Friday, May 25, 2012

Hard time for some Gongo La Mboto bomb victims

IT is hard time for Juma Mohammed a resident of Markaz area, Ukonga ward in Ilala district, Dar es Salaam region one of the severely and most affected victims of the Gongo La Mboto bomb blasts whose house was completely destroyed. He is currently living in hardship following the tent on which he temporarily sought for refuge is currently leaking at this time of the occasional rains. The dilapidated tent on which he living in is not in good condition due to physical weathering, a spot check by Guardian on Sunday can reveal. In an interview carried recently he said that, he is not happy as the tent has become old an aspect that he doesn’t have a night rest and his children gets difficulties while doing some studying at night. He has been living in a tent now for 16 months since the bomb blasts incident occurred at Gongo la Mboto Military camp (511 KJ) on 16th of February 2011. According to him, the tent is damaged and water permeates from its roofing thus causing inconveniences while he is asleep with his family at night. He blames the government for not quickening the pace of construction of their houses it earlier promised to build as compensation for the victims, and instead the delays caused by the government makes his family to live uncomfortably. Earlier this week, the government through the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner’s office announced the development step it has taken so far as a promise it had issued of building houses for the Gongo La Mboto bomb blasts victims The RC for Dar es Salaam region, Sadik Mecky Sadik said in Dar es Salaam that, the government is expected to hand over the newly built houses for the victims in June next month. He said when placing the foundation stone for a total of 35 new houses to be built at Msongola village in Ilala district, about 40 kilometers away from the city.
The houses under construction would be finished in June and currently the technicians are putting the final touches on them as a sign of nearing their completion. Some 71 families were left homeless following the blasts that occurred at the KJ 511 military camp on February 16 this year, the incident also claimed lives of about 22 people and many others were injured. The early assessment of the houses which were completely destroyed during the disaster which was done by the government evaluator on compensation on 24 houses were placed in the list of those houses to be reconstructed and later found to be fit for rehabilitation. According to Sadik, the government formed a task force team responsible for he assessment to the claims of 168 and was handed over to the Chief government evaluator so that they might be paid little compensation to their claims. Despite of the government’s efforts to help the bomb victims, an unnonymous victim who was cornered by this writer said that, he was not happy with the area where their houses are being constructed, saying that the located area is so far and not yet developed. Commenting on the RC’s development report about their houses, he refuted his saying noting that the time frame for handing over of their houses is likely to take longer as the government keeps the pace of construction at a much slower speed than what they had expected before, adding that there is a lot to be done on final touches. However, he has also noted that, unless the government should allocate close to their new settlements important social facilities such as dispensaries or health centres, electricity and water supplies to the area, an aspect which he commended would be more pleasing. Responding their claims, the RC has assured them of other social services such as the road infrastructure which would be constructed as soon as possible, and this he said would be ready before they immigrate to their new settlements In order to accomplish this need, the Ilala Municipal Council Director, Gabriel Fuime has assured the victims that his municipal council will place culverts on the road leading to the area, the work which he has promised would be executed between his council workers who will be collaborating by the RC’s office.

