Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Water for sustainable life

Tanzania marked the traditional “Maji Week” on March this year as water for all prospects remain distant. This year’s annual event the 21st Maji week was celebrated under the theme “Water a resource for all, let us utilize and preserve it jointly” Internationally, the occasion was celebrated under the them “Trans-boundary Waters”.
The theme highlights the significance of cooperation and the importance of integrated approach to water resources management at both international and local levels. Equity and rights, cultural and ethical issues are essential to be addressed when dealing with limited water resources. Tanzania communities have complex priorities for the use of water for economic activities and for household use, but as well for maintaining health of the people in rural areas. Men and women often have different priorities and responsibilities as well as cultural conditions to determine indigenous practices and societal values that determines how people perceive and manage water sustainably. A colorful one week event allowed stakeholders within the sector inside and outside Tanzania to share experience on development and management of water and sanitation through exhibitions which were staged on the climaxed day in Bukoba town, Kagera region. According to the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in the country, the main objective of the ‘Maji Week’ is to create awareness and sensitize the public on water sector plans and reforms. The occasion highlighted the importance of their participation in environmental sanitation and water supply programs, evaluate the environments, identify problems and draw up strategies for implementation. Analysts from the Ministry of Water in the country however concurred that, in the past two decades, Tanzania experienced increase pressure on the available water resources which it has not managed to effectively addressed. Instead, the demand for water increased considerably due to increased population and socio-economic activities. According to the statistics made available by the Ministry of Water and Irrigation in the country, presently the demand in most sectors of the economy in most Tanzania’s urban and rural water supply coverage is about 73 and 53 percent targeted for domestic use respectively. This means that, 3 in 10 urban residents have difficulty in accessing clean and safe water, while 1 in 2 of their rural counterparts has a similar experience.

Despite of many aids and efforts contributed by donors towards the attainment of clean water facilities, still great number of African communities especially living in rural areas in most African countries are using unsafe water from the locally dug wells.

However, Tanzanian government is highly committed to realize its vision of improving water supply to reach at a level of 90 percent of the total country’s population if it would really want to achieve its National Development Vision for 2025, says an expert in water sector from the ministry headquarter. Senior officials have repeatedly said that without the availability of water for domestic and other uses, the country could not achieve t5he UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction (MKUKUTA). Tanzania’ water policy targets are to raise the proportion of rural population that has access to safe and clean water from 53 to 65 percent by June 2009 and for urban population in the same period from 73 to 890 percent. There are also pressure from the agricultural and energy sectors, where growth depends on increased supply of water for irrigation and hydro-electric power generation.
In urban centers, there are 19 authorities responsible for development supply schemes, where the strategies involve commercialization of water supply and sanitation services according to the reports by the ministry. Commercialization is seen as the next step forward in urban water supply. Sewerage services would continue to be provided as part of an overall sanitation strategy for the urban area. However, plans for rural and urban water supply and sewerage services are only achievable if secured water resources are available, protected and used sustainable, a factor that is now a matter of serious concern
Water is indispensable element for sustaining people’s lives, growth and mankind development. Water is a critical for sustainable development including environmental integrity and alleviation for poverty and hunger. Water supply for human well-being is recognized as fundamental human right and indispensable for human health. This recognition thus entitles everyone to sufficient, affordable, physically accessible safe and acceptable water for domestic, construction and production use. However, world today has experienced fast diminishing of this natural resource as demand of fresh water continue to rise in response to rapid population growth. In Tanzania like elsewhere in the world, the use of water caters for the increased urbanization and is also necessary for fast industrial and economic development. It also caters for increased agricultural demand for irrigation. As a result, according to UN estimates, one billion people in the world have no access to safe drinking water, and two billion people lack basic sanitation The UN facilities. The UN general assembly at its 58th session in December 2003 proclaimed the year 2005-2015 as international decade for Action Water for Life. In order to ensure an effective implementation of this concept, Tanzania needs over US$ 1 billion in investment. Water is fundamental natural resource for socio economic development since the millennium summit’s declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 as an agenda of reducing poverty and improving lives of people in the world.

Water is becoming an enormous problem in African communities and most African governments seems to have not taken serious steps on the issue so as to ward off the phenomenon. Wherever there is little water flowing on water taps, consumers have to arrange their pails in single line as you can see in the photo. But for how long will this situation end to relieve consumers of the great burden they face?

