Tuesday, August 7, 2012


It is really an arbitual memory when remembering people who at the moment are no longer living with us in the world. The photo above reminds me of my last days when I paid a visit to the late Bob Makani, the founder of the strong opposition party "Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo" (CHADEMA) before his death two weeks later, this was in mid of June 2012. I joined a campany with a journalist with Nipashe tabloid newspaper Mr. Mkate up to his residence at Mbezi Beach near White Sands Hotel. Mr. Mkate had an appointment with the late Makani on that day to discuss with him various matters pertaining to the development of the political artmoshere and tensions in the country. But with him, the interview was all about to collect his views on his party's campaigns his part had launched with the slogan titled "Vua gamba, Vaa gwanda". The party's campaign slogan had a significance of fighting corruption and hence forcing the perpetrators to resign and gets ready in the struggle for people's better life, a slogan which the CHADEMA party members occassionally uses in their struggle while moving in upcountry partyy's campagn meetings on their move to create new membership in its operations known as operation sangara.
This is the front view of the State House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The building which serves as a presidential residence was constructed by British colonialists way back in 1930s and despite of its long existence it looks so attractive to onlookers.

TANESCO puts down initiatives to curb electricity deficit

TANESCO Headquarter building at Ubungo in Dar es Salaam

FEARS that had amounted among electricity users of the looming power rationing scheme in the country has been dashed off as the Tanzania Electric Supply Company (Tanesco) Ltd in collaboration with the government is underway to embark on the electricity generation plan to end power woes in the country. The move is to ensure that, the government’s promise of an effective power supply in the country is maintained and remains sustainable throughout this year and even beyond. The move by the Tanesco is to curb with the insufficient electricity power supply currently affecting the nation that is resulted from the low water levels found at the two major hydro-electricity power generating stations of Kidatu and Mtera respectively. The recent published report by Tanesco in the media is quoted as saying that, the generation plan aims at keeping intact the electricity supply between July-December despite of the current low water levels experienced at its main hydro power generating stations. The report is quoted as saying that, the continued low water levels at the generating hydropower stations is mainly due to the fact that, the long rains which started in mid March this year have stopped. However, the report has dismissed claims recently speculated by one media that the nation will soon be plunged into a total darkness due to a looming power crisis, but insisted that the strategies put forward aims to embark on a generation plan in a move to save the nation from the situation likely to occur between July and December 2012.  In view of the prevailing situation, the report has necessitated the need of the government to continue with the plan up to next year when another rainy season of the year sets in, and it added that it is a sustainable program aimed to envisage no power rationing schedules anymore in the country. According to the report, an average of 720 megawatts will be generated under the plan in order to cater for the country’s need, and incase the need arises more than the required megawatts other generating plant machines with the capacity of generating 100 megawatts will be operated to suffice the needy. The program under generation plan to the national grid involves all electricity sources found in the country with a view to curb with the current shortage of the electricity power supply to the needy people for industrial and production development. To facilitate the plan through, the hydro power has been evaluated with highly technical knowledge and expertise so as to ensure that the available water at the stations generates enough electricity which would be used up to another rainy seasons, reads part of the report. The report further indicate that, other sources to be used in this generation plan up to the end of this year, is the use of natural gas and oil plant machines. The two sources would be used as the initial source while those using water would be used to increase electricity so as to cater for the electricity need at the national grid.  Meanwhile, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Minerals Eliakim Maswi has said that, the government will continue to utilize water, natural gas, and oil to generate enough electricity for the need of entire nation. Eliakim told a press conference early this week in Dar es Salaam that, the three elements will remain the chief mode of electricity generation in the country as the government does not have any other means whatsoever despite of the continued problems facing the power sector. However, he noted that, while the government is waiting for the Sh.408 billion loan to be made available to the ailing power utility firm in the country from a consortium of banks, the government has been availing the electricity company with financial support in form of a subsidy totaling Sh.222.4 billion and a recent Sh.25 billion to ensure enough fuel is available for generation of electricity.

The sunken MV Skagit leaves a family in a solitude state

Husein Ally Hamad (62) a resident of Tandika Kwa Maguruwe in Temeke district, Dar es Salaam region is in a grief stricken situation, and probably the most sufferer of the recent tragic marine accident of MV Skagit which occurred last week at Chumbe Islet 30 Km off the coast of Dar es Salaam city.  Hamad who lost three of his most beloved sons and some other close relatives find it difficult to narrate a miserable story about the misfortune which has befallen him and his family in general. However, he is a father of eight children and a native of Pemba Island who does his businesses in the mainland Tanzania to earn his living. It is not only the aftermaths of the MV Skagit which has made him to be lonely as a such, but he still feels the pangs of a yet another marine disaster which occurred in September 2011 near  Nungwi Islet north of Zanzibar Island. The Nungwi accident lost his daughter and a junior brother when the sunken MV Spice Islander capsized and claimed the lives of more than 1,000 people in an accident described to be the worst ever happened along the eastern coast of Africa. It is a great sorrow indeed for him though he doesn’t have a need to thing about it so much to find out what could be the basic solution to the problem in order to ease his temper, but has preferred to remain sullen with nothing to do except to leave the matter upon the lord God.  He said in an exclusive interview on last Sunday morning when met at the Dar es Salaam port getting prepared to get a ticket aboard a ferry boat belonging to Azam Marine on his way to Zanzibar to attend the state funeral ceremony which was led by Zanzibar President Dr. Mohammed Shein for the people who perished in last week’s MV Skagit. “I am actually feeling painful as I remember my lost two sons, relatives and a daughter including some other family members who perished in the previous untold marine disasters”. He said while lamenting politely amid tears flowing down his chicks. In another development, relatives of the bereaved families who perished in the MV Skagit disaster have called on quick investigations that would establish the cause of accident that led to the tragic deaths of their innocent relatives. Speaking in an interview, a cross section of a grief stricken relatives said that, the government must be open and transparent when giving out the report about the accident which they say has paralyzed the mindset of many of them as they are still feeling the pangs of yet another marine disaster that claimed the lives of their relatives in September last year. Following the sunken MV Skagit disaster, the Zanzibar President Dr. Mohammed Shein has formed a probing commission of 10 people to carry out investigations to establish the authentic course of the accident and a report to be issued to the general public.

