“AT one time in the past, hunger hit a certain village and two young men decided to go to a neighbouring village looking for food. Both had no shoes, they were to travel barefooted. One of them however, refused to go unless he could get a pair of shoes. His fellow decided it was okay, walked barefooted to the village.
In the end he returned home with food…” “We, Tanzania Standard Newspapers (TSN) have decided to ‘walk barefooted’ across the country to push for the development agenda, by organising business forums.
And we have just started,” TSN Managing Editor Dr Jim Yonazi said when addressing 300 plus participants at a Business Forum in Mwanza held last week.
That is the spirit driving the TSN’s love for development of the country, support ing the government’s efforts to transform the country into a middle economy and semiindustrialised by 2025.
The Development Vision 2025 states among other things that the economy of Tanzania will have transformed from a low productivity agricultural economy to a semi-industrialised one, led by modernised and highly productive agricultural activities.
It adds that the agricultural sector will have effectively integrated and buttressed by supportive industrial and service activities in the rural and urban areas.
Currently, the manufacturing sector in Tanzania remains relatively small, with most activities concentrating on the creation of simple consumer products such as foods, beverages, tobacco, textiles, furniture and wood allied products.
In spite of its declining size, however, the sector continues to be of considerable importance to the Tanzania economy as is still one of the most reliable sources of government revenue in terms of import sales as well as for both corporate and income taxes, accounting for over half of the annual government revenue collection.
The contribution of the manufacturing sector to the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country has averaged 8 per cent over the last decade, however activities within the sector have been registering an annual growth of over 4 per cent and the sector is currently the third most important to the Tanzania economy behind agriculture and tourism.
Mwanza region, as many argued at the forum, is a potential area for helping the government realise its ambition because it connects different regions in the country as well as some East African countries.
Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella noted that looking at the geographical location of the region, in East Africa it’s at the central position. “It’s ideal for minimising logistical costs in investment,” Mr Mongella said.
He assured the business people at the forum that the regional administration was going to remove bureaucracy affecting speedy investments in the region to make sure that manufacturing sector flourishes.
“If there is anything that is within our capacity as a region we can break for the big profit, we will do it,” says Mr Mongella, adding: “Regarding implementation of the Development Agenda, we are no longer in the planning stage, but we are already moving.”
He was chief guest at the event, after his ‘word of encouragement’ then at least 10 presentations were made, all putting spices on how the region could rise its contribution to the GDP and move hand in hand with the government in development agenda.
The forum resolved that since the boom in manufacturing sector could come with rapid increase in population in urban areas, there was a need to boost the real estate industry in the region.
Regional Senior Econo mist Kaswalala Benjamin noted that Mwanza city consists of a total of 200,000 houses, but with estimated rate in population increase of 10 per cent annually, 8 per cent being immigrants and 2 per cent increase by birth, the region needed more investment in the sector.
Mr Kaswala said going for high rise buildings was more proper because they would need less size of land but accommodate many people who would flock the city as a result of industrialisation.
TIB Development Bank, which was one of the sponsors of the event, advised the regional authority to undertake projects that were potential for generating income if they really needed to support the 2025 vision.
Director of Strategic Planning and Corporate of the TIB Development Bank, Mr Patrick Mongella, expressed the Bank’s commitment towards issuing loans for the projects which could be both for income generation and as catalyst for other economic activities.
He advised that the Mwanza city could benefit through the user fees from the Busisi Bridge, the Great lakes ferries. He said for the region having the Industrial Park may also bring in money from concession fee from off takers and Mwanza Airport could generate funds from passengers’ service charge which could be used to structure the financing of the City.
Small entrepreneurs who attended the forum got what it takes to secure loans from financial institutions to develop their businesses.
Executive Director of the Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) told Mwanza entrepreneurs that they were supposed to be part of industrialisation drive by organising themselves in groups in seeking loans that they would use as capital for investment.
TPB has a special loan package, so called Group Lending, which the entrepreneurs could benefit without having collateral, but only organise themselves into groups.
The issue of irrigation agriculture centred the debate, with many participants emphasizing that the development agenda which leans on industrialisation should give priority to modernising the agricultural sector.
Mr Mongella, remarked: “Agriculture without irrigation is like gambling because you are uncertain over whether it would rain or not.”
He told the investors to use loan in constructing irrigation infrastructures to realise the outcome of the agriculture, noting that otherwise the envisaged industries would lack supply of raw materials and therefore would experience sluggish production.