Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Development of tourism industry sector in Tanzania

TANZANIA is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in the world. It is enjoying a healthy growth rate of about 30 percent per annum in tourism. From a foreign exchange earning point of view, tourism has the potential of beating other industries. Tanzanian Tourism sector has enormous growth potential despite some constraints on the part of its development. Hotels plays a major crucial role in promoting tourism. In terms of its natural resources, Tanzania is uniquely endowed with practically all the key attractions necessary for development of any successfully tourism industry. The attractions range from beautiful beaches, national parks and game reserves, historical sites, culture and traditions to natural wonders and beautiful scenery. There are 15 national parks and 35 game reserves which are heavily stocked with a wide range of flora and fauna, but with the exception of the “Northern Circuit” the Southern circuit embraces the well-known Selous Game Reserve, The Mikumi and Ruaha National parks with a lot of lions, and the under-utilized shores of Lake Malawi and Lake Tanganyika.

A lion at Ruaha National park

The scenery and the topography of the country, including its very friendly people, harbours the growth of excellent cultural tourism, beach holidays, game hunting, historical and archaeological ventures and certainly the best wildlife photographic safaris on the continent. Tanzania is home to the leading wildlife reserves including the largest national park in the world, Serengeti and the second highest mountain in the world, Mt. Kilimanjaro. All these provide for matches locations for investment. The Tourism division in the Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources was established in 1970 to carry out the present duties of ensuring development of tourism industry in Tanzania. Tourism industry as one of the sectors of the Tanzania’s economy, has experienced tremendous growth after the advent of the liberalization ten years ago, this is dedicated to foster a structured tourism development. Tanzanian government has developed a National Tourism Policy which is a guide towards development of tourism sector in the country. The objective of the policy is to assist on efforts to promote the economy and improve the livelihood of the people. Basically, tourism policy provides strategies necessary to ensure sustainable tourism development in the country.

Elephants in groups at Mikumi national park

Other efforts include encouragement of the private sector to participate in the development of tourism through encouraging investments by giving investment incentives. The importance of tourism to Tanzanian national economy, is presently termed as significant. There is hope that this kind of tourism will grow further in the future because since early in 2002 Tanzanian government has finalized master plans.
Tourism Master Plan (TMP) strategy and actions is now in place and this looks at the important areas for preservation and development of historical sites. Such areas are Isimila Stone Age site, Lugalo and Kalenga war sites in Iringa region in Southern Highland. Others are Bagamoyo, Kilwa Kisiwani, and rock paintings of Kondoa Irangi.
Statistics made available from the Directorate of Tourism in the country, shows that, while in 1990 foreign exchange from tourism amounted to only 65 million US$ it has shot up to US$ 739 million within a space of ten years up to 2000, almost one hundred percent increase. The current statistics made available by Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) shows that, between 2001 and December 2008, the increase of tourist arrivals in the country has shot up by 75 percent. Despite of the important roles played by hotels in the development of the sector in Tanzania, the sector is still confronted by a number of problems with the southern circuit mostly hit.

These are such types of vehicles designed with an open space on top of their bodies used by tourists while at the national parks viewing animals

Under human resource development strategy, Tanzania has insufficient trained personnel in its tourism sector and this is acute at supervisory and management levels. Tourism is a service industry and delivering a quality service is a prerequisite to ensuring that the customer obtains value for money. The Hotel Keepers Association of Tanzania says that, since there is no rationale between the increase of hotels in the country and the hotel training centers, prospects for tourism sector in Tanzania has shown a remarkable development feature in the last two years. Apart from this rationale, there is also major factors as hindrances which comes from the inconsistencies in water and electricity supply to the hotels, poor infrastructure particularly the road network leading to tourist national parks and beaches along with inefficient communication and information facilities such as internet, expensive reliable energy, the provision of telephones services whose tariffs are so high. In spite of all these, tourism development has remained strong and accounts for more than 14 percent of the Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and is expected to grow by more than 5 percent a year in real terms through 2020.

A tourist hotel at Kitulo national park in Makete district, Iringa region.

The growth of tourism sub sector in Tanzania is also encouraging going by the available data. The revenue collected in Tanzania from tourism business has increased, and the number of tourists, who visited Tanzania has increased from 501,669 in 2003 to 825,122 in 2008. During the trading period, big tourist hotels in Tanzania played the most crucial role in promoting the industry by providing accommodation to the visitors. The revenue collected from the tourism business also increased by far. In Spite of this increase in revenue from tourism, the number of tourist hotels in the country increased also. The increase in number of hotels logically increased the number of hotel rooms and beds available to tourists. The average numbers of days spent by tourists in Tanzania however increased correspondingly according to the demand. The only part of tourism, which enlisted a higher growth rate was cultural tourism, archives and antiquities.