Tanzania has been spearheading various strategic actions for achieving the MDGs targets. Efforts to achieve targets are done through initiatives that are mainstreamed in the country strategies and specific sector strategies and programs. Water sector responsibilities in Tanzania towards achieving MDGs hinges in the 17th millennium development goal which is to ensure environmental sustainability has started to bring hope. In Tanzania, Drilling and Dam Construction Agency (DDCA) is an active player towards improving water supply services in the country. Its role as a government agency is to develop sustainable and safe water sources through efficient means and at cost effective price. This objective is in line with the national objective of alleviating poverty and improving the health of people through provision of clean, safe and adequate water supply to rural and urban population. DDCA’s vision is to be the leading and most efficient organization in the country in the business of water well drilling and construction of water storage dams, by providing sustainable water sources and ensuring that clients get value for money from services provided. About 4,000 deep boreholes have been drilled by it since its launch in 1999. This achievement signifies that DDCA serves large number of people and livestock, industrial works, and various construction industries in the country. Water is a primary input in human life playing a pivotal role in poverty alleviation through enhancing food security, domestic hygienic security, hydropower, industrial development, mining, navigation and the environment for sustenance of eco-systems. The availability of water supply with good quality reduces time spent mainly by women and children in searching and fetching the precious liquid. It also increases health standards and ensures a favourable environment for increased children’s school attendance. During Maji Week, the occasion is also used to take stock of achievements so far made over the past year, problems encountered and lay strategies to solve problems in the delivery of water supply and sanitation services and in the management of water resources. While water is of such social, economic and environmental value, over the two past years, Tanzania like other African countries located south of Sahara desert, has been experiencing drought which has resulted into serious water shortages impacting on the very critical aspects of its people’s lives, growth and development. Water is becoming increasingly scarce all over the world, and this scarcity is considered one of the most pressing problems confronting the survival of humankind in the 21st century. The increasing water scarcity worldwide is posing threats on development and environmental protection. Scarcity and misuse of fresh water pose a serious threat to sustainable development and protection of the environment. This exemplified the central importance that water resources and water scarcity have attained in global debates on the environment and development. It’s widely said that, water scarcity have a profound impact on food security, human health and social and economic development. It is also argued that, there is an imperative for water to be seen as an economic good or scarce resource to be used optimally and judiciously. Water scarcity and poverty is a global perspective, the growing trend and the competition for water, however stands as a major threat to future advances in poverty alleviation. Under a serious scarce water resource situation, the available water not sufficient for the production of food and for alleviating hunger and poverty in the affected regions. An increasing number of rural poor in Africa are in future coming to see entitlement and access to water for food production and for domestic purposes as a move critical problem than access to primary health care education. The lack of water does not allow industrial, urban and tourism development to proceed without restrictions on water uses and allocation policies for other user sectors particularly agriculture. It’s therefore very important to recognize that water scarcity and poverty are much linked and that with the increased level of poverty in the communities, the environment becomes more susceptible to threats. Another dimension of thought is the fact that poverty associated with water scarcity generate migratory fluxes of populations within countries or to other countries where people hope to have a better life, but where they may not be well received.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is the cause of frequent power cuts in the city of Dar es Salaam?

DAR ES SALAAM city is highly faced with the problem of electricity supply and most of its suburbs are 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 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 who runs an internet café business in a house he had hired says 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 reflecting 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 schedules 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 the 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.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kilwa Road project in quick progress

THE Upgrading of Kilwa Road project in Dar es Salaam city whose construction works started in early 2007 is expected to end up by end of this year. The project involves the widening of the existing 12 Kms two lanes single carriageway road between Bendera Tatu and Mbagala Rangi Tatu to a four lane dual carriageway bitumen road with a provision for pedestrian walkways on each side. On its completion, there will also be a provision for the Bus Rapid Transit project which will be implemented by the Dar es Salaam city council. Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) which has been charged with the responsibility for its upgrading on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in the country, has determined to provide a solution to the unbearable traffic congestion problem facing users. The road which is being upgraded by a Japanese construction firm, M/S Kajima Corporation Limited into a dual carriage way is part of the main urban ring roads in the city of Dar es Salaam that links with the southern Tanzanian regions. The road serves traffic destined to and from various centers such as Kariakoo, Temeke district and the main city center. Based on this high traffic volume and the poor condition of the road, congestion especially at peak hours in the morning and evenings necessitated the expansion and upgrading of the road.

A completed section of a two lane single carriageway between Mtoni Mtongani and Rangi Tatu portion of the Kilwa Road in Dar es Salaam under final touches

In 2003, the government decided to widen the road due to the increase in traffic. Initially the plan was to start with the construction of the two kilometers stretch between the Port Access road junction at the Tanzania Institute of Accountancy and Mtoni Kwa Azizi Ally. The detailed design for the two kilometers was carried out and tenders for works were invited in October 2004. While evaluation of the tenders was in progress, the government of Japan offered to finance the widening of the whole road from Bendera Tatu to Mbagala Rangi Tatu including its design and supervision in response to a request which had earlier been made by the government of Tanzania. The detailed design for the whole road was carried out by construction project consultant Inc (CPC) of Japan and completed in October 2006. Tenders for construction were invited in November 2006 and the evaluation of the tenders was carried out in December 2006. Three Japanese firms namely Daio Nippon Construction, Kajima Corporation and Konoike construction participated. Following the evaluation of the tenders, Kajima Corporation Ltd, emerged the winner and a contract was signed in Japan between TANROADS on behalf of the government of Tanzania and M/S Kajima corporation for a contract price of Tshs. 10.3 billion. TANROADS was represented by its Chief Executive Officer. The contract period inclusive of mobilization periods is one year with effect from March 2007. The contract covers the first 5 kilometers from Bendera Tatu. The next 7 kilometers followed after the proposed exchange of notes between the governments of Tanzania and Japan during this year’s 2008/09 financial year. According to the work plan, the contractor commenced preparatory works for the 5 kilometer section in 2007. This is the second phase construction project which was signed in May 2007. Japan signed an agreement with Tanzania for 15.5 bn/- it was signed by the then Permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance Mr. Gray Mgonja. The road on its completion is said to be one of the most modern in the city with provision for the coming Rapid commuter buses. In June 2006, the Japanese government assisted Tanzania with 12.6 bn/- for the first phase of the same project covering five kilometers. The rehabilitation of a total 12 kilometers along Kilwa Road included movement of the traversal drainage structure, bus stops, traffic signs and other related underground facilities. Earlier the government took to task the demolition exercises of the houses to pave the way for its expansion.

