WEALTH OF RICHES

Tanzania 2018 | ECONOMY | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Geoffrey Mwambe, Executive Director of Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), on opportunities in Tanzania, ensuring policy and regulatory stability, and its key priorities moving forward.

Geoffrey Mwambe
BIOGRAPHY
Geoffrey Mwambe was appointed to his current position of Executive Director of TIC in 2017. He also serves as a Board Member at the Bank of Tanzania and at Tanzania Telecommunication Company PESA Ltd. He holds a BA and an MA in economics from the University of Dar es Salaam.

Which strategic investment opportunities in Tanzania has the TIC been championing over the past year?

Tanzania is going through a transitional period, and, as such, TIC has spotted areas where we can make reforms, increasing incentives and overall investment figures, and is taking the necessary measures to do so. The priority areas to attract investment, singled out in the government's Five-Year Development Plan 2016-2020/2021, are in manufacturing, particularly in agricultural processing, textiles, cotton, and leather products, as well as building materials, following the recent rise of the construction sector. We have the resources and raw materials, so it is just a question of the value addition. Finally, we have strong links with neighboring countries and TIC recognizes the importance of maintaining this and forging new ties to establish channels of commerce and enable us to come together as a region and create one robust market.

How are you specifically tackling the issue of land legislation, which has proved difficult for foreign investors to navigate in the past?

Just recently, TIC held an extensive and intensive discussion with the Commissioner for Lands. Our aim is to enhance the powers of the land officers stationed at TIC, which provides all the necessary land processing services under One Stop facilitation Centre within TIC. We are also establishing a joint land-auditing program to identify parcels of land not in use; therefore, we can make it available for investors. The idea is to have this available land formalized and ready for use, so that when an investor expresses an interest, we are able to accommodate within a matter of days. Moreover, we have plans to put in place a “landbank” fund that will help raise finances for conducting land surveys and compensating locals who own land that has been earmarked for investment.

What is being done at an institutional level to ensure policy and regulatory stability?

The TIC works hard to connect various governmental ministry departments and agencies with investors in order to ensure that everyone is on the same page, and that transparency reigns supreme in all business transactions. TIC is interested in being an advisor in the investment policy in the country. We have been providing advice straight to the government to address all matters related to business environment. TIC also monitors and garners the necessary data from the business community, and we make this data readily available so that it can better inform policy decisions. We work with key stakeholders, such as the Tanzania National Electric Supply Company (TANESCO) and the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) to ensure that they too are on board with all procedural changes. Finally, we recently established the National Investment Facilitation Committee, a meeting place for CEOs and commissioners of all institutions to sit down and discuss how best to streamline business procedure in the country, registration, issuance of approvals and permits, and so on. TIC is also establishing a National Investment Promotion Committee for undertaking a coordinated promotional effort.

What is your outlook and your major areas of focus for the year ahead?

We have tried to reform internally and also associate the reforms with the institutions that are participating in the One Stop Facilitation Centre. We need to research, promote, and make investors confident to come and stay in the country. We are planning to launch our online investment window called Tanzania Investment Window (TIW) to radically reduce application forms in a friendlier manner. We have decided to increase our presence at the zonal level in upcountry regions so that we can collaborate with district councils and local authorities in addressing investor challenges and acquire land for investment. Therefore, we have decided to strengthen our regional offices around the country in all the main zones, as well as open three more branches to create an environment where an investor's sole focus can be on its core objective of productivity.