WALKING THE TALK: BUILDING A PROSPEROUS TANZANIA

TANZANIA has registered tremendous success in conservation and tourism sectors, as the country’s Wildlife Management Authority (TAWA) excels with a remarkable increase in tourists’ arrivals, income and reduction in poaching.

There has been noteworthy improvement in tourism services and an increase in income emanating from hunting blocks fees.

The increase in income, according to the TAWA officials will help the country to achieve its target of notching an income of 6 billion US dollars (about 14tri/-) from 5,000,000 tourists come 2025 as stipulated in the Third Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP III of 2020/2021 to 2025/2026).

TAWA Conservation Commissioner, Mr Mabula Nyanda told editors at a recent working visit at Pande Game Reserve in Dar es Salaam that in 2019, the government initiated a new electronic order for allocating hunting blocks that has registered tremendous success in several countries, such as Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The new system means that fewer hunting tourists earn the country more funds than many tourists who come to the country for viewing tourism attractions in the national parks and protected areas and for cultural tourism.

Mr Nyanda notes that TAWA that manages 136,287.06 kilometres of forests has registered significant success in the new system and that there has been an increase in hunting blocks fees by 174 per cent.

He said, a first class hunting block that was leased at 60,000 US dollars, is now leased between 151,000 and 285,000 US dollars. Second class hunting block is now leased at between 81,000 to 250,000 US dollars, up from 30,000 US dollars. Third class hunting block now fetches between 31,000 and 255,000 US dollars up from 18,000 US dollars.

Chipping in, TAWA Board Chairman, Major General (Rtd) Hamisi Semfuko said income the country earns from one hunting tourist equals to at least 60 tourists, who come to sample the country’s National Parks, sight-seeing, bird viewing, cultural tourism, and mountain trekking.

“In fact, the objective is to promote low volume, high revenue in tourism,” says Maj Gen (Rtd) Semfuko.

There is currently an increased competition in the hunting blocks, depending on types of the blocks. The new system also offers wider participation of hunting tourists as opposed to the old system that was favouring fewer participants in the blocks auctioning.

Since TAWA came up with the Guidelines for Allocation of Hunting Blocks through Auctioning in 2019 until March this year, seven auctions have been conducted, involving 100 blocks, leasing 79 blocks that earned the country 3,306,000 US dollars – equivalent to a 196.4 per cent increase.

As regards to decrease in poaching activities, Mr Nyanda unveils that TAWA acquired more equipment, with its staffs’ morale boost and improvement of the emergency response unit eventually paying off handsomely as the number of elephants killed has gone down to three in 2020/2021, down from 18 in 2016/2017.

In Selous Game Reserve, he says the number of killed elephants dropped to zero in 2020/2021, down from seven that were spotted killed in 2016/2017.

The number of livestock which enter the conserved areas under TAWA has also gone down due to improved patrols. Between 2016 /2017 and 2020/2021 livestock seized in the said areas went down by 65.5 per cent, from 56,708 in 2016/17 to 19,554 in 2020/21.

In a bid to improve relations between TAWA and people living near Ugalla, Moyowosi and Kilombero game reserves so that they benefit from the areas, the authority initiated directives on fishing and beekeeping activities in 2020/2021. A total of 870,671,385/- was collected from fishing and beekeeping activities, fishing contributing to a whopping 840,672,485/-, while beekeeping contributed 29,998,900/-.

In 2021/2022, according to the Commissioner, TAWA completed construction of a 66m/- fish market at Kilombero District, Morogoro Region.

TAWA retains its interest in education by constructing classrooms, buying desks and offering sponsorship.

In the health sector the authority constructed and refurbished dispensaries and buy equipment such as bicycles for the disabled. In the water sector, TAWA constructed water wells and supplied water to the public. It also constructs dips for livestock keepers. In terms of conserving the environment, TAWA supplies tree seedlings to people living near the protected areas.

For the financial year 2021-2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism was granted 90bn/-, which is equivalent to 6.9 per cent of the whole IMF loan of 1.3tri.- in emergency financial assistance to support Tanzania’s efforts in responding to the Covid-19 pandemic. TAWA was allocated 12.9bn/-.

In regard to how the authority has spent 12.9bn/- disbursed by the government from Covid-19 relief package, Commissioner Nyanda said that execution of projects was going on well, with some completed, while others have reached different stages.

He said construction of a total of 463.5km of road within Wami Mbiki, Kijereshi, Mkungunero, Lukwika, Lumesule, Liparamba, Igombe and Rungwa game reserves has reached 72.5 per cent, with a total of 336.2km already covered.

According to him, the installation of electronic tracking systems for the monitoring of heavy machinery and vehicles in conservation areas was also progressing well, where 1bn/- was allocated for the project.

Building of two out of four reception gates in the Mkungunero and Swagaswaga Game Reserve has been completed, while the remaining two at Wami Mbiki and Kijereshi Game Reserve were in the final touches of completion.

He said three out of six vehicles to be purchased through the Government Procurement Services Agency (GPSA) have already been received, while the remaining three will be received before the end of this month.

Through the funds, TAWA also purchased four surveillance boats and a special glass boat for marine tourism to be used in Kilwa Island. It is capable of carrying 60 passengers.

Other projects that are ongoing include renovation of seven Cultural Heritage Centres in Mikindani Mtwara, Tendaguru-Lindi, Kua-Mafia Ruins, Mbua Maji Mbweni Mosque, Cemeteries and Port Mosque and Kimbiji – Dar es Salaam.

Mr Nyanda divulges that TAWA is set to construct tourism infrastructure – 1,027 kilometres of roads, 22 gates and revenue collection centres, an airport to provide conducive environment for hunting and photo tourism, as it eyes for 531,576 tourists and a record 1,000 hunting tourists and revenue to the tune of 103bn/-.

In the same vein, TAWA has initiated a Special Wildlife Concession Areas (SWICA) as part of initiatives to promote investments.

According to TAWA Conservation Officer I, Said Bilibili, Tanzania creates a strong infrastructure for all investments while providing the strong growth and security needed to prosper. He said peace and political stability, strategic location, attractive investment regime, investment incentives and investment guarantees are some of the reasons why investors should consider Tanzania.

Currently, he said there are four blocks (Selous M3, Selous MHJ2 and Selous MT1) available for investment under the SWICA model. This model allows concessioners with more time for investment up to 30 years renewable; more investment options, allows innovative tourism investments and diversification of tourism products and services.

Investment in SWICA areas could be done through solicited or unsolicited proposals. Under solicited arrangement, business proposals are submitted in response to a request or solicitation issued by the Authority within the context of a competitive selection procedure.

With regard to the unsolicited arrangements, business proposals are submitted to the Authority on the initiative of the applicant for the purpose of obtaining a concession contract.

This type of investment was brought about after lessons TAWA got from Botswana, Peru, Mozambique and South Africa and it targets more high end customers. SWICA is on course to implement FYDP III, as well as ruling party CCM Election Manifesto 2020.

To promote sector competitiveness and linkages, FYDP III is prioritising the development and implementation of a clear tourism legal and regulatory framework and strengthening public-private dialogue and collaboration.

Key interventions include to promote new tourism products development and diversification for sustainable growth and to promote southern tourist circuit as alternative to other circuits

In the benefit sharing framework, TAWA has been issuing dividends to district councils, villages and people living in Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) from the money it got from hunting and photo tourism.

Between 2016/17 and 2021/22 TAWA issued 37.79bn/- to the beneficiaries. Hunting principles require direct companies that lease hunting blocks to contribute in development activities by at least 5,000 US dollars per every block annually.

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