Report on the Tabora Investment Forum, July 19, 2013
The Tabora Investment Forum, held at the Serena Hotel in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on July 19, 2013, represented a major milestone in the Regional Partnership’s activities. It provided potential domestic and foreign investors and others with information on Tabora as an investment location and highlighted specific investment opportunities in Tabora. In the process, it demonstrated the successful collaboration between MCI and the Region and Municipality of Tabora and strengthened the municipal and regional government’s commitment to continuing the work of investment promotion.
The event was organized by the Millennium Cities Initiative (MCI), the regional government of Tabora, the municipality of Tabora and the Tanzanian Investment Centre (TIC). The Honorable Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of United Republic of Tanzania, officially launched the forum. Honorable Fatma A. Mwassa, Regional Commissioner for the Tabora Region; Honorable Samuel Sitta, Tanzania Minister for East Africa Cooperation; and Ms. Juliet R. Kairuki, Director of Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) also made substantive presentations.
The Government of Finland, financial sponsor of the Regional Partnership to Promote Trade and Investment in Sub-Saharan Africa (Regional Partnership), was represented by Ms. Sari Laaksonen, Commercial Secretary for Trade and Development at Finland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ms. Kaisa Alapartanen, Program Officer at the Embassy of Finland in Tanzania.
MCI was represented by Tabora Investment Promotion Specialist Mr. Deo Damian Msilu; Senior Researcher/Advisor Dr. Karin Millett; Associate Director for Research Dr. Moumié Maoulidi; Regional Coordinator for East and Southern Africa Ms. Joy Morabu; and Targeting Specialist Mr. Rene Samek. Mr. Taji Lihundi served as moderator.
The Program Day
In her opening remarks, the Honorable Regional Coordinator Fatma Mwasa noted that Tabora is a hub in western Tanzania and a center of trade and commerce. She listed its many attributes: good educational institutions, a favorable climate, an abundance of natural resources and manufacturing potential, as well as such amenities as reliable electricity and telecommunications, including internet service. She explained that although the city has suffered from infrastructure deficits, this situation is improving. The existing airport has been refurbished, and regular flights are now scheduled. Several new roads are being built, and the road from Dar to Tabora is being upgraded and repaved, with expected completion in 2014. Whereas the journey from the capital city to Tabora via road currently takes over 12 hours, it should take only eight hours once the road is completed.
Madame Mwasa also stressed the area’s numerous investment and business opportunities and noted that a key question is how to provide investors with the support and services they require in order to establish and operate their businesses. MCI’s Dr. Maoulidi then provided an overview of MCI activities, highlighting the importance of the private sector—and corporate social responsibility—for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.
Ms. Kairuki, Director of TIC, commended Tabora’s Regional Coordinator for organizing the event and putting in place an institutional setup for attracting investment. She noted that Tanzania was one of the top 10 most attractive destinations for investment in Africa—with USD $19 billion in direct investment in 2012—and listed the top 10 investors, including the UK (36 percent); India (14 percent); China (11 percent); Kenya (11 percent); USA (7 percent) and Netherlands (7 percent). Ms. Kairuki further noted the main countries investing in Tabora: Tanzania (43 percent); UK (22 percent); and USA (14 percent), followed by Oman, Kenya and China.
In his speech, the Vice President, Honorable Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, mentioned that the country is characterized by economic and political stability, rapid GDP growth and low inflation. Moreover, initiatives such as the upgrading of the port of Dar es Salaam and construction of the new port in Bagamoyo will make Tanzania an important hub in East Africa.
After a break, MCI East and Southern Africa Regional Coordinator Joy Morabu made a succinct presentation on the role of the Columbia Global Centre in the East Africa region, and Mr. Lamau Mpolo of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) of Tanzania made a presentation, on behalf of EPZA Director General Adelhelm Meru, on investment incentives and facilitation services provided by the organization. Dr. Karin Millett and Mr. Deo Damian Msilu then described Tabora’s attributes as an investment destination and outlined specific investment opportunities. The administrative secretary from the Tabora Office of the Regional Coordinator and a representative of KPMG also spoke.
Two existing businesses presented case studies. Mr. Richard Sinamtwa, Managing Director of Tanzania Leaf Tobacco Company (TLTC), and Mr. Amritpal Athwal, Managing Director of Athwals Timber and Transport Company, Ltd., both talked about their experiences in the region. The TLTC representative noted that the government cannot address challenges of development by itself, and neither can the private sector. Hence, public-private partnerships need to be strengthened. Mr. Athwal announced that his firm is planning to build a honey production plant in Tabora. Mr. Godfrey Simbeye, Executive Director of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, underscored the need for a conducive business environment and the promotion of private sector involvement. He stated that investors want predictable policies, above all.
Mr. Morewi Marwa, CEO of the Tanzania Stock Exchange, made the final presentation. He highlighted the fact that alternative funding mechanisms such as municipal bonds could be used for social and infrastructure development.
The forum underscores the ways in which the Tabora Regional Government has embraced the work that MCI has undertaken in Tabora in the last year. MCI and the Tanzania Investment Centre share a level of confidence that the investment campaign for Tabora will continue. During an interview with local media, the Regional Commissioner noted that as many as 30 investors had already made inquiries about business in Tabora.
Back Row (center): Mr. Rene Samek (MCI); Ms. Joy Morabu (MCI); Dr. Karin Millett (MCI).
Front Row (left to right): Dr. Moumié Maoulidi (MCI); Honorable Fatma A. Mwassa, Regional Commissioner for Tabora; Dr. Mohamed Gharib Bilal, Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania; Honorable Samuel Sitta, Tanzania Minister for East Africa Cooperation; and Ms. Juliet R. Kairuki (TIC).