Mwinyi commits to improvement of digital spaces

ZANZIBAR President Dr Hussein Mwinyi has assured investors and innovators of the government’s full commitment in working with the private sector to develop the Islands into a digital hub of the East African region.

During a brief meeting with foreign entrepreneurs, business consultants and start-ups, as well as investors from different parts of the world, Dr Mwinyi said the government is working in partnership with a ThreeFold Foundation in Zanzibar to realise the plans.

He said the focus is to create a digital free zone/cyber city, develop new locally owned internet for Zanzibar, and incubator where young innovators with better ideas can be trained to develop to a higher level.

President Mwinyi said that the government is already taking measures to implement the plan.

“We already have laws, policy and regulation in place for the digital project. But still, there is a room for review in case there are legal obstacles in order to make it a success,” he pointed out.

In specific, Dr Mwinyi noted that a new fibre optic cable is underway to Zanzibar, describing it as crucial for Isles to realise digital transformation. He said the government was committed to continue strengthening public private partnership (PPP) to achieve the goal.

Reiterating the full commitment of the government to attract investments, President Mwinyi told the visitors that the government has incentives for strategic investments worth from 50 million US dollars, and corporate start-up tax relief for up to 15 years.

Commenting, Eng Shukuru Awadhi Suleiman-Executive Director- Government Digitalisation said the government was set to allocate about 300 hectares at Fumba free zone for the cyber city.

“We are working with our colleagues in the Union government. We want to make the best use of Information Technology (ICT) to create employment for the Isles young people and also grow our economy,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a separate function, President Mwinyi called on seaweed farmers and entrepreneurs to increase their efforts in production and management of the crop, in order to meet the growing demands.

“The government established Zanzibar Seaweed Company (ZASCO) to encourage more production, quality, and also raise prices. Exploit the opportunity to grow economically,” Dr Mwinyi said here yesterday, where some farmers and stakeholders gathered to celebrate the Seaweed Day.

He said seaweed is one of the major areas of blue economy aimed at changing the lives of the farmers, besides boosting the economy of individuals and the country at large.

“I assure you that your government is with you, to ensure that the seaweed crop continues to bring prosperity to farmers and contribute effectively to the economic growth of the country,” Dr Mwinyi said.

He further said that great success has been recorded in the cultivation of seaweed, following the empowerment of the farmers through the IMF’s Covid-19 relief Fund, which has led to support more than five thousand (5,000) seaweed farmers in Unguja and Pemba, by providing them with special boats capable of reaching deep sea water, to grow, harvest and transport the crop.

Despite challenges, Zanzibar remains one of the leading producers and exporters of seaweed in the world, competing with the biggest producers in the world such as China, Philippines and Indonesia.

According to the data from the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries, seaweed production has increased from 9,663 tonnes in 2019/2020 to 12,594 tonnes in 2021/2022.

The seaweed has many uses for economic growth including food, cosmetics, medicine, fertiliser and animal feed if processed well/value addition.

Speaking at the event, the Chairperson of the Zanzibar Seaweed Cluster Initiatives (ZaSCI) Dr Flower Msuya called for strengthening of cooperation between the government and its institution to address the challenges facing seaweed farming in the country.

She explained the negative impact of climate change on crop farming and the low price that led to the establishment of the ZaSCI eight years ago, to find the lasting solutions. She also encouraged innovation among farmers that will bring prosperity to seaweed farming.

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