Saturday, January 15, 2011

Maintain quality standards, TBS boss tells local manufacturers

THE Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Mr. Charles Ekelege has warned local manufacturers in the country to keep maintaining their certified ‘tbs’ license mark that guarantees good quality on their products so as to be recognized in the East Africa common market. The TBS boss made the call last week in Dar es Salaam during a short ceremony he organized to congratulate 14 local manufacturing companies for their successful efforts which enabled them to be awarded with license bearing ‘tbs’ certified quality marks for their products. He said, the East African common market which was officially opened in July 2010, adheres to quality standards on goods manufactured locally, and since the ‘tbs’ mark is recognized by all five member states, there is no doubt for any local manufacturer to be proud having it.

Tanzania Bureau of Standards’ Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Charles Ekelege talking to 14 members of manufacturing companies whom he had given ‘tbs’ certified mark on their products. The ceremony was held recently in his office in Dar es Salaam.

TBS boss elaborates on the importance of EAC Market

Elaborating on the expansion of EAC market, the TBS boss reminded local manufacturers that, a product bearing ‘tbs’ mark is free to be transported across the East African regional market for sale. This is acceptable as per the agreement reached upon by five member states. He said the East Africa market has expanded indeed, and called on those small manufacturers as well as big industries to produce in abundance bearing in mind the fact that, quality assurance on their products would enable them to acquire the opportunity to dominate the market. Initially Mr. Ekelege thanked the manufacturers for their efforts they had shown while in pursuit for their products’ licenses to the organization (TBS), although some of them had been denied approval several times.

Some of the representatives and other attendees who participated in a ceremony.

14 Manufacturing companies awarded ‘tbs’ certified mark

However, he also urged them to keep their licenses as TBS organization would not tolerate and delay to punish those who would be found going against the standards set. The 14 manufacturing companies who received ‘tbs’ licenses with their products in brackets were, Al-Bakeryn ltd of Tanga (White bread), City motors (T) Ltd of Dar es Salaam (two wheeled motor-cycle), Alphakrust Ltd (frozen lobster & octopus) and Euro-cables ltd of Dar es Salaam (Armoured power cable). Others are Multi-cable ltd of Dar es Salaam (Aluminium PVC insulated conductors and armoured power cable respectively), NGS Investment of Bariadi (cotton seed oil), Nyota tatu nguvu moja ltd of Moshi (Rosella based alcoholic drinks) and Print Care Ltd of Moshi (Plastic carrier bags). Others were, Sayona Steel ltd of Mwanza (reinforcement steel bars), West Kilimanjaro dairy product of Moshi (Gouda cheese) and Bautech company of Dar es Salaam (Manufacturing PVC & aluminium) and Masasi signs (Retro-reflective number plates). In another development, Mr. Ekelege has urged local consumers of Tanzanian products to have a tendency of buying Tanzanian goods especially those with ‘tbs’ license mark. By doing this is to defend local market which has been invaded by sub-standard products. “Consumers who cares for the products that fits for human consumption, always go for products bearing standard marks” he said and added that, this is a symbol of quality that is only issued by his organization.

A representative from Multi-cable company who is also the Director General delivering a c9ongratrulatory speech before the audience

TBS organization to continue providing education

However, Mr. Ekelege has reiterated the need for the TBS organization to continue providing education on the importance of ‘tbs’ trade mark on products to entrepreneurs who conducts their trading activities in the country freely. The move is aims to fight counterfeit products which are being imported into the country illegally. The organization which is under the Ministry of Trade and Industries, is a sole national body concerned with the preparation and publications of Tanzania standards so as to safeguard the locality and safety of people in the country since its inception in 1975.

A representative from west Kilimanjaro dairy product company receiving a ‘tbs’ certified mark from TBS boss Mr. Charles Ekelege

What does TBS organization do

The firm integrates four main areas of activities namely preparation of standards, Product certification, Training in standardization as well as quality assurance and testing of products and calibration. These activities that TBS entails are carried out in four departments which currently comprised of the Engineering standards dept, Process technology standards dept, Quality management standards dept, and the dept concerned with testing and calibration.

The Director of Operations of Bautech company receives a ‘tbs’ certified license on behalf of his company from TBS Boss during the occasion.