MV Skagit as it gets prepared to leave the Dar es Salaam port for Zanzibar during its operations.

statement issued early this week by the Permanent Secretary of the Zanzibar State House, Dr. Abdulhamid Yahya said that, the President has appointed Judge Abdulhakim Ameir Issa to lead a 10 people delegation consisting of marine experts who are highly specialized in rescuing activities on marine vessels. Judge Abdulhakim and others led the commission of enquiry on the investigations of the last year’s MV Spice Islander which sunk along Nungwi peninsular north of Zanzibar on its voyage to Pemba Island from Zanzibar and killed 1,529 people and scores of others were reported missing. Following the Chumbe marine disaster, the Zanzibar Minister for Infrastructure and Communications Hamad Masoud Hamad stepped down early this week, a move that has been described to have shown political maturity. An investigative piece of information can reveal through various web sources of information among the  www.seattletimes.nwsource.com that, the MV Skagit was built in 1989 at Halter Marine in New Orleans, Louisiana and was operating in Seattle in Washington in USA. It was stopped from operating in 2009 due to its old age and time expiry of its existence. The former Washington ferry served on the Seattle-Vashon Island route since its construction in 1989 before it was discarded and declared unsafe to sail by the US government four years ago. However, despite of its bad state, it was sold to greedy businessmen and transported to Tanzania. Before its purchase, the Washington State Ferries (WSF) the original owner, in the USA tried to sell the vessel and that one of its sister company, MV Kalama for $900,000 since 2009 but found no potential buyers for both obsolete vessels.  However, the two ferries were finally sold for a combined price of just $400,000 to Seagull Services Ltd based in Zanzibar and transported to operate in Tanzania in 2011. They arrived in Zanzibar in 2011 and were given full registration by Zanzibar Marine Authority (ZMA) with the numbers 100144. On arrival of the MV Skagit, its buyer altered its original design of the vessel and added yet another deck to accommodate more passengers and cargo contrary to the regulations which does not match with the capacity originally designed for it as the boats were to carry passengers only.  A senior marine official who spoke on strict condition of anonymity told this paper at Dar es Salaam port on Sunday last week that, inadequate safety measures, careless inspection on marine vessels, and lack of seriousness among government officials both in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar are to blame for the recent disaster. However, he noted that, bearing the facts and the circumstances surrounding the registration of the MV Skagit which was sold to Seagull Company should never have been allowed to set sail in Dar es Salaam port for it had its lifespan expired to navigate in sea waters. Cornered by this writer for comments over the allegations, an official from the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) noted that, the registration rules and procedures for ZMA are not the same as those governed in the mainland. SUMATRA’s Public Affairs Manager, David Mziray explained that, his organization in the mainland does not give a registration to a marine vessel which has been constructed with a lifespan of less than 20 years. He said adding that, for the case of MV Skagit, it had issued a certificate of standards which was to expire in mid August this year. However, he declined to say anything further claiming that the details about the MV Skagit, are made available to Zanzibar Marine Authority and that SUMATRA on the mainland had accepted it to operate and docked at Dar port because of its registration which was made in Zanzibar. Meanwhile, a Dar es Salaam based human right activist who preferred anonymity has called on the government to look at the levels of the accountability by its SUMATRA of the mainland Tanzania and that one of Zanzibar, noting that, the two authorities should give authentic facts as they are closer to the registration of the voyaging boats along the Indian Ocean waters. However, he said during the interview with this blog when contacted for comments early this week in Dar es Salaam and insisted that, the matter is more entirely handled by the Zanzibar Marine Authority who registered the ship to operate between Zanzibar and Dar es Salaam.

Kikwete urge transport stakeholders to adopt international standards

PRESIDENT Dr. Jakaya Kikwete has called on air transport stakeholders in the country to maintain their performances into international standard level so that Tanzania should be recognized world widely. The President made the call recently in Dar es Salaam in an occasion for which he was the guest of honour during the inauguration of the new hangar building for Precision Air Company which he has praised the various development initiatives it has shown towards strengthening air transport sector in the country. In his speech, the president reiterated the need for quality standards that should continue to be maintained at international level because local standards are no longer existing and recognized at the global market, and added that this it will bring fame to the country and the company as well. Describing the construction of such a state-of-the- art facility, the President noted that, it is of its kind in the country and thanked the management of the Precision Air Company for such an impressive development and noted that its presence will bring fame in the country. However, he thanked the company for having worked in partnership with a French based ATR company which in the foregoing days will be collaborating together in aircraft repair within the workshop. On seeing such a development, the president remarked that he would advise the ministry of transport to think of the construction of the aircraft engineering training centers, giving an example of the Soroti Pilot School in Uganda which served the purpose during the former East African Community (EAC). However, he noted that, the current EAC leaders have discussed various ways on how to revive its operations in order to produce more air craft engineers to serve within the East Africa regional bloc.