Major expansion program for the Kariakoo market still in a dilemma

PLANS by Dar es Salaam based Kariakoo Market Corporation (KCM) of constructing a 30 storey modern shopping centre seems to be faltering despite of the readiness of all the documentation of a master plan of the building. The new structure to be located adjacent to the current main market built in early 1970s, is an extension to the current small market complex which is to be demolished to pave way for the modern multi-storey structure. The project was scheduled to be completed within 18 months since it was first commissioned to a Chinese strategic investor in 2010. Due to this delay, investigations has discovered that, there is a likelihood of the investor who was initially awarded the tender of erecting the modern facility to pull out of the contract if the government would not give a go ahead of the project sooner or later. The KMC General Manager, Florence .M. Seiya, told the Guardian on Sunday in an exclusive interview early this week in Dar es Salaam that, the investor in this project is still waiting for the permission to be granted by the higher authorities. However, he couldn’t disclose who the authorities are, and the name of investor’s company or the costs of the building when required, but maintained that his management has been told to hold on the project until further notice. He is however astonished by the higher authority’s call and their negative attitude about the project and yet everything is on the table including business and site plans as well as architectural drawings which are waiting for the permission from the authorities concerned to start on straight. “We are only waiting for the higher authorities to give us a green light in order to kick off the project whose feasibility study and other details are already handed over to the strategic investor to start working, but to my great dismay I am surprised to see that the authorities have halted the project telling the investor to wait for unknown reasons”, he said.
According to him, the construction of this project seems to have been hijacked by political motives and driven by few who seek for the opportunity to benefit from it, and this is a mindset that retards its development. He has however blamed some few politicians among whom are decision makers who have turned the project as a political agenda and that is why have failed to make a quick decision. In this way, he said an investor might decide to withdraw his contract for lack of inconsistency. The current management of the market came with an idea of extending the market by introducing such a project in order to decongest the area which is impractically impassable due to many traders who flocks everyday to do businesses. Mr Seiya said the new building would have parking facilities capable of accommodating up to 1,000 vehicles at a time. Over the years the Kariakoo market has been overwhelmed by the growing population of petty traders who use the small market adjacent to the main one with some of them trading their goods literally spreading them on the street pavements. The building functions like a vacuum inside the crowded commercialized zone. Official statistics from the market management shows that a four-decade-old market is currently recording over 55,000 wholesale and retail customers daily and 1,558 businesses. The market offers a wide range of items including cereals, household supplies, fruit and vegetables. The whole market has an area of approximately 10,000 square meters, the area proposed for construction covers square meters of 8699.74 which have enjoined two streets of Swahili and Sikukuu. The rest on which the main market stand would be renovated in future, he said. Meanwhile, KMC is also seeking investors to come and develop their proposed market projects in a joint venture agreement. The projects to be built on the outskirts of the city in areas such as at Tabata, Mbezi, Tuangoma and Pugu Kajiungeni. The move according to Seya aims at decongesting the current Kariakoo Market in the city centre. He added that, funny enough, the government has been giving promises without being implementing its objectives. Kariakoo market was designed in 1974 by a locally registered architecture B.J. Amuli. At that time, it was the biggest in East and Central Africa, and is one of the outstanding landmarks of Dar es Salaam city. It grew to become a busy trading hub, with daily business transactions amounting to hundred millions of shillings. The market is owned by the Treasury which has 49 per cent stake in the market, while the rest is owned by the Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC). Its whole management programs are under the Ministry of Local government Authority The building offers three layers of market area and forms the centre of the larger Kariakoo business district area spread out in the neighborhood. It attracts thousands of people every day. The name "Kariakoo" is said to be a corruption of "Carrier Corps," a British army unit in World War (WWI) which provided transport and other support services.

Call for fishermen and peasants to join health insurance fund

THE Community Health Fund (CHF), a subsidiary division of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) is campaigning for the fishermen and peasants across the country to join with the newly introduced health insurance fund in order to help them get free medical treatment services A senior official of the CHF which coordinates its activities on behalf of the NHIF in the country made the call last week in Dar es Salaam in an exclusive interview during a training seminar his organization had organized as part of their sensitization program. Health Fund Manager, Joyce Sumbwe, said that, peasants and farmers and many other groups of people who toil for a daily bread are the most marginalized groups who do compose the majority of the people in the informal sector and in view of this, it’s therefore imperative for them to join in order to benefit. She stressed the importance of the membership which could be beneficial to the unprivileged groups such as those working under the informal sectors in the country as most of them are not able to afford huge expenses of the medical treatments in the country. She said CHF was specifically established in an effort to improve heath services delivery to such people under the informal sector in order to get free medical treatment through their program known in Swahili language as ‘TIKA’ meaning ‘TIBA KWA KADI’ which literally means getting medical treatment through special cards.
She said, under TIKA program, CHF has been coordinating with district council’s officials such as counselors throughout the country in order to help sensitize the issue which could be seen to be important to the people as they are closer to them. She said members are families who include mothers and fathers and their children who are below 18 years old. A person who is above that, is considered to be a grown up and hence he or she is counted to be a family member so longer as they might be engaged in one way or another with the income generating activities. She said that TIKA program is specifically for people who are not in the pay rolls just like others who have their salaries deducted directly as contribution to the NHIF, adding that under this system the majority of the peasants and fishermen would benefit in future She noted that one task the CHF has in the country is to see how it stands and defend low income earners and ensure how they could join with this fund which specifically allows families and groups to be members by contributing a certain sum of money to the fund which is between Tsh. 5,000 and Tsh. 20,000 per year and as per family.
Their contribution is determined by their economic gain which depends in an area a contributor might be coming from, and this is necessitated by the negotiations reached upon the two parties on a particular sum of money to be contributed which according to her does not exceed Tsh. 20,000 per year. However, she has called on the media to help in coverage on this grand sensitization campaign in order to ensure that rural residents who form under the informal sector should get required information about CHF services and urge them to register for it. Then firm has prepared an inclusive framework for the people to fully participate in establishing the services and monitoring their implementation with guidance from CHF experts. According to her, the mode of delivery of CHF services requires a beneficiary to register and access the services by presenting the CHF card to a health facility within the district council he or she lives in the country. Statistics made available by NHIF through CHF shows that, since the program started in July 2009, the fund has managed to get 601,400 members out of approximately 7 million families estimated countrywide. These statistics are as up to March 2012. The National Health Insurance Fund was established in 1996 with a view to help government workers get free access to medical treatment by contributing a certain sum of money as contribution to the fund. The fund saw the need to establish a subsidiary sector to work on their behalf specifically to people who works in the informal sector.

