TANZANIA: A LITTLE-KNOWN business and financial expert, Mr Mussa Nassoro Kuji has officially taken over the reins of the high-profile conservation and tourism agency, ushering in a new way of running the agency.
Ms Angellah Kairuki, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, on January 29th this year, presided over the swearing-in for the CPA Kuji as a new Conservation Commissioner of Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
TANAPA, the most strategic state-run conservation and tourism agency at the core of the tourism industry that earns the country’s economy 3.3 billion US dollars annually, is a prestigious body mandated to manage 21 national parks, covering an area approximately equivalent to the land area of Croatia.
“I would like to instruct you to maintain a conservation drive, foster strategic partnerships to woo more tourists and investments into our national parks in a bid to generate significant revenue to contribute to the economic development, and improve staff welfare, among others,” Ms Kairuki said, heralding a new perspective of managing the agency amidst a myriad of challenges facing the conservation, travel and tourism industry.
This suggests a historic shift in navigating the affair of TANAPA, as traditionally the agency’s approach, has been skewed towards conserving the country’s endowed tourist attractions to a greater degree, with little effort in promoting the tourism products and investments.
An appointment of CPA Kuji by the President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, on January 11th this year, to steer TANAPA comes at a time when the government is trying to converge interests of conservation, tourism business and financial management for the agency to contribute significantly to the economy and cope with a changing global landscape.
CPA Kuji, an accomplished business and financial specialist with a solid education background and over three decades of working experience, brings an impressive track record of developing businesses and delivering quality tourism services, particularly a critical soft skills package required for transforming the country’s tourism industry.
CPA Kuji, with a Master’s in Business Administration and a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce and Accountancy from Maastricht School Management of Netherlands and the University of Dar es Salaam, respectively, is credited behind the TANAPA’s success story of harnessing private sector investments and boost the agency’s financial resilience.
Records show that CPA Kuji started working as a mere accountant officer at TANAPA in the early 1990s, but thanks to his professional competency and leadership potential, through his extraordinary ability to build teamwork, he led his way through the ranks and rose to director of corporate services.
Insiders say CPA Kuji is the man behind the unqualified audits, reflecting financial statements that have been transparent and compliant with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
“He is a man with a treasure of expertise and vast experience in the finance, business and tourism industry. I’m deeply convinced that his bearing would bring a much-needed new impetus to TANAPA and the tourism industry at large,” a TANAPA insider says.
Under his position as the director of corporate services at TANAPA, CPA Kuji has successfully managed to harmonise public and private interests in the tourism industry. It was through his drive, competency and creativity that CPA Kuji has been able to foster good rapport, among various tourism players, converging business and conservation, winning the minds of both public and private sectors.
He is an embodiment of the positive traits that are perquisites to taking TANAPA to its task and Tanzania tourism to the international stage.
“I’m thankful to my Allah, President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, Ms Angellah Kairuki, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism and the TANAPA Board of Trustees for trusting me to navigate this key conservation and tourism agency,” CPA Kuji says.
He says the work ahead is to shape the future of Tanzania’s tourism industry for it to contribute significantly to the country’s economy and translate Dr. Samia’s earnest vision.
“We need to woo investors within the national parks, improve infrastructure and offer high-quality services as we seek to boost tourism growth and revenue for economic development,” the soft-spoken TANAPA Chief explains.
It is mind-blowing, he says, to note that Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, which lag far behind Tanzania in the number of quality tourists’ allures, receive millions of travelers and generate more foreign currencies than Tanzania does.
“TANAPA is going to closely work with the Tanzania Tourists Board, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, and Hotels Association of Tanzania, among other players, to change the narrative,” CPA Kuji notes.
Key tourism industry players have received the news with triumph, saying Mr Kuji will bring new impetus not only to TANAPA but also to the entire travel and tourism value chain.
“CPA Kuji is the right person at the right moment at TANAPA. He is a down-to earth person, good listener, open-minded, approachable, transparent, with a growth mindset, ethics and decisiveness,” the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) CEO, Mr Sirili Akko, says.
The tourism industry in Tanzania grew by leaps and bounds last year in both revenue and visitor numbers. For instance, Tanzania’s central bank’s latest data shows that tourism receipts surged by 37.5 per cent to 3.3 billion US dollars in the 12 months leading up to November 2023, while tourist arrivals increased by 27 per cent to 1.797 million.
The new trend is contrary to the situation before the coronavirus pandemic when Tanzania earned 2.526 billion US dollars in 2019, with 1,527,230 tourists visiting the country.
The Bank of Tanzania (BoT) monthly economic review for December 2023 attributes the rise in travel receipts to the recovery of the tourism industry as evidenced by a significant increase in tourist arrivals.
As it stands now, tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner, overtaking gold, which generated 3 billion US dollars in revenue in the year up to November 2023, up from 2.8 billion US dollars in the previous year.
The ruling party CCM’s Election Manifesto clearly stipulates that tourism will attract five million tourists, who will leave behind nearly 6.6 billion US dollars by 2025, with expected real multiplier effects to a critical mass of common folks in Tanzania, particularly women and youth.