The President of the United Republic of Tanzania Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

He added that it’s high time for the government to recognize the role which is being played by the aviation industry in creating job opportunities and tourism promotion for the development of the country. On his part, the Chair person of the Board of the Precision Air, Michael Shirima has called upon the government to review the existing aviation laws which according to him do not give freedom to would be investors in the country. “Tanzania is unfortunately marked as an expensive destination by airline thus reducing the potential to create our own hub in Dar es Salaam” he said adding that, the situation must be reversed in order to pave ways for smoother investments” he said. He is on the view of the fact that the government should quickly eliminate the unnecessary regulations that choke business and render the activities ineffective for the development of the people in the country. However, he noted that, there is a need to liberalize all services totally because the challenges that the stakeholders faces are rather conducive and rather expensive to easily afford. Shirima has also urged the government to invest in the Precision Air Company by buying its shares in order to increase their capital investment to enhance its growth and make it possible to operate sooner to international routes. He noted this and gave an example of the Kenya Airways which he noted that the Kenya government has bought its shares up to 26 percent. About the just inaugural hangar he noted that, it will reduce the costs whereby the Precision Air used to spend when sending its planes outside the country, therefore, it will reduce unnecessary spending on foreign exchange. Apart from providing such services, the hangar will serve as a training ground for internship graduate students pursuing aircraft engineering courses at various higher learning institutions in the country.  According to Shirima, air transport is a vital engine for the developments in any country, and therefore the few aviation professionals in Tanzania must be sought to contribute ideas on the way to rid off the stumbling blocks in building a strong progressive and sustainable air transport industry which Tanzania is capable of achieving.

SUMATRA still works on transport stakeholders’ proposal

THE Surface and Marine Transport Agency (SUMATRA) is still working on the recent application by the transport stakeholders which they had sent two months ago requesting for the approval of an increase of the upcountry bus fare so that owners would be able to curb with the daily operational coast, an official from the agency has said. SUMATRA’s Corporate Affairs Manager David Mziray said in an exclusive interview last week in Dar es Salaam that, “a special committee consisting of economic experts has been selected by his organization to work on various opinions raised by stakeholders in order to reach a consensus  “We are still collecting views from the economic experts and other key transport stakeholders in the country. You see this issue is not an easy task as it touches the economy of the people and in view of this it really needs mote time to be considered thoroughly” he said. However he noted that, SUMATRA is not yet in a position to officially announce until all the experts have been contacted and their views looked at critically to evaluate their authenticity before giving out its final decision. He added that, as for now the time frame is shorter to make a quick decision. He added that, SUMATRA is still scrutinizing the magnitude of the problem and weigh stakeholders’ views over the matter prior to the official announcement.

Some of the Daladala mini-buses operating on the outskirts of the Dar es Salaam city. Owners have long been demanding for the fare increase.

He has also reiterated his organization’s need as it would not hesitate to take any stern measures against transporters who would be found to have violated SUMATRA’s rules and regulations. Meanwhile, two weeks ago the government through the ministry of Transport has fined 25 upcountry bus operators at Ubungo bound upcountry bus terminal each with Sh. 250,000 after having been caught overcharging their passengers beyond indicative fares imposed by the government. This was after the minister for Transport Dr. Harrison Mwakyembe made a surprise visit to the area following reports that the bus operators had increased the fare contrary to what the government had laid down. The Minister found them guilty of forcing upcountry passengers were paying more than the indicative fares set in accordance with transportation regulations by the transport agency. Citing an example, Dr. Mwakyembe said unscrupulous but operators had increased fares by 80 percent from Sh. 35,000 to Sh. 60,000 per trip for passengers traveling to Mwanza contrary to set regulations. He reminded the bus operators that, despite the fact that they operated their services commercially, they were bound to follow indicative fares set by the agency.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Fish from Lake Victoria sells high in Dar markets-Survey

FISH consumers in Dar es Salaam have to search deeper into their pockets in order to buy a high protein source type of fish specie commonly known as ‘Nile Perch’ or Sangara in Swahili language which is being found in Lake Victoria, the survey can reveal. A week long survey carried out in various parts of the city markets reveals that, the price of a kilogram of Sangara fish from Lake Victoria has increased from Sh. 3,500 to Sh. 4,500 for the last two months. This is an increase of 25 percent. The expensiveness of the product has rendered consumers’ purchasing power, and in view of this, it’s common to see fried sangara fish in these markets especially during evening hours being displayed in heaps according to their sizes and sold at a different price rate in order to make them more affordable to potential buyers.  A spot check by this writer in some markets in the city such as Buguruni, Gongo La Mboto, Temeke, Tandika, Ilala and Mwananyamala reveals that, a retail price of the single piece of the fried Sangara fish is sold at between Sh. 1,000 and Sh. 2,000 respectively. Some interviewed traders in these markets say that they prefer to sell their fried fish products into pieces in order to make them easily affordable to would be buyers who most of them have low purchasing power. Alexander Susuma, a fish trader at Gongo la Mboto market attributes such an increase as due to insufficient supply of the commodity from the main source of their supply notably from Mwanza city and other towns like Musoma and Bukoba respectively.