Call for the media to promote tourism in southern highland region

JOURNALISTS and other media professionals in Tanzania have been urged to help promote tourism within the southern highland region of Tanzania. The call was made by an official at the historic site of Isimila Stone Stone Age on the outskirts of Iringa town.
Mr. Mohammed Mngoma told a group of students from Tumaini University including journalists who visited the site that, southern highland region of Tanzania is lagging behind in terms of tourism development. According to him, the region though it’s endowed with lots of tourism potentials seem to have been forgotten in terms of media publicity an aspect that little is known about the region by people of Tanzania and even outside.

A tour guide at Isimila stone age site, Mr. Donatus Lihoha explaining a point to students of Tumaini University during their tour of the site.

The northern circuit that includes the regions of Arusha, Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Mara are given wider publicity compared to the southern circuit, and because of this there is a great need for the media professionals in the country to help promote the southern circuit. Isimila Stone Age site is one of the historic and a wonderful sites in East Africa whereby the discoveries of stone tools believed to have had been used by ancient people during early stone age about 300,000 years ago were discovered in 1951. According to Mr. Mngoma, his site has been excavated by archeological experts from various universities mostly in USA in a series of three excavation works since pre-independence time, but little has been exposed to the local people on the importance of the site. The site which has 33 hectares of land has become an attraction for tourists who regularly visit the area not only to see samples of stone age tools, but also to view a number of standing natural earth pillars formed as a result of soil erosion in an extended bend of a 2 km gorge that formed a valley thousands of years back.

Students from Tumaini University of Iringa peering through a little hut on which different varieties of stones believed to have been used by ancient hunters were preserved at Isimila stone age site about 20 km away on the outskirts of Iringa town.

Concerning with the recent development made at the site, since the year 2007, the site has undergone major improvements by opening up a site museum and an information centre. The museum represents human development activities in the area from as early as Acheulian period to the present. The area has become one of the most tourist sites in the country attracting over 25,000 visitors per year, both local and foreign tourists. A great number of foreign tourists comes from the USA, UK and German. The fees for the entrance to the site varies, foreigners pays Tshs. 3,000/- per person while an ordinary Tanzanian who is not a student pays Tshs. 1,000/-. Students from higher learning institutions pays Tsh. 500/- while students from secondary schools and pupils from primary schools pays Tsh 200/- each. The Isimila site museum therefore present ethnographic, historical and archeological material from the Southern Highlands region of Tanzania purposely to highlight people’s ingenuity as manifested by material culture showing technological continuity and innovations.

Get to know the history of Zanzibar, a “Spice Island”

ZANZIBAR’s colorful history is a saga of ancient travelers and traders as well as colonizers. To its shores during those days, came Sumerians, Egyptians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Indians, Chinese, Portuguese Arabs and later British, each leaving a legacy behind of their stay. From the Island, the great European explorers such as Burton, Speke, Dr. Livingstone, Stanley set off their voyages of discovery into the vast, uncharted wilderness of the great African hinterland. The Zanzibar town, the once headquarter of the Arab Sultanate government during Arab domination along the Eastern coast of Africa in early 1880s has of late attracted most travelers from around the world who comes to visit bits most attractive tourist centers. Its history dates back to the first century AD Greek’s first mention of the Island was in the Periplus of the Erythrean (Red) sea. The town is situated roughly 40 Kms from the mainland on the west coast, it was the ancient trading port of the Sultans of Oman by then in the 19th century. North of Zanzibar, there is also another Island of Pemba which has been famous for centuries for its clove production.
Bantu tribes from the mainland were the first inhabitants of the island, but by 700 AD the Indian Ocean trade winds had brought Persians and Arabs to its shores. It was the intermarriage of Arabs with the native inhabitants that gave birth to a new people and the Kiswahili (Swahili) language was formed. From its early days as a town full of Swahili traditional culture, has a thriving tourist business of its kind along East African coast. In generations long past, ivory, slaves and spices were transported on large wooden sailing dhows across the Indian Ocean to the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. From the beginning of 16th century, for 200 years, the Portuguese raiders dominated this part of the East African coast. Then in 1652,Zanzibar was invaded by Arabs from Oman signaling the end of Portuguese domination. Sultan Sayyid Said moved his capital from Muscat top Zanzibar in 1840 to exploit the flouring slave trade and the island grew in power, wealth and population. Dr. Livingstone, a famous British explorer who visited the island on his way to the interior protested against this inhumane activities and the treatment of slaves. He created a groundswell of opposition in Britain which led to action by the Royal Navy that culminated into a drastic change of mind. Under pressure the Sultan outlawed the export of slaves in 1873. Zanzibar became a British protectorate in 1890 and in 1913 power was transferred to the British. Independence was achieved under Sultan Jamshid bin Abdulla in December 1963, but the sultanate was toppled from power in favour of people’s Republic a month later. On April 26th 1964 the Republic joined Tanganyika to become the United Republic of Tanzania. Just the name, Zanzibar evokes dreams of romance and mystery and the reality will not disappoint the traveler bored with mass tourism and seeking an enlightening and enjoyable holiday experience. Zanzibar, the name includes the main island, Unguja, Pemba has for centuries attracted seafarers and adventurers from around the world. Now it becomes a new generation of explorers those who have comer to marvel at the rich heritage, reflected in the architecture and the culture of the people. For this is where Arabia meets Africa.

