THE geographical location of Tanzania stands as a link to sixteen member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which have a reason to take a leaf from Tanzania in order to facilitate and boost intra-trade activities in the region.
Tanzania boasts many opportunities which may help spread investment potential in the southern Africa region.
The development of the SADC region will depend on trade and industrial growth all of which require facilitation of efficient infrastructural development which Tanzania is already investing in.
These includes, Julius Nyerere Hydro-electricity power Generation Project which upon its completion is scheduled to generate 2,115 megawatts of electricity. This is enough to cater for the southern African countries. The log stretch of the Standard Gauge Railways (SGR) covers1,450 Km in total.
Another one is the 1,860 kilometre-long bi-national railway link known as TAZARA owned by Tanzania and Zambia which is vital in boosting intra-regional trade as it joins southern Africa and Eastern Africa through its railway transport network.
The two countries plan to restructure the railway infrastructure for increased investment use by southern countries that will unlock its potential for boosting intraregional trade, a key pillar for regional integration in southern Africa.
With a designed capacity of over two million tonnes of freight per annum, TAZARA has been handling traffic for the SADC countries as well as the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), thereby providing a vital regional link with the rest of the world through the port of Dar es Salaam.
However, the railway which is an important route for copper exports from Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Africa’s top producer, is operating far below its potential capacity.
Currently Tanzania has resolved to embark on the financing of own major infrastructural projects which economically are targeted to become a stimulus to trade with neighboring SADC countries a move that would help boost national industrialisation program for middle income economy by 2025.
In terms of aviation services, the national flag carrier has tremendously reinvested with eight new aircraft which were bought differently within three years’ time. These are in operational including the latest Dreamliner Boeing 787.
The ATCL’s Managing Director Engineer, Ladislaus Matindi says: “ATCL intends to explore southern routes to make Tanzania the hub of tourism centre within SADC region”. The initiative is anticipated to generate further an increase in business traffic within the country, SADC region and across the continent such as India.
According to him, there has been an increase in number of passengers who use ATCL flights from countries that include Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, and those destinations are connected through the company’s flights operating to and from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Ports are main entry points to trade at international level and for this matter, Tanzania government is currently expanding its three ports with a view to increase its haulage capacity to trade with some landlocked SADC countries.
According to the Director General of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) Deusdedit Kakoko, three ports along the Indian Ocean are Dar es Salaam, Mtwara and Tanga. These are well more potentials for landlocked SADC countries such as Malawi, Zambia, DRC, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
The three ports are currently undergoing major rehabilitation programs to keep them abreast with cargo handling at this time around when the fifth phase government has committed to increase industrial economic growth.
According to Kakonko, the ongoing expansion programs aims to increase cargo handling and consolidate security for customers and their cargo. At present the Dar port is able to allow anchorage of ships of between 150 and 170 meters in length at the port’s berths whose depths are being dredged from 10.5 meters to 15.5 meters respectively.
In terms of security the port works in collaboration with navy army to a greater extent in order to reduce any risks of attack of ships coming to the ports. In addition, TPA has opened its offices in Lusaka-Zambia, Kigali- Rwanda, Lubumbashi-DRC and Bujumbura-Burundi.
TPA has also working agents in Uganda, and at Goma and Bukavu towns in DRC. “This demonstrates a firm commitment of the government in the uptake of this crucial role for investment in infrastructure is necessary to enhance mutual and industrial development”, he said.
The total number of cargo handling at Mtwara port has increased tremendously from 296,577 tones during 2014/15 trading period to 363,287 tones during 2017/18 trading period. Likewise during 2018/19 the port has served a total of 141 ships vessels from the number 66 which it served during 2017/18 trading period which is equivalent to the increase of 113 percent.
According to the port’s Manager Engineer, Juma Kijavara who gave the performance report of development of the port to journalists a fortnight ago, the port stands at a better chance to increase the economy of southern regions and that of the neighboring countries.
Apart from engaging in handling cashew nut consignments, the port also serves as an entry point to imports such as cement, oil, Coal, car containers carrying vehicles destined to neighboring countries of Mozambique, Zambia, and Malawi, he affirmed.
The industrialisation program which is targeted to transform Tanzania into a middle income economy by 2025, continues to gain a momentum as the country’s exports to Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states continues has increased.
Trade between Tanzania and among SADC member states has shown a tremendous increase this time around as the country’s exports to SADC member countries were US$ 999.34 during 2018 trading period compared to US$ 877.8 attained during 2017 trading period”.
This is equivalent to 12.16 percent increase. According to the Minister for Trade and Industries, Mr Innocent Bashungwa, Tanzania is likely to become in future the main source of manufacturing products which have high demand in SADC regional states.
The major supplies includes, cement, cigarettes, ceramic, soaps, fruit juices, gold, footwear, bricks, agricultural products such as wheat flour and maize. Tanzania’s major imports from SADC countries mainly from South Africa, Zambia, Mauritius and Malawi countries includes motor vehicles, maize seeds, gas, iron sheet, lubricants, beer products, apple juice and sugar.
South Africa accounts for 70.9 percent of the total country’s intra- SADC trade. SADC with a combined population of 370 million people and the GDP of US$ 607 billion provides huge potential for investment that would translate to socio-economic development.
SADC is an inter-governmental organization which was initially established as a development coordinating conference (SADCC) in 1980 and transformed into a development community in 1992 consisting of Southern African member states.
These are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. *Emmanuel Oyango is a freelance journalist based in Dar es Salaam