18 August 2014

Tanzania: Call to Protect Products of Local Innovation

TANZANIA should impose a ban on imported goods which can be locally manufactured to help protect home-grown innovations.

Speaking in an interview, an instructor with the Vocational Education and Training Authority (VETA), Mr Emmanuel Bukuku, pointed out that there were a number of innovations which failed to pick up due to the saturation of the same products from outside the country.

Mr Bukuku, who has innovated a number of equipment, including an unmanned military marine craft, an animal and birdchasing machine and a sterilizer and culture unit for hospitals, noted that imposing such a ban was the only way to enabling locally made products take root.

Mr Bukuku said it was difficult for domestic products to compete with imported products, most of which are made of multifarious technology.

"There are some individuals who try hard to come up with various innovations, but their products remain unrecognised, thus dampening the spirit of the innovators.

In my view it is high time the government imposed a ban on imports of products which can be locally made," he stressed. He called on the government to allocate empowerment funds to help people who are able to innovate various things.

He said it was obvious that a number of imported products were better than those made within the country. However, he insisted that the quality of local products could be improved if the government and other stakeholders took keen interest in their improvement.

Mr Bukuku affirmed that there were a number of countries which sometime back banned some products from outside their countries in an effort to protect their technology.

For instance, he said, countries such as South Korea, Singapore, China and Germany valued their technological innovations and even imposed a ban on some imports purposely to give room for local technology to take root.

"Having imported products is not bad in itself, but when such products can be made locally I think allowing penetration of the same products from outside the country will only kill local innovations," he said.

Mr Bukuku maintained that there was no country in the world which had developed without firmly protecting its own technology.

He appealed to the government to establish a body that would oversee and nurture local innovations in a bid to make them sustainable for the development of the country.

He said having such a body would also enable innovators acquire funds to improve their products, unlike now where they were being frustrated by financial constraints.

Mr Bukuku also blamed the public for preferring foreign to local products, saying such mindset had to change in order to improve local innovations.

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