THE Oil pipeline whose construction was flagged off yesterday by President John Magufuli and his counterpart from Uganda, Yoweri Museveni is likely to trigger other economic opportunities, economists have said.
Such other economic opportunities that are likely to emerge later, depending on government plans, include the construction of oil refinery in Tanga and a railway line from the coastal city to Uganda via Musoma.
It will be recalled that in February 2012, the then Minister for Transport Omari Nundu was quoted as saying that Tanzania and Uganda had set aside over 13,000 hectres for the construction of a railway line to link Tanga port and Kampala via Musoma port for the major purpose of linking the economies of the two East African nations.
Though the idea faded, economists now say it is high time the two governments worked on it.
Economist Elinawi Minja from the University of Dar es Salaam spoke to the ‘Sunday News’ yesterday, saying though the Tanga- Hoima Oil Pipeline project would create thousands of direct and indirect job opportunities, there was no doubt that the two governments would later walk the talk, as far as the construction of the railway line is concerned.
“The implementation of the oil pipeline by the two EA countries is likely to act as a catalyst in reaching the decision to construct the railway line, an idea that has been in papers for some time now, “he said.
According to Dr Minja, with the implementation of Hoima- Tanga Oil Pipeline project, Tanga Port will now be face lifted to enable mega oil and other cargo ships to dock.
“If we have had an idea of face-lifting Tanga port but have, in one way or another, been dillydallying in implementing the project, this oil pipeline will now make us run instead of walking,” he said.
Speaking about the construction of the oil refinery in Tanga, Dr Minja said the idea will depend on its economic viability, given the fact that Uganda has plans to have one.
“It happens that the oil refinery in Uganda is capable of supplying the East African market, having another one in Tanga may prove not to be economically viable, unless we, as Tanzanians, decide to have it for our own economic plans,” he said.
University of Dar es Salaam economic professor, Haji Semboja, said if plans will be properly put in place it will be possible to construct the oil refinery near Tanga as long as the area will have adequate power supply.
“As we are now focusing on industrialization, nothing can hold us back to have a processing industry in the country,” he noted.
He further said that the pipeline should also bring economic psychology impact to the country as Tanzania can also consider having its own oil pipeline from the sea, saying it’s high time the country borrows a leaf from Uganda.
Prof Honest Ngowi, an economist at Mzumbe University Dar es Salaam campus, said communities near the pipeline and local companies must prepare themselves psychologically to tap into those opportunities.
“It is true the construction has triggered other economic opportunities, but that is not enough, strategic planning is crucial for them to be actualised,” he commented.