Drilling for sustained water supply, a move towards the success of Kilimo Kwanza

Mr. Henry Hamila,the Managing Director of Make Engineering and Water Works Ltd.

INITIATIVES which have been adopted by the Tanzania government towards ensuring an effective implementation of the program of the “Kilimo Kwanza” in the country may hit a snag if proper strategic plans to run with the programs are not put in place. Despite of the government’s efforts, there are some important points which have to be taken into account in order to make it successful. The Managing Director of a locally registered water drilling company, popularly known as Make Engineering and Water Works Ltd, Mr Henry Hamilla finds a solution to many problems facing the sector and ways of solving them as he explains in an exclusive interview.

Why should Tanzania adopt the concept of a drilling water technology to promote Kilimo Kwanza?

Water is an essential commodity for every kind of life, and drilled water is important towards enhancing Kilimo Kwanza in Tanzania. Water is an essential commodity for the growth of a plant, and in this case it’s worthwhile to support agricultural activities. Water is used for irrigation. Agricultural experts have noticed that, the mere supply of the agricultural implements and machineries such as tractors is not only a solution to end the problem of agriculture in the country. Therefore water must be included in this agenda.

What could be your suggestion on the best ways which, if followed would lead to the succession of Kilimo Kwanza in the country?

First research should be conducted mostly in areas which are suitable for cultivation of all types of crops such as food crops, commercial crops and or subsistence crops. Apart from good arable land, another area which has to be researched in order to ensure the sustainability of the program, is the availability of water through various water sources such as lakes, rivers, dams and boreholes. Tanzania is a vast country with large open spaces and farmers who are the main stakeholders have an ample opportunity to make use of this land for every kind of food production. Secondly, the success of Kilimo Kwanza would be attained if good governance is properly set coupled by the most directives on the good policies. People are also important to follow the policies aimed at achieving the goals. In this case, small scale farmers in the country must be given land on which to conduct farming.

There are some important basic necessities which if followed by small scale farmers, would make the above notion more successful. What is your comment on this?

As far as small scale farmers are concerned, they must be given credit facilities such as loans from various financial institutions in the country. Loan would empower them into buying land and other basic necessities like agricultural implements. Incentive training is also important to be given to farmers. Through education they would be in a position to know various things of which they are required to know about agriculture in particular. They would learn how to utilize the resources available economically. Apart from training, the provision of tractors is also useful as they might modernize agriculture into having big estate farms.
In Tanzania today, most farmers uses hand hoe, the technology which is outdated, and since these have been replaced by sophisticated agricultural machineries such as Power Tillers and big tractors, training on the best use of these machines must be provided to the farmers..

What do you say is an approach for investors in promotion of Kilimo Kwanza?

Investors are people who invests their money in a progressive development projects. As for Kilimo Kwanza, investors must look at the suitable land and which the government sees it to be fit, an arable land for cultivation of any types of crops, be it commercial or subsistence. Before using it, the government must conduct a research on the area to see if its proximity is near to water sources such like rivers, lakes, dams. After having established such a situation, the government must set rules and policies which have to be followed and which would prevent the water pollution around so as to get away with undesirable diseases that might arise as a result. There must be a policy to govern the use of water resources and these should be made known to the prospective investors. Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) must create a conducive environment for these investors in order to attract them more.

Apart from land, what any other things are to be considered for Kilimo Kwanza?

When talking of Kilimo Kwanza, sources of water must be considered most. This is applied in most areas which receives a low rainfall density per year. Sources of water should be included while addressing the issue to the general public particularly key stakeholders. The government should look at the main effects likely to occur to a particular water source which is to be used for the purpose of watering the land under cultivation. An example of river flowing waters likely to cause pollution, these are such considerations to be put into account and what precautions they should be taken in order to prevent such pollution from occurring. If it is a dam water and any other water source including drilling water sources.
Unlike surface water supplies, drilling water is essential to boost the Kilimo Kwanza as there are some parts of the country which still depends largely on seasonal rains, while there are some which do not have water at all, therefore the availability of drilled water in boreholes is essential too.
Large areas, especially in reserve settlements are remotely located and far from urban centers. It’s from these regions whereby the greater percentage of the country’s population lives and most of whom entirely depends on agricultural activities.