A heap of Sangara fish type on display at Mwanza main market

Juliana Chogola a fish trader based at Ubungo in the city attributes the high price as due to high cost of transport which she noted has been exacerbated by frequent rise of the price of petroleum products in the country. Despite the increase in price, statistics on the deliveries of frozen Nile perch from Lake Zone at Kariakoo main market in Dar es Salaam shows a constant supply of the commodity that range between 50 and 60 boxes for the last two months. Statistics by the market shows that, each box weighing 40 kg of the frozen Nile perch has been sold at a whole price of Sh. 192,000 to hawkers in the city who in turn distributes their products to agents stationed in various markets in the city. Cornered by this writer for comment, the market statician, Nicholus Omolo said in an exclusive interview on Thursday this week that, frozen Nile perch are more sold than the cured Nile perch as most consumers of the fish product prefers frozen ones as they are later made fried and sold in pieces. However, he said adding that the Tilapia type of fish is more expensive than Sangara and is not easily affordable to ordinary people. Three weeks ago, Tanzania’s Minister for Fisheries and Livestock Dr. David Mathayo held a meeting with fish stakeholders in Mwanza city to discuss together with other things, the go slow strike which had been formed by traders in the region who stick to their guns when they demanded an increase of the price of a kilogram of the Sangara fish in local market. In their meeting, traders insisted that, the former price of Sh. 3,000 was low that could not make a good profit margin compared to the total cost of operations incurred including costs of transportation to respective selling agents and fish industries in the country. Failure to reach a consensus between the two parties has allowed an illegal trade of the product across the border to the neighboring country of Kenya. Instead, the fluctuating prices have forced local traders to increase the price due to the gradual scarcity of the product. Before his meeting with fish stakeholders in Mwanza, the minister had told the National Assembly that over 95 percent of the fish from Lake Victoria were being processed and sold outside the country.

Barclays Tanzania clears its customers’ worries on rate fixing scandal

A SENIOR official with the Barclays Tanzania office has said that, the bank’s money lenders in Tanzania will not be affected by the recent rate fixing scandal which the bank has admitted to have manipulated at its London based headquarter in UK. The call by the Barclays bank has echoed amid fear and horror amounted by the bank lenders in Tanzania who have been shocked when news about the scandal broke out in early July this year. The Bank’s Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, Ms. Tunu Kavishe has assured the public when she told this blog in an exclusive interview in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday this week that, the country’s borrowers with the bank are not affected by this uncovered interest rate fixing scam. Elaborating further on the issue, she said that, the issue was primarily concerned with the customers based in London only and added that, there is no any application of this in other sister bank offices world widely Tanzania included. Tanzania has a better chance to inquire reasons behind to see how it has suffered under what is likely to be the cause of problem of London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). However she noted that, Barclays Bank Tanzania is strong and continues to focus on serving its customers diligently.  “Our customers should continue to be reassured that our focus will remain on serving them and that business continues as usual”. She said adding that the bank has given the same reassurance to the regulators the Central Bank of Tanzania. However, she said that, the bank’s customers should not worry about the scandal as there is no damage envisaged to them, and added that Barclays bank continues to be well managed and customer’s money is safe.  She has also assured the people that there are no risks locally since Barclays bank operates as an independent entity from its UK headquarters and therefore there is no much to worry about. However, she noted that, the bank has a clearly defined strategy and clear direction and we will continue to serve our customers and clients effectively and efficiently.  The Barclays bank headquarter office in London was recently accused of falsifying LIBOR which it had admitted to have manipulated. Under the scam, the bank is accused of providing information about artificially low rates to encourage borrowing and offers central banks and lenders worldwide an overview of risks in the market and the rates at which money may be lent. LIBOR rates are an international benchmark and we as well as other banks may base our foreign currency lending on this benchmark. The local Interbank Foreign Exchange markets don't use this benchmark for FX trading. Barclays’ management in its London based headquarters came under fire two weeks ago when the bank was fined $453 million by U.S. and British regulators for submitting false reports on interbank borrowing rates between 2005 and 2009.  

The Managing Director of the Barclays Bank Tanzania office, Mr. Maina Kihara (standing left) holding a sports sponsoring placard for the bank in one of the sports promotional activities in Dar es Salaam. Such sports occassions are sponsored by the bank as part of their corporate resposibilities activities.

Much of that activity originated from traders in Barclays Capital, the investment banking division which the Chief Executive Robert Diamond who resigned amid the scandal headed before he became the CEO. Commenting on the issue, the Bank of Tanzania Governor Professor Benno Ndulu was recently quoted by the media as saying that, the possibility of such a financial scam locally would cause a negative impact. But for the Barclays, it had tools to curb such problems and there was no way Tanzania to be affected because the local commercial banking sector operates under different market conditions. “It is not possible here for a commercial bank to collude in fixing interbank interest rates against the regulations because in Tanzania they are normally set through guided negotiations, while in Europe then rate is set by a competitive process” he said. Barclays customers here and those of other multinational banks have no reason to worry because under Tanzania law, the financial institutions operates as separate entities from the parent companies. Interviewed Dar based economist Sylvester Mawala says that, it is impossible for the banks to manipulate inter-banking lending rates because in Tanzania there is a big gap between lending and deposit rates contrary to Europe where there is small margin between lending and deposit rates. According to him, the Barclays scandal will not in any way affect the country’s currency exchange rate or affect local inter-banking rates because these are benchmarked on the basis of treasury bills.

