Simbakalia: Man with unique upbringing

  • A long-served army officer, government leader
  • Points out his lifetime achievements

FOR Joseph Simbakalia, a retired army officer-cum-government leader, his honesty, integrity, obedience, courage, patriotism and leadership achievements are results of his unique upbringing–a mix of principles from parents and the army.

According to him, the two institutions, the family and army, were the fundamental basis for his upright upbringing which later shaped his life.

“My family raised me in way that I can face anything in life,” noted Mr Simbakalia when explaining how the parents’ guidance and treatments experienced groomed him well during his childhood until when he completed high school at Kibaha Secondary School in Coast Region in 1972.

After completing his high school he joined the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDC) where he began a new life as an army officer.

To ensure sustainable development of skills and guarantee sufficient pool of skilled workforce in the country, the government sent a group of young people including him to pursue various courses in different sectors of the economy.

“Everything I did was a reflection of the upbringing by my parents and the army,” he added.

The virtues acquired from the family and the army formed fundamental pillars which guided his entire leadership life.

“The leadership qualities and capabilities were seen by the Appointing Authority and I was given a chance to lead senior leadership positions in the government and in public entities,” he said.

Mr Simbakalia holds Bachelor’s and Master degree in engineering and held various leadership positions in the Defence Forces.

Also, he held other senior leadership positions, as he was also  appointed Managing Director of the National Development Corporation (NDC) as well as Regional Commissioner for Kigoma and Mtwara Regions.

Retired Col Simbakalia had held corporate leadership positions of board director in the public and private sector, including Tanzania incorporated subsidiaries of multinational companies trading and known as ABB, SIEMENS, TATA and CARNAUD.

He retired from public service in 2021 as Director General and Chief Executive Officer of the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA).

He added, “Currently, I am serving when I am needed in the government, the party and the army,”

One thing that he said he has been doing joyfully is to teach and share his leadership experiences with young leaders at the National Defence College (NDC), the Institute of Directors and at the Mwalimu Nyerere Leadership School located in Kibaha, Coast Region.

Retired Col Simbakalia is an all-round (civil, corporate, defence and security) high-level leadership training facilitator.

As a prolific writer, he wrote books and he has been writing various papers on different key topics like natural resources, economy, poverty, energy sector.

He is also giving lectures and presentations in conferences, workshops and seminars locally and internationally on different key topics that focus on Tanzania and Africa’s development agenda.

Speaking about his achievements as an army officer-cum-civil servant in the institutions he led, noted that he successfully implemented all the directives issued by the Appointing Authority.

For example as Mtwara Regional Commissioner, he said among others he was assigned to ensure that Dangote factory is built and start to operate.

At the National Development Corporation (NDC), he said he was assigned two main obligations namely to ensure that Mchuchuma and Liganga projects which stalled for a long time are revived and developed.

Also to supervise the existing industries in the country so that they remain operational until when they are privatised.

In the Mchuchuma coal project, the government was trying to address the problem of power shortage due to prolonged droughts that hit the country in the early 1990s.

With the project, the government wanted to generate reliable and sufficient electricity to run all industries in the country.

“As the head of NDC, I worked out with my team to prepare the project until when it became a bankable project,” he said.

On Liganga Iron ore project, the government sought to have supportive industries for making machines and equipment needed by big industries. This project is still a most significant one in building country’s robust industrial economy.

But one of the challenges in executing it was insufficient and unreliable power. And here came the need to develop Mchuchuma Coal project.

Another challenge was unreliable transport and it is from this backdrop that came the need to implement the idea of transport corridors, later on the Development corridors.

According to a Scoping Study on development corridors in Tanzania, the corridor development approach in the country was promoted by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) after realising that these geographic corridors are growing in importance as enablers of multiple sectors to maximise their productivity.

The SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology called for the creation of Corridor Planning Committees to focus on specific strategies for development.

SADC countries were required to choose their own institution to coordinate the implementation of regional development corridors.

In Tanzania, the National Development Corporation (NDC) was appointed and assigned to coordinate the implementation of the regional development corridor approach.

NDC through the Directorate of Research, Planning and Industrial Development (DRPID) now coordinates studies, consolidates and implements anchor projects in development corridors, with a focus on enhancing regional development balance, and works to attract investors in the corridors.

“With my team at NDC we started to conceptualise Mtwara Development Corridor as part of the solutions to various development challenges facing the southern regions,” he said.

He said there was a dedicated team from NDC that worked day and night to ensure that Mtwara as well as Central corridors became a reality.

“So when you talk about Mtwara port, Mbamba Bay railway and unit bridge, there is a technical economic study at NDC of which I made a considerable contributions to be fruitful,” said Mr Simbakalia.

At EPZA,  the whole concepts of Export Processing Zones and Special Economic Zones and in particular the Bagamoyo Port Project, a significant milestone was reached during his term in office.

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