Mrs, Erna Nelki has sent us the following contribution following a recent visit to Tanzania.
The industrial estates in Arusha and Moshi are run by the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO), which was set up by the Government in 1974 under a technical cooperation agreement with Sweden. There are six SIDO estates indifferent regions of Tanzania. The Swedish Government offered soft loans to African entrepreneurs if they were able to provide the initial 10% share of investment in their project. The Tanzanian Government complemented this by loans for building and infrastructure. The Tanzanians were sent to Sweden for training in parent company linked to their project,
SIDO firms produce manufactured goods for the home market such as electrical equipment (initially fuse boxes); cutlery , pots and pans; mosquito mesh, coffee roasting tins and cast iron manhole covers; water taps and valves. The machines came from Sweden, but some engineers subsequently developed their own machines when sales warranted expansion. Production is based on simple technology and is labour intensive. The Moshi SIDO estate has additional interesting features. The foundry and forge use the scrap metal from the other firms on the estate for their cast iron goods. One firm produces soap powders, detergents and disinfectants for medical and cleaning purposes; others sell scissors, brass locks, brass water pipes and taps. Another firm produces the packaging for the products of the estate; they are designed and printed sometimes very artistically on the premises.
There is a capital intensive firm with highly trained personnel producing lenses to specification and fitting them by hand into plastic spectacle frames produced by another firm. There is a galvanising firm as well as an electroplating one in zinc , nickel and chromium. Both estates have their tool shop making tools and spares for the firms on the estate as well as for the Appropriate Technology Centre in Moshi,
Most firms are to some extent dependent on imports such as steel sheeting and thus on import allocations by the Government at a time of acute foreign exchange shortage, Though some firms hummed with activity, some were producing below capacity . Those firms that diversified their production were able to expand. But most firms I saw were impressively busy. The Northern Electrical Manufacturers Limited (NEM) has a full order book and is so diversified that it is in the process of building a second larger factory. This firm has export orders from Zambia, Burundi, Btswana and Swaziland and hopes to be able to market their goods in Europe. The Kilimanjaro Electroplates Limited is producing high class nickel electroplated cutlery which finds a market in Sweden and a galvanising firm is exporting buckets to Sweden.