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Facilitate investments to boost growth

Tuesday November 17 2020
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By Kasera Nick Oyoo

In the latest executive changes following the October 28, 2020 elections, President John Magufuli in his infinite wisdom shifted the Investments portfolio from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to the President’s Office (PO).

On the face of it, it reminds one of the musical chairs syndrome in which people frequently exchange positions, including jobs.

But, at a second glance, it signals Dr Magufuli’s desire to achieve greater objectives in the pivotal investments stakes during his second and final five-year Presidency.

The Investments portfolio shift sends an important message to potential-cum-prospective investors – both local and foreign.

Let us for a moment imagine what investment stakeholders understood of the President’s move to shift the Investments portfolio from the PMO to the PO...

We recently engaged a prospective investor who intended to bring over 350 conference participants to Dar es Salaam to dialogue on matters that would have an impact on jobs creation for Tanzanian youth in these very challenging times.

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The merry-go-round that they were put through by our bureaucrats melodramatically exemplifies the type of government officials who continue to operate in the old-fashioned, hackneyed ways that are neither functional nor results-oriented.

Let’s face it: the private sector is the largest employer – it is still in the best interests of the government to ensure that investors are facilitated as a matter of course.

Some of the potential investors are ordinary Tanzanian who sweat blood on their small farms to produce for their households and a little surplus for the market. After all, it is smallholders who produce about 95 percent of the food consumed locally.

It is, therefore, important for the government to treat all its citizens as potential investors – albeit investors in micro and small businesses.

When the highest office in the land assumes oversight over investments, it is expected that we shall see the end of unmitigated bureaucracy and similar ‘business as usual’ bottlenecks that have hampered investors and businesses in the past.

The ‘official lethargy’ that discouraged both extant and prospective investors must now be consigned to the Dustbin of History: a thing of the distant past.

We have it on the authority of the President himself that there shall no longer be excuses for unmitigated bureaucracy.

Otherwise, the possibility of Tanzania becoming an upper middle-income Economy by 2025 – with a gross national income (GNI) per capita of $4,045- $12,535 – will be an empty dream.

The Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) continues to work with the government, their common goal being to ensure that Tanzania’s doing business environment enables businesses to thrive.

Tanzania’s future does not need so much empty rhetoric; it needs walking the talk. We have millions of youths who cannot survive on empty rhetoric and lethargy.

The future of these young Tanzanians means a lot more than what our current policies and regulatory frameworks provide for.

We say so because the current investment laws are overly rigid, and do not all match the needs of 4th Industrial Revolution.

Today, millions of the jobs that were done in the United States are being done thousands of miles away in India and elsewhere.

It is more than obvious that Tanzanian youth ought to be better prepared for the new Industrial Revolution at a time when they can do jobs originating thousands of kilometres away using their laptop computers – and even on their iPhones, where the ‘I’ stands for ‘internet, individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.’

While this may already be happening here and there, it has barely scratched the surface of the possibilities, opportunities.

We must realise that investments across countries, regions and continents are the norm today rather than the exception.

Therefore, policies and laws that hamper investment flows no longer work. Investors generally expect decisions that are made quickly, judiciously and in the wider interest, not the interest of a small political cabal. That is as it should be.

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Kasera Nick Oyoo is a research and communications consultant with Midas Touché East Africa