SUMATRA alerts Dar city Commuters

THE Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) has alerted Daladala commuters in Dar es Salaam to be watchful with some bus operators who tend to increase the fare beyond the current rates it had announced over two years ago. An official from SUMATRA made the call early this week in Dar es Salaam when contacted by this paper for clarification after it was found that, there are some daladala operators who have been charging higher the amount of fare along their routes, this was discovered in a secret monitoring sting operation. SUMATRA’s Manager for Public Affairs, David Mziray told the Guardian in an exclusive interview that, his organization is asking for a joint concerted effort among the commuters in order to net the culprits whom he described are violating the rules and regulations set. However, he has cautioned that, the operators should not take the decisions this time around as SUMATRA is currently in a process of collecting views from the main key stakeholders of the regional transport industry in order to look at the possibility of increasing daladala fare as per the request sent t them by the Dar based association of bus operators known by its acronym ‘DARCOBOA’.
Preliminary investigations by this paper has discovered that, almost all daladalas which plies between Mbagala Rangi 3 and Kawe charges their passengers Tsh. 600/- instead of the official rate of Tsh. 500/- which was imposed by SUMATRA over two years ago. Investigations carried in other routes plying between Gongo La Mboto and Kariakoo which according to SUMATRA should be Tsh. 300/- but to the great dismay, most daladalas along the route charges between Tsh 350/- and Tsh 400/- which is contrary as per the SUMATRA’s directives. Meanwhile there is a growing tendency of some daladala operators within some city’s designated routes who are fond of disconnecting their routes during night hours mostly as from 21:00 hours onwards. The malpractice which forces commuters to pay twice, is so notorious and it has indeed become impractically inevitable. It has been discovered in various daladala stages at this time scores of passengers who cannot afford twice the fare are left stranded for lack of transport. A spot check carried out throughout last week in some bus stages within the city like Mwenge, Ubungo, Buguruni, and Tazara saw some buses which are not designated for the route alights their passengers pretending to be the end of the journey. Immediately proceeds ahead by connecting with other passengers. This is a normal phenomenon being practiced in these stages during the night hours when all traffic police at such unlikely time are out of their working points. Should their presence play the role to suppress the movement, but none of them has yet shown such a responsibility, says a stranded woman passenger who had a little child on her back. According to Mziray, this is the misbehavior shown by some commuter operators and is a common practice which whoever is caught is taken before the court of law. However, he affirmed that his organization has been taking stern measures to defaulters wherever possible though sometimes is difficult to control all of them. When contacted for comments, bus drivers and conductors who preferred anonymity said that, they have to do this in order to accumulate enough sum of money needed by their employer at the end of day before they stop. However, others cited the regular increase of fuel prices and also the spiraling operational costs.

The killing of two rhinos irks Serengeti MP

A Member of Parliament for Serengeti constituency has described the recent killing of the two rhinos by unknown illegal poachers which occurred in his constituency bordering Serengeti National Park as an act of economic sabotage. Hon. Dr. Kebwe Steven Kebwe told a press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam that, killers of these animals might have had got an easy access to the national park and managed to reach at the special integrated project zone area within the park known as ‘ MORU’ where the animals had been preserved. However, he has described the incident as a serious reversal of the progress that Tanzania was making to raise the mammal’s population, while citing lack of effective and tight security of the area is the cause behind the malpractice. Hon Kebwe has also urged the government through the ministry of Tourism to add extra security personnel claiming that, the current number of game rangers at the national park of 461 is not enough to carry on their security duties which he says is confined within an area of 14,000 square kilometers that surrounds MORU project zone. According to his preliminary investigations, he has noticed closely there is lack of protection at the area an aspect that the government must increase efforts to guard the rhinos and if possible it should double the number of game rangers who have been stationed for security purposes in the area. In his opinion, the killing of the rhino was “indiscriminate” considering efforts being made by the Tanzanian authorities and other parties to boost the population of the endangered animal by bringing more rhinos to Serengeti, their ancestral home.
But despite of efforts shown by the government, he is amazed to see that no one up to now is being held by the law enforcers to streamline the law on its course in connection with the brutal slaughter of a critically endangered two black rhinos. However, an MP has also cautioned the government to look at the living standard conditions of the game rangers at the national park. He says that, they conduct a miserable and pathetic life due to low salary given to them. He cited lack of proper housing facilities and the workers’ location which is far from their working point, is another exacerbating factor that could likely drive the minds of some of them into loosing trust and do mischief that could harm their employers’ properties. In order to intensify security within the parks’ area, he has suggested the government should undertake effective modern security measures like those used in other national parks found in South Africa though it’s very costly, but is helpful to save the rhino species. One area he suggested is by using small airplanes flying over which could be an easy way of getting rid of culprits who could be viewed from above. This is the second time of the indiscriminate killing of the rhinos to have occurred at Serengeti national park. In 2011, there was a brutal killing of one Rhino nicknamed ‘George’ was one of the five eastern black rhinos brought fom South Africa to Serengeti where they were received by President Jakaya Kikwete. Tanzania faces the danger of being engulfed in illegal hunting activities, which currently threaten the survival of rare wildlife species that are the main magnet of its multi-million dollar tourism industry, according to the recent study report of experts in wildlife studies. The report comes about in the wake of the killing of a black rhino that was relocated in Serengeti National Park from South Africa, officials of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) have “This is a terrible setback for the project and an alarming incident as it could mean that the poaching wave that currently rocks South Africa is beginning to spill over to Tanzania,” lamented Dr Mark Borner, head of FZS Africa department. This is a joint project undertaken by the ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri), South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Grumeti Fund. FZS, which has its East Africa regional head office located within the park, is the facilitating partner in the project. The society provides technical expertise, security preparations, logistics and post-release monitoring of the rhinos.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mgamba suggests for intensive practicals for media trainers in Universities

