Story by WASHINGTON AKUMU in Arusha
Publication Date: 3/13/2007
Tanzania yesterday rolled out the red carpet for investors, with President Jakaya Kikwete unveiling a raft of sweeteners for foreign capital.
They include cutting the number of licences required by new businesses, new land ownership laws and fresh regulations to govern the relationship between workers and the owners of capital.
Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete (left) walks with His Highness the Aga Khan (centre) and other guests to the conference venue at Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge yesterday.
“Investment promotion is a major priority for my presidency. We will enhance dialogue between business and policy makers. We would like to see more companies investing in this country,” said Mr Kikwete.
Sponsored by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) among others, the meeting has attracted top participation from key investors and Tanzanian government officials.
Involving local business
Among those in attendance yesterday were His Highness the Aga Khan, Tanzania’s Finance minister Zakia Meghji, Baroness Lynda Chalker of Unilever, IPS East Africa CEO Luttaf Kassam, and Mr Ali Mufuruki the executive chairman and CEO of Infotech Group of Tanzania.
The Tanzania government will also seek ways to involve local investors by, for instance, seeking mandatory listing on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange for companies involved in exploiting the country’s vast mineral wealth.
The country boasts mineral wealth some of which is just beginning to attract the attention of Western transnationals. They include gold and natural gas deposits. Concessioning of the railway service will also be fast-tracked. Mr Kikwete spoke at the sixth edition of an international investors’ meeting organized by the Tanzania National Business Council and held at the idyllic Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge at the foot of Mt Meru.
The meeting, chaired by Mr Kikwete, has brought together over 150 top policy makers, CEOs of major regional firms and businesspeople.
While some of the latter are already key investors in Tanzaina, some are keen to punt money on a country that is already emerging as a key magnet for foreign direct investment (FDI) in the region.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dar es Salaam leads other eastern Africa states in attracting FDI. In 2004, for instance investors’ capital worth $270 million found its way into the vast country, against $237 million for Uganda and just $46 million for Kenya.
The country’s apparent ascendancy in the FDI stakes has largely been fuelled by its virgin status in developing a manufacturing base, an abundance of mineral resources and the privatisation programme. Tourism has also grown, becoming more diversified.
The conference which ends today, began on Saturday, with participants visiting some of the key attractions in Tanzania’s Northern tourist circuit.
They were late yesterday afternoon set to go into detailed deliberations on key sectors of the economy among them tourism, finance, manufacturing and agriculture, infrastructure and education.