Tanzania earns billions of shillings for export goods

DESPITE of insufficient electricity power supply which has wrecked havoc manufacturing industry in the country, Tanzania stands at a good position economically after having generated $ 450 million (Sh. 675 billion) net profit of goods exported from Special Economic Zones (SEZ) during the last five years. The amount generated is equivalent to a total budget allocation approved by the national parliament for a single running government ministry in the country. The Director General of Economic Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), Dr. Adelhelm Meru said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday this week that, the money has been collected out of the authority’s six industrial parks which have been in operation six years ago. He said there are about 59 companies in total which have invested about $ 792.2 million since the establishment of SEZ six years ago. These companies he further said have been categorized in three groups in terms of the percentage of ownership with the local investors leading with 44 percent. According to him, foreign companies constitute 41 percent of their trade investments in SEZ, while the last category which is composed of both local and foreign joint venture investments with the lowest ownership of 15 percent. He further noted that, investors are clustered in four main areas of business specialization which he named as agro-processing covering 38 percent rate, those engaged in engineering covers 38 percent also. Textiles is 18 percent and 10 percent for light assembling plants such as motorbikes, tri-cycle, vehicles, tractors and the earthmover chases truck. The six industrial parks have created about 16,105 direct employment to local Tanzanians and over 80,000 indirect employment within the period under review. The industrial parks are William Benjamin Mkapa (WBM/SEZ) being the biggest in the country is located at Mabibo in Dar es Salaam. Others are Millennium Business Park and Hifadhi EPZ both of which are located at Ubungo, Kisongo EPZ in Arusha, Kamal industrial estate at Bagamoyo and Global EPZ at Mkuranga district in Coast region. Plans are underway to extend the developments of the EPZs in the country and to ensure this, the government has already set aside 2,000 hectares of land in each and every political region for the purpose of development. According to Dr. Meru, the priority areas for the time being will be at Bagamoyo SEZ which he said would be developed in form of township by introducing basic infrastructure such as roads and other important social services. The road would be connected to sea port and an airport which is to be constructed later. In addition to that, the area expected to cover 23,000 hectares of land has been earmarked for this development, thus would make an area look like an industrial cum Commercial Township on which tourism and other social services would thrive later. The EPZA expects to spend about $ 317 million for infrastructural development alone in the area. The second priority he noted would be Mtwara SEZ, while the third one would be Kigoma. He said Mtwara would give potential of oil and gas and mineral exploration activities and currently agro-processing of cashew nut currently going on in the region. He said the reasons for these two areas are given priority due to increased demand for social economic developments in the area along the southern development corridor. He says notable achievements have been recorded in that line of business, but they would have been bigger, were it not for a couple of stumbling blocks. He cited delays caused by congestion at the Dar es Salaam port, lack of reliable electricity, as being the main challenges faced by EPZs, and apart from that, he has suggested the construction of Tanga and Mtwara ports to by undertaken in order to decongest container hauling at Dar port describing them for being among the major stumbling blocks. An independent Dar based economist, Sylvester Omala has commented that, SEZ would increase the country’s economic growth if well managed. However, he commented the current effort shown by SEZs is a starting point and a challenge to the government in future. However, he noted that the gradual development on SEZs in the country would avert the country with extreme poverty as this is a great so7urce of money to the government. EPZA is an autonomous government agency under the ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing, established in 2006 with an objectives among others include attracting and promoting investments for industrialization through EPZ and SEZ programs.

Twiga Bancorp Ltd to establish customers’ information database

CUSTOMERS of the government owned bank, Twiga Bancorp Ltd will now be required at their own free will to give their opinions and comments on the general operational business performance of the bank in the country, an official of the bank said early this week in Dar es Salaam. The Bank’s Head of Operations for ICT and Business Continuity Management (BCM), Richard M.S. Kombole said in an exclusive interview that, the idea behind the move is to receive their customers’ views on their internal operations and their knowledge on how they see should have been the best way for the bank to adopt in order to achieve its development goals. He noted that, through its customers the bank is interested to get to know the feedback of the  business operations and the trend in general including hidden issues which the bank might not be aware of and if tackled would bring progress and help maintain good customer relations, Kombole raised a concern when asked how the bank integrates its activities with the newly introduced ICT programs, whereupon he said his bank has already designed special forms for complaints and compliments on which all bank’s customers will fill in their details in order to facilitate the move. “Customers will be free to talk of anything they see that would be beneficial to the development of the bank especially in the matters relating to the revamping of bank’s services for the interest of the nation”, he said. Apart from views, the bank has established an information database on which to keep their customers’ comprehensive assessment record. These are personal particulars which originally were recorded when their customers opened their accounts. However, he added that, customers will disclose their personal particulars to be filled in the forms by themselves, such particulars would include their names, phone numbers, addresses, date and account numbers and the name of a branch office where it was opened. Lastly they will be required to give their personal details about their complaints on the bank’s services. He said in the forms, customers would be required to write down their views or comments so as to let know the bank if the service they provide is sufficient or not, they will also let them know if their products are functional or not as well as if they feel good about the bank or not. Under the operation, the bank is optimistic of getting new changes for the development on the course of its operations. However, he added that, through the information which shall have been written in the respective forms, the bank’s services will change to the level of customers’ satisfaction.

Chief Executive of the Twiga Bancorp Bank Limited Mr. Hussein Mbululo in an interview with a local Television station recently at Sabasaba ground during the 36th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair. Together with other things, he described the successful steps the bank has undertaken for the 19 years it has been in existence. The bank recently won an international award on quality excellence and awarded with a golden trophy in Geneva Switzerland.

According to him, the bank welcomes any complaints which shall be raised by their customers which might have encountered in any of their branch offices as regards their products, services or staff who attended them, all these complaints are welcomed as they would help revamp the entire operational activities. “This exercise will also help to a certain extent to block all avenues of corruption among the workers on the course of their operations, as angry customers might be in a position to disclose the names of corrupt workers who are fond of such malpractice activities” he remarked. This is a development strategy put in place by the bank, he said adding that in order to facilitate the move, the bank is underway to install new ICT devices which would be connected with computers in all the bank’s branch offices operating in the country scheduled to effectively start in April next year. Twiga Bancorp Limited is a government financial institution which deals with banking services and it accepts deposits. Other service the bank is doing includes money transfer and Telegraphic Inter-banking Swift Society (TISS), Money gram, Bank draft which involves payments of school fees to students studying abroad.  The firm was established in 1992 as a Bureau De Change and later was converted to fully fledge financial institution in 1998 doing business as a National Bureau de change. In 2004, it was changed and acquired its current name as Twiga Bancorp Limited. The institution has four branches operating in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha and Mlimani City shopping market. The main branch at Dar es Salaam and the institutions head offices are both situated at Twiga House along Samora Avenue.

