The Mozambique Company (Companhia de Moçambique) was a royal company operating in Portuguese Mozambique that had the concession of the lands in the Portuguese colony corresponding to the present provinces of Manica and Sofala in central Mozambique.
The company was established on 11th February, 1891 with acapital stock from financiers from Germany, the United Kingdom and South Africa. Its headquarters was located in Beira, where it controlled the public administration and the post offices. The company also founded a private bank, the Banco da Beira, which issued currency in pounds.
The concession was granted for a period of 50 years, during which the company could not only exploit the resources and existing manpower but also grant sub-concessions. The company was granted the exclusive right to collect taxes, but was itself granted a 25-year tax exemption. In return the Portuguese state would receive 7.5% of the company’s profits and 10% of the sold shares. The company was also required to settle 1,000 Portuguese families and provide education and public administration in its territory.
In practice, the company made only partial use of the prerogatives with which it had been bestowed; but this was balanced by the fact that it also met very few of its obligations. Having only limited capital, the company did little to develop the area, deriving most of its income from its ability to tax and its power to use conscripted labour on its plantations and for lease to adjacent estates.
Resistance to the forced labour regime was a major cause of rebellions against the company which occurred in 1902 and 1917. Despite the company’s obligation under its charter to provide forces to maintain law and order, it was unable to meet these crises, and on both occasions Portugal had to mount expensive interventions.
Because of its bad performance and because of the shift, under the Salazar regime, towards Portuguese control and away from international control of the economy, the company’s concession was not renewed when it ran out in 1942. On 18 July 1942, the territory of Manica and Sofala passed to the Portuguese colonial authorities and the Mozambique Company continued to operate in the agricultural and commercial sectors.
On 20 October 1961, The Mozambique Company became the Grupo Entreposto Comercial de Moçambique, which transformed itself into a holding on 6 September 1972, with the participation of capital from other companies, including Entreposto-Gestão e Participações (SGPS) SA.
R.S. Cotton was the local representative in Bulawayo and was a major player in the building in the Limpopo Railway.