What can you say about individual participation in Kilimo Kwanza?

Although everyone in the country is now aware of the progresses undertaken so far and which have been initiated by the government towards ensuring an effective implementation of Kilimo Kwanza, the individual participation in the program is an important aspect for the national development. In order to make their agricultural activities more sustainable, coupled with the practice of the water irrigation schemes wherever there is low rainfall distribution levels, agricultural experts have seen the need to construct boreholes for irrigation, this is a reliable approach in order to cater for the need of water scarcity. From this point of view, It’s therefore imperative to see that water is given the first priority in the manifestation of the Kilimo Kwanza program, and just like any other initiatives, boreholes are more appropriate to cater for the need in this case.
Since most parts of the country especially in rural areas are not well distributed by rainy water, an additional knowledge to innovate other means such as having boreholes is required to supplement water for irrigation in those areas. It is therefore important to note that, for these people to survive, they have to boost their agricultural activities as boreholes are alternative source. But water is essential for irrigation in order to succeed. Because of their geographical locations, drilling water is the solution to make a successful implementation of the Kilimo Kwanza as water would be made available basically for irrigation.

Is the integration of private sector companies essential to minimize any loss?

This is absolutely correct, as the government’s integration with private sector companies such as those which deals with the water drilling activities is one way to ensure an economic gain for the participation of private sector companies contributes a lot to the development of the country’s economy. Drilling companies owned by individuals, private institutions and civil societies must be associated into boosting up the Kilimo Kwanza by way of participating in the construction of boreholes. However, the government must take a keen interest to ensure the exercise yields more fruit into achieving the targeted goals.

How bureaucracy retards the development of SMEs

BUREAUCRACY is still existing in some micro-finance institutions which are involved in the provision of loan facilities to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) including banks which are operating in the country. The situation has been described to be the main stumbling block to the development of various SMEs in the country, as some loan officers working in these financial institutions imposes tough conditions to loan seekers. The intolerable habit which is commonly being practiced in some financial institutions has discouraged most loan seekers who sometimes are asked to introduce bribes (the so-called kitu kidogo) before the service is rendered to them whenever they apply for loan facilities from these institutions. Some loan seekers who came into contact with the writer of this news recently in Dar es Salaam have said that, the low capital they have is not enough to run their business activities and instead resort to depend on loans from various financial institutions to help them but in vain. Expressing their emotions over the issue a fortnight ago, some disappointed entrepreneurs said in an exclusive interview that, they have been met with lots of challenges accompanied by tough conditions an aspect that most working groups have failed to meet them. “Postponements of unfulfilled appointments is the order of the day” says Rhoda Kilasa who has been making frequent visits in follow up for her loan application she had applied two months ago from one of the well-known financial institution (name withheld) located in Dar es Salaam, but to no avail. Ezekiel Kilambo (42) a resident of Ukonga-Madafu who was in need of a medium loan to increase his working capital from one of the famous micro-finance institution in the city (name withheld), is discouraged when he failed to get financial support due to tough conditions imposed by loan officers. However, in desperation, he says that, there was no need of establishing such institutions which do not fulfill their appointments to help the needy people as required. Mr. Kilambo is on the view of the fact that, the long process of obtaining loans is too cumbersome and time consuming without success an aspect that most loan seekers gets discouraged. According to him, loan officers have been using a loophole without shame of soliciting for bribes whenever contacted by their customers at their working places. Apart from bureaucracy, banks have to be blamed for stiffer conditions says Marcelina Adoyo. According to her, Banks have been giving stringent conditions on loans to the extent that some groups fail to meet them. Speaking to Business Times recently in Dar es Salaam, she said that, although many banks have been providing loans especially to women groups, but they have still tough conditions which requires loan seekers to own things like immovable properties such as a house or a car as security an aspect that most of them cannot afford. Cornered by this writer, one lady by name of Lucia Wambura (38) who conducts a shop business selling both human and animal drugs at Kipunguni ‘A’ suburb, had long been in need of a loan from a renowned micro-finance institution, but she is yet to receive such loan owing to conditions imposed by the firm that she can’t meet. According to her, in order to fulfill one condition, she was told by loan officers to bring a contract she had had entered with the landlord in a house in which she conducts her business. As if that was not enough, she was also told to show alongside the annual property tax receipt if paid to Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA). When contacted for comments, the head of the loan section of the National Micro-Finance Bank operating in the city who spoke on strict condition of anonymity said that, most loan seekers are not trustworthy an aspect that ought them (as bank) to investigate their customers’ businesses to establish their existence. However, an official from one famous and long serving Micro-finance institution known as Promotion of Rural Institution and Development Enterprises Ltd, in short ‘PRIDE (T) Ltd’ who spoke in strict condition of anonymity said that, the issue of bureaucracy is personal and has nothing to do with his firm’s operations. PRIDE Tanzania has been a liberator of most women groups in the country, and in view of this, the institution takes long time to verify the authenticity of the documentation produced by their customers who needs personal loans as collaterals for proof as some documents presented by their customers are not genuine. However, he added that, they have to check them thoroughly according to procedures any documents presented to them by their customers so as to see if there is any irregularities and any suspicion that might have been noticed before decisions on acceptance are made. However, he said adding that, the exercise takes about one month or two including a visit to a principal place of business. Customers might take it as an easier task and that’s why it takes long process to complete. The essence of doing this is to verify the truth before the actual money is issued as loans to would be applicants, he said adding that many of their customers’ presented documents have sometimes been found not to conform to original ones, therefore a need for more time scrutiny is essential. According to one economic analyst, Rebeca Mdoe “lack of enough capital has been a stumbling block to most newly formed business enterprises in the country which have failed to develop for lack of bigger capital. Some of these have ceased operations for failure to meet their business targets mainly due to low capital investments”.

