BIG ATTENDANCE AT LONDON INVESTMENT PROMOTION SEMINAR
A two-page spread in The Guardian called ‘Special Report: Tanzania’, greeted me on Thursday 21st May 1992. A handful of articles and several advertisements extolling the virtues of doing business in Tanzania, were a real surprise to me since I had never seen anything similar before; Nigeria, Kenya or Uganda perhaps, but never Tanzania. I soon realized that this was part of Tanzania’s investment campaign taking place in London with a Confederation of British Industry (CBI)/East African Association Seminar arranged for the following day.
‘The Changing Face of Tanzania: Business Prospects’ stimulated a huge interest. From Tanzania, the Prime Minister John Malecela, brought four ministers, the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, George Kahama, Director of the Investment Promotion Centre (IPC) , plus numerous other officials. All the senior diplomats were assembled from the Tanzanian embassies in Europe. More than double the usual number of participants at CBI seminars were enrolled. The Conference Administrator reported that the phone had never stopped ringing with enquiries. When asked to explain the popularity of th s conference, she suggested it was due to the friendliness of the Tanzanians.
So, the following morning I joined the 230 men and 5 women to attend the conference at Centre Point. I had discovered a special entry rate of £30 plus VAT was available for members of the Britain-Tanzania Society (BTS) as the regular fee of £282 is certainly beyond my means. Also present from the BTS were Roger Carter and Trevor Jagger. The format of the day was speeches and questions, very ably and smoothly chaired by Tom Brazier, Chairman of the East African Association. Sir David Gilmore started proceedings with a very informative and welcoming speech. This was followed by presentations by the Tanzanian team.
Quite clearly, everything is changing. Tanzania is very keen to welcome business to its shores . Time and again we were reminded of the glorious scenic beauties of Tanzania from Kilimanjaro to the Indian Ocean, from historic Zanzibar to the Serenget1. We were also told of the vast potential for agriculture, fisheries, minerals and natural resources. The businessmen were told several times about the fiscal changes, no tax for five years, freedom to remit profits and dividends, and the assistance available to establish new work in Tanzania.
During the afternoon I attended a Workshop on Industry and Agro-Industry. There was a question posed which for me illustrates in cameo the issues ahead; “I am in the fisheries business based for many years in Mombasa, Kenya. Two years ago, I moved down to Tanzania and am now based in Dar es Salaam. I have orders for ten tons of octopus a month but my current fishing fleet capacity can deliver only one ton a month. I have discovered three fishing vessels in Dar es Salaam that were part of an aid package from Italy some years ago. They are operating at only one tenth of their capability. I need ships, they need more work; how do we create a successful partnership?”
This also illustrates dramatically, the ecological and social issues which were conspicuously absent from the day’s deliberations. Only Alistair Boyd from the Commonwealth Development Corporation spoke of the need to take into account the social and ecological consequences of economic development. This example leaves me asking many questions:
-Will Tanzanians benefit from this change of economic policy?
-Do Tanzanians want all their octopus taken?
-Do Tanzanians want any of their other natural resources exploited?
-Does Tanzania have safeguards in place to protect it from over development ? (which means money and people to monitor activity).
-Who benefits and who loses out?
POINTS MADE BY PARTICIPANTS:
– Tanzania produces 1% of the total world output of coffee, cotton and tea . Coffee estates are up for sale. Investment is required for cashew nut and pyrethrum processing. Sisal is Tanzania’ s number four foreign exchange earner; Tanzania is soliciting the private sector to purchase or enter into joint ventures with sisal estates – Investment Promotion Centre
– The UK is still Tanzania’s leading trading partner with a 22% share of the market . Our closest competitors are Italy (16%), Japan (13.3%) and Germany (11.7%). In 1991 we exported goods to the value of some £73 million and imported £21 million – mostly tea and coffee. Britain’s Area Advisory Group for the Department of Trade and Industry has designated Tanzania as one of its ‘markets to watch’ and it is possible that it will consider an investigative mission in 1993. Tanzania’s remarkable stability gives it advantages over many of the neighbouring states. It is to be congratulated on its marketing and cooperative reforms, political pluralism, independent press, the record in human rights . . .. But it is a competitive world. There have been changes in banking but no foreign banks are yet operating in Tanzania; none of the parstatals have been sold or liquidated yet; there is need for progress on a double taxation agreement and there is the problem of outstanding commercial debts dating back to 1979 – Sir David Gilmore, Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
– Many people neighbouring Tanzania have found the country to be a safe haven whenever they felt severely threatened in their own countries .. . even the wild game have the same feelings . It is no wonder that Tanzania has 25% of her territory reserved for game parks … ,. It is our intention to make the Investment Promotion Centre a ‘One-Stop-Centre’ to speed up the process of approving investment projects .. . . Between 1990 and April 1992 some 35 projects which are wholly owned by British firms or in partnership with Tanzanian counterparts have been set up …. I really hope that you will be able to look into new possibilities – John Malecela.
– The factors which were most influential in our deciding to increase our investment in Tanzania were the stability and remittability of funds but …. we have encountered some resistance from minor offici also to the implementation of IPC investment approvals and there is continuing uncertainty on who in Government is responsible for privatisation and who we should negotiate with – Tom Brazier, Chairman, Brooke Bond Ltd.