The Illovo Group, through its subsidiary, Kilombero Sugar Company, which sought to invest in 8,000 hectares with annual production of 240,000 tons of sugar, has already moved to Mali where it has reportedly found the investment environment more welcoming.
The potential investor had to bow out after waiting for a decade to have the land declared free for the mega investment. And, this case depicts the typical agony that potential and existing investors to the country go through.
Yet, President Jakaya Kikwete, in a demonstration of a political will to attract and support investments in the country, has invested heavily on business promotion through marketing, infrastructure development, legislative reforms and improvement of administrative structure.
Because the country’s land laws are straight forward on the acquisition and compensation of land from their traditional inhabitants, the issue of villagers living next to the land suing in court is irrelevant — for the point is: they had to be paid and they were not. Have the people behind this mess, be they in government or politics, attempted to rationally analyse the economic adverse effect they have created to the 40 million plus citizens of this country.
Think of the thousands of direct and indirect jobs for Tanzanians that have been exported freely to the Malians. Think of the impact of 240,000 tons of sugar on the local sugar market. The production could not only have saved the country’s meagre foreign exchange on sugar imports but could have also boosted earnings from sugar exports. And, think of the lost government revenues in terms of taxes!
But, above all, the most jeopardising impact is on the bad signals that frustrated investors take outside the country. If we cannot, as a country, retain the few investors who are already in, how can we attract investors from outside? Gone with the sugar project are huge and long lasting economic benefits that can in no way compare with whatever amount of compensation which the residents around Luipa farms in Kilombero, Morogoro region, could have demanded.
It is all about lack of business-minded people in the government or politicians who handled the matter. Because the President himself has spearheaded the investment crusade for the good of the country, there should be nobody below the ranks to frustrate that noble drive. It is high time officials in the government became serious with investment issues and investigated this case to detect all the blunders and treat all those involved as economic saboteurs and accordingly get what they deserve.