Why Russia relations vital for Tanzania economic growth

RUSSIA, St Petersburg THE partnership between Tanzania and Russia entered an exciting phase after Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa visited Russia on behalf of President Samia Suluhu Hassan last week.

He attended the second Russian-African Summit. The summit brought together leaders and investors from Africa and Russia to discuss ways to strengthen their partnership. It also discussed ways to improve their nations’ challenges.

Speaking with the ‘Daily News’ Premier Majaliwa noted: “Basically, this forum of Russia and African countries is significant because it talks about relations between African countries and Russia. The forum has highlighted various social and economic issues.

“Our participation in this forum is very beneficial for Tanzania for several reasons. One, we have had very good relations with Russia for a very long time. Our embassies are effective and we are in diplomatic contact with many other things.

“Through this forum, we can learn about other African countries’ activities in a variety of sectors, and gain experience from them. We have the opportunity to share what we are doing in our areas with Africans and other invited nations at this gathering.”

The Second Russia–Africa Summit was held at the Expo Forum in St Petersburg on 27 and 28 July 2023. Originally the summit was scheduled for October 2022 at the African Union (AU) Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia but was postponed.

Other than Prime Minister Majaliwa’s attendance, there were delegations from Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea Bissau, Libya, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Algeria, Ethiopia, Mauritania and Malawi.

Other delegates were from Comoros, Morocco, Somalia, Angola, Benin, Chad, Djibouti, Ghana, Gambia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Tunisia, Zambia and Madagascar.

Stress on building fertiliser factories

During the summit, Prime Minister Majaliwa stressed the need to build more fertiliser factories in the country. This is to make Tanzania the centre of food crop producers on the Eastern, Southern and ultimately the entire African continent.

Prime Minister Majaliwa told the ‘Daily News’ that investing in fertiliser production would gradually transform agriculture in the country. Therefore, the government seized an opportunity to call investors to come and invest in the fertiliser sector in the country. This is rather than relying on imports from abroad.

“We are very pleased with our President’s vision to see Tanzania prosper in agriculture by increasing the agricultural budget. Our goals are for Tanzania to become a hub of food crop production, feeding East Africa, Southern African Development Cooperation (SADC) countries and the entire continent.

“Yes, this is possible, although we have to first deal with the fertiliser challenge. 80 per cent of our production is imported fertiliser. Since we spend a lot of money importing fertiliser, we want to produce our own.

“We have our own fertiliser through livestock, which is usually only about 20 per cent. The rest we import. In this regard, Tanzania is looking for investors willing to invest in fertiliser production,” he said.

Premier Majaliwa added that if there are enough fertiliser factories in the country, it will reduce the country’s cost of importing fertiliser from foreign countries. This will guarantee farmers access to fertiliser at the right time, depending on their needs.

“Our production is currently 200,000 tons, but our demand exceeds 800,000 tons. However, we have found a factory that is doing well and intends to produce up to 800,000 tons. They have started producing and are close to 400,000 tons. I believe we will reach our goal,” he revealed.

Despite the existence of a factory that produces fertiliser and does well in its production, Mr Majaliwa insisted on the establishment of more fertiliser factories with such high production. Emphasizing that one cannot be enough.

“But let’s not rely on one factory alone, we need more factories and we have gas resources that can make fertiliser but also natural resources that we have inside, we have areas that have natural fertiliser so if they are processed into our factories, we can get a lot of fertiliser.

“Once we succeed in the fertiliser area, our production goals will succeed because we have expanded production. This is not just rain-fed agriculture, we are also going to irrigation-based agriculture. Once we expand this scope, we will produce more food as we have enough fertiliser to improve our cropping,” he said, enthusiastically.

The Premier made the remarks shortly after visiting a Tanzania pavilion at the three-day Russian-African Summit in St Petersburg, Russia. At the Tanzania pavilion, businessmen and women showcased their products made in Tanzania.

They displayed spices and minerals. However, also at the expo, businessmen and women from Tanzania showcased a film on different attractions available in the country. These attractions included Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, Stone Town and many more.  Other than filming the tourist attractions in the country, the Tanzania pavilion had a special magazine edition in Russian which explained Tanzanian’s beauty.

“So, the opportunity of this Russia-Africa summit is to meet with other businessmen and investors who are experts in these areas and welcome them to invest in this country.

“Once they bring investors to the country and because we have the resources, production becomes easier.”

The Premier also applauded the Tanzanian businessmen and women who placed their commodities in the Tanzania pavilion at the expo.

“I am glad to see businessmen and women from the private sector come here to announce the opportunity for our country. This includes minerals, natural resources, agriculture and livestock.

“Our leaders, President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Russian President Putin speak the same language, so we believe this cooperation will bring greater success to our nation.”

Among the businessmen present at the Tanzania pavilion was Mr Samuel Nsokolo, Operational Manager at Vegrab Organic Farming Ltd.

The trip to St Petersburg was a fruitful experience for him, representing the nation in such a prestigious expo. He also built a network with people from Russia and other African countries.

Mr Nsokolo affirmed that they received a number of guests curious to visit Tanzania and interested in learning more about the products they displayed. Some individuals became interested in spice foods and others hoped to visit Tanzania for tourism during their vacations.

‘Daily News’ witnessed many guests visiting the Tanzania pavilion, making it one of the busiest pavilions at the expo.

Mr Nsokolo urged other Tanzanian men and women with small and large-scale businesses to take the opportunity and participate in such international festivals. This benefits individuals but the country at large.

Tanzanians who visited the pavilion and interacted included Engineer Juliana Marko. She expressed: “I feel honoured to see a Tanzanian pavilion at the Russia-Africa Summit. There are many products, both food and minerals. I am happy to know how people view Tanzania. Everyone I encountered said that Tanzanians were really friendly, so they really wished to visit Tanzania.”

Results of the summit

Prime Minister Majaliwa met with investors from four Russian companies interested in investing in Tanzania. These companies are attracted in crop processing, renewable energy and glass packaging manufacturing.

The companies are SEIES (processing of crops and their plants), Agrovent (processing of perishable crops), Unigreen Energy (Renewable Energy) and TD Glass NN Expo LLC (manufacturing bottles using sand and gravel).

Chief Executive and founder of Agrovent, Mr Sergey Pribysh told the Prime Minister that they are interested in coming to Tanzania to invest in perishable crops such as flowers and vegetables.

“We are one of the largest milk and meat processing plants producers of chickens and ducks. We are ready to cooperate with Tanzanians and plan to provide training to prepare professionals who will operate the plants. We will have to find agricultural officials to teach them how the machines work,” he said.

Aleksey Tatarinov of the Unigreen Energy company said they are interested in strengthening the energy sector in the country. He said they specialise in solar electricity and panels and geothermal electricity.

The Prime Minister has assured them of a favourable investment environment and their decisions are correct because Tanzania is the right place to invest.

He explained to investors that Tanzania has a reliable market because it is surrounded by Kenya, Uganda, Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.

He said that the government had continued with the strategy of infrastructure construction. This stimulates economic growth through trade and investment.

“We have railway infrastructure, we have well-paved roads in almost all parts of the country, we have aeroplanes, we have three large lakes close to other neighbouring nations that facilitate goods transportation, we also have enough raw materials, so Tanzania is very close.”

 

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