Mozambique's Ports Development Company (MPDC) said on Tuesday it would increase the handling capacity of its Maputo port to 12 million tonnes this year from 8.7 million in 2010 to take more coal from South Africa.

We will use Maputo port as a gateway to the most important world markets, MPDC chief executive Dave Rennie told a news conference in the capital, saying the firm would look to ship coal to markets in India, China, Turkey and East Africa.

Last year, the southern African nation's government extended MPDC's contract to run the Maputo port from 2018 to 2033.

MPDC, whose owners are South African logistics firm Grindrod and giant Dubai-based port operator DP World, said it had plans to invest $750 million to boost handling capacity to an annual 48 million tonnes a year by 2033.

That figure is just over half the capacity at neighbouring South Africa's massive Richard's Bay Coal Terminal, but is a sign of the increased logistical competition Africa's biggest economy is starting to face from the rest of the region.

Rennie said Maputo should be able to handle 16 million tonnes of cargo in five years' time.