When the then-Minister of State in the President’s Office in charge of Investment, Hon. Prof. Kitila Mkumbo spoke during our members’ meeting in February, he mentioned that one of his top priorities was strengthening the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and revising the Investment Act. A few weeks later when President Samia assumed office, you may recall that she also expressed her commitment to improving the business climate in the country in order to regain investor trust. It is highly encouraging to see Hon. Prof. Mkumbo, now Minister of Industry and Trade, adhering to his earlier priorities as just last month he mentioned that the government through his ministry was in the process of reviewing some 22 laws, including the Investment Act, Companies Act, Standards Act and Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC) Act. The new Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO – Investment), Hon. Geoffrey Mwambe, has also continued to drive forward the promised reforms. For instance, just recently, the government has introduced the Online Work Permits Applications and Issuance System (OWAIS) connected to the immigration department to allow the issuance of permits to expatriates within one day. Furthermore, investors can also access their Certificate of Incentives within one day through the online system adopted by the Tanzania Investment Centre to expedite the process.
This is good news for the private sector as a whole, as the reviews are sure to address some of the challenges that businesses have faced in this market for a long while. With this optimism, we look forward to a much more conducive business environment, an improved playing field in terms of competition, increasing our positive impact on the nation’s economy, and being better players in the global market.
Below is a recap of our February engagement with Hon. Kitila Mkumbo.
Joint Efforts Required to Harness Investment Opportunities in Tanzania
For the past several years, Tanzania has focused on implementing economic reforms, reinforcing leadership ethics and investing in human development. This saw the country crossing the threshold into lower middle income status, well ahead of time as this is an achievement that had been anticipated by the year 2025. The onus is now on the nation to maintain and grow this status as envisioned in the Tanzania Development Vision (TDV) 2025.
In Tanzania’s five year development plan which was recently approved by Parliament, the private sector has been put at the center of the economic agenda. This was said by Hon. Kitila Mkumbo, Minister of State in the President’s Office in charge of Investment while speaking with members of the CEO Roundtable of Tanzania (CEOrt). With the government committed to promoting the private sector, the sector is tasked with driving and managing increased growth as the country builds on its middle income status.
A policy dialogue forum bringing together CEOs of leading companies in Tanzania to foster close cooperation between the public and private sectors in Tanzania with the view of accelerating expansion and growth of the Tanzanian economy in a sustainable manner, the CEOrt regularly facilitates dialogue between the sectors through its monthly members’ meetings. As guest speaker at the most recent meeting on harnessing investment opportunities in Tanzania, Hon. Mkumbo outlined his priorities in increasing local and foreign direct investment..
At the top of his portfolio is strengthening the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and revising the Investment Act. The TIC will play a bigger role across multiple industries, including channeling any challenges potential investors may come across to the relevant sectors for resolution. There will also be a round of engagement for stakeholders to review the Investment Act before it is presented to the Parliament. The Ministry is also looking into working closely with the private sector to develop an Investment Promotion Strategy that shares success stories far and wide. Tanzania has a lot of potential but is yet to fully market itself, and this strategy would help address that. To support facilitation of the Investment Promotion Strategy, a National Investment Guide to highlight investment potentials in different sectors and regions.
To maximize possibilities of success, the Ministry will be introducing targeted investment to align investors with their areas of expertise and there is a need to identify potential investors beyond Tanzania (the diaspora) to take on these opportunities. Also in the plans is a private sector investment policy to ease confidence and trust between the Public and Private Sectors. “Sustainable engagement with investors is key,” Hon. Mkumbo reinforced.
Addressing questions from the members, the Minister also emphasized his commitment to ensuring he remains available to investors to resolve any strategic issues that may arise. The Ministry will also involve the private sector and obtain support from the CEOrt in creating a data set with a profile of investors to be used as a reference for future opportunities.
For the coming year, Hon. Prof. Mkumbo highlighted that priority sectors for investment include Agriculture where some industries lack the necessary raw materials; mining that has largely unexploited areas; Housing and Construction, Manufacturing, as well as Recreation and Tourism where certain areas remain unexplored. Another area with policy reforms in process is the Work Act in collaboration with the Labour Ministry, particularly for expatriates requiring work permits and facing challenges with work permit quotas.
In support of the agenda presented, the CEOrt adhered to provide their assistance wherever required. “The CEOrt stands on the premise that constructive engagement between the Tanzanian private sector and the government, its development partners, and other stakeholders can perpetuate a conducive business environment for country development, and part of that involves supporting initiatives for enhancing the investment climate,” said Ms. Santina Majengo Benson, Executive Director of the CEOrt. CEOrt Chairman, Mr. Sanjay Rughani, echoed this sentiment. “This is our country, and we’ve got to make a difference together, and the way to make progress is to be able to listen to each other and continue to collaborate,” he remarked.