Lack of power continues to haunt business services

AS Tanzania is currently faced with erratic power supply, the continued power rationing system has contributed greatly to the slowing down of industrial production operations and office business activities have paralyzed. The trend continues to affect operators’ incomes and 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 supply from the national grid comes back. Due to unreliable power supply in most parts of the country, the situation has caused congestion of work load in some private and government offices whose activities are mostly driven by computer systems applications that help keep going their official records. In order to keep abreast with the normal daily productions, some big organizations, companies and some individual business enterprises resort to the use of mostly diesel machine generators or solar energy for power supply to keep their businesses going. Due to the prevailing situation, charges for business services such as internet surfing and secretarial services and others have increased considerably.

Two patrolling policemen stands in dismay watching a man who volunteered himself to climb a top to put off fire (after seeing the fire brigade were late to report to the scene) by using a simple fire-extinguisher in an electric transformer which had caught fire. The incident occurred recently near the Big Bon petrol station along Msimbazi street at the heart of Kariakoo business district in Dar es Salaam. However, the fire brigade who came later in the scene found the fire was already put off.

Internet café owners operating in some suburbs on the outskirts of the city of Dar es Salaam have said that, “they have to increase surfing charges to cater for the extra costs incurred through using generators during power blackouts”. Mr. Thomas Kigu an attendant of the sun-rise internet café operating at Kijitonyama said in an interview with this paper that, due to high expenses they incur to run a machine for power generation emanating from the costs of oil, charges for surfing which normally stands at Tshs. 1,200/- has increased by 50 percent to Tshs. 1,800/- per hour. However, he added that, but when there is normal power supply from the national grid, the prices comes down to normal. Another business man Mr. Obadia Bulemo, a resident of Tegeta suburb in Kinondoni district is among the many petty traders whose business is adversely affected by power blues. He runs a secretarial bureau office in a hired house but his principal business place is often inconvenienced by power rationing in the area an aspect that results into a low profit levels at the end of the day. Apart from businessmen, office workers are also worried about the compelling problems which includes poor telephone services on fixed lines, and bandwidth allocation that users sometimes call the service givers as the unseen saboteurs, says one office attendant whose company’s fixed telephones remains unworkable during power blackouts. A typical case study of the situation happened recently in one family at Kipunguni “B” suburb in Ilala district when they had gathered in the evening at their sitting room watching a television broadcast with an interest to know the names of the newly appointed cabinet ministers by President Jakaya Kikwete in early November, but suddenly power went off. Distraught and anger reigned among them as their television stopped thereby disrupting a luxurious moment they had of watching the up-coming news bulletin. A lot has been attributed to such shadow experience by users and there has been so many sayings emanating from people’s minds reflecting on carelessness and or laziness caused by TANESCO firm for its failure to maintain its infrastructure. Despite of this, it’s very sad to note that, Tanzania has been experiencing power rationing occasionally and the reasons is attributed due to poor electricity infrastructures or worn out electricity machines. A spokesperson of a sole National Utility Firm (TANESCO) Mrs Badra Masoud recently highlighted the main cause of the TANESCO’s failure to perfect delivery were exacerbated by a number of reasons that includes the following. The low water levels in most hydro-electricity power generating stations in the country, the breaking down of most electricity power plants, lack of fuel from IPTL the company which was contracted to generate electricity for TANESCO and many others. Meanwhile, the recent increase of the electricity charges of 18.5 percent by the state power monopoly (TANESCO) which begins effectively as from January 2011 is a thorn on the flesh of power stakeholders including users in the country.