Can it be true that Zanzibar is even more magical than its name suggest? Visit Zanzibar’s historic s-Stone Town, where the sultans once ruled. Every corner you turn offers a new exotic scent, curry and cardamom from the kitchens, sandalwood from the ladies covered in black robes. If you turn to another corner and you are back in a scorching sun, old men gather, donning embroidered caps round to fit their heads but angled sharply to be perfectly flat on top. Their houses with heavy wooden doors and their frames are carved as intricately as the caps are embroidered. Pick around another corner and six small boys are caroming a football off narrow walls and if you happen to stroll along the beaches, relax on one of 25 dazzling white palm-fringed beaches where the waters of the Indian Ocean beckon swimmers, divers, fishermen and water ports enthusiasts alike. Brilliant white beaches lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean provide the perfect place to relax, soak up the sun and take a break from some busy sightseeing. Modern resorts nestle in the shade of coconut palms, providing cool and comfortable retreats. The beaches in Zanzibar are a paradise, here are picturesque fishing villages where the people live a simple way of life, unchanged through the years. Just south of Zanzibar town are Fuji Beach and Chuini Beach which both offer facilities for a range of water sports. While to the North there is Mangapwani where there is only noise and sound of the ocean, and on the tip end of the island there is Nungwi beach where visitors can watch fishermen’s boats being built there or swim in the coral lagoons. Breathe in the fragrant scents of cloves, vanilla, cardamom and nutmeg, and discover why Zanzibar is called “The Spice Island” Explore the forests with their rare flora and fauna. Or visit some of the ancient, archeological sites.
Although spices remains a major export commodity of the Isles government these days, Zanzibar’s main attraction is the beauty of the land itself. Zanzibar may not have particularly romantic name.

But Stone Town, is the old city and cultural heart of it, little changed in the last 200 years. It is a place of winding alleys, bustling bazaars, mosques and grand Arab houses whose extravagance is reflected in their brass-studded, carved wooden doors.
The National Museum is a good starting point for finding out more of the history and culture of Zanzibar. It opened in 1925 and contains relics from the time of Sultans and early explorers, as well as traditional carvings and exhibits of local wildlife, including a good collection of birds and reptiles. Tours in Zanzibar island are a traveling experience . Visitors travel past fragrant plantations of cloves cinnamon, nutmeg and other spices on their way to a number of places of historical interest. In the South of the island is the walled city of Kizimkazi, where the ruin of Shiraz mosque, part of which dates back nearly 900 years are found. A coral stone inscription provides evidences of its age, making this one of the earliest Islamic buildings in this part of Africa.
Head north from Zanzibar town and visitors encounters the palace ruin of Maruhubi and Mtoni. The ruin of Maruhubi offers a tantalizing glimpse of the former grandeur of this palace. Built by Sultan Barghash in 1880 to house his harem, but burned down in 1889. These are few example of historical ruins that are dotted throughout the island. Others are to be found in Chuini, Dunga, Kidichi, Kizimbani and Bungi. Apart from old buildings, the enchanting architecture and the mind-boggling heterogeneity, ordinary Zanzibar’s epitomizing an ancient culture. The town has old buildings with history, the Zanzibar culture centre, Heritage society, Palace museum, the house of wonders and old fort. In Zanzibar, there us a ruin of a great slave market as well as the main market of stone town in Darajani area built in 1904. The areas are a great place to visit even if one does not want to buy a thing. It is here whereby you can also get to see the impressive Anglican church, the first ever build in the Isles. The presence of this church reflects the Island’s multi-religious character though almost 95 percent of the Islanders are Muslims.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Cultural Tourism: Fast becoming popular in Tanzania

CULTURAL tourism is that part of tourism which is concerned with a country or region’s culture of the people. Cultural tourism includes tourism in urban areas, particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as museums and theaters. It can also include tourism to rural areas, the houses of famous writers and artists or just trips to places where one can learn about people’s culture. Cultural tourism is an important component of tourism. People can travel all the way from Europe to Africa just to learn about certain cultures of the local people around. On the other hand, The Tanzanians themselves can sense the admiration and appreciation of the foreigners for something which they themselves regard as absolutely normal. They realize that, their culture, their lives, the things they produce and how they produce them, as well as their interaction in the community, is something special for the foreigner and is an attraction of itself. This fills them with pride and it strengthen them in their efforts to preserve their cultural characteristics.