Kikwete praises entrepreneurs at DITF

AS Tanzania is striving to increase the quality of its industrial products in readiness for global market competition, the government has urged local entrepreneurs to be more innovative so as to increase packaging technology of their goods. The call to entrepreneurs was made by President Jakaya Kikwete in early July this year during his tour of the 36th Dar es Salaam International Trade Fair (DITF) exhibition popularly known as Sabasaba which started on 28th June and reach at its climax today. President Kikwete toured about 17 pavilions most of which were those that showcased entrepreneurs’ goods. He was however impressed by the technological way of packing their products which he said was good to the utmost international standard. During his tour of the visit, Prsident Kikwete was accompanied by his Minister of Trade, Industry and Marketing Dr. Abdalah Kigoda among the dignitaries including his wife Salma Kikwete.  “I am very pleased by the way our local entrepreneurs have tried to improve in packing their goods, and this really shows how they have advanced their technological skills” he said adding that, the products are of high quality compared to those of the preceding years.

The President of te United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete

Either the President thanked the participation of both local and foreign companies which he said had increased this year. He also urged local entrepreneurs to build confidence within themselves so as to be enable to fair in business competition within East African regional market, an aspect which the President had observed would shape Tanzania products in an international business arena. He has however asked the local entrepreneurs to increase their production capacity as well as to ensure the quality standards of the industrial products to meet the international standards, by this he noted that they would be able to dominate the local market and East Africa region as a whole. The President and his entourage took about 7 hours walking around the selected 17 pavilions before giving his briefings to journalists late in the evening. Among the pavilions he visited was that of then Rwanda’s entrepreneurs just to mention a few. Others were, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Parastatal Pension Fund (PPF), National Service pavilion and the University of Dar es Salaam, the Prisons among the government pavilions, while others were the National Economic and Empowerment Council (NEEC) which empowers entrepreneurs in the country, Equal Opportunity Trust Fund (EOTF) and Zanzibar trade pavilion. DITF has established itself over the years as the show window for Tanzanian product and services in East, Central and Southern Africa region. Supported by the services of Dar es Salaam habour, the fair acts as one stop centre for reaching countries in this region. The fair serves as an excellent international trading platform in terms of size, number of exhibitors, range of products and accountability of information. It enjoys support of the government through the ministry of Trade, Industry and Marketing and patronage of the Tanzania business community.

Dr. Hoseah outlines ways to curb grand corruption in the country

THE Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB), has reiterated its stance to continue with the investigations on the misuse of public funds with a view to net the culprits who are directly involved in one way or another in a massive grand corruption in the country. The call was made early this week by the PCCB Director General Dr. Edward Hoseah in a special interview conducted by the Dar es Salaam based Independent Television (ITV) station during the 45 minutes talk show which is being prepared by a TV presenter Selemeni Semunyu and aired on every Monday. He was analyzing various development concepts for which the PCCB has undertaken for the last six years whereby the PCCB boss noted that his organization has managed to present five grand corruption cases to the government, but couldn’t mention people who are involved in these cases. He said investigations leading to grand corruption takes long time and needs skills and sophisticated weapons to work out. He explained by giving example of a fisherman who gets prepared to fish out sharks in deep sea, saying that “must get prepared with big ships and modern equipment in order to accomplish their mission”. However, he cautioned to those who says that PCCB is not working satisfactorily in order to get rid of the culprits in grand corruption seen taking place in the country, but must know that the work requires intensive preparations before being undertaken in order to yield good results. He therefore noted that, a joint concerted effort is needed by all Tanzanians in order to succeed as it’s very difficult to accomplish the task within six years’ time, “don’t you see this is really a difficult task? He queried while insisting for the preparations when responding a question from the TV presenter. The call by Dr. Hoseah comes amid reports which are currently under investigations by his office following reports recently issued by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) that alleged the stashing away of over Sh. 350 billion by unknown prominent government figures to various Swiss banks in Geneva, Switzerland. In order for the PCCB to work more effectively and efficiently, Dr. Hoseah has suggested that, the government should widen the networks up to the interior villages in wards so as to get more cooperation from the people easily.

PCCB Director General Dr. Edward Hoseah

The move behind according to him, would strengthen the effectiveness of the work with the people in district councils and increasing more skills and professionalism so as to meet regular challenges into performing better in the entire country. Analyzing various strategies put down by his organization, Dr. Hoseah noted that, skills and professionalism are the key elements into performing good job as this defends the rights and the dignity of the people involved. Dr. Hoseah is on the view of the fact that, protection of people’s dignity is the key element that is looked especially to those being investigated. He therefore cautioned that if such people are among the high ranking government officials in the government was not good to discuss them in public. Elaborating between corruption and bribe in relation to the act that restricts both the giver and the receiver when the two met in their secret hiding places, he said that, basically a person who asks for a bribe is the one who has to be tackled first for he is the one who starts the deal. Meanwhile, the PCCB has already investigated 72 cases out of 469 earlier issued by the Controller Accounts General (CAG) which it had presented in parliament in March this year, and Dr. Hoseah said that, his organization is underway to inquire for the permit of these cases which would allow them to take culprits to court.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Surprise! As one type of an electrical product is sold in different prices

IMAGINE that it’s your first time to have visited Kariakoo trading hub of the central wholesale and retail market complex for all things in downtown Dar es Salaam, and you tend to walk around for window-shopping along thousand frames selling different types of products mostly electrical goods. It is normal to see that an electrical product of the same type, size and shape such as Circuit breakers, Earth rod and Main switch which are used largely for wiring purposes in residential houses are sold at different price rates. A week long survey carried out by this paper in most wholesale and retail shops selling imported electrical goods around Kariakoo business complex, has discovered that there is an extensive bulk of these products put on display and the price rates is not fixed for each one of them. Interviewed potential buyers of such goods doubt of their low quality standards and durability in terms of use. This is confusing in regard to the normal saying among the people who attributes the fact that, a product which is sold in lower price rate is low in terms of quality, compared to those sold at a higher price rate which buyers assumes to be of good quality. This is a perception which confuses the minds of many buyers and users of such products who together with their inferiority complex towards the general understanding of the concept, scores of them ends up buying counterfeit products lasts within the shortest time after their use. It has been discovered that, most buyers of such electrical products have little knowledge about their technical capability as related to the  nature of their quality standards for most of them absolutely fails to differentiate between the genuine and the counterfeit ones.

