News that exports of manufactured goods dropped by a cool 37.5 per cent during the year ending March 2017 is bad for Tanzania’s industrialisation endeavour.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), the value of manufactured goods exports plunged to $879.7 million during the year ending March 2017 from $1.408 billion during the year ending March 2016.
Such a massive drop should not be taken lightly by a government that has pledged to turn Tanzania into a semi-industrialised and middle income country by the year 2025.
The fact that this is the lowest level to have been attained in a period of six years since manufactured exports crossed the $1 billion mark in 2010 should give us enough reasons to worry.
It would be of interest for the public to know what is behind the drop. Tanzania’s location gives it a strategic position to export to six of its seven neighbours and beyond and therefore, it is important to critically analyse the reasons behind the drop and come up with resolute solutions.
As we all know, a fall in exports does, to a great extent, indicate a drop in factory output, apparently, precipitated by some domestic factors including a fall in credit to the productive sector.
If bank loans are increasingly becoming a scarce commodity for manufacturers as banks find it more and more risky to do business with the productive sector, then something must be wrong with the economy.
The reported layoffs even in some large manufacturing houses, necessitated by a tight liquidity stance as Tanzanians get less and less disposable incomes to purchase goods produced by local manufacturers, there is every reason for our policymakers to redefine Tanzania’s economic management model.
It is not an offence to fine-tune the way a country manages its economy so long as the changes benefit all segments.
LET’S SUSTAIN TREE PLANTING
Environmental degradation is getting worse by the day due to increase in retrogressive human activities. Water sources, especially, are most affected, so much that many sources of the precious liquid are drying up!
The problem is aggravated by climate change effects and lack of workable strategies to preserve and protect the environment.
Kitulo Reserve in Ruaha River Basin, which covers some parts of Njombe, Iringa and Mbeya with its 40 water sources, is a case in point.
The first phase government had a workable tree planting programme as it ensured schoolchildren and adults were encouraged to plant trees and take care of them. This contributed to environmental conservation and protection of water sources.
“Before cutting a tree, plant three” was the environmental protection catchphrase during Mwalimu Julius Nyerere’s era. But this has faded way.
As a nation we shouldn’t relent in the campaign for tree planting and care by educating people how to look after their neighbourhoods. In some areas, district and regional commissioners have started tree planting campaigns, but may not be successful. They tend to use force and threats rather than educate the people. We don’t think force and threats can change people’s mindset. We believe when people are educated about something, they are most likely to learn and implement it.