Cultural tourism is all about African traditional dances as the photo depicts.

Going around and access Tanzania, one finds more interesting things. An essential element of cultural tourism is the invitation to take part in the communal life. Sharing community life is one of the special; experiences that cultural tourism offers. What is meant by this is the encounter and the direct communication with the people in the respective villages. Cultural tourism probably fulfils the subconscious longings of the travelers coming from a highly industrialized world striving for a simpler life in harmony with nature, feeling safe and comforted in the hearty or an intact community which does not know anonymity and loneliness.
People don’t just pass each other in silence, they stand and greet even strangers, something foreigners especially Europeans find amazing. Tanzania for instance, apart from its rich vast resources of tourist attraction areas which are located in both Southern and Northern circuit, has famous tribes which are known for preserving their own cultures, and because of that, they have attracted a lot of attention from the whole world.
Tourists can come specifically to learn about culture of the different ethnic groups, how they live, their love and their way of dressing and many other things. One might also want to know why they would rather want to stick to their kind of life in spite of the changes going on around the globe. Talking to them finds out what it is that really makes them want to stick to their culture could be quite interesting as well. The Maasai tribesmen are perhaps the most well known ethnic group who fiercely guard their culture and traditions. Their tribal life resolves around protecting and caring for their herd of cattle and finding good grazing land for their flocks in the region. It’s not only the Maasai that people find more interesting, even Tanzanian culture itself is interesting.

This is Maasai community adorned in Maasai traditional attire at the base of Longai mountains in Arusha region, Tanzania.

Tourism is more than going to see the famous places, but people’s culture is very enriching. Sometimes people engage in cultural tourism without unaware in the sense that, their language speaking can change someone’s attitude. Tanzania as a whole, the former slave market in Zanzibar tells it all about the slave trade, Zanzibar has preserved a lot of history and culture and it offers a good example of cultural tourism in then country. Apart from teaching people about the culture, cultural tourism in itself is a major source of income. Governments makes money out of cultural tourism whereby people come to see these places and people who preserve culture through entry fees to the places. The locals also make money through selling of artifacts. Tourists coming to Tanzania also enjoy cultural diversity and hospitality, ranging from African Arabic to Indian. Apart from mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania boasts of a number of 15 national parks countrywide. Tanzania is also rich in historic sites, most of these are located in eastern coast of Africa. Little can be found in Southern Highland Region.

Exim Tower, giving refreshing look to Dar skyline

THE Exim tower whose construction is shaping Dar es Salaam’s rapidly changing skyline is nearing completion. The development property is designed to offer top of the range office accommodation for the rapidly growing city. The project site is ideally situated at the heart of the city center adjacent to the headquarter building of the Ministry of Home Affairs and has a unique design with projecting terraces that give the building a distinctive profile. Its unique design has already turned the building into a landmark along Ghana Avenue where it is holding its own against such names as Barclays house, PPF Tower, International house and the Movenpick Hotel. In order to exploit the space between existing buildings, the tower is positioned out of kilter to the city’s grid, thus pronouncing its presence along the street’s front. The design and the positioning of the building will afford tenants a commanding view of the Indian Ocean and the surrounding landscape. The Exim tower development will introduce a profusion of greenery to its surroundings. The entire expanse of the site is treated as one giant canvas upon which the landscape designers are creating a tropical environment, which will no doubt positively impact on the area’s microclimate. Large sculptural tropical foliage will be introduced to each floor to literally create hanging gardens. The building’s street front will have a 30.5 meter water cascade which flows into 160-square meter water body. The water feature is a unique mark for the building with an almost refreshing resonance for passersby, visitors and tenants. Parking space has been provided for in three locations with the basement having 18 bays, while a dedicated parking area for the building across the street has a capacity for thirty-seven vehicles. The entrance to the main tower lobby is dominated by a large suspended canopy forming a Porte cohere for the building. Access to the lower is articulated by a large volume, air-conditioned lobby space of 70 sqm. The tower is served by high speed elevators which reduces waiting time. The elegance of the tower is further enhanced by fibre optic signage, woven into the façade mesh, in addition to prominent signage at the street level. The building is fully secured by an automated, centrally monitored security system. The ground floor will be occupied by the project’s client, Exim Bank Tanzania Limited. A high-tech banking hall, as well as two other floors in the building will serve as the bank’s headquarters.

The facade of the Exin Tower buildiung which is in final touches in Dar es Salaam.

