Dar es Salaam — One of the challenges facing industrialization in Tanzania is inadequate promotion of industrial products and poor standards and quality.
To overcome these challenges industrialists need to take an active role to supplement government's efforts to widen the market base, the Minister of Industries and Trade Charles Mwijage has said. Speaking at 23rd annual general meeting of the Confederation of Tanzania industries (CTI) Mr Mwijage said industrialists need to take the lead to addresses the issue of poor quality and inadequate promotion of products which denies them the capacity to exploit the vast regional and internal markets.
"I'm optimistic that if the government clings with industries, our dream of becoming a semi-industrialised country come 2025, will come true," Mr Mwijage said in a speech that was read by noted the External processing zone authority (EPZA) director general, Mr Joseph Simbakalia.
Mr Mwijage said government does not seek to abrogate its responsibility to enhance competitiveness and support industrialisation, but industries too have roles to play to supplement the government's efforts.
Some of the markets that industrialists can exploit which the government has worked hard to negotiate on include the East African Community Common Market, South African Development Community Free Trade Area, European Union (EU), African growth and Opportunity act (Agoa). Others are Canada China and India, where Tanzania's products can be exported to these markets duty free.
"I strongly urge CTI members to take advantages of these duty free arrangements, to expand their market and hence growth," Mr Mwijage advised during the meeting.
Adding: "I'm encouraged by most industries in the country in line with improving standards of their products which can compete in the global market."
Some locally produced products were in low quality, which made it difficult to compete in the foreign markets.
He called on all industries in the country to improve standards of their products so that they can sell more locally and globally, promising to support them by using high commission offices abroad to market and promote products.
Giving his opening remarks, CTI chairman Mr Samuel Nyantahe, said CTI was committed to cooperate and collaborate with relevant authorities in finding ways and means of achieving the intended fiscal and operational objectives without harming the industries.
"We are ready to cooperate with the government, but we urge it to undertake deliberate policy actions in collaboration with key stakeholders to bring about the necessary structural and strategic reforms," noted Mr Nyantahe.
Tanzania has to learn from other countries which have posted high rates of industrial development, like Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore which had a similar level of industrial growth as Tanzania in 1960's, according to him.
Their achievements are fueled by friendly business environments, by sorting out respective identified challenges, something that Tanzania has not.
Going by the World Bank ease of doing business index, it shows out of 189 countries, Singapore is ranked 1st, Malaysia 18th and Thailand 49th while Tanzania is positioned at the 139th.
Delivering his presentation on fast tracking industrialisation in the country, Prof Lucian Msambichaka of Dar es Salaam university, said if the government was to achieve its goal, it should promote involvement of Small and medium sized enterprises (SME's)) in its plans.
"SMEs are what make development of the country...they are genuine to be involved in transformation move to industrialisation and they are of paramount importance in employment generation," he said.
Tanzania had 50, 656 industries by the end of 2012, of which, 1,769 industries equals to 3.5 per cent were large and medium scale while 48,887 equals to 96.5 per cent were small and micro enterprises, according to the 2013 industrial census.
Despite its small size, the industrial sector has had a significant contribution to the economy, providing 133,231 people , 11 per cent of the formal employment and earning the country $1, 239.6 million in foreign exchange, equivalent to 23.3 per cent of the total foreign exchange earnings.
Prof Msambichaka believes the contribution is not enough and that a lot more can be done to raise the profile of industrial sector in the country.
He suggested the awareness campaign on industrialization be made so that everybody should understand what Tanzania of industries mean because the plan can't be achieved if the government walk alone.
Also the government should build strong human capital with skills in different fields, including science, technology and innovation, given that these skill are inseparable from industrialization.
On top of that, the government should identify commodities which can be produced competitively, this goes simultaneously with identification of manufacturers, exporters and farmers and thereafter work with them.