Quality first, brand identity will follow

For the umpteenth time we can all sing the right notes about becoming the hub of business in the region but nothing is going to change until Tanzania undergoes a comprehensive mind set change.

The remarks heavily quoted in this newspaper a few days ago suggest our very suave Deputy Treasury Permanent Secretary is of the view we can go global.

Lawrence Nyasebwa Mafuru is not just suave but a brilliant ex-banker whose skills as a technocrat match his outspokenness (the latter landing him in the soup during the 5th phase government but, that’s not our focus today).

As this columnist has said before, certain preconditions must be met before the made in Tanzania goods and services begin to make a stronger foray regionally and continentally.

Mr Mafuru is of course 100 percent on point when he says we must unlock ourselves from the mental prison in which we seem to not only have locked ourselves but deliberately thrown away the key.

The current chairperson of CEOrt, David Tarimo, is of course as a Management Consultant doing a brilliant job in building Tanzania’s high calibre management quotient.

Here is the thing, bringing in competition to improve DARTs performance is not a question of nationality but a need for capability and which capability needs capacity building.

When Mr Mafuru is talking thinking global and acting locally he, in my understanding is saying the quality of our products and services can no longer hide under our nationalistic pride as the only selling proposition.

Mr Tarimo in both his capacities as Managing Partner of PWC Tanzania and Chair of CEOrt, continues to do a lot more in developing capacity of Tanzanian professional technocrats than all the politicians and party apparatchiks shall ever achieve.

In the same breadth, taking Dr Jakaya Kikwete’s stance ukitaka kula sharti uliwe (symbiotic relationship of humans) as a truism, we will sell Tanzania’s soft skills better out there if we are open to free labour movement than if we adopt brinkmanship as many would seem to prefer.

Watch Nominated MP Hon Neema Lugangira. She is the very epitome of what Tanzania and all Tanzanians should be doing today-that of being global ambassadors for the right reasons and believe you me Neema is doing great thins including creating jobs through linkages , partnerships, you name it, not insularity and isolationism.

Our goods need a quality imprint. If my young friend David Matiko Maisori is reading this, brother, you and all other Tanzanian Marketers must disabuse themselves of the notion that Kwa watanzania. Or bidhaa za kitanzania - is a catchphrase of marketing genius because it is not.

To reach the markets Mr Nyasebwa is referring to including Kariakoo Market in Nairobi, selling the quality of our goods and services will do a lot more. The made in Tanzania imprint is an identity not a marketing gizmo.

Our marketers have been selling nationalism and forgetting that there are important aspects that will determine what Mr Naysebwa is speaking of. If our banks continue selling their Tanzanianness they are missing the opportunity. This is not a blame game.

When we see CRDB bank obtaining $130m for short term financing of loans to small and micro industries we are excited because it is a huge platform to build upon. But in order to build on that platform we have to sell the benefits to borrowers and in this we must encourage business registered in Tanzania to borrow and repay.

This is the way that we can expect brand, local brand sat that to flourish. The expectation one can get experience from a classroom or from the thin air is wrong. Let an open door policy allow Tanzanians to enjoy the economies of scale of global brands.

There is no miracle to this but pure pragmatism. We are at a time when realism would make sense than many of us think right now. The reality is the world has become a global village and the faster we make up our minds to jump into the deep waters the better.

Think global act local. That is sustainable.