Bringing ICTs for rural African community development

MUCH has been done by the introduction of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in societies and internet has played a crucial role in bridging the knowledge gap between societies. Notwithstanding issues of access for the internet to truly be a tool for knowledge building. It will need further adaptation in order to meet the need of the so-called the information poor. In order to build a sustainable and inclusive information society in Africa, ICT innovations and research are of particular importance as they could have revolutionary impact on currently under serviced and marginalized groups. The basic role of African media is to report on these innovations and research activities and disseminate the results so as to create awareness and stimulate debate on their impact on societal development. Despite current developments with increased coverage in urban areas and along several main highways in most countries in Sub-Saharan regions, still the majority of its people in rural areas will for the foreseeable future be without reachable and reliable ICT connections and services if governments would not take serious steps for development.
There is conception that the risk of establishing viable ICTs such as mobile telecommunication in rural areas in Africa is too high. But despite of this, the point to be noted is that ICT can play a pivotal role in reducing the state of poverty of the marginalized groups in rural communities. To achieve reliable communication networks, some people have regularly or often preferred mobile phones even in areas where there is no connection. Lack of means of communication in rural communities results in several major setbacks if there is no coordination between middlemen and farmers who solely depend on information for price setups or properly organized marketing systems.
It is important to realize that, the internet represents an instant economic device of knowing what the market price for commodities such as cash crops is for businessmen and women in various corners of the world. But since it is so expensive for rural areas, its accessibility is also low.
Despite the fact that, the internet is used as a means of delivering agricultural information to farmers in rural communities, but there is increasing evidence that the technology is still beyond the reach of many farmers. Studies shows that, rural farmers do not have direct access to the internet in rural areas pending on a number of factors. The basic ones being the increased computer illiteracy among users and an unreliable infrastructure such as electricity. In view of these two common factors, it’s therefore the government’s responsibilities to remove barriers of information access to ensure that special attention is given to the rural people where agriculture is still their main economic activity.
It is also worth noting that the communication environment means more than just telephones. Without basic infrastructure such as readily available power, roads and transport phones are hardly likely to bring down the expected benefits. Out of the available ICTs which are usable as new media facilities, the application of mobile telephony is able to improve and enhance communications for the rural people in Africa.
This can support participatory development as well as allow the voices of the people to be heard through a range of options that can be operated individually or within small networks not requiring elaborate infrastructure. The development of rural telephony is an important issue not only for big investors but also for farmers and fishermen because communication is central to development. But in order to achieve this, stable energy is needed to support the operation of mobile towers.
Tanzanian government has underscored the need for making ICTs that is gender sensitive and more accessible to the common people throughout Africa. According to the Ministry for Communication and Technology in the country, in order for ICT to foster the attainment of the development goals, ICT tools must be employed effectively and relevantly. Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has made great strides in upgrading rural communities by helping the establishments of rural ICT projects in the country. The main objective of these projects is to utilize ICTs for enhancing local good governance and indirectly catalyzing community development. To mention a few, Lunga-Lugoba is one of the villages in the country identified by the COSTECH as the site of a pilot project which seeks to introduce ICTs at the grassroots in the country. The village is situated by the roadside some 120 Kms away from the Dar es Salaam commercial city of Tanzania and has the basic power and telecommunication infrastructure for ICT application. The ICT services provided at the Lunga-Lugoda village includes, emails, internet surfing, ICT training, secretarial services, and local database creation for health and educational purposes. For minimal cost to villagers, they can now utilize the internet for communication purposes and access to knowledge. The idea is to make this as a model and once is successful, similar Tele-centers will be established to minimize the gap between rural and urban on the use of ICT facilities. Ultimately projects like these ones contribute to the overall social-economic development and poverty alleviation initiatives in Tanzania.