Economic analysts have described the decision that would drastically raise the cost of normal standards of living for Tanzanian people. This would be compounded by stagnating incomes exacerbated by rising inflation and a relentlessly falling value of the local currency. Following the announcements, already manufacturers and service providers have categorically stated that there is bound to be price increases of goods and services. Invariably a hike in electricity charges almost automatically translates into increased costs of doing business that the people cannot avoid. Some people in the country especially stakeholders in the power sector have advised the government to change the trend and allow investors to come and invest in electricity power generation in order to save the country from being in darkness. Engineer Sylvester Kataraia of Mwanza has commended that, power generation from hydro-power stations in the country which the nation has been depending on ever since independence time in 1961 (almost five decades), is outdated. However, he has asked the government to take a new turn and other measures together with adopting modern ways by which Tanzania could use like other countries in the world to obtain an up-to-date electricity supply instead of depending on hydro-power generation stations which during water shortages their machines fails to produce the required kilowatts..

Caring for CHCT, a creative approach to reduce HIV infections in rural areas

Promoting couples HIV counseling and testing in rural Tanzania community where the sensitization on the awareness of the risk infections is still very low, is a major focal point to reduce the spread of AIDS disease in the country. Statistics shows that, only few people in the rural areas are enlightened about the scourge despite of the fact that, media sensitization programs has been released through various mass media. Probably lack of access to mass media and other information tools is the main contributing factor. Two months ago, Mrs Esther Okoth (33), a mother of five children came to visit a newly established rural health centre known as Obwere health centre which is located in a newly established Rorya district in Mara region to receive voluntary HIV counseling and testing (VCT). She was back at the health centre and was ready to be tested for a second time. “It is very important to know your status and it’s no good waiting until you get sick” says a counselor at the centre. “Ok, so you have decided this time to get an HIV test again” she narrated to her while trying to explain the importance of regular testing for HIV. However, Mrs Esther Okoth learned the importance of testing through a radio announcement which is aired regularly in lake zone regions, thus encourages its listeners to go for health for VCT. Although Mrs. Okoth takes pride in knowing her status and encourages others in her village to do so, her husband refuses to go for testing. This motivated her to continue returning to confirm her negative status. If she would have visited the centre a year ago, she might not have received the HIV testing and counseling services wanted. Now with the additional support of three counselors, the centre has significantly increased the number of patients receiving VCT. Approximately between 15 and 30 patients are tested per day, which is about three times more than before. The majority of patients say that they learned about the services through radio announcements that insists on the importance of regular medical check up. True, getting tested can be one of the most empowering things you can do for your health, one counselor insisted. So keeping that in mind, choosing an informed structured process that can give one all the information to engage in a useful test experience is more important. Many professionally trained Public Health Officers at HIV testing sites use a client centered counseling approach that helps to make the test and the decision of whether to take one or not, is a well thought out plan for each individual. This may include walking through the client’s perception and understanding of HIV/AIDS, discovering personal concepts of risk for infection, exploring ways to reduce that risk, and executing a plan to implement risk or harm reduction in the most realistic way possible. One may ask, what is HIV testing? as with many medical diagnostic tools, the test looks for the presence of antibodies to the HIV virus, not the virus itself. It takes the human body a time period of up to 6 months from the first point of infection to produce antibodies to HIV. The Human Immune-deficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus that attacks the immune system that protects the body from external germs that cause infections and makes someone feel sick all the time. Once HIV is in someone’s system over the time, it lowers the number of healthy immune cells known as CD4 cells that someone has to fight the germs that cause infections. When the number of healthy cells drops below a certain amount, one gets certain infections called opportunistic infections. This is known as Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome or in short as AIDS. For some people it takes a long time for AIDS to develop for others it takes less time.

