Following a long career in international development, including a stint as executive director of UN-HABITAT the first African woman to hold the title as well as chairing the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC), Professor Anna Tibaijuka returned to Tanzania to apply her experience to her home country. Today, as minister of lands, housing and human settlements, she draws on her network of contacts in politics, business, academia and within the UN system to drive progress in the countrys poorest areas. The Report Company met with her in Dar es SThe Report Company: How do you see your role in pushing Tanzania towards its development goals?
Professor Anna Tibaijuka: This ministry deals with land, housing and human settlements. That basically covers urban planning and village planning. If you deal with land, you deal with everything so you are really dealing with a cross-cutting sector.
We are a service ministry; we deal with both urban and rural Tanzania. We are also a planning ministry particularly in terms of urban town planning but also in terms of land administration at a time when 80 percent of our land is really not surveyed so it is quite tricky. We are a ministry that services the rest of Tanzania and although we are not the most visible ministry we have a vital role to play.
TRC: Looking back to your time as executive director of UN-HABITAT, what kind of experience have you brought back to Tanzania?
AT: I am an academic. My standard job was teaching economics in the University of Dar es Salaam, where I am a professor, but in 1998 I left and I went to join the United Nations, starting in UNCTAD. After spending some two years there, Kofi Annan who was our secretary general decided that I had to go and deal with the global challenge of rapid and chaotic urbanisation taking place in Africa, Asia, and in Latin America.
Since then, I spent ten years as a campaigner campaigning for awareness that settlement patterns are not what they should be, that cities are growing rapidly, haphazardly and if left unattended this will be a recipe for disaster in the future. I had quite an interesting and challenging career at the UN. I succeeded in raising that profile and nowadays urbanisation is back on the agenda of the UN but also on the agenda of national government.
We did our bit and the world now knows that we have to do something so then I decided to come back and do the same for Tanzania so here I am now dealing with urban planning, housing and settlement in Tanzania. Its a big challenge.
TRC: Dar es Salaam is the ninth fastest growing city in the world. What urban planning solutions are you looking to bring in?
AT: This city now has about 4.5 million people and its growing at 5.6 percent per annum which means the population will double in 13 years. By around 2025 we should have about 9 million people in Dar es Salaam and we are bracing for that. We are putting up a brand new city in Kigamboni. We have an enormous opportunity in terms of development and investment, both in the professions and in the construction industry and so people are coming to the cities. It is good when people come to the cities.
The problem is not urbanisation; the problem is that it is happening too fast. You have to have programmes to absorb these huge populations. Dar es Salaam is growing very fast because we are not doing the right things in the other places so it is also about infrastructure development elsewhere.
TRC: Looking specifically at the housing sector, theres a housing deficit of some 3 million units and rising. What is your ministry doing to address this?
AT: In 2010 we were able to enact the mortgage finance act which is now in place, as well as the condominium act and the unit titles act. The institution that housing finance provides have huge potential for people who want to invest in that sector, and now we are working on the housing policy.
We are emerging from socialist policies where people feel that the government is going to provide housing for everybody. That is not feasible so what we need to do is to promote affordable housing and you cannot have affordable housing unless you have a sufficient supply of housing stock on the market. We have the National Housing Corporation, which is actually the oldest public operation in Tanzania. It was founded by Nyerere in 1962, and is one of the few that survived the economic crisis. It has gone through a dramatic transformation; it is now run on commercial principles and we are also encouraging the private sector to come in. Real estate is booming here.
My job is to lobby for the sector and to break the bottlenecks that are impacting us. We are not constructing the houses ourselves; as the ministry we are just a policy organ, carrying out planning, capacity building, and also legislation like the mortgage finance act. We are not working alone. The private sector gets things done.
TRC: What progress has been made on the new city in Kigamboni?
AT: We already have a conceptual plan. Its a 50,000 hectare area. It is a challenging project because we are resettling everybody. Kigamboni has one of the best beaches in this country and we are hoping to put in some interesting projects which can make Dar es Salaam more attractive so we are hoping to bring in some international investors.
TRC: Other than Kigamboni, what other major projects are there?
AT: I would like to highlight the work of the National Housing Corporation because some of the new skyscrapers in Dar es Salaam have been built by them. We are now moving to vertical development. Housing in Tanzania is provided also through partnerships. Our pension funds have been very active in some large real estate projects, as have some private developers. As housing minister I am encouraging council housing. They cannot just wait for the private sector given the rapid pace of urbanisation. Local government needs to do something on that front.
TRC: Where do you see opportunities for collaboration with the UK in the housing sector?
AT: In matters of housing and urban planning the UK has recently come up with the three Ts: tax, trade and transparency, and we are part of that partnership. DFID is actually assisting this ministry from July with a land tenure support programme. We are promoting cooperation.
TRC: What are the key elements of the housing policy you are drafting?
AT: This country is writing a new constitution but even under our current constitution we guarantee investments. For people to invest in housing you must have the right legal framework in place. In the housing policy we are looking at keeping our eye on the supportive environment. Housing policy must also go hand in hand with urban planning.
We are working right now on the slum master-plan. The last one we had was from 1979 and Im afraid that because of the pace of development we were not able to implement some of the good things set out in that plan. Now I am working on a new plan and Kigamboni needs to be part of that plan. Housing is part of that plan. Housing finance is also part of that plan, including putting in a legal framework. Then there are the industrial policies, the building materials and even the taxation regime. Housing policy is really to do with monetary policy and macroeconomic policy so we are flagging the must-dos to really improve housing and most of them will fall outside of this ministry.
TRC: As chair of the WSSCC, what are you doing to implement better sanitation and water facilities?
AT: We are working in Dodoma where we have given a grant of US$5 million to promote hygiene and sanitation. We are against open defecation and we campaign against this, and this is a global thing we are working on. Sanitation is also a cultural issue. Poverty is part of it but its not always poverty; it is behaviour and socialisation processes, so in the WSSCC we have a lot of advocacy around that.
TRC: What kind of change in culture and philosophy have you tried to instil in this ministry?
AT: The Tanzanian civil service is quite different from the UN. The resource base is not the same, the knowledge base is not the same and the challenges are quite different. I know Tanzania very well and I can compare and see the limitations. When you work for UN-HABITAT you visit many cities and get to know the world. When I came back home here I was able to see the things we can copy easily here. I also started to streamline the structure.
I have tried to improve the customer care of the staff. We are a service ministry so we must change our attitude to be more customer-friendly and more transparent. I have been here now for four years in this job and Im serving at the pleasure of the president. So far I am still here and I am happy with what we have achieved. The challenges are many because urbanisation in Tanzania is rapid and chaotic. It will take some time to address everything but I think that the staff are keen and have learnt new ways of doing things.alaam to find out more.