the transport came to a standstill. In 1982 Zimbabwe intervened in the war to secure transport links to the ports. Malawi did the same in 1987, as the Mozambican government army had no control in these areas. After the war, Mozambique was full of landmines. These were cleaned up after the war, in 2015 the country was declared free of landmines.

In 1997 the first international PPP concession was awarded to maintain and modernize the N4 between Pretoria and Maputo. The toll collection started in the year 2000. Afterwards, road improvements that had a toll component were carried out in more places in Mozambique. In particular, the Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil was very active in Mozambique. Mozambique’s road network has been further developed after the end of the civil war with European, Japanese and Chinese support.

Between 2005 and 2009, the Ponte Armando Emílio Guebuza was built over the Zambezi near Caia as part of the N1. The bridge opened to traffic on August 1, 2009 as the first bridge closer to the coast. Between 2011 and 2014, the Ponte Kassuende was constructed at Tete, 6 kilometers downstream from the Ponte Samora Machel. This box bridge opened to traffic on November 12, 2014.

In the period 2010-2020, a large part of the remaining kilometers of unpaved national road in Mozambique was paved, by 2021 there were only two fairly short sections of the N11 and N14 that were unpaved. However, maintenance has often been an issue, particularly on the N1, which is Mozambique’s longest route.

The road network in Maputo is relatively developed, almost all roads and streets are paved. The main roads have been expanded with 2×2 lanes. Outside the center and the older neighborhoods, almost all roads are unpaved. On November 11, 2018, a suspension bridge opened across Maputo Bay, making it the largest span in Africa when opened.

Between 2013 and 2015, a northern Maputo ring road was constructed, a 28-kilometre long 2×2 lane road that is mainly at ground level with roundabouts, but also has some grade-separated elements. A toll plaza was built on the ring road in 2021 and was put into use on 1 February 2022.

Road numbering

Mozambique’s current road numbering system was introduced around 2010 and replaced an older system of three-digit numbers.

The road numbering of Mozambique is divided into estradas nacionais (national roads) and estradas regionais (regional roads). National roads have the prefix’N’ on the signage and sometimes ‘EN’ in written language. Mozambique’s primary national roads are numbered from the N1 to N14, with the N1 being the country’s main north-south route and the other numbers running from south to north. It is striking that there are no primary national roads to the border with Tanzania. The secondary national roads are mostly branches, numbered with a 3-digit number. This numbering generally runs from south to north, but there are exceptions. The lowest number is the N101, the highest the N381. These secondary national roads generally fall under two different road classes, the estradas primárias are mostly numbers in the N100 series and the estradas secundárias are numbers in the N200/300 series, the latter are often unpaved.

The regional roads are numbered with a three-digit and sometimes four-digit R number. These songs seem somewhat clustered, but there is no clear system in them. The majority of these roads are unpaved. The numbering is a continuation of the national roads, starting with the R400 and ending with the R1299.

Estradas nacionais

# No. Route Length
N1 Maputo – Manhica – Chongoene – Inchope – Caia – Nicoadala – Nampula – Namialo – Metoro – Pemba 2,477 km
N2 Maputo – Boane – Namaacha (gr. eSwatini) 77 km
N3 Bongolo – Goba (gr. eSwatini) 32 km
N4 Maputo – Ressano Garcia (gr. South Africa) 82 km
N5 Lindela – Inhambane 35 km
N6 Beira – Dondo – Inchope – Chimoio – Manica – Machipanda (gr. Zimbabwe) 290 km
N7 Gimo – Cantandica – Tete – Zobue (gr. Malawi) 485 km
N8 Changara – Cuchamano (gr. Zimbabwe) 49 km
N9 Tete – Manje – Nsadzu (gr. Zambia) 271 km
N10 Nicoadala – Quelimane 40 km
N11 Malay – Milange (gr. Malawi) 212 km
N12 Namialo – Monapo – Nacala 115 km
N13 Nampula – Ribaue – Malema – Cuamba – Mandimba – Lichinga 655 km
N14 Metoro – Montepuez – Balama – Marrupa – Malanga – Lichinga 629 km

Signage

A signpost in Mozambique.

The signage in Mozambique generally follows the standards of the South African Development Community (SADC). In 1999, the Road Traffic Signs Manual of the SADC was adopted, to which Mozambique was also a signatory. In Mozambique, both blue and green signs are used, based on the South African model. There are also distance signs. Road markings are yellow and white, with yellow side and white center markings, the opposite of that in the United States. Rivers are clearly marked.

Maximum speed

The maximum speed is set in the Codigo de Estrada (road code) of 2011. The maximum speed for passenger cars is 60 km/h in built-up areas and 120 km/h outside built-up areas. For trucks, 60 and 100 km/h applies. Mozambique may have the highest speed limit on regular roads in the world.

Mozambique Road Network