IN its endeavour to strengthen the country's business and investment climate, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) launched a new website some few days ago.
The website, www.tic.co.tz was launched by the Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda in China during the Tanzania- China Business Forum in the city of Guangzhou recently.
In this article our Correspondent revisits the advantages of the new web to the country's local and foreign investors and nation at large.
'INFORMATION is power' This is what Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) is proving with its new website launched recently by the Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda in China during the Tanzania-China Business Forum in the city of Guangzhou recently.
Through the website, TIC wants to make sure that local and international investors get right information at the right time as one way of strengthening services to the current and prospective investors. The investment agency takes advantage of the use of Information and Telecommunication Technology (ICT) to reach the world and tell people opportunities available in Tanzania and how they can be helped to come and invest.
Launching it, the Premier said that the newly launched website is a plus toward strengthening Tanzania's business and investment climate. The Premier urged investors and prospective ones from within and outside the country to take advantage of the website and benefit from a wide range of information that will help them in their endeavours. "This is a unique opportunity, you should take advantage of it," he said.
The TIC Executive Director Ms Juliet Kairuki who was part of the senior Tanzanian Government delegation said the website, www.tic.co.tz provides a single platform for domestic and foreign investors to access information relevant to making investments in Tanzania.
As part of an on-going and concerted effort to improve the investment climate in the country, TIC strives to offer relevant information to prospective and actual investors to help them navigate the administrative process in Tanzania.
"Key benefits of the new system for domestic and foreign investors include cutting out the middlemen by web-based approach and bringing transparency to the administrative process detailing clearly what needs to be done by making this information available to the public for free," she said.
She noted that the new website will transform the way Tanzanians at home and investors abroad interact with the Government and how they complete governmental administrative procedures such as registering their companies, registering for TIC certificate of incentives, registering for taxation and many more.
The new website, contains detailed breakdown of almost 30 procedures and more than 136 formalities available online through the web portal. More than 138 documents including forms and 38 legal justifications have been uploaded to assist an entrepreneur to merely get in touch with more than 20 public institutions and 88 civil servants involved in handling administrative procedures whose full contact details are publicised.
Information is kept updated by an autonomous team at the TIC which also ensures that the information is officially approved and user queries are answered swiftly and precisely.
The website also provides an indication of the timerequired to complete each step in a particular process, recording the time in number of hours or days required and fees that may need to be paid for a particular administrative step - eliminating any confusion.
TIC is among the first investment promotion agencies in the SADC region to provide this level of detailed information, embracing the process of "e-Regulations" the digitisation of government administrative processes. TIC's new website is the product of an e-Regulations business facilitation business that TIC has partnered with UNCTAD to roll out.
It aims to strengthen Tanzania's business environment by clarifying, simplifying and widely publicising administrative rules related to business and investment. The new TIC website displays laws and procedures in a perfectly transparent way and from the user's point of view.
It ensures that the user, at every single step, knows who to contact, what documents to bring and to obtain, what to pay, how long to wait, who to complain to and what laws regulate each interaction with a government institution.
The launch of TIC website in China coincided with a 9-day visit to China led by Mr Pinda aimed at bolstering trade and investment links between the two countries. Almost 100 Companies from China and Tanzania attended the business forum whereby seven agreements between China and Tanzania were signed. This is not the first time TIC is coming up with innovative ways of doing things.
Just recently, the agency started holding investment forums at zonal level, the first one being the one in the Southern Highlands that includes Kigoma, Rukwa and Katavi in October 2012 followed by another one in the Northern zone regions held in Tanga some few months ago.
It is encouraging that the government supports these initiatives aiming at making Tanzania a better place to do business and invest. It is not once that people from higher echelons of leadership of this country have supported TIC endeavours to promote and strengthen investment environment in Tanzania.
Just recently, Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda, said that the government values the contribution of the private sector in the development of the country and emphasised that they need to be facilitated in their endeavours.
During the Northern Zone investment forum, the Premier said that the government will continue creating conducive environment for the private sector and investors to work in the country for the mutual benefit of both the public and the private one.
"I will be the last person to belittle the contribution of the private sector in this country," he said adding that the local private sector deserves kudos for what they have done and strives to do. The Premier noted that investors need to take advantage of enabling policies such as the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that seek to forge smooth and healthy relations between the two sectors.
He said that such forums were very crucial in communicating with investors and other development stakeholders of what opportunities are available and how they can work with the government in bringing development into reality. It is clear that the new website will enhance the role of communicating with investors and other stakeholders on what TIC can do for them in a simple way.
As a pointer to another TIC's innovative ideas to strengthen investment, the agency in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNACTAD) decided in 2009 to launch a successful Business Partnership Linkages Programme with a view of elevating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Tanzania. Business Linkages Programme is designed to create an environment conducive to sustainable business linkages between local SMEs and large foreign or domestic companies.
It is an initiative which aims to promote creation of durable and mutually beneficial partnerships between (affiliates of) trans-national corporations (TNCs) and large local companies on the one hand and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on the other, so as to enhance the productive capacity, efficiency, competitiveness and sustainability of their relationships.
Experience has shown that countries that facilitate the development of sustainable TNC-SME linkages can upgrade their local productive capacities and enhance their industrial performance by integrating their enterprise into global supply chains of large foreign firms.
All these efforts give positive and promising results. The past 12 years, Tanzania has performed well in attracting huge investment projects in agriculture, tourism, industries, communication, infrastructure and transport. Within that period, a number of those projects have risen from 178 to 869 in 2012; 53 per cent of these projects are wholly owned by Tanzanians.
The projects have contributed on the increase of capital from USD 874 million up to USD 12 billion within that period. These projects have produced over 135,760 new employments in 2012. Though a lot have to done, TIC deserves congratulations.
With its nature, the website and other ambitious TIC initiatives will go a long way toward making Tanzania a better investment destination, hence making our economy stronger. What is needed now is more work on the part of TIC, support to the agency from the government and firm cooperation with other development stakeholders.