Zanzibar eyes improved infrastructures for economy, social development

RESEARCHERS, planners and analysts maintain the argument that economy needs reliable infrastructure to connect supply chains and efficiently move goods and services across borders, and also that it catalyses development of the other economic sectors, resulting in employment, better health and education.

According to UN, these arguments put infrastructure (the collection of systems and facilities that serve as the basis for the economic growth of a country) at the very heart of efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly Goal No. 9 that seeks to build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

It is because of these reasons that President Hussein Ali Mwinyi, since being elected, has been focusing on infrastructure in Zanzibar and it is also probably why many Ministers from Zanzibar Government spared time to attend the signing ceremony for loan agreement to develop roads and Karume Airport in Pemba.

The significant financial agreement was between the Zanzibar government and the United Kingdom government as a guarantor through UK Export Financing (UKEF) for the loan of about EUR 400 million (equivalent to more than 1trl/-) for funding the development of selected roads and Pemba airport.

The selected important roads to the Isles economic and social growth are the 48km road from Tunguu to Makudunchi in South Unguja, the 12km road from Kisauni-Fumba in Unguja Urban/West region and the 43.5km road from Mkoani town to Chakechake in South Pemba. The projects are financed through the Citibank London and Deutsche Bank London.

“We regard this agreement as the biggest deal ever. We thank President Samia Suluhu Hassan for enabling this happen. We also thank President Hussein Ali Mwinyi for his vision to develop all roads and airports in the Islands,” said the Minister of State- President’s Office, (Finance and Planning), Dr Saada Mkuya Salum who signed the loan documents on behalf of Zanzibar government.

At the event held in the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) building meeting hall in Zanzibar, the British High Commissioner in Tanzania, Mr David Concer and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citibank Tanzania Limited, Mr Geofrey Mchangila also signed the documents.

Ministers who witnessed the signing were: Mr Simai Mohamed Said (Tourism and Heritage), Dr Khalid Salum Mohamed (Infrastructure, Communication and Transport), Mr Shaibu Hassan Kaduara (Water, Energy and Minerals) and Mr Ali Suleiman Ameir (deputy Minister- Finance and Planning).

Mr Nadir Yusuf (deputy Minister Infrastructure, Communication and Transport), Ms Mwanasha Khamis Juma (House of Representatives chairperson), Mr Yahya Rashid Abdulla (Chairperson- House of Representatives committee for Infrastructure), Regional Commissioner for Urban-west region Mr Idris Kitwana Mustafa were other attendees.

Mr Mattar Zahor Masoud- Regional Commissioner for South Pemba, some Principal Secretaries, Mr Hamza Hassan Juma- State Minister Coordination, Policy, and House of Representatives, and the Chief Secretary (CS) Eng Zena Ahmed Said also witnessed the signing of documents.

Main speakers at the event were Ambassador Concer, Dr Saada, Eng Zena, Dr Khalid and Mr Mchangila, who promised at separate occasions to show commitment so that the project is realised within the agreed time, asking the contractors to play their part.

“This collaboration signifies a major step forward in strengthening the economic ties between the United Kingdom and Tanzania,” Mr Concer said, adding that this partnership will ensure the successful completion of the project, bringing substantial improvements to the airport’s infrastructure and operations.

The Ambassador said the joint Venture Project under ‘Design and Build (DB)’ upgrade and expansion of the Pemba Airport Project will be executed through a joint venture between PROPAV Infrastructure, a UK registered company and their local partner MECCO, operating under the Zanzibar Ministry of Infrastructure, Communication and Transport.

Mr Concer said “Upon completion, the Pemba Airport Project is expected to bring about a significant transformation to the Island of Pemba. The Project’s implementation will drive economic growth, enhance connectivity and open up new opportunities for trade and tourism in the region.”

He explained that this landmark initiative underlines the commitment of the British High Commission and its partners to support sustainable development in Tanzania, while Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Citibank Tanzania Limited, Mr Geofrey Mchangila promised the disbursement of the funds as per agreement.

Speakers from Zanzibar praised and thanked Mr Jamal Kasim Ali, former state minister- President’s Office (Finance and Planning) for being one of the key players in the loan processing. Mr Ali is now the Minister of State (State House Affairs) who explained at the event that they had to overcome many obstacles to succeed.

Mr Ali led the Zanzibar team that successfully laid the foundation stone for the release of the loan that will bring huge change in roads network, and the Pemba Airport projects are in response to President Hussein Ali Mwinyi strategic plan to open Pemba to the world in investments.

Currently, Pemba airport handles below fifty thousand travelers and the target is to increase the number to close to one-million annually by 2030. The measure includes increasing investors and tourists in Pemba Islands.

Pemba Airport, which was initially built in 1962, has a runway length of 500 metres and a width of 15 metres, which can only accommodate light aircraft, but the new redesign will allow international flights to fly direct into the island.

“Once completed at the end of 2026, the airport development will significantly attract more tourists to Pemba Island, as improved infrastructure often signals greater opportunities for the future,” said the Infrastructure Minister Dr Mohamed.

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