By Elias Mhegera – Tanzania’s Minister for Finance and Planning Dr. Phillip Mpango has assured investors in Tanzania that they will continue to be protected. He was speaking during a one day High level Thinker’s Dialogue on Development Cooperation between Tanzania and China.
The focus of the conference was on investment and trade, and it was held at the Hyatt Regency Dar es Salaam, the Kilimanjaro Hotel on July 17, 2017. Dr Mpango who represented Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan promised to deal with the culprits who have been acting as obstacles to the smooth operations of investors in this country.
The Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) in partnership with the Agriculture University of China organised this conference which attracted 170 plus attendants.
These were scholars, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders well versed in the areas of trade investment and economics. “Report to us any government official who is an obstacle to your functions,” remarked the minister.
He was responding to a speech by Mr. Lin Zhiyong, Chief Representative of Chinese Economic and Commercial Representation in Tanzania who reported of some disturbances to investors by some government officials.
The minister re-assured investors of a continued support and that they will continue to get protection of their businesses so that they can operate in a friendlier atmosphere.
The core issues that were discussed as obstacles to smooth operation of investments in Tanzania are energy and infrastructure. Moreover, there are challenges of rural-urban migration which reduces the potential of the rural sector.
In her maiden speech to the guest of honour and other invitees, the Executive Director of the ESRF Dr. Tausi Kida promised that her organization which was established in 1993 as an independent research establishment on policy matters will continue to co-operate with other stakeholders in ensuring that Tanzanians reach their set goals.
For that matter it has been fully involved in the five years development plans in various phases, The United Republic of Tanzania National Strategy For Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP), The Tanzania Vision 2025, and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She thanked the Ford Foundation for sponsoring this event noted that it will be an opportunity for sharing of knowledge between China and Tanzania but also for other stakeholders and development partners.
Addressing the conference during his key-note speech Prof. Adolf Mkenda Permanent Secretary Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment noted that the rural sector is affected by migrations in two fold.
In the first place it is because the manpower is reduced, but the second one it is because even the educated youngsters remain in the urban sectors so the consumer pattern in the rural sector is highly affected.
He critiqued the youngsters in that they do not have an appetite for locally produced goods while at the same time a good number of them go without jobs for quite some time. However he called for all Tanzanians and well wishers to find a long-term solution to this challenge.
Prof. Mkenda whose key note address was “How can Tanzania leverage investments and trade with China” noted that investments in agriculture and rural industrialization could be one of the possible solutions to this challenge.
For his part a renowned economist Prof. Samuel Wangwe counseled policy makers in Tanzania to emulate China which adopted market oriented models of economy but retaining its principal values of communism.
“To invest in agriculture does not necessarily mean to disturb the ordinary farmers, the two can go together harmoniously,” he commented. He called for more researches in agri-business which create jobs for farmers rather than disengage them.
Implicitly he was referring to a longstanding challenge of land grabbing in Tanzania which has been caused by large scale investments in agriculture after the country’s green revolution well known in Swahili language as ‘Kilimo Kwanza’.
While the initiative was meant to assure food security in Tanzania but it caused havocs in the agricultural sector which employs 75 percent of all Tanzanians and provide approximately 27.7 percent of the country’s GDP. This is after a big rush of urban dwellers as they could access soft loans and farming implements for dealing with large scale agriculture.
Prof. Xu Xiuli from the China Agricultural University argued that her visit to Morogoro, a nearby region to Dar es Salaam where this conference was conducted, informed participants that she observed there is a communication gap between farmers and other stakeholders.
“Farmers do not need books, they just need simple pictures with strong messages,” she counseled. She said her experience in Tanzania indicated that even in areas deeply dependent on agriculture there is very low information to the farmers, and thus simple language should be used to inform them.
She called for the government to invite investors who do trade in agricultural products rather than those dealing with cars and big things. “Investments must work for the farmers with low incomes, this then can remove the existing trade imbalance,” she added.
For his part Prof. Humphrey Moshi called for improvement of the rural infrastructure, and the need to share experiences with other countries in these areas. He counseled that there is a dire need to support the private sector which can facilitate job creation through agriculture.
He spoke of the need to turn villages into learning centers and invest there permanent buildings for that purpose. He also called for rural electrification which will enhance provision of services and even attract permanent dwellers from the middle class.
The Chairman of the CEO Roundtable of Tanzania showed concern in the country’s tax regime. He called for a revisit of some tax policies in order to reduce a burden to the private sector due to a heavy load of taxation here and there.