AS the exhibitions organized by Commission of Tanzania Universities (TCU) in collaboration with higher learning institutions which started on Wednesday last week in Dar es Salaam, a media professional has thrown a challenge to academicians who are recruited for various academic posts in higher learning institutions in the country. Reflecting his views on Journalism and Mass communication professional categories, he is suggesting that preliminary newsroom practical training was vital to tutorial assistants who are being prepared to become future media trainers under this category at higher learning institutions. He has however, condemned the habit being practiced by most higher learning institutions of recruiting their best performing students who are good in theory and not in practical to become lecturers in future, an aspect that most of their candidates graduates with lower professional skills. The Managing Editor of a weekly tabloid 'the Guardian on Sunday' newspaper which is being published by Tanzania leading IPP Media company, Richard Mgamba has suggested that, before their recruitment such candidates should undergo formal media training immediately on completion of their first degree programs before they are considered for masters and later become lecturers.
Mr. Richard Mgamba showing a left thumb up as a sign of his victory when he received his CNN award in 2008. In this way, according to him the knowledge acquired from newsroom would enable them to practice professional teaching career in the field of journalism and mass communication. They would also be in a position to built their talents and consequently become competent in teaching with enough practical experience they shall have acquired, he said. Mgamba who is a senior journalist with over 18 years work experience was addressing a group of newly recruited media professionals in his office at Mikocheni as part of a training program which he offered to them. He noted that most fresh graduates from higher learning institutions lacks practical skills when recruited into newsroom to practice journalism profession, an aspect that some editors take extra time to teach them writing news stories. “We recruited four graduates recently here but found had no enough skills when assigned to write stories ” he said while insisting that, the long standing problem must be originating right from their tutors or lecturers who fails to groom them to become qualified enough, he said. In order to rectify the situation, Mgamba is therefore asking the authorities from higher learning institutions who works in collaboration with the Tanzania Commission of Universities (TCU) to look at this matter critically otherwise such institutions will continue to produce graduates of lower qualities.

Residents calls for the relocation of the abattoir

FOUL smell accompanied by noise emanating from the Ukonga based abattoir popularly known as 'Mazizini' in Swahili language, have been regularly inconveniencing the lives of residents of Markaz area at Ukonga ward, in Ilala district in Dar es Salaam region who lives close to it, Some interviewed residents have said that, noise of workers at the abattoir which starts at around mid night while people are in deep sleep in their houses has been inconveniencing them. Together with this habit, the bad smell emanating from what is likely to be a rotten flesh have together been disturbing them in their day-to-day's life The persisting situation has caused scores of residents not to tolerate with the situation and instead, they have asked for the immediate relocation of the abattoir which has been existing for over four decades now. The abattoir which is the oldest and the longest serving as a slaughter house for the entire Dar es Salaam residents, is surrounded by residential houses built in recent years and its current location is extremely situated at the centre which according to the environmental management regulations its presence is likely to pose serious heath hazards to the people close to it. In an interview with this paper, residents have pleaded for its relocation to a far remote area as the smell of the rampant filth and scattered rubbish which is left uncollected within its compound are a great menace to their lives in general. Othman Iddi a businessman whose house is closer said that, he is not happy especially during evening hours when the atmosphere is cool, but all of a sudden the air is polluted with stinking smell coming from the direction of the abattoir. Other presidents said, they had long been complaining about the situation and have sent their requests several times whenever they meet with their street chairman and ward secretary, but in vain. Despite of these requests, it seems as if the city council officials have ignored their matter. When contacted for comments, an official of the union owners of the abattoir Mr. Kedmond Chalo, said that, they had long been told by the municipal council's authorities about the relocation of their abattoir, but plans have not yet been worked out almost a decade ago. However, an official from the Ilala Municipal council who preferred anonymity when contacted for comments defended himself as he is not a spokesman of the council. However, he revealed that the council was making preparations for the construction of a modern abattoir to be built at Chanika on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city.