The unique design of the building is the terrace which have been designed as spaces for social meetings and discussions. Tenants will have an ample time to enjoy a double height (7m high), open to sky terrace of 50 sqm. They are timber decked spacers, with soft landscape and large trees with glass balustrades to provide maximum openness to view the ocean and the greenery of the grounds below. These terraces are key in projecting the green ethos of Exim Towers. On its completion each floor will be having additional service ducts to enable the inclusion of executive restrooms or larger IT rooms. Service walkways outside the widows meanwhile allow for easy maintenance. Natural light penetration is enhanced by the full height glazing that creates a bright, open workplace while minimizing artificial lighting and hence reducing the energy load. Air-conditioning and climate control will be provided to the office areas by a centralized chilled water cooling system. Roof mounted, air-cooled chillers will chill the water to be circulated to each floor through steel pipe-work and fittings. The building will be provided with cold and hot water services. The main water storage tank will be located in the basement from which the water will be pumped to a water storage tank on the roof.. From the roof tank, the cold water services will serve the restroom area on each floor. An electrically operating water heater will generate hot water which will be channeled to all hot water taps in the building. Each water will be provided with a distribution board that will receive power from the main distribution panel in the basement. Separate metering will enable each floor to be billed individually.

The Exim Tower buiulding as it looks on the other side of it

Cabling for power and lighting will be distributed around the office are by a trucking system located under the floor, in the skirting and the false ceiling. Emergency exit lights with battery backup are placed at points to exit to illuminate the areas in the event of loss of main power. The stairs will feature wall-mounted lights with integral battery packs for continued illumination in the event of loss of main power. A network of trucking under floor in the skirting and above the false ceiling will be provided as distribution routes to all areas. Face plates will be provided at various locations for the termination of data and telephone cabling. The entire building will be protected by the installation of a fully automatic addressable fire detection system. This will comprise a network of smoke detectors, heat detectors, manual call points and sounders linked to the main fire alarm panel located in the manager’s office in the basement floor. A repeater fire alarm panel will be provided at the reception area ion the ground floor. There will be four means of fire fighting installation namely, sprinkler installation, Wet riser installation, Hose reel installation and the installation of hand heat fire extinguishers.

Friday, April 10, 2009

How Africa became proud of Obama’s victory

THE recent US presidential elections caused a disbelief to the entire continent of Africa which was is in an ecstatic state following the landslide victory of Barack Obama as the first Afro-American president of USA. There were euphoric reactions of people almost in every corner of African countries chanting the name of Obama after his victory was announced. Obama was heard saying that "There will be change for the people in Africa"
Kenyans in the Illinois senator’s ancestral homeland sang and danced with joy as news broke out that Obama has taken a giant leap, Reuters news agency reported. Hundreds of Kenyans, media reports say, gathered in a field at Obama’s late father’s village to watch the results relayed on a big screen inspite of a tropical downpour overnight. “We are going to the White House! We are going to the White House!" relatives sang at the top of their voices as they danced around the family's modest homestead, pausing only to hug each other and hoist small children into the air.

Two school children with their books strapped on their back passing close to a billboard carrying a portrait of a US President Barack Obama along Kawawa Road in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania together with other African nations was happy when Obama was announced a winner in a recent US presidential elections of November 2008.

Well-wishers, family members and armies of local and foreign journalists have descended on Kogelo, the tiny village in western Kenya where Obama's 87-year-old grandmother lives. “We haven't slept all night,” Biosa Obama, Obama's 39-year-old sister-in-law told Reuters, dancing on the spot. "I don't know what to say. This is just too amazing." Nearby, a villager walked past wearing a huge top hat made of newspaper clippings of Obama's picture. Babies have been named after Obama, drinkers knock back "Senator" beers in his honour, pop stars sing his praises and "Obama. Thus this is how it was. Kenya declared a national holiday to let people celebrate Obama’s success. “We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots. Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya,” President Mwai Kibaki said in a statement.

A man standing in disbelief as he looks at the picture of a US President Barack Obama which was drawn by an artist by the door of a kiosk selling food in Gongo la Mboto on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city, while another person who became more interested to take a photo of the picture on the right, as well as a child in red shirt standing looking at the two in action.

The mood was not different in Ghana. Dozens of Ghanaians joined American citizens – students and workers – at the Headlines Hospitality Centre in the capital Accra to monitor results all night long. The atmosphere was filled with tears of joy, kisses, hugs and dancing as CNN declared their projection that Obama is president-elect. “I am lost for words. It’s amazing and history has been made. Obama has proved to the world that everyone irrespective of race, culture and background is equal. He has made blacks proud,” Alhassah Adamu told Africa News. “I’m proud to be an African and a black. Obama has changed the mindset of the world. Africa has proved a point. We are there,” Derbie, an African-American student said amidst tears of joy. Many Africans fervently hope his victory will mean more U.S. support for local development and an improvement in living conditions for the majority on the world's poorest continent.

