ZANZIBAR economy is projected to grow at 7.1 per cent in 2023, thanks to the booming tourism industry and execution of strategic development projects, the House of Representatives was told here yesterday.
Second Vice-President Hemed Suleiman Abdulla, moving his office’s 2023/24 budget estimates in the house, attributed the envisaged impressive economic growth to a 30 per cent increase in tourist arrivals from 548,503 last year to 713,053 in 2023 and implementation of huge development projects, including construction of Pemba airport, Mangapwani integrated port, rural and urban roads as well as the rehabilitation of Malindi port.
The second vice-president also mentioned heavy investments in social service projects like health, education, water and sports as the catalyst to the economic growth.
He unveiled measures to transform the agricultural sector, which he said still support the livelihood of majority Zanzibaris. “The government takes every effort to boost and strengthen agriculture, including empowering our peasants to farm more professionally for high productivity and quality yields for food and business,” Mr Abdulla told the house.
The government through Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI) in collaboration with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute’s (TARI) Tengeru centre has released four tissue culture banana varieties, which are resistant to banana nematodes, weevils and black sigatoka, the second vice-president told the house.
He said the government through India’s Solidaridad Corporation has received various equipment, including weather forecast and soil testing tools as well as training on the equipment uses. The government is keen to establish demonstration farms for vegetables and spices at Kizimbani and Matangatuani in Unguja and Pemba, respectively, to boost agricultural production through research activities. There will be also rice demonstration farms at Kinyasini, Cheju and Kibondemzungu valleys in Unguja as well as Dodeani in Pemba.
“These demonstration farms will help our farmers to see and learn various farming systems, new seeds and serve as the meeting points between farmers and experts for expertise and experience sharing,” Mr Abdulla said, insisting that the government goal is to shift from subsistence to commercial farming, which will elevate farmers, economically.
The government is as well implementing irrigation scheme, which entails improvement of irrigation infrastructure to increase the acreage under irrigation to 1,053 from the current 875 hectres. The project includes drilling of 35 boreholes and construction of three dams to guarantee availability of water for irrigation activities. The project execution has reached 98 per cent with three valleys of Cheju, Kinyasini and Mlemele, which cover 542 hectres already completed by 100 per cent, with 4,475 farmers’ assigned plots to start production.
The second vice-president further informed the house that the blue economy is another priority of the government for speedy economic growth and sustainable uses of the oceanic resources. He said the government has completed construction of the modern Malindi fish market, which is fitted with cold facilities with the capacity of 250 tones and can serve 6,500 people a day.
The government intends to further strengthen the blue economy sector in the next financial year through the purchase of modern fishing vessels and construction of fish processing plants under the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) support.
Through the 5.5 million US dollar (about 13bn/-) Korean funding, the government will implement women empowerment project in farming of oceanic produce, with seaweed farmers benefiting from training and construction of key infrastructure, including marketing centres for seaweed collection and processing, the second vice-president said.
The government through Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency’s (ZIPA) one stop centre registered 60 investment project as of March 2023, with total capital of 433 million US dollars (over 1tri/-) and the potential of creating 1,937 jobs, Mr Abdulla said, noting that in the next financial year, the target is to register 100 projects with 500 million US dollar capital.
He said the government is keen to improve investment environment in the country through automation of services to investors. He said the government is further improving investment infrastructure at Micheweni, Fumba and Amani investment areas. The second vice-president asked the house to approve 75.32bn/- for his office and institutions in the next financial year.