NetsforLife reduces malaria by 45 per cent in African communities

AN Initiative working to eliminate malaria in Africa, known as Netsforlife has reduced the rate of the disease by 45 per cent in more than 5,000 communities across 17 sub-Saharan African countries Tanzania included. In Tanzania, a total of 155,020 Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets have been distributed to selected areas since 2006 through the financial support of its corporate partners Coca-Cola, and Standard Chartered, the initiative has saved the lives of more than 100,000 children under five. NetsforLife has trained nearly 74,000 community volunteers to distribute nets and teach people how to prevent malaria, since it started in 2006. As a result, more than 8.5 million malaria nets have been delivered to communities where malaria is prevalent and 25 million people have been educated about the mosquito borne disease. Shaun Walsh, the Executive Director of NetsforLife said in a statement he issued early this week that her organization has managed to save lives of thousands of people through help they had been receiving from their donors who share their knowledge of malaria prevention with others. NetsforLife hopes its achievement inspires other corporate partners to join the fight to eliminate malaria reads part of a statement. Through its network of local churches, faith-based groups and NGOs, NetsforLife can access remote communities typically unreached by national health programmes. The initiative, however, depends on donations for malaria net distribution and malaria education campaigns. Netsforlife ids also seeing the benefits of community education which is leading to positive behavioral change around the use of life-saving malaria nets. According to the initiatives, more than 85 percent of households in the communities where it operates now own at least two mosquito nets, compared to around six percent of households in 2006 Nine out of 10 people are aware that malaria is caused by a bite from an infected mosquito compared to four out of 10 people in 2006. Through the joint efforts of governments, health organizations and Non Governmental Organizations like NetsforLife, overall reduction of global malaria-related deaths by one third in the last decade, largely as a result of the distribution of nets and raising awareness of malaria prevention.The statement further says that NetsforLife has made a positive impact in Tanzania. Over 3,000 Malaria agents have been trained from 2006, and through working with the Malaria agents, 873,490 people have been sensitized and educated about Malaria prevention in Tanzania. NetsforLife is a partnership of corporations, foundations and faith-based organizations working to eliminate malaria in Africa. The program partnership includes ExxonMobil, Standard Chartered, the Coca-Cola Africa Foundation, Starr International Foundation, the J.C. Flowers Foundation and Episcopal Relief & Development.

Indigenous breed of chicken more costly in Dar markets

THE low supplies of indigenous breed of chicken in Dar es Salaam markets have sent their market prices soaring between Tsh. 8,000 and Tsh. 12,000 for a hen, and Tsh. 10,000 to Tsh. 15,000 for a grown up cock. The survey conducted in various Dar es Salaam city markets this week has shown that, the supplies have been gradually falling down for the last three months now, thus forcing the prices of the indigenous chicken to rise. The reports on the survey from these markets further can reveal that, the sale of indigenous chicken in these markets s higher than dressed chicken which seems to be many as their availability is so great and their prices are lower. Due to this situation which is prevailing at the market, most people in various Dar city suburbs seems to have refrained or ignored to purchase the indigenous chicken due to its spiral high prices, if compared to a kilogram of meat which could be more easily affordable. Reliable sources from these markets have said that, the current trend of the business of a market profit on a product has become low because only few people can afford.
The indigenous chicken are highly sold in the city of Dar es Salaam Selemani Njowa, a businessman at Gongo la Mboto on the city's outskirts said that, he only gets lower purchases done in a day. Other sources maintains that the prices also vary with the food crop seasons mostly during rainy seasons. The situation causes sudden price rises manly due to poor economic infrastructure within the areas of supplies at the time. This situation they added prevents traders from going to the interior parts of the regions for supplies, they claimed. Unlike the indigenous chicken, the sale of dressed (farm) chicken in most markets in Dar city is slightly lower. Their prices are more cheaper to those who buys in bulk especially hoteliers, chip fryiers in streets, at schools and at recreation halls and in bars. The high rate of profit margin is mostly attained during religious festivities as there is a massive turn out of buyers, says Zuberi Kondo, a businessmen at Buguruni market. Their supplies dominated the market with a constant price of between Tsh. 3,500 and Tsh. 5,500 depending on their weight. Other traders say that most indigenous chicken are mostly bought by people for family use at a particular time especially during religious festivities and are not popular among the business profit makers.