MCT reprimands media organizations in Tanzania which relies on gossiping

MEDIA Council of Tanzania (MCT) has severely reprimanded some media organizations and their respective publications which continues to write seditious stories that would likely spoil journalism profession in the country. A severe reprimand was issued at the end of a three day MCT’s Board which was recently held in Morogoro to discuss a growing habit by some of the media organizations which have emerged with intent to injure reputations of some personalities through their publications in the country.
The MCT’s Managing Director Mr. Kajubi Mukajanga said that his organization is extremely annoyed by the habit of some of the media organizations who seem to have formed a tendency of misusing their media organizations for their own mutual benefits and not for relaying crucial matters pertaining to the development of the nation.
According to Mr. Mukajanga, secret groups within various media organizations have been formed and some have waged war against each other in different manner. That is against journalism profession and that of a social ethics. In view of this, MCT has seen the attitude to be useless and that their habit is not productive to the nation, thus this is a sabotage to journalism profession in the country. Mr. Mukajanga described this war as a great hatred that exists among media organizations which he said meddles with people’s affairs. According to him, the habit has taken a new turn following the establishment of a series of newspapers which came into being in recent years in collaboration with the older ones already in market for the purpose of insulting each others. “MCT is extremely worried with the time selected by media organizations concerned for instituting an open competition aimed at abusing each other especially at this time of a special period that is important in the history of journalism profession in the country whereby a long term process of initiating new media laws for media organization and the right to get information is going on says Mukajanga. However, he has warned that, this is not the right time of insulting each other, except it’s time for the media professionals to sit down and interpret matters in deep and effectively concentrate on journalism work in the country. The responsibility of any media organization in the country is to upgrade journalism profession which has serious professionals who are competent enough and who are accountable in Tanzanian society. In view of these facts, MCT is appealing to every practicing journalists irrespective of their media organizations through their professional bodies not to be used as indulgence and bulldozed as inferior professionals, and by doing this, they should remember that the value of their personalities is degrading as well as their journalism work which does not stick to diligence and trustworthiness.
Apart from those newspapers which are competing on writing insults, Mr. Mukajanga also spoke strongly against pornography reporting which is so common in most Kiswahili newspapers. He said news highlighted in these publications has been interfering with people’s life and with direct quotations wherever necessary, but do not give a chance to speak out on one side view so as to balance their news reportage. MCT has therefore reminded media owners and editors of their various publications that, no any media organization in this country is supposed to be transformed and become a weapon of war to favor the interest of the few individuals including owners themselves or donors who helps to finance those media organizations.

Is the digital divide influenced by the state of poverty?

THE discussion of how to bring the opportunities offered by the Information Technology (IT) to the people who need them most has been muddled by arguments over exactly how to define the problem of the IT in societies. Is it about insufficient access to computers, training, or poverty? The existence of the “Digital Divide” in most African societies, or the lack of access to the use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for certain segments of the population within African region, is evidence of the ability of technology to exacerbate the existing inequality. The digital divide is a term used to describe the discrepancy between people who have access to and the resources to use new information and communication tools such as the computer and internet, and people who do not have the resources and access to the technology. The term also describes the discrepancy between those who have the skills, knowledge and abilities to use the technologies and those who do not have. It can exist between those living in rural communities as well as those in urban centers. There are many perspectives on the digital divide with different connotations and focus, some argue that computers, connections and training will solve the problem, while others contend that government action hinders the development and use of ICTs, and unless policies are changed otherwise the digital divide cannot be solved. But many people who overlook at the problem do not understand how the use of ICTs can be relevant to their lives. Underlying social issues like basic literacy, poverty and healthcare also loom large, and some questions whether and how technology can become part of the solution to these critical problems. In fact, the digital divide is about all of these things. It is a complex problem that manifests itself in different ways in different countries, and it represents both practical and policy challenges.
Moreover, it is apparent that solutions that work in the developed countries cannot simply be transplanted to developing countries’ environments. Solutions must be based on an understanding of local needs and conditions. Historically, the disadvantaged individuals in communities demonstrates the potential of the IT to serve as a tool of social change, and at the same time it can bring education and promote organizing efforts to attain technological development required in such communities. In short, the diffusion of technology both within and between countries has been extremely uneven as the digital technologies becomes firmly embedded in everyday affairs, they can help all societies to solve long standing economic and social problems, but they also bring new challenges.
The challenges are to those denied access to ICT skills and consequently their knowledge becomes less and less capable of participating in an economy in which the communities are increasingly technologically dependent in order to improve their lives. The Digital Divide represents a major challenge at all levels, and in spite of this, what should the governments do to ensure that the new technologies emerging in communities do not consign some people to the margins of society from which few individuals benefit from the wealth of new opportunities that the digitally rich enjoy? While information technology is growing rapidly, some segments of society remain largely disconnected from this trend. The term digital divide has been associated with the patterns of unequal access in terms of income, race, ethnicity, gender and age. Statistics shows that, computer ownership and internet access, use of cellular phones as new media facilities, are lower among certain groups of the population primarily due to poverty. In certain categories, the digital divide has been influenced by poverty within communities especially in rural areas. Africa, the most stricken poverty region in the world is largely affected by this trend and it continues to lag behind the western nations in terms of development for many reasons including lack of knowledge and poor skills on information technology. Researches have been restricted to the problem of access to technology, but having access to a computer, the major component used to drive the information technology in the world, is insufficient of individuals lack of skills who are eager to take advantage of the technology. To illustrate a significant separation between information “haves” and information “have-nots”, the long line of social and economic status, living on the wrong side of the digital divide as do the poor, means being cut off from the information society.
But the technology gap is only one link in a casual chain that has bound certain groups repeatedly to disadvantage. The digital divide is therefore a symptom of a much larger and more complex problem of persistent poverty and inequality. The digital divide is now recognized as an international issue which has deteriorated the development of the poor who are not able to afford the knowledge use of the ICT components which are vital for poverty reduction. Africa, especially south of Sahara region is greatly affected by the digital divide due to poverty that is so prevalent in most rural communities and more help is needed including donor funding in order to bridge the gap between its people and the rest of the world.
The role of ICT in rural communities has a significant impact that provides immense opportunities to promote and foster social, economic, education, cultural and political development. Various studies shows that only ICTs are tools that will help leapfrog the development divide and accelerate efforts to combat poverty, hunger, disease and illiteracy in a bid to meet the Millennium Development Goals.