Two artists seated in their place of work along Nelson Mandela Expressway in Dar es Salaam, near Mabibo-former external radio service of RTD. The artists sells their products at between US$ 20 and 40 depending on the size of the drawn photo among them is that one of a US President as I captured them by my camera.

However, Derbie quoted earlier warned her fellow Africans to desist from that mentality. She noted: “Obama cannot solve our problems. We can solve our own problems. We should just hope that his policies would favour Africa to improve living conditions. It’s Obama all the way.” In Tanzania, things were the same, there were jubilations all over the place especially in the city of Dar es Salaam, which was decorated with a big portrait of the US president elect immediately after he was sworn in. Artists tried to show their experiences in hand drawing of the portrait of a US president Obama. All this showed that Obama is a person of the people.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

ICT as a catalyst for economic take off

It’s not a dispute that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) accords a password to prosperity and posterity in all realms of the human society in the 21st century. ICT is one of the pillars for socio-economic and industrial development. It has revolutionalised education, governance, manufacturing, medicine and communication and Transport in entirely. In essence, the benefits of embracing and being ICT compliant for individuals, nations, governments, learning institutions and companies outstrips the underlying costs of installation and capacity building. As a consequence, governments ought to develop a comprehensive integrated ICT led social-economic development policy plan, set within the wider context of the development goals of each country. This will facilitate the realization of the society into an information rich knowledge base society. All key economic activities for instance, Agriculture, Tourism, Commerce, Industries, Health, Aviation, Research, the list is endless, have to be anchored around modern technology in order to achieve the desired efficiency and productivity. But even as there exists disparities in levels of growth and development in ICT worldwide, as clearly manifested in the global digital divide, all energy and resources ought to be routed in the pursuit to bridge the gap.

Being a computer literate is a one step forward towards achieving sustainable national economic development.

In the past, people haplessly witnessed the widening gap in the digital divide, now the western world has continuously edged the developing world in ICT advancement. The reasons for the phenomena are apparent that the western world has a rich resource base both human and financial and the requisite infrastructure. There is need for all the stakeholders in developing societies to put in place policies, resources and the infrastructure that will bolster the development of ICT for posterity. E-learning, e-commerce, and e-governance among others have become the clarion in affluent and fast placed society, impacting directly to the development of the society. Despite the difficulty environment, it’s important to note that the developing countries and Africa in particular, have recorded remarkable in the field of ICT. With the advent of World Wide Web (www) communication has been eased in speed, convince and the cost of people mailing at the touch of a button across borders and continents. For instance in Africa, and particularly the East African Region, ICT has yielded greater benefits in the education sector. Those who hitherto, for one or more reasons could not access education either because of the prohibitive costs are now learning on-line, others are students at the open visual learning centers, pivoted from Universities in the region. Besides the online facilities, ICT provides an unlimited database for scholars and researchers posted on various sites on the world wide web. But the sector now owes remarkable advancements to ICT is commerce, its emergence has enhanced the levels of transaction and speed. Currently individuals and companies made orders and transact online. The benefit from the technology is that, the cost of doing business has tremendously been lowered. Even bank transactions are undertaken online. On the part of rich nations, they need to help in exploring ways of how to connect the entire world wide voice gates. They too of course in collaboration with the less advantaged, need to explore concrete measures and action plan to meet this objective, taking into account resolution reached at previous telecommunications development meetings in Tunis in November 2005 and in Geneva in December 2003. There is need to lay down a clear and more inclusive, most just and equitable information society. But then poor countries, especially in Africa, have complained about the reticence of western governments since the Geneva summit. However, this should not be a draw back to attain ICT growth.