Samples of the electric Earth rods

Unless a buyer takes an electrical technician who seem to be familiar with the technical make up of such goods when going to buy such types of products in order to help them verify their best quality design make among the goods displayed by shopkeepers. Juma Hashim (36), a resident of Mwananyamala who was cornered by this writer strolling around in a  shopping spree noted that, he was best preferred to afford highly selling electrical products as he believes that such products are genuine for they are being sold at a higher price rate. However, he is not bothered by the presence of many shops around the area which to some extent he perceives there is a possibility of cheating on these products most of which are imported and are on high supply by some shop owners. But since there is a low demand on such goods, but it should be known that is exacerbated by the high supply an aspect that some traders promises their customers an offer of discount on every bulk purchases made while others describes them the nature of the products on sale. Buyers are openly informed and sometimes briefed to make them be assured of the manufacturing company and their countries of origins, with the poorest and low quality products coming from far East countries mostly China who are the manufacturers and supplying agents. A spot check by this writer around several shops at Kariakoo business area can reveal that, an original earth rod assumed to have longer lifespan is sold at Sh. 45,000 while others with shorter span can be fetched at between Sh. 3,500, Sh. 8,000 and Sh. 15,000 respectively depending on their sizes. The main switch with four way gang is also sold at different price rates although there are only two types available in the market. These are main switch for MCL Co. Ltd based in Dar es Salaam which is the best in quality and can be fetched at Sh. 45,000,  A similar type of the main switch is supplied also by a Dar based TAN-UK firm; this is fetched at Sh. 18,000.
Both of these two types of main switches are imported from China, but the two companies are the main suppliers says one shopkeeper Shomary Khan, a Tanzanian of Asian origin. An electrical circuit breaker which is among important electrical equipment is sold in two different prices, the one for China made is fetched at Sh. 18,000, whereas another one supposed to have been imported from UK is fetched at between Sh. 80,000 and Sh. 100,000 According to shopkeepers, equipments with lowest price rates have shorter lifespan because of their low quality, and for the case of earth rods they lack enough copper materials a mineral substance used for its manufacturing and have thinner width, says one shopkeeper who preferred anonymity when contacted to describe the suitability of earth rods made of copper minerals. For earth rod, have different sizes and quality in such that the highest paying product has a copper lining in it and is easily magnetic in nature while the fake ones do not have copper and are purely made of iron. According to shopkeepers, these products do not last longer in use, hence have shorter lifespan due to their low quality. Payments for such goods to TRA differs as per their bill of lading. Each item is purchased in bulk is given its own quotations according to their price index as indicated in price tags. If shopkeepers confess themselves to be selling products with different levels of quality design standards, what then is the government doing to save consumers in the country? Sospeter Kadama a resident of Buguruni queried? According to him, it seems as if the law enforcers do not take a keen interest on quality of the various products imported for local consumption. Commenting on the quality standards and the durability of such equipment, a long experienced electrical technician working as an agent of TANESCO, a sole power utility firm in the country says that, goods with the lowest price rates do not last longer if used for wiring. Joakim Mtono (35) revealed that, by using such equipment it will require regular replacements in a periodical check up as most of these equipment are not sustainable enough in terms of use for they are prone to leakage and thus causing frequent lose connections in the whole wiring systems. The government through its organ the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) has since early this year put down various major strategic measures as precautions in order to curb with the increased phenomenon that caused fear to buyers of such goods in the country. A heated debate ensured parliament early this year as MPs threw a blame to TBS for what it had shown as a total failure of accountability which has ultimately resulted into giving rise to mushrooming of counterfeit products in the country. However, TBS Director of quality control, Kezia Mbwambo was recently quoted by the media as saying that, despite of much efforts spearheaded by TBS, less has been achieved to fully curb the phenomenon by 100 percent rate simply due to the presence of numerous ways used by unscrupulous traders as porous borders better known as “panya routes” within our country’s national frontiers. According to the Executive Director of Tanzania Consumer Society (TCS) Bernard Kihiyo, counterfeit products will stop flowing in the country if there would be a joint collaboration of the stakeholders among the five East African countries. Kihiyo is on the view of the fact that, there should be a mechanism that needs to be established which would be able to destroy syndicate behind the importation, distribution and sale of sub-standards goods. He says controlling the importation of counterfeit goods is not an easy task, because most importers deliberately order cheap products from abroad so as to reap wind fall profits upon selling them. The business of importing counterfeits he said is further complicated by the fact that it is supported and perpetrated by a sophisticated network of persons who know how to evade the law enforcing organs. However, he said adding that, it is a strong network that only the combined force of all relevant government organs can beat as some of the business community members have made it a culture of importing counterfeit products to make easy profit margins. Despite of the government’s efforts over the fight against imported counterfeit products in the country, Most buyers preferred a kind of product bearing a label of their country of origin but this is not the case as all these are tempered by unscrupulous big traders in the country, an international trade expert said.