According to Dr. Lishan Adam, a researcher at the Addis Ababa University College in Ethiopia, in his published report entitled “Financing ICTs for Development” with focus on poverty, a report he issued four years ago, progress and issues in Sub-Saharan region, between US$ 400 and 600 is needed annually to eradicate poverty through the application of ICTs. According to him, Sub-Saharan Africa region is the latest developed region when it comes to ICT, a report with a distressing statistics shows that, penetration varies considerably with broadcasting technology more diffused than personal computers and the internet. In his report, the digital development shows that, out of 814 million people in Africa, in 2003 it is estimated that 1 person in 4 had a radio, 1 in 12 had a TV, 1 in 33 had a fixed telephone line, 1 in 16 had a mobile phone, 1 in 80 had access to PC, 1 in 70 had access to the internet, and 1 in 360 had access to pay TV. This shows that the gap of digital divide is still large in Africa. Since the 1990s, years of economic liberalization in Tanzania, there has been a large wave of investment in ICTs for development and some significant part of this has been aimed at poor people both in terms of bridging ICT access to poor and using it in many other ways which it could support poverty reduction strategies. The study carried out by Professor Ophelia Mascarenhas of the University of Dar es Salaam on the impact of ICTs on rural livelihood and poverty reduction in three districts in Tanzania helps to accelerate poverty reduction strategies with specific examples in every sphere of human life. The study was therefore mounted to see to what extent the ICTs had in fact speeded to the rural areas and to what extent they contributed to the socio-economic development of the rural people.

According to him, the better understanding on the relationship between the use of ICTs and poverty reduction can then be used to make the use of ICTs an important part of the national strategy for growth and reduction of poverty. It has remained rather compelling.
He says the main indicators such as infant and maternal mortality, access and school performances are worse off in rural areas. Lack of electricity is still a problem but almost half the rural population owns radios. The life of the people living in African rural communities will continue to deteriorate if governments and its people will not adopt the means by which it can bridge the digital divide and allows ICTs tools to twist the modern technology transfer in their workings. Despite of their expensiveness in use, ICT can play a pivotal role in reducing abject poverty for the marginalized group in rural communities. Since ICTs are tools used for technological advancements, therefore they are vital for country’s economic development for their role in a society is to facilitate communication in an information society. ICTs will always be a bridge too far if the issue is as basic as not having electricity in the home, and incase the question of poverty is not resolved, women’s empowerment in the digital age will never happen despite of their efforts towards national development. Lack of access to ICTs is an microcosm of existing gender relations in society. Women who are low income or living in poverty have a desperate need for information and contacts that can assist and support their efforts to build their way out of poverty. They need to be ensured with easy, safe and affordable access to ICT. To effectively ensure digital empowerment for women, efforts must be made to increase their number in studying IT related subjects to ward off the basic premise of the gender digital divide. Community technology centres (CTCs) known as the Tele-centres in most other countries have emerged at an increasing pace in the last several years to deal with the digital divide. These are non-profit organizations that link community residents to IT resources. They address the digital divide comprehensively and advance larger social, political and economic goals in the process. But poor infrastructure is part of the reason to global ICT and continental private developments. Africa being the most hit region, and since its infrastructure does not meet international standards hence it’s difficult to bridge the digital divide.

Need for quality reporting on environmental issues in Tanzania

JOURNALISTS Environmental Association of Tanzania (JET) has underscored the need for Tanzanian journalists to put quality reporting on environmental issues especially focusing on forests, wildlife, fisheries and minerals. According to JET officials, journalists need to equip themselves with knowledge on how best they can report environmental issues, the call has come when many journalists lack skills and knowledge on reporting environmental issues. According to JET, there are so many environmental issues which could have been addressed by journalists so that communities can change their perception, be it forest, wildlife, fisheries and others, but because of inadequately information on environment, journalists have failed to reach out to many people to change their mindset on environment. Apart from journalists equipping themselves with environmental knowledge, they actually need to understand policies to ensure that the public follow them though it takes time for public to change their mindset on environmental issues, the media should not tire in addressing these issues as things change with time. Of late, there has been a great impact, especially in Morogoro region, as at first people in the area were reluctant to change on how they were cutting down trees and how to utilize water from the streams. With time, they have realized how vital it is to have on environmental friendly area. ”There is a tremendous change in the area as people have engaged themselves in agro-forestry and know the importance of planting more trees. People also utilize their streams for irrigation.
Briefing journalists recently on forestry, Senior Legal Officer and Researcher for Lawyers Environmental Action Team (LEAT) Mr. Emmanuel Massawe said there is need to ensure sustainable supply of forest products and services while maintaining sufficient forest area under effective management. Through sustainable forest based industrial development and trade, there is increased employment and foreign exchange earnings, hence the need for journalists to raise public awareness on the importance of forests to both the people and the government. According to him, there are a number of issues that are affecting forestry in the country like inadequate awareness of tree growing, sustainable forest management and lack of financial incentives. Tree harvesting exceeds tree plantations by threefold. This is so pathetic, lamented Massawe.