Frequent power cuts, a cause of poor business activities

DAR ES SALAAM city and its suburbs is currently faced by erratic power supply, and for that matter people’s business enterprises and office services in general have been slowing down. The long standing situation has remained a bigger problem to users. Offices which operates in mostly affected areas by power blues, have to halt their works to a considerable length of time until the electricity power comes back. This situation causes congestion of office work load which are mostly done in computers. Some big organizations, companies and some other individual business enterprises resort to the use of mostly diesel machine generators or to solar energies for power supply in order to keep on going their business activities. Due to the prevailing situation, charges for internet surfing and secretarial services have increased considerably. Sofia James, an attendant of Richmond Internet café centre located at Mnazi Mmoja near Gerezani area says that, they are sometimes ought to increase charges for surfing to their customers when connected to a machine generator for power supply during power blackouts. She says that, due to high expenses they incur to run a machine generator for power generation emanating from the cost of oil, charges for surfing which normally stands at Tsh. 1,000 increases by 50 percent to Tsh. 1.500 per one hour. But when there is normal power connection from the national grid, the prices remains the same. Ezekiel Mwinda, a resident of Yombo-Vituka suburb in Ilala district, Dar es Salaam Region, is among the many small traders in the area whose business is adversely affected due to power interruption in the area. Mwinda runs an internet café business in a house he had hired, told Business Times in an exclusive interview that his business is often inconvenienced by frequent power cuts in the area an aspect that results into low profit levels at the end of the day. Office workers are also worried on the compelling problems which include poor telephone services in fixed lines, and on top of this is bandwidth allocation that users sometimes call the service givers as the unseen saboteurs, says an attendant of the TTCL company’s customer care along Samora Avenue whose company’s fixed telephones remains unworkable during power blackouts. But it’s very sad to note that, the continued power interruption in most parts of the country especially in the city of Dar es Salaam, has been causing fear among workers thus lowering their efficiency to some extent at their respective working places.
Coupled with the normal humanitarian demands, in some rural areas people might surge forward their queries in desperation to blame for their government for failure to restore an effective infrastructure, and resort to other reliable alternative power source supply to eradicate the impending phenomenon. A typical case study of the situation happened recently in Kipunguni ‘B’ at Ukonga ward in Ilala district, Dar es Salaam region when a group of people had gathered in a sizeable hall watching a live television broadcast show when suddenly power went off. This was when a National soccer team, the so-called “Taifa Stars” was playing football match against the national Senegalese soccer team in the inaugural Championship of the African Nations (CHAN) finals in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on Sunday night. A live television broadcast was being transmitted from Abidjan through National Television channel (TBC).
Distraught and anger reigned among them as the situation had suddenly disrupted a luxurious moment they had at that time when they had only enjoyed a twenty minute live broadcast of the first session before half-time. Immediately when power went off there were some sort of murmuring among themselves that accompanied by complaints and without knowing exactly who to blame at that moment for the cause of suspending their live show which they had been enjoying viewing. A lot was attributed to such shadow experience by users, and there were so many sayings emanating from people’s minds reflected basically on carelessness and or laziness to a National Power Utility Firm ‘TANESCO’ and its entire organization for failure.
“Lack of electricity is a common thorn in the flesh of ICT stakeholders and operators in general”, says Reuben Daniel an ICT consultant based in Dar es Salaam city. According to him, unreliable electricity supply coupled with frequent power interruption still remains the biggest obstacle for the development of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), and rural communities are mostly hit regions in Tanzania. According to him, an effective supply of electricity provides better business solution other than depending alternatively on power generation which he says is too expensive to accommodate ICT business operation. Most people in the city are always amused by the announcements in newspapers highlighting power interruption to specific areas within the city issued by the communication office at the headquarter of the National Power Utility firm (TANESCO). However, TANESCO used to apologize to its esteemed customers by issuing prior notices for any inconveniences happened to occur wherever maintenance work has to be done by the firms’ technical workers somewhere in the city incase of emergency on its main transmission line. Erratic electricity supply which has become a growing concern in most parts of the country is a major contributing factor which hampers the development of the ICTs, in general.

Acquiring a house in Dar nowadays is a big challenge

MOST Dar city residents living from all corners of its suburbs, are faced with a great challenge of acquiring land on which to build permanent houses of their own. Among the most challenges faced are the availability of plots which are located in far flung areas from the city coupled with the high sale of cement products, their prices is too expensive. This is the biggest problem which forces few others who owns a piece of land to remain land speculators. The areas which are now designated for new plots are in Chanika, Pugu Kajiungeni and Kigogo Fresh, along Kisarawe road, Vikindu and Kisemvule along Kilwa road, and Bunju along Bagamoyo Road. The three roads are the major outlets that links the city of Dar es Salaam. Other challenges posed are on the means of transport which becomes very expensive for an ordinary worker to afford the transport fare of going and return an aspect that forces those who do not have own transport, to connect three daladalas in order to get to their working places. But still the consumption of fuel is another compelling challenge to those with personal vehicles plying in between the area. P rices of most plots in the designated areas which are suitable for the construction of residential buildings are rising even unsurveyed plots are being sold at high prices as the demand is hitting the roof. In newly developed areas such as those of Majohe, Nyantira and Bomba-Mbili in Ilala municipality, a hectare of land is currently sold at between Tsh. 3.5 million and Tsh. 4 million. This is a tremendous increase says Matiko Megwe a long lived resident of Majohe newly established estate. Mr. Megwe bought his plot twenty years ago at a total cash price of Tshs.200,000/-, and stayed for the next ten years without developing his plot as the area was still too bushy, only few people had inhabited it.
According to him, the same piece of an hectare of land has now increased by over 25 times the amount of money he initially paid to a local village man living in the area. Without knowing the development of human settlements, ignorance is one aspect that drives most people into misunderstanding about their future life.

