READY TO PROSPER

Tanzania 2014 | DIPLOMACY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Ombeni Y. Sefue, Chief Secretary of Government, on how the use of technology can benefit economic growth and improve living standards.

Ombeni Y. Sefue
BIOGRAPHY
Ombeni Y. Sefue was Permanent Representative to the UN from 2010 to 2011, Ambassador to the US from 2007 to 2010, and High Commissioner to Canada from 2005 to 2007. He has also served as Counselor in the Embassy of Tanzania in Sweden and worked as a speechwriter and assistant to two previous presidents of Tanzania. He holds a degree from what is today Mzumbe University in Morogoro, a Master’s degree in Public Policy and Administration from the Institute of Social Studies (ISS) in The Hague, and a post-graduate diploma in International Relations and Diplomacy from the Tanzania-Mozambique Centre for Foreign Relations in Dar es Salaam.

What does the Global 2013 Smart Partnership Dialogue mean for Tanzania?

It is a crucial means of reaching a social consensus and recognizing that no one has all the answers. It reinforces the idea that if we talk together and share views and ideas we can devise broad based solutions of multilateral input. We do this in the spirit of a 'prosper thy neighbor' ideal, in which everybody gives, so everybody gains. It is not a zero-sum game. The other level of significance is the specific theme of the 2013 dialogue, which is leveraging technology for African socioeconomic transformation. Everyone knows the ability of technology to transform societies and improve efficiencies. Yet too many people in Africa and around the world remain excluded from social services, health, education, and finance. We have seen in many cases that technology can integrate more people quickly. This international event will bring companies and other stakeholders from around the world to Tanzania to share their experiences of how they use technology for rapid, equitable development.

Tanzania's own political will is strongly aimed at achieving middle-income status by 2025. What are this administration's areas of strategic intervention to achieve this?

We have a vision for 2025 that sees Tanzania becoming a middle-income country. We recently completed a review and realized that although our economy is growing at around 7% per annum, this is insufficient to render us a middle-income country by 2025. Thus, we are trying to find ways of fostering faster growth by intervening in sectors that could unlock our economy and enable double-digit growth. We must have the human resource capacity in order to truly transform our society and economy. We also consider water extremely important, and so another focus is resource mobilization. As our partners from Malaysia keep telling us, a plan without a budget is a draft. Therefore, we have to focus on domestic resource mobilization. Collectively, these are the priorities for 2013-2014. Now, we have to find out how technology can help us get more mileage in these priority areas.

Tanzania is poised to become a global energy hotspot. What should be done to make sure the country's resources are a blessing and not a curse?

We are grateful that we are latecomers because there are enough bad examples to avoid and best practices to follow. Firstly, we have the political determination to get it right. That means we have to learn, and we are willing to learn from everybody. We are looking at those countries that failed and those that succeeded while building our own policy framework and strategy in a manner that maximizes the benefits. Secondly, we will invest what we earn wisely, knowing that we are custodians of this resource for future generations. How to balance the needs of today with those of future generations is an important question. Another is how to build economies around gas. Our goals are to use gas to solve our electricity shortage, and to create downstream industries around it, such as petrochemicals and fertilizers. We also want to encourage entrepreneurs to begin thinking of the businesses that can develop to support and benefit from the gas economy. Skills and training will be needed at all levels, so this is a major focus. We are working with gas companies that can help us develop the most effective curricula and certification programs.