The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) took off the campaign last weekend by training ward councillors in Kinondoni District in Dar es Salaam with a view of equipping them to the concept of investment promotion.
According to Acting TIC Investment Promotion Director Mr Mathew Mnali, the seminars will ultimately stimulate businesses in their areas where they wield a lot of influence. Its undeniable fact that majority of Tanzanians at all levels have a notion that investors must be foreigners. This mindset has had a negative impact on the local entrepreneurs since the country adopted economic reforms in the mid-80s.
A majority of locals became inferior at the hands of foreigners who teamed with a handful smart Tanzanians to grab every opportunity that came their way. Reckless privatisation of the sisal estates and other productive areas of the economy like industries left majority of the local entrepreneurs on the sidelines.
So, the idea of changing course by looking at investment opportunities at the grassroot level could herald a new chapter on the national development agenda that seeks to empower the local people at all levels. Tanzania has vast natural resources, including minerals, natural gas, timber, wild animals and beautiful beaches. Its strategic geographical position makes it a gateway to most landlocked countries in the region.
However, TIC must be careful by not just using the ward councillors to expose investment opportunities in the local communities to benefit rich foreign investors. All efforts must be made to ensure that local investors and communities are given priority.
This will also help in easing unnecessary tension between the local communities and investors.
The ugly incidents in Babati, Manyara Region, last year, where the people went on rampage, killing a farm guard and destroying property worth millions of shillings should serve as a big lesson. All stakeholders must be fully involved when such investment opportunities occur to make life easier for all.