Confidence dips as businesses think of efficient growth initiatives

EAST African business confidence has dipped 21 Index points to 130 since September 2011, according to the global Regus Business Confidence Index report. However, companies reporting revenue growth increased to 76 percent compared to 63 percent six months ago, although there is a minor squeeze on those reporting profit increases, down to 59 percent from 61 percent. Mindful of the need to contain costs in the quest for sustainable growth businesses identify increasing use of pay-as-you-go business services, more flexible workspace and increasing cloud IT applications as the most effective cost cutting measures for the coming months. Looking back, East African firms identify paying for unnecessary office space (76 percent) as the main reason for corporate distress during the downturn, followed by making permanent staff redundant 48 percent. The report has identified that, respondents identified increasing use of pay-as-you-go business services at 66 percent, more flexible workspace at 52 percent and increasing cloud IT applications at 48 percent as the areas where companies could best make savings without damaging growth prospects. East African firms report that more flexible working conditions for staff (40 percent) and a wider distribution of customers (40 percent) would make the greatest contribution to enhancing future business stability as a platform for growth. Globally, the Business Confidence Index rating is lower for small businesses than for large firms.
Joanne Bushell, Regional Vice-president comments that, “East African business confidence has now suffered a dip possibly probably affected by the Eurozone crisis and a slight slowdown in BRIC growth economies. Although, the proportion of companies reporting revenue growth increased in the past six months there is a small squeeze in those reporting profits. However, in order to grasp growth opportunities in a sustainable way, businesses globally are still looking to cut overheads without damaging their growth prospects. In particular, respondents identify reducing unnecessary office space as an area where businesses may focus their cost-cutting efforts successfully. Respondents further confirm their outlook on flexible working practices declaring that greater flexibility for staff can improve business stability as a platform for future growth. With solutions readily available on the market for flexible workspace arrangements there is no doubt that the number of businesses benefiting from more nimble and scalable arrangements will increase in the coming years. Regus is the world’s largest provider of workplace solutions, with products and services ranging from fully equipped offices to professional meeting rooms, business lounges and the world’s largest network of video communication studios. Regus enables people to work their way, whether it’s from home, on the road or from an office. Customers such as Google, Glaxo Smith Kline, and Nokia join hundreds of thousands of growing small and medium businesses that benefit from outsourcing their office and workplace needs to Regus, allowing them to focus on their core activities. Over 1 million customers a day benefit from Regus facilities spread across a global footprint of 1,200 locations in 550 cities and 95 countries, which allow individuals and companies to work wherever, however and whenever they want to. Regus was founded in Brussels, Belgium in 1989, is headquartered in Luxembourg and listed on the London Stock Exchange.

TPB POPOTE project to help Tanzanian rural dwellers

RURAL Tanzanian dwellers are expected to benefit from money transfer project dubbed TPB POPOTE which is to be introduced to them by a long serving Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) later this year. TPB's Corporate and Marketing Communications Manager, Noves Mosses said in an exclusive interview recently in Dar es Salaam that, the project involves the installation of Point of Sell (POS) terminals which will be placed in many areas up to the villages where customers will use to make deposits, withdrawals, pay for goods or services, transfer money and many more services. “We are looking forward to implementing the second phase of Mobile banking popularly known as TPB POPOTE this year. This is in a bid to extend postal banking services to rural areas where the majority of Tanzanians live”. She said However she noted that, “the first phase started last year which was mainly concentrated in the cities and town centres, which enabled most TPB customers to pay their utility bills using their mobile phones or even top up airtime of their phones or someone's phones.
The Managing Director of Tanzania Postal Bank Mr. Sabasaba Moshingi directing one of his bank’s customers how to fill a form during the sensitization program on customer’s service recently at the bank’s office branch of YMCA at the heart of Dar es Salaam city. However, she said TPB will now have a brighter future for such a successful innovative concept of money transfer which according to her, is more profitable and an efficient bank transaction that every Tanzanian can be proud of. TPB has many branches everywhere and where everybody is proud of the services, and the bank has integrated its banking activities through ICTs such as the Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), and now mobile banking, POS and many others. Being the only government bank in the flourishing financial market, the bank has a wider access through its networks with immense opportunities across the country. The bank has about 28 branches, five agencies and some 115 Tanzania Postal Cooperation agencies and is linked to the Umoja Switch, which enables the bank to serve its clients wherever they are. The main challenges faced by the bank is lack of enough capital, says Noves added that the bank is currently in discussion with the government seeking to get about Sh10 billion extra capital from the current Sh4.8 billion with which they could refurbish their facilities, deploy more workforce and serve better their loyal customers. However, despite of financial squeeze, the banks is prospecting within ten years time to have established itself everywhere in the country. “We want to see our customer base tippled and there is potential to attend the number of unbanked population in the country”. She said. With other projections, the bank is striving to be the most affordable and convenient bank that is determined to increase its lending portfolio from Sh65 billion to Sh200 billion by 2015. Within a year or so, it would be changing from service to commercial bank. Accompanied with other innovations, all these plans should turn TPB a profitable bank and the best in terms of its services. This shows that competition is there and it is quite stiff. Despite of these normal challenges, TPB is stable and is not scared of competition at all and instead it believe competition is healthy for business.

