Mwananchi Communications Limited first symposium in the ongoing Independence Day celebrations campaign looked at the mining and energy sector, specifically focusing on the challenges and way forward for Tanzania.

What was boldly brought to light at the symposium held at the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel on October 15 are the many opportunities that exist in the extractive sector.

The attendees, a diverse list of dignitaries from the public and private sector made the dialogue very insightful and engaging.

For example, Deputy Minister of Minerals, Prof Shukrani Manya highlighted some of the progress the government has made on regulatory reforms in the mining sector and how these amendments have benefited stakeholders in the mining sector. He talked about the headway that has been recorded in recent years where exploration of different minerals has been widened enabling Tanzania to maintain its spot as a major exporter of Gold in Africa.

In a rejoinder to the government efforts aimed at injecting more into the energy and mining sector, Minister for Energy January Makamba hinted at some of the strategies that are already underway in his ministry that aim to boost Tanzania’s access to energy. What stood out in Makamba’s speech is how Tanzania’s potential to produce more energy has been underutilized due to some impediments that according to him can be overcome.

His lineup of the institutional focus areas that will change access to energy countrywide is indicative of changing times for the country as the current regime looks to undo some of the setbacks that were recorded in the past.

What perhaps stood out most as the country continues to grapple with the major challenges facing some of its most important sectors is the fact that the government is well aware of what is holding back real progress in most of these areas. For example, Makamba pointed out key issues such as the misallocation of human resources at the country’s electric supply company and how Tanesco’s inventory doesn’t reflect its day to day operations. All these hurdles are within the government’s ability to rectify.

Recurrent challenges

Players from the private sector who were present at the symposium got a chance to share some of the challenges perpetually experienced in the extractive industry. Most recurrent of all was the issue of local content and how native companies fail to reap the rewards of the extractive sector due to poorly structured mechanisms that aim to attain the workable model of promoting interests of local companies and creating a channel for the benefits to trickle down to the community.

At the end of the symposium what stood out is that Tanzania’s extractive industry has a lot of opportunities that if well explored stand to benefit not only those involved in the sector but the wider community. For the energy sector, it is clear that the gaps that currently exist as the government continues to devise ways to increase energy output can be resolved through strategic administrative formation at Tanesco, but also the government’s investment and exploration of modern ways of energy generation that will provide more sustainable energy but also protect the environment.