Potential investors turned up in great numbers at two investment conferences, in Dar es Salaam (November 5-8) and London (November 6). The first, the Tanzania International Investment and Technology Forum, was sponsored by UNIDO and the second, which was devoted to East African cooperation, by the Financial Times.

The Dar Forum was clearly very successful as it attracted $786 million in new investment from more than 400 foreign investors representing 220 companies. Four joint-venture contracts and 75 letters of intent were signed by local companies and state agencies with foreign partners. The investments were in gold mining, soap manufacture, oilseeds, a dairy plant, a petroleum pipeline from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, a hydro-electric plant in Morogoro, diamond and gemstone mining, construction of hotels, shoe manufacturing, cutlery, cotton yarn, fruit juice manufacturing and coffee processing.

But Tanzania came in for heavy criticism especially at the London seminar for the way in which its Investment Promotion Centre (IPC) treated investors compared with the warm welcome they received in Uganda. One British businessman called it the , Investment Prevention Centre’ because of its bureaucratic nature and negative attitude. Even the new IPC head, Mr Samuel Sitta, was quoted in the Express (September 12) as saying that he found the centre too tardy and riddled with red tape. Staff at the IPC seemed to love controlling rather than inviting new investment he said; some investors had to go to seven different offices with the same set of documents. At the London seminar Foreign Minister Jakwaya Kikwete put a lot of the blame on the IMF. It was the IMF that had insisted that tax exemptions could be approved only by the Ministry of Finance and not by a ‘one-stop’ investment centre. He felt that the situation would soon be resolved.

But Mr Kikwete also pointed out that Tanzania was the largest country in East Africa in terms of size and population; it was better endowed with resources than the other two countries; it was stable, peaceful and had been cohesive since independence; it had just undergone a peaceful transition from a one-party to a multi-party system of government; there was plenty of land; the industrial sector was more or less virgin territory; there were numerous training facilities available for use by the private sector.

President Mkapa, in a highly significant pro-private enterprise opening speech at the Dar es Salaam forum (delivered by Vice-President Dr. Omar Ali Juma) promised a much better deal for foreign investors. He said that the government planned to drop visa requirements for citizens of countries of ‘ strategic investment interest and trade importance to Tanzania’, and provide long-term work permits to foreign investors promptly. He said that he would restructure the IPC, would reduce bureaucracy, would streamline the taxation system, fight corruption and rationalise labour laws. He assured investors of protection, peace and stability, things which Tanzania had enjoyed since independence. British aid minister Baroness Chalker at the London seminar pointed out that corruption depended on two parties; investors should stop offering bribes.

Regular visitors to the vast World Travel Market at Earls Court in London (November 11-14) were astonished to see the transformation in the scope and style of Tanzania’s stand. Among the African stands only that of South Africa was larger. Dynamic Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Juma Ngasongwa, having just returned from a similar assignment in South Africa, led a party of some 20 private companies who had arranged displays at the impressively laid out stand. Potential tourists were invited to hire a private yacht on the coast, to travel by private train, to flyover the Serengeti in a balloon, to watch birds or ride horse back and engage in a whole range of other activities. Tanzania’s 12 national parks, seven game reserves, 50 controlled areas, its conservation park, its marine park, beaches, historical sites and other attractions are now finally receiving significant international publicity.

The minister had reacted forcefully immediately after an attack on two tourists in the Serengeti National Park on September 8. He announced that security patrols had been strengthened, the number of rangers at each lodge had been increased and those out on patrol had been instructed to shoot bandits on sight. A new helicopter would soon be helping with security in the park. A US$ 25 million film with a cast of 200 entitled ‘The Maasai’ and intended to further promote Tanzanian tourism is to be made in Arusha starting in May 1997.

Uganda’s formidable President Museveni, on a state visit to Tanzania on September 21, lectured the Dar es Salaam business community on ways in which Tanzania could profit from Uganda’s highly successful experience with investment and revenue collection. “I understand that some people here don’t like Indians” he said. “They argue that they are corrupt and bribe the indigenous people. If the indigenous accept bribes from them they are stupid (applause) …. if you don’t want Indians here I’m ready to take them to Uganda ….. five years ago Uganda collected $40 million in taxes; this year I am expecting US$900 million …. suppose I had 1,000 Indians like Madhvani in Uganda, I would be generating US$36 billion annually in taxes and Uganda would become a donor nation!”.

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