Undertaking couples safety against HIV/AIDS disease

ALTHOUGH couples HIV testing and counseling has practically been brought to the door step of the citizens, various research works have proved that many Tanzanian couples still prefer to live in denial. This is by refusing to yield themselves to be tested in order to know their status, thereby giving rise to the scourge and making it difficult for government to combat or reduce the scourge. A medical expert said that it is rather unfortunate that despite sensitization and awareness by government, stakeholders and NGOs on the need for every Tanzanian to be health conscious especially in knowing their HIV status, there are still millions of people who don’t really know what Voluntary Counseling and Testing is all about. HIV testing and counseling is the process by which an individual through free will submit for testing and counseling for prevention, treatment and support for those who are positive while those who are negative are also enlightened on how to stay safe. He says that research has shown that people survive the virus better when treated early and this can only be made possible if people make themselves available for testing. According to him, early treatment is efficacious and only a few know their status but there is a long time survival for those that are HIV positive. “If people do not know their status, their health may be threatened in this era of available accessible and affordable care and treatment. Tanzania like other African states has been supported by donor agencies over the fight of HIV/AIDS disease. Various case studies have been carried out including voluntary testing and counseling which are important part of prevention to behaviour change. VCT is a primary entry point that enables one to know of his/her status, knowledge is power and knowing what is going on with your health and body is a responsibility of oneself, says a woman who is happy with her health after attending several clinics for HIV check up in Dar es Salaam. Mrs. Sofia Lema is a 32-year-old married woman with four children residing in Pugu-Kinyamwezi on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. In August 2007, she decided to attend Amana clinic in Ilala district in Dar es Salaam region as part of a nationwide HIV campaign which was launched by President Jakaya Kikwete that aimed at every citizen to know their HIV status. Mrs. Lema was one of 700 new clinic attendees seeking reproductive health services in Ilala District in a typical month during 2007 HIV testing campaign. With USAID support, the district's family planning clinics have initiated comprehensive programs designed to prevent mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV/AIDS.
After participating in health education concerning HIV/AIDS, MTCT, and learning about the benefits of voluntary counseling and testing, Mrs. Lema decided to take an HIV test. She realized that she could be at risk because her husband had an extra-marital relationship, which had strained their marriage considerably. Following her participation in VCT, Mrs. Lema learned that her test results were negative. Her marital problems, however, continued. In January 2008, she returned to the clinic and took a second HIV/AIDS test. Again, her results were negative. During March 2009, she managed to convince her husband to participate in voluntary counseling and testing although he was initially reluctant to learn his status. During post-test counseling her husband learned that his test results were negative. He felt greatly relieved. In a follow-up test later in the year, his status was again confirmed as negative. The couples were very happy with the outcome and reported that VCT had helped them improve their marital relationship. Without being suspicious of each other, they are now able to discuss their relationship more openly and honestly. The husband is determined to follow the counseling advice in order to remain sero-negative and avoid transmitting infection to his wife and future children. Mr. and Mrs. Lema now go to the clinic once each week to encourage other women and their partners to participate in VCT. From couples’ point of view, there are still a lot to be done but for those who have been tested, they now know their status and those who are negative are doing everything they can to keep their situation together with changing their behaviours to avoid infections. Those positive are also doing everything to live by taking Anti-retroviral Therapy (ARV) if they have to or by living positively. HIV counseling is the only gateway to prevent this deadly disease called HIV because if one cannot go for testing and counseling, how will you know your status?