Dar takes measures to boost private sector

THE Government of Tanzania, acting through its Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs is in the process of taking measures intended to promote the development of the private sector in the country. This is in a bid to curb increasing global business competition. Reportedly, the proposed measures would financially empower stakeholders in the sector to increase production capacities to the required levels and enable them overcome stiff conditions in their day to day operations. Tanzania's private sector is faced with lots of challenges, including lack of funding. This has been a major contributor to the poor development of the sector in general, which employs over 80 per cent of the national workforce! Having realized the importance of the sector and its contribution to the national economy, the Government has pledged to create a conducive business environment, with the view to help the sector to grow. Apart from financially empowering the sector, the Government is formulating ways to create a conducive working environment so that they produce more for the benefit of the nation. Former Minister for Minister for Finance & Economic Affairs, Mustapha Mkulo, said in Dar es Salaam recently that many entrepreneurs fail to perform to the maximum due to lack of capital. Plans are under way by the government to help stakeholders borrow money from the African Development Bank (AfDB), said the Minister, adding that this would also strengthen Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The government, in collaboration with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), has been organizing sensitization seminars with AfDB aimed at the stakeholders of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). The workshops come at opportune time: the preparatory sessions for the coming business opportunity to be organized as a side event of AfDB's annual meeting scheduled to take place at Arusha at the end of May this year. The meeting will bring together many of the world's business leaders and financial stakeholders including government's finance ministers, governors of the central banks of 55 countries across Africa, and 11 presidents from the selected countries. The AfDB has 24 member countries. Its main objective is to finance ― together with bigger projects ― SMEs' development initiatives. Mkulo is the current chairman of the bank. Mkulo has urged the SMEs in the country to seek bigger loans from the bank to enable them run their daily business activities, asking private sector operators to make use of this opportunity as chairman of the member states. “It wouldn't be good if I approve credit facilities for stakeholders from other countries and leave out stakeholders of my own country,” he said, urging private sector stakeholders in Tanzania to come up with tangible projects. He also challenged the Tanzanian business community to come up with bankable projects to attract the AfDB into disbursing loans to entrepreneurs. “Tanzania's private sector should take this opportunities availed by the AfDB to realize their entrepreneurship dreams,” he stated. In the event, the Government has reassured the AfDB of its support for projects for which the public sector will request funding. In another development, TSPF has requested the Government to strengthen its commitment to financial sector reforms and to ensure that the business community has access to capital. According to resident representative of the AfDB, Ms. Tonia Kandiero, some of the work that the bank is doing in Tanzania is to set the background for sensitization seminar on the bank's activities in the country. Almost 99 per cent of the bank's current operations in Tanzania are focused on road transport, agriculture, water and sanitation, power, health and education, as well as general budget support. Currently, the bank has a portfolio of 16 projects with a total commitment of US$1 billion (Tsh1.6 trillion). Of these ongoing projects, the bank has only two private sector operations to the tune of US$14 million, namely: equity stake in Access Bank-Tanzania, and a 10-year non-revolving partial credit guarantee facility provided by CRDB Bank Ltd. Recognizing the existing imbalance between the public and private sector assistance to Tanzania, it is important to note that many of the public sector operations are directly helping to address some of the constraints facing the private sector in Tanzania: high transport costs, power shortages and lack of skilled labour.
Former Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs , an MP for Kilosa constituency, Hon. Mustapha Mkullo in one of the press conferences in Dar es Salaam, before the recent cabinet reshuffle. AfDB will support initiatives to address the shortages of skilled labour through a US$50 million project to take effect in 2013. The project will focus on skills improvement that will be driven by the needs and demand of the private sector. The project also will ensure that, the Vocational Education Tanzania Authority (VETA) and other relevant entities are better able and equipped to deal with emerging skills requirements in a timely manner. The private sector is now widely acknowledged as a key partner in development, including through establishing new enterprises, creating jobs, providing jobs and services, generating income and profits and contributing to public revenues which are crucial for increasing countries self-reliance and sustainable growth. Among the many issues that the private sector resolved was the decision to request the government to strengthen its commitment to the financial sector reforms and ensure the business community has access to capital which is pivotal to accelerated economic growth and will ensure that the private sector is indeed the engine of economic growth. There is a need for AfDB to promote its activities and private sector operations to be known to many Tanzanians, and TPSF to step up dialogue with the government in issues related to guarantees and long term financing strategies. TPSF has encouraged the Tanzanian business community to come up with a list of projects that can be eligible for AfDB funding. Human capital is one of the drivers of economic development which includes power, infrastructure, agriculture and manufacturing sector especially iron and steel as well as agro-processing industries. Meanwhile, The African Development Bank has approved US$250 million for road construction projects in Tanzania and Sierra Leone. Under the approval made by the Bank's Group Board in Tunis a fortnight ago, Tanzania will receive US$216 million loan to finance Phase Two of the country's road sector support project.