Make possible and viable power technology in Tanzania

THE use of power technology has a great significance in the development of human resource energy activities. The term “Power Technology” includes all sorts of energy power generation including Hydro-electric power technology. Their application have a great significance to the development of a country’s economic and social activities. One must have in mind the mechanical power generation and any other types of energy giving mechanisms in this aspect. But samples are quite interesting to note as well as the information data available as in the energy sector in Tanzania. Not many people know that only 10 percent of the Tanzanian population has access to power technology components e.g electricity, and the natural gas. The main energy consuming sector is the household and more than 76 percent of this power technology is used in urban centers and little is supplied in rural vicinity. Other power energy giving technologies are such wood materials like firewood which are consumed in great volumes in rural areas. In Tanzania for example, about 40 million tones of firewood and about 750,000 tones of charcoal are consumed each year. Another characteristic compounded by power technology is the Solar Energy which is both accessible and affordable but under certain conditions. By definition, solar power is obtained through harnessing the radiant energy that is emitted by the sun when it shines. This can be done via solar battery, panel or photo-voltaic cells that are designed to convert sunlight into electrical energy which is then used as a source of power. Experts in the world over have the best things today about power technology in relation to solar system. What is standing between it and the use of this power on a very much wider scale than is the case in this solar technology under the sun. The country is awash with sunshine practically all the year around. And the sunshine is not only cheap and readily available. The solar power generating equipment does not come cheap enough for the majority of Tanzanians to readily afford. Not much is being done to sell the idea and the related services to potential consumers most of whom are in rural Tanzania. The used of power technology with which to run various economic and social developments in Tanzania is not only possible and viable, but it is also more than desirable and necessary at this stage in the history of the country’s developments. Experts say that given certain conditions, more power technologies are by easily affordable, accessible, sustainable and has returns that are in the long run justified.
Apparently, one major setback is the initial cost of setting up the necessary power technology equipment including back-up batteries. This is where the Tanzanian government analysts say, can chip in with the necessary legislation to cut down or better still completely abolish duties and taxes on equipments used for power technologies and related appurtenances. Coupled with massive awareness campaigns on the advantages of using power technology equipments such as solar power, electricity, batteries, natural gas and energy sources could go along way to attaining faster socio-economic development.
These power technologies would also save environment from further destruction through the on-going excessive use of wood fuel and pollutant emissions especially in rural Tanzania as well as in urban centers. Actually by conducting power technologies skills, this is cost effective environmentally and financially. For one thing, it saves excessive use of foreign exchange whereby a country has to use its natural resources.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


STAKEHOLDERS of the water industry in the country have been experiencing many challenges and hardships towards the development of the water sector, the result of which have not been providing solutions to a better achievement. One doubtful report is whether Tanzanian water sector strategies will be able to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The strategies aims to ensure an effective supply of a clean and safe water to its people as endorsed in the Water Ministry’s program of decade for action 2005-2015. As the saying goes, the issue of water scarcity in the country has been the order of the day. It’s water, water, water everywhere as from the household taps to rural family homes. But if one may ask to find out where has all the water gone? Stakeholders including government authorities and the individual concerned, remains dumb or even turns a blind eye and eventually no solutions to the problem. Women and their children including men almost in all areas prone to water scarcity in the country search for water everyday in virtually all cities, towns and even in rural vicinity. They have to walk long distances in search of this precious commodity but to no avail. The chronic water shortage in many areas is causing a serious concern to all and sundry. Study shows that, the main problems in rural communities are long treks that culminates walking long distances of about 2 to 3 kilometers daily in search of water from public tap carrying heavy containers on their heads of about 20 to 25 litres per trips.

Will the Ministry of water development be able to meet the MDGs?
A woman is drawing water from a hand pumping machine in a rural village in Tanzania.

