SOME decades ago, Tanga was once a region with vibrant industrial economy, with people travelling from all other regions to seek employment in the area located at country’s North east corridor.
From the expansive sisal plantations to the flourishing industries, it was vivid case of region with industrial growth. For years, Tanga manufactured goods dominated the shops in the country and mass manufactured items were produced more efficiently and competitively than, arguably, anywhere else in the country. Many of the region’s older really miss the past, when Tanga’s economy was next to none in the then Tanganyika.
One of the elders, Ramadhani Fikirini, recalls that in early 1960s Tanga was much better as life was enjoyable and the money circulation was good in the region due to availability of various economic activities as opposed to nowadays. Sheikh Fikirini attributes the demise of the industries in the region to the selfishness, and poor management of the individual given the role to own them under the privatization agenda.
“Most of those who bought the industries embraced tribalism, they employed their own relatives instead of recruiting people with capacity to run the industries,” he said. “I see this as lack of capacity and patriotism among those given the industries to run,” he says.
Regional Commissioner 2017(RC) Martin Shigela remarks that Tanga had many industries, and it was almost leading in having industrialization in the country. Mr Shigela thus declares that those who have not started to revive the privatized industries, as directed by the President John Magufuli, should embark on process to hand them back to the government so that other investors could take over and run them in order to create employments for the residents.
He mentioned some of the collapsed industries as cloth industry as he commends the steel industry which had in the past collapsed, but now has been revived and has started operating.
In a move to facilitate a move to regain its lost industrialization status, the region has allocated a land for the economic zone at Pongwe area where Mr Shigela invites the investors to set up industries.
He was against the arrangement of one industry for each district as planned by some other regions, arguing that strategically emulating such mode for Tanga was to do unfair to the regions considering that every district has a variety of raw materials for different industries. “We want fish processing industries, cement industries, juice industries and others using fruits.
Almost each district could offer raw materials to cater for the raw materials needed for all such industries,” he states. “We don’t want to confine ourselves to ‘one industry in each district, we need competition,” he says. He has directed all district councils to set aside lands for investment so that when an investor comes they could have choices on type of investment.
So far, the region has three cement factories: Rhino Cement, Tanga Cement and Kilimanjaro Cement which the President Magufuli launched recently. “In fact, in the near future, not more than two years, we are going to invite the President to lay a foundation stone for the construction of another cement industry,” he assures.
Tanga is also one of the regions leading in growing cashew nuts, and the region plans to set up a big warehouse with capacity of storing 10,000 tonnes of cashew nuts.
“With this plan, we want industries to process the cashew nuts,” he says. Stakeholders are optimistic that should the collapsed factories be revived it would be a major way of creating employments for jobless youth in the region.
Generally, currently, working industries in the region are Tanga Cement Company (Simba Cement) mill I & II, Rhino Cement, Kilimanjaro Cement, Podoa Petroleum Jelly, Pee Pee Tanzania Limited (PPTL) Pembe Wheat Flour Mills,Tanga Fresh Milk processing industry, Rhino Lime for Tanga township.
In an interview with this paper, some stakeholders said if all dormant industries are repossessed, the region’s economy will experience a steady growth due to increased revenue collection from taxes.
“Economic activities are depending on each other, because one business or economic activity boosts the other, it is our duty as stakeholders to use the Tanga Business forum to shed light on opportunities available in the region” Mr Aziz Haifu said.
Stakeholders believe that if the government will establish fruits processing industry and other food processing industries, it will encourage the farmers shift to commercial agriculture.
“We want the government to have strategic plans of establishing processing industries in the district that will enable many farmers to put more efforts in commercial agriculture “he said.
Korogwe District Commissioner (DC), Robert Gabriel, recently hosted an investor from Netherlands Rachel Toklu who expressed interest to establish fruit processing industry in the district and she in turn told the DC that she would start with building an orange processing industry there.
For that matter, the DC has called upon residents of Korogwe, Muheza and Handeni to capitalize on the envisaged fruit industry, since the farmers in the districts are mainly growers of the fruit.