Government says Dubai-Tanzania port deal enters next stage

Chief Government Spokesperson, Gerson Msigwa addresses a press conference in Dar es Salaam on August 26, 2023. He briefed reporters on port deal and clarified on the amendments o natural resources related laws. PHOTO | SUNDAY GEORGE

What you need to know:

  • He said the government has been gathering opinions from different stakeholders for consideration during the discussion process with investors.

Dar es Salaam. The Chief Government Spokesperson, Gerson Msigwa yesterday announced that following the ratification of the Inter-governmental Agreement (IGA) between Tanzania and Dubai, both parties have now entered into negotiations regarding the implementation contracts for the port project.

Mr Msigwa also provided clarity regarding the suspension of parliamentary discussions on two laws related to natural resources.

Interestingly, it was journalists who brought him up to address these pertinent issues during the Questions and Answers session.

They asked about the mechanisms through which input from diverse stakeholders, including clergymen, is being incorporated into the port agreement.

Reporters also asked regarding the decision by the parliamentary Governance, Constitution, and Legal Affairs Committee’s decision to temporarily halt discussions on the amendment of two natural resource-related laws. This suspension was pending the government’s provision of clarifications.

The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) recently expressed its reservation about a sole investor’s involvement at the Port of Dar es Salaam, advocating for the inclusion of public views in the deal.

On the other hand, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania (ELCT) conveyed its trust in government decisions.

However, Mr Msigwa clarified the situation yesterday, stating that following the agreement reached between Tanzania and Dubai, the ongoing discussions were not centered on contract negotiations for the project’s execution.

However, Mr Msigwa said yesterday that after Tanzania and Dubai agreed on the inter-governmental agreement, the two sides were now negotiating contracts of execution.

“These contracts are the ones that will determine how the project will be and areas of cooperation.

There will be many contracts, for instance, the ones for installation of port systems, cargo handling, construction of storage facilities, etc,” he said.

“These contracts are being prepared. They will be communicated to the public once they are done; that is the current status. However, stakeholders’ opinions are put into consideration at this stage of negotiation,” he said.

He said the government has been gathering opinions from different stakeholders for consideration during the discussion process with investors.

Mr Msigwa emphasised that no implementation deal has been inked so far, reiterating that there was no intention of selling the ports, saying only an agreement between Tanzania and Dubai over the ports’ investment and development cooperation has been signed.

Regarding the two natural resource-related laws, he said the government was communicating with Parliament, noting that required clarification would be submitted once the House resumes at the end of this month.

“Rejection of issues by parliamentary committees doesn’t mean things have completely stalled. Probably the experts who attended the previous meeting had no answers, but they will be submitted,” he said.

The Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act of 2017 and the Natural Wealth and Resources (Review and Re-negotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act of 2017 are being amended to block their application in agreements related to the transportation of natural resources that are not exploited in Tanzania.

The amendment also proposes to abolish the application of the two laws in agreements that provide for the development, operations, or arrangements for the development of natural wealth and resources with a view to improving the performance of sea, dry, and lake ports in Tanzania, and such agreements have been approved by the cabinet.

The Parliament committee was hearing public views but said the two laws would have to wait for clarifications from the government.

The committee chairperson, Mr Joseph Mhagama, said they suspended public hearings on the two laws until the government clarified them.

“I told the stakeholders that the committee was not in a position to receive comments on the two laws because we have asked for clarification on some of the arguments in the laws,” said Mr Mhagama.