Long queues at the point of water taps is also another problem and this situation stagnates other economic activities. Should there be contamination at these common points the whole village is likely at risk. From time immemorial, this old adage of water everywhere but not a drop to drink continues to stare at the faces of Tanzanians now for the last 47 years after independence. Moreover, the debate rages on as whether water scarcity is due to lack of resources, human capacity or bureaucracy. In Dar es Salaam city for example, despite of its 4 million population of the people, the story remains the same for the better part of the independent years. Half of its suburbs which depends on water sources from Ruvu Juu are sometimes faced by water crisis. A resident of Ilala suburb in the city, Sheik Mzee Ramadhani Hamisi, blames the government and local authority ministry of giving city dwellers a raw deal despite payment to the authorities and taxes to the government for the improvement of water infrastructures. He says, it was hard for the government to justify taxation to the city dwellers while they are exposed to all sorts of diseases associated with lack of adequate water in their household surroundings. However, a high ranking official from the Dar es Salaam Water & Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) was quoted recently as saying that, “the big city of Dar es Salaam would continue experiencing water shortage due to poor underground infrastructural facilities e.g old water pipes which seems to have been outdated and needs urgent replacement.
The Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Alex Kaaya said that chances of having reliable water supply within the city are very minimal at the moment citing on the failure of short rains which have led to the sharp drop of water level from the main source of water supply in Kizinga and Ruvu rivers. According to him, in order to avert the situation his organization is currently working out plans to rehabilitate several boreholes in the city in case the condition got worse. But careful observers have noted that most of these wells might not work to satisfy people’s needs as most of them are empowered by electricity whose supply in the city is unreliable. This is yet another scenario caused owing to frequent power blackouts culminating from water shortage from its generating sources.

A woman is drawing water from a man made water well. African continent, south of Sahara desert is faced with acute shortage of clean water

Water blues to some extent might be caused by insufficient water rainfall. Apart from boreholes and other drilling water wells, dry spell is rigorously a cause of inadequate water supply, says an anonymous water engineer in the ministry of water development.
Water is a fundamental natural resource for social economic development. Since the Millennium summit’s declaration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2000 as an agenda for reducing poverty and improving lives of the people in the world, Tanzania has been spearheading various strategic actions for achieving these targets but unfortunately they have proved futile. Because of the growth of world population and other factors, the availability of drinking water per capita is shrinking. The issue of water shortage can be solved through more production, better distribution and less waste of it.
Experts predicts more trouble ahead because of the world’s growing population, increasing contamination through pollution, and global warming. While the world's population tripled in the 20th century, the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. Statistics shows that within the next fifty years, the world population will increase by another 40 to 50 %. This population growth coupled with industrialization and urbanization will result in an increasing demand for water and will have serious consequences on the environment. Despite the fact that Tanzania is endowed with second fresh water Lake in the world, the country’s urban centers in Lake Victoria Basin are the hardest hit by water scarcity. As a result water borne diseases besides malaria has remained health issues all year around.

Women drawing water from the well in African rural village. The problem of safe water is still a great problem to most people living in African rural areas. (Photo by courtesy of west Africa based Panos media organisation)

Such urban centers are like Musoma, Bukoba and Mwanza city, and the same story extends to the neighboring towns of Homa-Bay, Kisumu and Mbita, and Entebbe, Jinja and Kampala city in the neighboring countries of Kenya and Uganda respectively. All these towns are connected by the Lake Victoria Regional Local Authorities Cooperation (LAVRLAC) and a joint cooperation is underway through the initiative by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to bring sustainable use of water resources in these towns and cities. However, the Provincial Director of Environment of the lake region, Mr. Maurice Otieno, says a sanitation condition in these towns and cities is actually appalling due to discharge of raw sewerage that has polluted the lake. According to him, this has made the lake water to be unfit for human consumption in most cases.
During the decade of action to be implemented by the fourth phase government under the philosophy of new vigor for the betterment of people’s life, Tanzania will implement prudent strategic actions that will excel progress in achieving the MDGs on water and sanitation. To meet these objectives President Jakaya Kikwete had directed the ministry of Water development to come up with special programs to facilitate water availability instead of investing in improving the infrastructure as stipulated in the 2005 CCM election manifesto. The President urged the concerned Ministry to campaign vigorously against environmental degradation because it is to blame for the current water crisis in the country. Under the Ministry’s Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP) targets of improving the provision of water services countrywide, this aims at ensuring people to get an easy access to this precious commodity just within the perimeters of 400 meters away from the main water pipes by 2015. The general thrust of the water sector is to ensure that all men, women and children are able to access clean, affordable safe water and sanitation. The operational targets are increasing the population with access to clean and safe water from the current 53 percent to 90 percent by 2015.

How cement industry contributes to Tanzania’s national economy

IT is undisputed factor that the cement industry sector contributes to the development of the important infrastructural facilities needed to speed up economic development of any country in the world, Tanzania included. Cement product is more useful to enable the construction go on. Cement in its raw form technically has no ability, but it is the key ingredient for making concrete as well as the foundation of any construction purposes. Concrete is used more than any other man-made material and is second only to water as the most used consumer good, not only in construction but in all walks of human life.
For the Tanzanian economy to grow, IT needs infrastructure development through the construction of major means of transport such as roads, bridges, railways as well as main telecommunication network towers. All these infrastructural development requires cement product. Other important features are such things like residential properties, commercial buildings, hospitals, fibre optic cables, service centres etc. are also important for national development. In 2007, Tanzanian industrial production comprising of construction and manufacturing grew by 9.2 percent compared with 8.5 percent in 2006. Whereas in 2007, the construction industry contributed 7.9 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), this is an increase of over 2 percent compared with 5.8 percent in 2006.

