Dar es Salaam. President John Magufuli yesterday stole the show at a symposium that deliberated on achievements and challenges during the three years of his presidency.
During the event, he outlined why he believed the country was going in the right direction.
Dr Magufuli, who was seated with the rest of the audience, won the praise of all the dons who took part in the discussion.
Some of the University of Dar es Salaam academics who praised the President at the event included professors Humphrey Moshi, Hudson Nkotagu, Martha Qorro, Kitila Mkumbo and Rwekaza Mukandala.
Banking on arguments put forth by the dons, Dr Magufuli detailed a number of achievements, from Tanzania’s import cover to the massive infrastructure development projects that are currently underway in the country and from reviving Air Tanzania to his craving for a country that has enough, reliable and cheap electricity.
Dr Magufuli further said that during the three years, Tanzania had managed to accumulate a total of $5.4 billion as the country’s foreign exchange reserves.
“This amount, which is enough to cover six months of Tanzania’s import requirements, has never been realised before. This has been possible due to prudent policies and controlling wasteful spending, including banning unnecessary foreign trips by government officials,” he said.
Contrary to some reports that Tanzania’s business climate was worsening, President Magufuli said that the country was the leading source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) among member states of the East African Community (see related story on Page 3).
Dr Magufuli said the country has registered an increase in mineral revenues and noted that his administration was determined to implement the Stiegler’s Gorge Hydroelectric Power generation project in the hope that it would ensure that Tanzania had reliable and affordable electricity.
While there were some complaints last year when the country amended mining laws, Dr Magufuli said yesterday that the reality now was that revenue from the sector rose to Sh300 billion during the 2017/18 financial year from Sh194 billion previously.
He said a total of 32.5 per cent of Tanzania’s land is protected land, trashing arguments that developing the 2,100MW Stiegler’s Gorge hydroelectric power generation project in the Selous Game Reserve would have some dire consequences on the environment and on tourism.
He argued that implementation of the project would reduce power costs, attract more investments and reduce prices of locally produced products, slamming some experts who produced an environmental impact assessment report to the effect that developing the project was bad for the environment.
He said his decision to revive Air Tanzania, was based on the fact that countries with national airlines were basically the ones that also received the highest number of tourist arrivals.
“The country’s decision to purchase seven planes will increase the number of tourists visiting the country to two million from the present 1.5 million,” he said.
According to him, Tanzania was ready to engage the private sector in implementing its projects, but he insisted that the relationship should be under the win-win situation.
He expressed his frustration after the private sector failed to invest in the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, widening of a section of the Morogoro Road from Ubungo to Kibaha, and execution of the Bagamoyo Port project.
Dr Magufuli said SGR will improve efficiency of the Dar es Salaam Port, noting that infrastructure development was inevitable in order to build an effective industrial economy.
“Let’s work hard and stop thinking about a new constitution because my government will allocate no money for that purpose. The money we have will be used in implementing development projects,” he said.
Earlier, the minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, described Dr Magufuli as the most successful UDSM alumnus.
“He has performed best in the area of Development Studies by using leadership skills in his leadership positions,” he said.
The former UDSM vice chancellor Prof Rwekaza Mukandala compared Dr Magufuli and the Founding Father of the Nation Mwalimu Julius Nyerere in various aspects.
“His fate will be known after the 2020 General Election,” he said.
For her part, Prof Martha Qorro said Dr Magufuli had led the country in promoting use of Kiswahili which she proposed to be the country’s tool for industrialisation.