A congested human settlement at Magomeni in Dar es Salaam city. High costs of plots and cement products in the country, are the cause of poor development of new human settlements on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city.

According to an expert in human settlement, land prices in most areas have been rising because population is increasing rapidly pushing up the demand for homes. A government program to formalize the informal sector including surveying land and issuing title deeds to owners in Dar es Salaam suburbs has made the land more valuable because the surveyed plots can be used as collaterals to borrow money from the banks. A government village chairman for Bomba-mbili village in Chanika ward, Mr. Said Bakiriu says that land will soon become scarce and around his area as many people are pushing to buy it. According to the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements, the government had started surveying land in unsurveyed residences in all suburbs within the city of Dar es Salaam and provided title deeds to their owners including other big towns and cities in the country. For Dar es Salaam city alone, statistics shows that up to December 2008, about 410,000 land owners living in unplanned areas were identified. Around three quarters of the population within the city are squatters.
However, about 50,000 home owners have been registered and given title deeds. Since 2002 when the exercise started, the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements has surveyed more than 20,000 plots in Dar es Salaam. Coupled with the rapid changes of the newly built structures coming up in a more magnificent scale in the city of Dar es Salaam, with the escalating commercial and residential flats, the sector has shown a tremendous boom. Among the major key players in the on-going real estate boom in the city and even in up-country regions is turning out to be none other than the Tanzania Building Agency (TBA).

Masaki residential apartments constructed by TBA:

The agency, since its establishment in 2002 has shown a tremendous development in real estate sector in both commercial and residential buildings with the aim of providing and improving accommodation to the public servants and the government through efficient and effective real estate consultancy and business services. Unlike before, presumably for the last two decades when the industry was still in its infancy stage, the boom is as a result of the currently liberalized national economy. It’s for this reason that TBA which operates under the Ministry of Infrastructure Development sought to provide quality and affordable accommodation to the government and public servants through efficient and effective Real Estate consultancy and business services. While continuing to provide a wide range of low-cost developing housing schemes for the government workers in the country, TBA has within a short period of its existence made a conscious effort to venture into various other areas of investment in the name of diversification. According to the Agency’s Chief Executive Architect Makumba Kimweri, the purpose is to expand and diversify the fund’s investment portfolio as a way of expanding its profit base for the ultimate benefit of the people. In what the TBA is offering in terms of residential housing, the vivid examples of the agency’s housing development projects of a low-cost housing for public servants in all regions of mainland Tanzania.
Over 100 low-cost housing units have been constructed and described as the biggest of its kind so far undertaken. The houses have been made available to government servants and the general public through either outright purchase or hire purchase. The TBA is a progressive national agency in Tanzania with a vision of being the leading real estate institution that aims at providing a wide range of low cost and high cost housing development schemes to all government staff in the country.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

MCT, six associations agree to institute annual media awards

The Media Council of Tanzania (MCT) and six media associations have signed a memorandum of understanding to establish prestigious awards to acknowledge the excellence of journalism in Tanzania.
MCT executive secretary Kajubi Mukajala said in Dar es Salaam that Tanzanian journalists working in print and electronic outlets and freelancers would be eligible by submitting their work to the awards committee for consideration. He said the criteria for judging individual category awards would be worked out by experts in the field but would include general observations on whether the article or programme had provided new knowledge and understanding on issues which are interesting, attractive and presented in journalistic style.
Other criteria would be ethical considerations including truth, accuracy, decency and balance.
Mukajanga said MCT had appointed a local media consulting firm, Shaba and Associates, to manage and organize the annual Journalist of the Year awards and an agreement between them was signed recently in Dar es Salaam . According to the firm`s chief executive officer, Richard Shaba, the agreement aimed at putting in place a mechanism that would recognize and reward journalists annually.
Under the agreement, MCT and its partners would each year recognize and reward excellence in journalism by giving awards to individual journalists specifically aimed at encouraging professionalism and ethical reporting in the media. Apart from recognizing and awarding excellence in journalism, MCT and its partners wished to explore the possibility of recognizing individuals and organizations who had contributed in various ways towards upholding and promoting press freedom and freedom of expression in general.
The media organizations collaborating with MCT are the Media Institute for Southern Africa-Tanzania (MISA-Tan), the Tanzania Media Women\'s Association (TAMWA) and Tanzania Sports Writers Association.
Others are Journalists Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET), Tanzania Editors Forum (TEF) and the Association of Journalists Against Aids of Tanzania (AJAAT).