A Quarry material is the main cement raw material whose component constitutes 70 percent of cement product. Normally this is excavated from a nearby cement plant

The continued growth in the industry corresponds with the increased cement demand and production in the country. The industry estimates that 90 percent of cement consumption is used for residential purposes, the majority of which is for the construction of new buildings. Tanzania consumes an average of 42 kilos per capita per year of the cement production in the country. These statistics serve as an indicator of the economic activity in the country which indicates a substantial room for growth. According to the latest cement industry report, the usage of cement product in the country, has increased substantially as the demand of the product is high. Cement manufacturers have seen the need to increase their production level to meet the national demand as the product is the cornerstone of the construction industry as a whole.
The volume of cement required in construction are substantial. On average, the construction of a family home requires 14 tones of cement, whereas a kilometer of road contains as much as 2,500 tons of cement. In 2007, the total amount of income generated in the Tanzanian economy by the cement industry is Tsh 199 billion, Tsh. 90 billion of which went directly or indirectly to the government. Comparing the total benefits generated for the stakeholders to the total revenues generated, the government made 1.5 times the amount of money from the sale of a bag of cement than the stakeholders of the companies did themselves. In the Tanzanian cement industry, the majority of the production is contained in the 50kg bags of cement. This cement is used either for making blocks or concrete which are then used for a variety of purposes that includes the following. Residential buildings, commercial offices, manufacturing and mining facilities, roads and bridges, water and sewerage treatment facilities, harbours and reservoirs. Infrastructure made with cement has a number of benefits such as newly constructed roads and those which are under repair which allow for reduced travel time. Residential structures built with cement products have a longer lifespan for they provide more security and more soundproof and fireproof and have better temperature control than homes built with other products. Buildings made of concrete need less energy for heating and cooling than those made of other materials. Cement is an excellent insulator and concrete buildings remain cooler in the heat and warmer in the cold.

Construction workers in a newly constructed cement plant at Wazo Hill on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. A multi-billion plant factory is owned by Tanzania Portland Cement Company, the largest in the country.

Under corporate social investments, the cement industry is committed to sustainable development in Tanzania and plays the leading role in contributing to health, education, environment and community development programs. In 2007 alone, the industry spent Tsh. 436 million on such programs and initiatives. Highlights of the recently funded programs includes education which involves the construction and renovating classrooms in various parts of the country. Under the education sector, the cement companies has extensively rehabilitated schools, and provided them with the necessary facilities such as water management and sewage systems, toilets, desks and teachers’ tables. They have also provided founding sensitization training to school on HIV and malaria issues.
Under community development issues, the cement companies supports existing NGOs and organizations such as a community development programme which deals with orphanage and youth counseling centers in both Tanzania Mainland and Tanzania Isles.
The companies support NGOs that address HIV/AIDS and cancer problems, thus donating food and other basic needy products to orphans in the city of Dar es Salaam. In addition to that, these companies engage in water supply wherever there is scarcity and this is supplied free of charge to villages neighboring the integrated cement factories. Human capital investment has a large multiplier effect where skills shortages and inadequate capacity constrain the development of industries. Tanzanian cement industry supports human capital development through training and development. All cement companies provide training to employees both on and off site and most of their training is related to production, technology and maintenance, but other examples of training include issues pertaining to labour laws, civil engineering, quality control and information technology. Language courses for English and Kiswahili are also offered because all three cement companies are subsidiaries of larger international corporations, they take full advantage of the training centres and courses offered worldwide.

Cement bags in final stage of transportation at the habour.

The three companies sends employees abroad for training on secondment programs. In 2007 alone, the industry spent over Tsh. 575 millions on training programmes benefiting almost every employee. According to statistics made available, in all three companies 98 percent of the employees are local. The industry provides extensive safety, training and equipment to their employees. Each company does provide full medical services to all employees, including on site clinics and ambulances. The industry has a number of safety and hazard standards in place to protect its employees. Tackling HIV/AIDS has become a major responsibility for the industry by offering counseling programs, free ARV treatments to employees and free voluntary HIV testing. The industry has peer educators who hold weekly meetings to provide training and support to employees and their families. The industry has taken additional measures that shows its investments in employees’ well-being. They provide fully subsidized transport to from work as well as canteen facilities to all employees. They provide housing, education allowances and medical treatment for employees and their dependants. Tanzania has three major cement manufacturing companies who are also members of East African Cement Producers Association (EACPA). The association incorporates all eight giant cement companies which currently operates in East Africa region. The role of association is to coordinate among its members the exchange of information pertaining to cement technology, environment and product standards to enhance the competitiveness of the cement sector within East African Community market. The EACPA-Tanzania chapter is composed of three independent and competing companies, these are Tanzania Portland Cement Company Ltd (TPCC) also known as Twiga cement. The company was established in 1966 and its major stakeholders is HeidelBerg Cement and its quarry factory offices are located in Wazo Hill area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. The firm is publicly listed on Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. Tanga Cement, also known as Simba Cement, opened its factory in 1980 in Pongwe are in Tanga municipality. Holcim Mauritius Investments Holding is the major stakeholder and the company is listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. The third cement company is Mbeya Cement company Ltd, this is a member of the Lafarge group and opened in 1983 in Songwe, South of Mbeya town. The company is currently not publicly listed.