Has the government left Gongo la Mboto bomb victims at a cross road?

FAILURE by the government to give special attention to victims of the last year’s Gongo la Mboto bomb blast who have been demanding compensation payment of arrears for their destroyed properties as promised by the government, has left many victims at a cross road. Most victims wonders why the government does not quicken their payment as earlier promised and instead the process seems to be moving at a snail’s pace despite of their efforts of regularly reminding the authorities concerned over the issue since the incident happened 18 months ago. Their surprise about the matter has echoed when the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Said Meck Sadiki recently announced the compensation payment of their fellow Mbagala bomb blast victims who suffered the same fate in 2009. The announcement made by the RC required all Mbagala bomb victims who had been evaluated to come for the collection of their money which was already prepared in accordance to the report issued by the government’s Chief Evaluator. Investigations by this blog has discovered that, following the compensation payments made to Mbagala victims, other victims from Gongo la Mboto who seemed to have been angered by the move, have instead pressurized their demand by sending a letter to the respective authorities concerned. In their letter which they sent three weeks ago to the Prime Minister’s office, the department responsible for the disaster management, they have listed down their demands in order to enquire for the clarification and thereby get to know about their fate.

Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Mr. Said Meck Sadik

The letter a copy of which was given to the RC’s office have humbly requested for the payment of arrears in full settlement of the compensation for the damage caused on their properties as earlier evaluated by chief government evaluator. They have stated clearly that, have been treated unfairly with some demands not yet been fulfilled by the government despite the promise made ever since the occurrence of bomb blast disaster in their area 18 months ago. They have also stated in their letter that, there are some houses which had been deleted from the earlier list prepared and yet such houses deserve major repairs and if possible rebuild them. They are however surprised as this decision was made without their consent. According to them, the conditions of such houses shows that are supposed to be rebuild and their owners have since sought refuge to their neighbors and friends, and relatives for help since then. The houses belongs to three victims who have been listed in their letter as Esther Tarimo, Mohammed Said and Zaituni Chogelo. In their letter, the victims have also inquired from the government the fate of their plots on which their former houses stood claiming that why have they been ordered not to develop them. They have also claimed of some of their immovable properties such as water wells which some had already built. However, they are requesting the government to look at this critically bearing in mind the fact that those are some of the tangible properties found within their plots. Apart from their demands, they have also complained of receiving poor cooperation from the authorities concerned whenever contacted for clarification, and have accused them of being reluctant to directly responding to the issue which needs urgent solutions. Contacted for comments over the matter, an MP for Ukonga constituency, Eugene Mwaiposa said in a telephone interview as saying that, the government was working for the victims as it has set aside money for this year’s budget and that, she is at all time to ensure that, once the budget for the Prime Minister’s office is passed, then things will be alright. She dismissed claims that she was not following up the problems of her people within the constituency, and made some clarification when it was rumoured that she was not so cooperative enough when contacted for help by victims of the area. The RC said in a telephone interview early this week that, the department of the disaster management in Prime Minister’s office which coordinates the payments of the victims is awaiting for the budget to be approved by parliament. However, he said adding that for those who had their houses completely destroyed would be compensated with new houses whose construction he said is in final touches at Msongola village in Ilala district.

An insurance firm for political risks investments in Tanzania

TRADERS including politicians who are eager to invest their businesses in the country are assured of safety of their properties following an investment of over $ 1 billion by African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) which guarantees lost properties due to political risks. It has been learnt. The risks are those caused due to political schemishes or change of country’s governing policies which ultimately cause damage of the properties invested for trade in the country, ATI’s Board Chairman Israel Kamozora said in an exclusive interview recently in Dar es Salaam. He said that, ATI is a unique insurance firm that undertakes to provide guarantees to protect development projects, contracts, investments and other business transactions against non-payment risks and risks that involve the government known as political risks in the country.  He says, the firm has facilitated its activities to risk individual’s business activities by compensating their customers’ insured properties for any disaster caused due to political crisis and terrorism in the country, added that the firm has been concentrating more in areas of energy and infrastructure sectors since 2009 when first incorporated in the country. According to him, the firm is among the 27 registered insurance firms currently operating in the country and was established with a view to mitigate any losses caused due to war or any other disasters such as terrorism. “This is not an ordinary insurance firm as it supports projects worth of millions of shillings, and thus it attracts foreign direct investments to stimulate foreign business in the country”, he said adding that, it also guarantees political insurance which protects foreign investors from getting bankrupt if there is a change of the government’s political policies.

A typical African home in a reserve area

Elaborating the efficiency of the firm, ATI’s General Manager Tanzania Chapter, Albert Rweyemamu says ATI works with banks in the country to provide extra security against payment defaults on their borrowers so that they might be in a position to issue as many loans as possible to Small and Medium Business Enterprises (SMEs). However, he noted that companies wishing to expand their businesses into markets outside of Tanzania use ATI to reduce the risks of non-payment from their new clients or buyers. ATI provides these companies the comfort of knowing they will be reimbursed if their clients is slow to pay or completely fails to pay. Tanzania is a founding member of the ATI, the Nairobi-based organization which was launched by nine COMESA countries in 2001. It had already established its projects before it pulled herself out of the jurisdiction of this common market for Eastern and Southern Africa trade movement. Initially these countries conducted a World Bank funded study to understand why they were attracting such low levels of direct foreign investment. The results showed that investors feared doing business in the region because of the perceived high levels of political risks. As a solution, the countries then joined a task force together to defend their resources to form ATI which has offices in Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya where it is headquartered to provide these unique brands of insurance to guarantees to investors into making them invest more in these countries. In Tanzania ATI collaborates in partnership with Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF), an organization that stands for the development of small and medium scaled business enterprises in the country.