TPSF proposes cuts in value-added tax rates

ABOUT one month to Budget Day in Tanzania that's slated for early next June, the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF) has proposed reduction of the extant rates of value-added tax (VAT) on an assortment of goods and services for the 2012/13 financial year which commences on July 1 this year. In its as yet unpublished report ― a copy of which Business Times has accessed, the Foundation has identified 15 main taxation areas which it considers as deserving of reduced tax rates and other forms of tax relief as appropriate. Proposals on all this were scheduled to be lodged with the Government today through its National Fiscal Reform Task Force (NFRTF), a special unit at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs that is well-versed in fiscal affairs The Foundation's executive director, Godfrey Simbeye, said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that TPSF has specifically drafted a proposal requesting the Government to reduce the 18 per cent ad valorem rate of value-added tax that is currently being charged on goods and services to 16 percent. Speaking during a breakfast meeting with stakeholders in the city, Simbeye said that the proposed rate reduction will help promote smoother operational activities by the private sector. Noting that the private sector is the biggest source of tax revenues in Tanzania, accounting for about 90 per cent of the tax-paying community in the country, the director said its suggestions and proposals deserve to be given due consideration.
TPSF Managing Director Mr. Godfrey Simbeye Simbeye pointed out that Tanzania's VAT rate is relatively higher than the one charged by the Kenya Government, which stands at 16 per cent. Speaking in an interview with the media after the formal presentation of the report's proposals, he expressed the view that, if the extant rate is reduced from 18 to 16 per cent, this will encourage the establishment of more businesses in Tanzania. He also noted as a fact that Tanzanian goods are sold at higher prices at the marketplace, both at home and in the other East African Community countries, than is the case with goods from those countries. However, he declined to give relative statistics, or the methodology used to arrive at such conclusions, insisting only that reduction of the current VAT rate would pave the way for more business investments. Other proposals included in the TPSF draft report are the reduction of Hotel Levy from the current 20 per cent to 16 per cent; and the Skills Development Levy which stands at six per cent of the payroll. The Foundation proposes that this should be reduced to two per cent. This proposal is based on the fact that the extra four per cent of the tax goes directly to the Higher Learning Students Board and, as such, does not directly benefit private sector employers. In a presentation given by Consultant Placidius Luoga, the call was made to raise the minimum taxable salary level to Tsh350,000 a month, below which employees should not be taxed. Turning to the telecommunications industry, the TPSF report noted that the levy charged by Local Government Councils of 0.3 per cent on telecommunications towers was out of place. Noting that the towers do not produce refuse or garbage, the report asks rhetorically: “why charge tax on them at all...?” TPSF has often been submitting various proposals on tax measures ― including rates reduction and exemptions ― to the Government ahead of the national budget every year. The overriding objective is to give relief to the private sector operators whose contribution to the economy is quite considerable.

ACB to target 1,000 customers for its HIL scheme

AKIBA Commercial Bank (ACB) is expected to dish out Tsh. 755 million in total as loans to its prospected 1,000 customers in this year. The bank's Managing Director John Lwande said during an official launching of the Home Improvement Loan (HIL) scheme held last week in Dar es Salaam. He said HIL scheme is aimed at improving the lives of low and middle income earners by enabling them to live in decent houses. The ACB undertake to issue such loans ranging between Tsh 500,000 and Tsh. 20 million to eligible customers at all levels who will meet the criteria stipulated down by the bank. However, he added that the loans given will be specifically be used for putting final touches on a newly constructed house owned by a borrower, or a house that needs refurbishment, renovation and minor repair on roofing, plastering, electricity installation and many other minor work. He said that, the eligible borrowers should be aged above 18 years and have reputable business enterprises which have lasted for one year and above, a certificate of house occupancy which is recognized by the government, as well as a letter from the local government leader from the village level, a passport and any legal national identity. He also noted that, the priority will be given to those who have good records of taking loans and return them on time. The money borrowed will be returned within 12 months with 19 percent interest rate.
Top Management staff of the Akiba Commercial Bank (ACB) during the official inauguration of the bank's Home Improvement Loan (HIL) during the occasion which took place at ACB headquarters in Dar es Salaam. Seated front row from left to right is the bank's Commercial Manager, Salehe Ramadhani, Bank's Managing Director John Lwande and Mary Mbelle, bank's Corporate Communications and Marketing Manager. “This is a strategic development concept which the bank has decided to come up with so as to help people in the country” he said adding that, the services will be made available in all 13 ACB branch offices based in Dar es Salaam and customers in upcountry regions in Arusha and in Moshi respectively. Plans are underway by the bank to extend these services to its newly branch office in Mwanza city which is to be opened in earnest therefore, the ACB Chief is kindly requesting people to come up in securing them. However, he is optimistic that through bank loans their customers would manage to conduct a decent lifestyle. HIL had been asked by bank customers since it was first introduced in early this year following its announcements through radio, television and in billboards. Sources from the Bank say that all these were the media strategies used to inform the general public. Statistics made available by the bank shows that by March this year, ACB had already dished out Tsh. 220 million HIL to its 120 customers. The Bank's Commercial Manager Salehe Ramadhani said that, this was a pilot project and now are embarking on the second quarter. Meanwhile in another development, ACB is planning to inaugurate a bank service for its customers in the country known as ACB Mobile. The service will enable its customers to quickly receive the banks services anywhere through its mobile phone. The bank is optimistic that its customers would have a good future for their development. ACB is a privately owned Tanzanian micro-finance bank that aims at providing financial services to low income earners targeting mostly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) so as to improve their living standards.