Thursday, January 11, 2018

YOUR BUSINESS IS OUR BUSINESS: Use lotteries to finance industrialisation agenda


By Karl Lyimo

Lexicographers tell us that ‘industrialisation’ is the process by which an economy is transformed from, say, primarily agricultural to one based on goods manufacturing.

The transformation is basically through large-scale introduction of manufacturing, advanced technologies, and other productive economic activities. Manual labour is often replaced by mechanised mass production, with craftsmen replaced by assembly lines. Lexicographers also tell us that a lottery is ‘game of chance…’ and that a lottery – variously known as a raffle, prize draw, sweepstake, sweep, bingo, lotto, tombola, drawing-of-lots, pools, etc. – is ‘a means of raising money by selling numbered tickets and giving prizes to the holders of numbers drawn at random.’

A ‘game of chance’ – as opposed to ‘a game of skill(s)’ – is usually played for money or stakes, and the ‘winner’ is determined by a chance event, such as by drawing numbers, throwing dice, tossing/flipping a coin… [This is unlike a game of skill(s) where the outcome is determined mainly by mental or physical skills, rather than by chance. Poker is one such game, which may involve ‘bluffing skills and other forms of psychological warfare!]

This literary piece was prompted by an event 449 years ago to the day when the first recorded lottery in England took place on January 11, 1569, with a £5,000 the jackpot. Roughly Sh15.2m at current exchange rates.

But lotteries – or what passed for lotteries the way we know them today – date back to Classical history. E.g.: ‘Keno Slips’ from the Chinese Han Dynasty (205-187BC) which financed major government projects.

The term ‘lottery’ is derived from the Dutch word ‘lot,’ meaning ‘fate’ – and the Dutch state-owned ‘Staatsloterij’ is ‘the oldest running lottery!’

Tanzania clambered aboard the ‘Lottery Bandwagon’ with its 2003 Gaming Act (Chapter 41 of the Laws of Tanzania) which, among other things, formalized the business – and imposed a ‘gaming tax’ on licensed gaming activities. Fair enough…Tanzania can go further, by harnessing the ‘lottery industry’ potential to fund President Magufuli’s industrialization agenda – thereby shifting industrialisation from the backburner to the front-burner! Britain used the money raised from its ‘lottery business’ to “expand the Royal Navy, develop seaports, and establish colonies and export markets.”

China used funds from its ‘Keno’ betting slips to finance state projects, including the historic Great Wall of China. Tanzania is today home to several ‘betting openings’ – including at least 11 on soccer alone: SportPesa; M-Bet; Mkekabet; Meridianbet; PremierBet; PrincessBet; MojaBet; Sokabet; ThroneBet; FastBet, and SupaBets… [kampuni-za-kubeti-mpira-nchini-Tanzania/>]. According to the state Gaming Board Director-General Abbas Tarimba, “over Sh1.5 trillion ($686 million) is generated into the economy annually via gaming activities. The gaming industry contributed three per cent to the 2015 GDP, totaling US$45.63 billion. [/> Aug. 24, 2016].

Unfortunately, the volume in monetary terms of the gaming subsector is unknown as much of it is informal, clandestine. But, apparently, it is mammoth… So, in My Book of Things, President Magufuli’s Administration should seriously explore ways and means of harnessing and tapping the latent potential in the lotteries business to help execute his industrialisation agenda.

We’ve seen lesser, ‘sub-sub-sectors’ contributing to industrialization – albeit doing so on the sidelines of the Economy. Among them are scavengers of empty bottles and scrap metal for the recycling industries!

Well, why not use lottery proceeds to directly finance industrialisation, pray…? Cheers!