President Jakaya Kikwete yesterday blamed incompetent foreign managements for the poor performance of the erstwhile public firms that have been privatised. Speaking at the opening of the Lake Tanganyika Investment Forum in Mpanda
, the President said some of the private firms that took over the management of public corporations did not bring best managers to the parastatals.
He cited Rites Company from India that was contracted to manage Tanzania Railways Company (TRL) and another one that was offered to run the defunct City Water Company as examples of firms that failed to deliver.
“We entrusted them with our public firms but they didn’t bring the best managers to take charge of the privatised firms,” he said.Such privatisation was done in a way that the State also retained shares in the erstwhile public utilities for the interest of the people, said the President.
The Forum with the theme ‘Promotion of Lake Tanganyika Zone Investment Potentials’ aimed at encouraging investors to look at opportunities within the three western Tanzania regions of Kigoma, Rukwa and Katavi.
The regions enjoy an abundance of natural resources including fertile land, minerals, game reserves and fish that offer tremendous investment opportunities.
Kigoma, for instance, is the terminus of the central railway and a transit port to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Zambia for both passenger and cargo services and has been declared by the government as a free trade area to cater for regional trade.
The region not only has vast potential for investment in fishing, but also in tourism. It has one of the most captivating landscapes in Eastern and Central Africa.
The forum was attended by several local and foreign investors, diplomats, MPs and government leaders.
Addressing the participants shortly before he launched the forum, the President encouraged investors to take advantage of the abundant resources in the regions by investing in them.But, he called upon those who have already invested to point out areas that they thought needed more government attention.
He said plans were under way to facilitate investment in the regions with the necessary infrastructure such as road transport, shipping and airline services.The government has committed to play its role in the investment sector by governing, providing laws as well as social and economic services to foster the sector.
“If the government fails to perform its functions well, growth would be stunted,” he said.
He said if massive investments would be carried out in the Lake Tanganyika zone regions, the area would be an agricultural hub of the country.
“The three regions (of Kigoma, Rukwa and Katavi) can produce abundantly to cater for our national need and still have surplus to sell to neighbouring countries,” he said.Earlier, minister for Empowerment and Investment Mary Nagu called for more cooperation between the government and foreign investors in the fight against poverty, by expanding employment opportunities.
She said the regions were blessed with a conducive environment for industries, agriculture and trade.
This was echoed by the Rukwa Regional Commissioner, Ms Stella Manyanya, who said investors who would put their money in the region would never regret.The meeting was the first of its kind and was expected to market the Lake Tanganyika Zone as a tourism and investment destination.
For a long time, the region has lagged behind despite vast attractions due to a myriad of problems including unreliable road, rail, port, and airport infrastructure as well as water and power shortages.In a new development, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has revised its corporate strategic objectives with a view to creating a strong domestic investment base.
For instance, one of the objectives focuses on raising the profile and image of Tanzania as the best investment hub in the region while it also focuses on attracting more investors in key sectors such as power generation.TIC also looks at maximising benefits of new businesses to the economy. There will be more dialogue between local and foreign investors on possible joint ventures, it said.
Another objective is to ensure competitive business investment by encouraging good governance, efficiency as well as removing bureaucracy and red tape in work permits processing.Furthermore, TIC wants to promote the establishment of a huge Tanzanians middleclass that will actively participate in nation building.