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Hopes high as Geita plans could improve memory later to set up economic hub

A WELL-KNOWN gold mining hub and a centre for business, Geita attracts a lot of attention from not only the country, but also the world.

The gold-rich region is considered a progressive region, with a vibrant economy in all sectors. According to authorities, Geita is gradually becoming the land of opportunities in the country. In light of this, they want to establish a world-class economic hub that commands all latest and emerging technologies needed in production in and outside the country.

Geita Regional Commissioner, Robert Gabriel (pictured) says “Geita has made tremendous progress in infrastructural development and access to social services.” He explains that, the genesis for development is based on reforms in the country’s mining sector under the fifth phase government and President John Magufuli’s administration.

The region, strategically located in the northwestern part of Tanzania, focuses on developing infrastructure and special investment zones to help realise its big dreams. It has set up a 774.6m/- single window clearance facility on a 100-hectare plot. The facility is anticipated to boost investments in the region.

Mr Gabriel says the “tech hub” or centre will foster innovation for technology startup companies. By informal definition, the technology hub can be a specific area, in this case, Bombambilibased Special Economic Zone where small startups will build or rent spaces alongside each other to share facilities and ideas.

Under tech hubs, such as Luxembourg (Europe), Shenzhen (China), New York (US) or Singapore, they create an environment specifically for helping young tech companies by creating platforms for the firms to meet investors to get their projects funded.

“This is the only centre where we want the country and the world to understand dreams can come true,” he noted, explaining further, negotiations with the government authorities, including the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) have already begun.

Technologies considered here are those which include processing pieces of machinery ranging from mining, trade, financing to agriculture. The regional authorities have also set aside additional 100 hectares near the hub specifically for industries.

It is said land will be available for rent to investors whose products can be exported. “This is a special area. We offer free land and supply all needed infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water to ensure an enabling production environment,” he said.

This, according to the regional commissioner, will help create more jobs and increase government earnings in terms of domestic and foreign currency.

This week the region hosts an international mining, machinery and investment exhibition, however, plans are underway to hold a special technology exhibition to showcase a wide range of latest technologies used in diverse production lines.

The RC is convinced smart manufacturing development is ideal for making Geita the country’s destination for technology. Already, the construction of a gold smelting plant in Geita is at an advanced stage, according to Geita Council Executive Director Apolinary Modest.

The modern gold refining plant will allow the region to purify its precious metals to about 99.9 per cent. Experts say raw gold produced by artisanal miners in Geita is between 70 and 90 per cent pure. The new technology involves purifying gold by means of smelting process using pressure, high heat and chemicals.

It will be the largest plant in Eastern and Central Africa. It is implemented by Geita Gold Refinery Limited at Magogo suburb on the outskirts of the town. ‘Daily News’ reported that the firm was granted a gold refining licence by the Ministry of Minerals to produce internationally recognised and marketed ingots such as kilo-bars and 400 troy-ounce bars.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa for the first time launched an international mining technologies exhibition in Geita in 2018. The emphasis was to debate challenges and opportunities facing the sector, but also emphasise the best approach to improve artisanal miners in the country.

Official figures show that the contribution of artisanal miners to the government continues rising. The mineral office’s latest report shows monthly transactions of gold at the region’s nine mineral centres stood at 51.3bn/- in June, 55.88bn/- in July and 58.9bn/- last month.

It contributed 1.86bn/- in government tax and 153m/- to the council in June alone. In July and August, it paid 3.59bn/- and 4.12bn/- in tax and 167m/- and 176m/- to the council respectively. Mr Gabriel says between 2018 and 2020, gold mining activities have so far contributed 30bn/- to the region.

The money helps to advance social services and infrastructure in the community. The regional chief noted further that Geita considered using a portion of the money generated from mineral trade to help develop infrastructure for technological advancement.

Technically, Geita accounts for over 40 per cent of all mineral sector contributions to the national gross domestic product (GDP). With mineral resources such as gold being finite and non-renewable, the economy dependent on gold mining is not necessarily the best position to be today.

As such the government’s decision set up a technology hub with ICT named as a key pillar in the national development will put the region at a competitive advantage, especially in the Lake Zone. Mr Gabriel insists that the region plans to put in place advantageous tax structures to attract local and foreign companies as well as innovators.

Very interestingly, telecom operators such as Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTCL) has already set up optical fibre connections—providing the highest levels of connectivity in the area. Some of the major opportunities for investors in the region are setting up cloud services and existing platforms for local and regional start-ups to develop swiftly.

“Let me assure start-ups that there is money in Geita. As I said current transactions are worth nearly 2bn/- a day as regards gold alone,” the RC stressed. “We commend Preside Magufli’s efforts to reform the mining sector in which we saw taxes being reduced to only two.”

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Mwandishi: SYLIVESTER DOMASA in Dodoma

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