A foreword by H.E. Joseph E. Sokoine
Embassy of the United Republic of Tanzania to the BELUX countries
and Mission to the European Union
Excellency, how would you present Tanzania from an economic point of view?
I would present Tanzania from an economic point of view as an emerging powerhouse in Africa. Tanzania is implementing Vision 2025, where the country will be transformed into middle income with semi industrial economy. The 5th Phase Government under the leadership of President Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli is implementing flagship projects identified to support the realisation of the Vision 2025. Furthermore, Tanzania is the present and the future investment and tourism destination for obvious reasons, continuous political stability, supportive macroeconomic policies, attractive investment code founded on win/win basis, arable land, skilled and semi-skilled labour force, abundant of natural resources which include huge reserves of natural gas over 55 trillion cubic feet and world class helium gas reserves of about 100 billion cubic feet. The discovery of helium was made just last year. We also have presence of strategic mineral reserves like iron, cobalt, nickel, uranium, titanium, just to mention a few. The economic is growing at an annual average rate of 7.2 percent and the inflation has been brought down to average rate of 4 percent per annum.
How would you describe the bilateral relations between Belgium and Tanzania?
Tanzania and Belgium enjoy over 4 decades of excellent relations that over the years have grown from strength to strength. Belgium is one of Tanzania’s most important development partners. Our bilateral cooperation is based on Indicative Development Co-operation Program. When we talk about development strides in Tanzania, Belgium’s contribution can not be overlooked. Particularly in areas of port development, energy, water and sanitation, tourism development, support to SMEs, education, environmental conservation, food security, research and health. In the multilateral framework the scope of cooperation is even wider. There is still a room for further cooperation particularly in the trade and investment domain. Given our close relation, we would like to see more investment of Belgians in Tanzania and more tourists from Belgium visiting Tanzania. It is important to note that 6 percent of Tanzanian exports to the EU countries end up in Belgium, making Belgium our biggest importer. Belgium can import quite a number of products from Tanzania such as horticulture products, fish fillets, cut flower, coffee, cashew-nuts, tea, cloves and other spices, wines, beers, spirits, quarried products, artifacts, honey, coco, essential oils … just to mention a few.
Years ago, Sabena airlines used to fly to Tanzania but stopped during the restructuring, the new airline, Brussels Airlines now flies to neighbouring countries. However, Tui offers direct flights to Zanzibar from winter to spring. We are in discussions with TUI to pursue them to fly to Kilimanjaro so as to enbale those who wish to visit some of the wonders of the world or world heritage sites that are in Tanzania to do so: Some of the attractions are Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro crater, Serengeti, Tarangire National Park, Manyara National park or even Ruaha National Park which was voted among the best national park in the world last year 2017.
In the area of mining, Tanzania has a unique gemstone called Tanzanite, only found in our country. Some companies are already exporting Tanzanite to Belgium and it can be found in Antwerp. There is room for more investment in this area, as well as in the areas of diamonds. In this domain, « Petra Diamonds » is currently mining and auctioning Tanzania’s diamonds in Antwerp. In terms of gold, Tanzania is the fourth largest producer of gold in Africa after South Africa, Ghana and Mali. There has been discovery of new deposits of gold in some other parts of the country.
What has struck you most about Belgian entrepreneurs since you have been here?
What has struck me most about Belgian entrepreneurs is their eagerness and readiness to seek new opportunities to do business or investments in Africa. They see challenges as business opportunities, which is very true not all challenges are stumbling blocks. These are opportunities disguised as challenges. For example, in the area of IT, given the high rate of cell phone penetration and growing number of Internet users, new applications can be created to address or simplify some of the challenges or offer new solutions. Belgians know Africa, once the new generation of entrepreneurs get more information, investment guarantees, including investment insurance, I am sure we will witness a big surge of Belgian investment in Africa.
Closer interactions with the Belgian enterprises or business traders is paramount. I believe that through this magazine we will reach a number of them, arose their interest, we will definitely provide them with the necessary information. I also believe in sending trade missions for them to experience the new Africa. I am sure if there were some who were unsure they will get the comfort when they experience the economic transformation taking place in Tanzania. To succeed in this, there is also a need for successful Belgian companies that are already in Africa to be at the forefront of sharing their experience with new Belgian entrepreneurs. Such success stories would encourage new entrepreneurs even more.
What are they key-sectors you would advise Belgian investors to invest in, in Tanzania?
For those who are interested we are also modernizing our 8 regional airports, companies that are interested in constructions should explore available opportunities in the sector. Some of the information is available on our Procurement Authority website www. ppra.go.tz
In infrastructure it is the same thing, we are building roads and rail. Energy sector, we are embarking on construction of a hydroelectric plant which will produce 2.100 MW of power. This project will spur related opportunities worth exploring. Another opportunity exists in the area of pharmaceutical; we are looking for serious investments in this area. Pharmaceutical products produced by these companies have a ready market in the country. I encourage Belgian investors to go to Tanzania in the upcoming economic mission this year.
Several economic missions from Belgium have already been organised. What do you retain from these in the past, what most important result do you remember?
We have had several economic missions that have come to Tanzania in the past and we expect to have other economic missions visiting the country soon. What we have retained from these past missions is the eagerness that we saw from the Belgian companies and entrepreneurs to do business in Tanzania. Some have established contacts and are following-up on areas of interest that they have earmarked, we are following up on those and we link them with the relevant authorities. We expect perhaps this year or next year to see new investments coming in from those who have participated in previous economic missions. We are optimistic thanks to this eagerness. We have also noted that some companies that took part in the first economic mission followed up on the second mission and they maintained contacts established in previous visits. This is a sign of seriousness and commitment. I will be amiss if I do not recognise the close cooperation and support that we have with CBL-ACP under the able leadership of the Vice President Mr. Maurice Vermeesch , Mr Christian Verbrugghe the Trade Counsellor in Nairobi Mr Yvan Korsak and the Ambassador of Belgium in Tanzania H.E Paul Cartier and his team, the Director General of BIO, Enabler (formerly BTC) and the leadership of the Ministry of Development Cooperation without their cooperation and support some of the successes would have been possible.
Your embassy is the first point of contact for Belgians who are here? How do you help them? Are there other agencies that are important to be in touch with?
Our Embassy is the first point of contact for those who are interested to get information relating to doing business in Tanzania. When they contact us we meet them, learn of their interest and in turn we brief them on the country’s opportunities and explain how the system works. We brief them on the incentives they can receive in Tanzania through the Tanzanian Investment Centre, Zanzibar Investment and Promotion Authority and the Economic Processing Zones. We facilitate their visa applications and arrange appointments with the relevant officials once they get to Tanzania. In short here in Belgium besides the Embassy there isn’t any other government institution they can contact. When they arrive in Tanzania Investment Centre and Zanzibar Investment and Promotion Authority are their first points of contact depending on where they want to explore the investment opportunities. These two Institutions are once stop centres where all the needs of a company are taken care.
I would like to encourage all members of CBL-ACP to consider investing in Tanzania, because it is the decision to make given that Tanzania is the present and the future for investment and tourism. Tanzania is an emerging economic power house. One of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally too. They should not hesitate they can to contact us anytime. We would be more than happy to meet and brief them.