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EDITORIAL: MWANZA WELL-PLACED TO BE REGIONAL TRADE HUB

Thursday June 17 2021

On Monday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan revealed government plans to make Mwanza city on the Lake Victoria shore a regional trade hub. Given the strategic location of Mwanza – also known as the ‘Rock City’ – the metropolis has great potential for sustainable socioeconomic development of the countries in the Great African Lakes Region.

More specifically, developing Mwanza as a regional trade hub would immensely benefit the administrative regions of Geita, Kagera, Kigoma, Mara, Shinyanga, Simiyu and Tabora in Tanzania – named here strictly in alphabetical order, and on no other merit – as well as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and eastern DR Congo.

To that noble end, the government is already investing heavily in infrastructure, including expanding both the Mwanza Airport and marine facilities, as well as the provision of clean and safe water supplies.

It is also speeding up construction of the standard gauge railway linking Mwanza to Isaka dry port at the cost of Sh3.1 trillion; the 3.2km JPM Bridge linking Kigongo and Busis; a 3,000-tonne passenger and cargo ship to ply the Lake Victoria waters, and rehabilitating the MV Umoja to a carrying capacity of 1,200 tonnes.

Once these and many other projects are completed, they would drastically slash business and other operational costs, thus making Mwanza and surrounding areas more attractive for investments and business.

But, for all this to happen sooner than later, the government also needs to adopt more friendly policies and regulatory frameworks, as well as ensure that, for example, adequate healthcare, hospitality and conferencing facilities become available – complete with state-of-the-art equipment, adequate security, reliable power and water supplies, qualified personnel and other human needs.

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Attaining all this is not as easy as a walk in the park. But, it can be done if Tanzanians are able, willing and ready to make the needed sacrifices for what is admittedly an ambitious goal – but one that is of immense benefits all-round.


UNEMPLOYMENT PLAN APT

The youth form a large part of the country’ nigh 60 million-population – and about 11.4 percent of whom are jobless. This is indeed a big percentage that calls for measures which help the youth to engage in productive activities. This would, in turn, contribute to all-inclusive socioeconomic development.

Anything short of that would leave millions of our youth perforce turning to illegal activities, much to the detriment of the nation as a whole.

However, there now is hope that the new initiative announced by President Samia Suluhu Hassan in Mwanza recently would curb the growing joblessness. Youth unemployment is a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. But, if there is a functional strategy in place which enables them to earn a living and contribute to the economy, then peace and harmony would prevail in our communities.

The plan to increase vocational training institutions across the land is welcome, as more youngsters would be able to learn different skills for incomes-generation. Needless to belabour the point, there are thousands of university graduates who are still job seekers in our streets and society.

It is important that we give entrepreneurial studies priority in order to produce graduates who can employ themselves in this day and age of elusive white-collar jobs.