TANZANIA, like many other developing nations, has been struggling to promote the manufacturing sector so that it may contribute to economic growth as well as ending poverty.
The sector has a big potential to create jobs in the rural and urban areas but only when there is increased investment. Where there is an increase in processing which is more labour-intensive than are assembling industries, manufacturing sector is vibrant.
However, the challenge has mainly been affiliated with creating an enabling environment for the productive sectors in the economy, most notably the manufacturing sector, in order to expand the present low level of competitiveness.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade Permanent Secretary, Ms Joyce Mapunjo, said recently that manufacturing sector has been prioritized not only under the Five Years Development Plan but also the Long Term Development Perspective of Vision 2025 as well as the Integrated Industrial Development Strategy and Master Plan (IIDS).
The PS was speaking at the signing ceremony on Record of Discussions for the 'KAIZEN' project on strengthening manufacturing enterprises through quality and productivity improvement between Tanzania and Japan.
"The superiority of KAIZEN is recognized all over the world and the Japanese International Corporation Agency (JICA) has been implementing technical support in various countries since when it started in 1983," she said.
She said the government has underscored the need to enhance manufacturing sector with the aim of bolstering its contribution to the economic development with ultimate goal of ending abject poverty.
Over the past two years, the sector has experienced a growth rate of nine per cent with its contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) being around 8.9 per cent which is short of the planned target of 15 per cent by 2020.
The improved manufacturing activities is attributed to the reliable supply of power during the period under review which resulted into increased volume of manufactured products including food products, beverages and cement.
In the country's Development Vision-2025, it is projected that the contribution of the industrial sector to the economy will reach 25 per cent like the semi-industrialized countries of South East Asia. For this target to be achieved there is a need to deal with the challenges facing the sector.
These include low productivity and operating gross margins due to high costs of production. In Tanzania, she added, KAIZEN, originally a Japanese word for 'improvement', is appreciated by several sectors like industrial, health and service.
KAIZEN in manufacturing sector includes productivity improvement, quality control, safety of working environment and others in the production process. It is the foundation of manufacturing sector development in Japan.
She said the assistance provided under Record of Discussions will prudently be used to make more progress in industrial development efforts particularly building capacity to the local manufacturers take advantage of the emerging regional markets.
The JICA chief representative Tanzania office, Mr Yukihide Katsuta, said manufacturing sector is one of the major engines for economic development and poverty alleviation. "Through manufacturing sector development, it is expected to attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), add value for unprocessed agricultural products, replace importation of products by local industries and create more job opportunities to Tanzanians," he said.
He said the three years KAIZEN project will much contribute for the economic development of the country through manufacturing sector development.