13 February 2018

Tanzania: Hasten Talks With Investors - TPSF

Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) yesterday voiced its concern about the slow pace of negotiations between the government and prospective investors.

TPSF executive director Godfrey Simbeye said this harmed investors' chances of accessing funds with which to tap the numerous business opportunities in Tanzania.

Once investors decided to put money in a project, they set goals and timelines for project implementation that are tied up with funding, he added.

If the decisions take too long to be made, financiers tend to associate the delay with uncertainties, and potential investors end up losing investment opportunities.

"As TPSF, we have members who follow-up closely on projects. They ask us many questions when negotiations drag on," Mr Simbeye said.

He was speaking at a joint press conference yesterday with the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) and the Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (Ewura).

The conference was called to announce preparations for a stakeholders' meeting that is intended to highlight opportunities in the crude oil pipeline. The meeting is scheduled for February 23.

Citing two major projects in the Lindi and Bagamoyo districts that are projected to create hundreds of jobs for the local communities, Mr Simbeye said preliminary negotiations with the government were progressing at a snail's pace, thereby denying the private sector much that could be gained from the potential opportunities.

He cited the Bagamoyo Special Economic Zone as yet another example to illustrate his point.

"If negotiations with the government were expedited - and prospective investors given the greenlight to commence work on the project - more than 5,000 new jobs would have been created for Tanzanians in that particular EPZ alone."

Mr Simbeye also mentioned the $1.8 billion, natural gas-powered fertiliser factory project in Lindi, implementation of which would have made it the largest fertiliser plant in the country. Alas, talks between the investors and the government are still dragging on.

"We have been informed that the plant will take five years to construct, and that it would have the capacity to produce 1.4 million tonnes of fertiliser a year. Currently, annual domestic consumption is around 500,000 tonnes," he said, adding that there indeed is potential for exporting some of the plant's product in due course.

"To speed up industrialisation, agriculture must be empowered, and the fertiliser project is crucial in achieving that."

In a swift response to TPSF's observations, the NEEC executive secretary, Ms Beng'i Issa, said the government was committed to ensuring that the two projects in Lindi and Bagamoyo commenced on time.

However, she pointed out that there are challenges which must be surmounted. These include challenges brought about by regulatory frameworks on issues of land, taxes and other legal benchmarks.

Noting that it takes time to lay the groundwork and clear the way for local people to participate in such large projects, Ms Issa said: "I don't have answers for all the questions. But, all I can say is that I know of many projects which are progressing well. But then, again, there are many issues that need straightening out before the implementation of major projects can commence."

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