In a positive response to President John Pombe Magufuli’s agenda of building a modern industrialised nation, the business community has grabbed the opportunity to invest in Coast Region, poised to be the country’s most vibrant industrial hub, given its proximity to major ports, airport and highways.
From Mikocheni Industrial area in Dar es Salaam, Motisun Group, one of Africa’s leading business conglomerates chaired by business magnate Subhash M. Patel, is spreading its wings to Msoga in Chalinze, Bagamoyo District, where a multibillion fruit processing plant scheduled for commissioning in October, is being constructed.
In this interview, Mr Abubakry Mlawa, the Personal Assistant to Mr Patel, speaks with Our Staff Writer about the Group’s resolve to be among the country’s industrial front runners in Coast Region, with a business agenda of forging the local content concept.
QUESTION: Motisun Group is building a fruit processing factory in Msoga area, Coast Region. Is this an expansion of SAYONA drinks production line?
Answer: No. Our customers should expect to experience something different from SAYONA soft drinks, right from packaging to the actual products. Very soon, we’ll roll out a set of fresh juices, including orange, mango, pineapple and tomato juice. It will be a fresh fruit factory, there will be no carbonated drinks.
Q: Why did the Group choose Msoga? I mean you could have gone to Morogoro, Tanga or Dodoma. Any special advantages?
A: Just nearby Msoga, there is a large pineapple farming community in Bagamoyo, if you have been to the district, you must have heard of Kiwangwa.
In this area, pineapples thrive throughout the year, Plenty of the fruit is sold to neighbouring Kenya where it is processed and then re-imported to Tanzania. We thought it would be wise to tap this opportunity and invest in fresh fruit juice, for value addition of our local produce.
Another advantage of choosing Msoga area is that it will be easier for our trucks to haul fruits from three regions of Tanga, Morogoro and Coast. You may be aware of abundant oranges in Muheza, Handeni and Coast Region.
Lushoto District, too, is home to a variety of fruits. We would like to appeal to farmers in Coast Region to plant more fruit trees because the market is now available for their produce.
Q: How much capital are you pumping into the new factory and how does the local content fit in?
A: We have invested an initial capital of 55 million US dollars. Of the amount, 36 million US dollars was secured as a bank loan. Much of the loan went into water infrastructure.
The Chalinze Water Supply Authority (CHALIWASA) could not quench our thirst, so we constructed our own intake facility on the bank of Wami River. We hope that at least 30,000 fruit and vegetable farmers will have a reliable market for their produce when production begins in October.
The company will employ locals in response to President John Pombe Magufuli’s directive that the labour force for the new industries should be composed of indigenous residents. We’ll outsource skills only where these are not locally available.
Q: Would the new industry be targeting local market only?
A: No. In addition to the local market, we will be supplying our products to neighbouring countries, including Mozambique and Uganda. The factory will be rolling out 200 tonnes of fresh juice on a daily basis, using highly sophisticated fruit and vegetable processing machineries and technology.
We will adopt the latest tech in fruit and vegetable processing known as aseptic packing technology. Fruit juice is heat treated without coming into atmospheric contact, thus it will be preservative free. It may stay for up to one year without deteriorating
Q: How many people in terms of labour force are you preparing to hire?
A: Putting together skilled and unskilled labour, we will be hiring about 800 people in the departments of administration, production, sales and marketing, safety and rescue and fire. A dispensary to serve both the company’s staff and the public will also be available.
Q: Water and electricity are essential components in running a factory before one even thinks of installing machineries. How easy or otherwise has this been for Motisun Group to lay this infrastructure?
A: As far as power is concerned, we had no problems. However, things were different with water. As I said earlier, Chalinze Water Supply Authority (CHALIWASA) which supplies water in Msoga area was not coping so we decided to invest some 36m/- in order to develop our own pumping system at Wami River.
Q: Coast Region is fairly underdeveloped when compared to other regions in the country. Yet the area has investment potential, given its proximity to the international airport in Dar es Salaam, harbours and highways, making it a gateway to other countries of the world. How does Motisun Group take this as an opportunity to spread its wings?
A: For one, we are an expanding business conglomerate, spreading significantly our wings in Uganda, Mozambique, Zambia and Ghana.
Apart from our heavy industry factories (manufacturing roofing sheets, pipes, water tanks and paints, trading by the brand name of Kiboko ) in Mikocheni area in Dar es Salaam, hotels and resorts in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, we also have factories in Mwanza and Moshi.
It is true that Coast Region is now a prime area in terms of investment opportunity. Motisun Group has carefully considered this fact and our presence in the region is substantial. We have acquired 7,000 acres of land at Tarawanda village in Bagamoyo District. The Group will produce both Portland Cement and Portland Limestone Cement.
Q: Apart from business operations and activities, does the Group also engage in corporate social responsibility?
A: Certainly. Every year we set aside a sum of 700,000,000/- for community development. We support any genuine cause for groups, institutions and even individuals, without any bias to their religious or political affiliation. In the past ten years, we have spent 30m/- on the education for needy children, especially those residing in areas where we operate.
Our objective is to make sure the children get essential knowledge and employment to make a living for their own future and welfare for their families.