Monday, April 14, 2014

How REPOA’s research activities can help entrepreneurs

On Wednesday last week, an independent research institution which creates and utilizes knowledge to facilitate socio-economic development in Tanzania known by its acronym, ‘REPOA’ organized its 19th Annual Research Workshop (ARW). A two day event under the theme titled, ‘Transformation, Job creation and Poverty eradication, Enterprise Development for more inclusive growth’ was graced by President Jakaya Kikwete at Bahari Beach Hotel on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. Other dignitaries who attended the meeting were some invited Regional Commissioners (RCs), District Commissioners (DCs), Honorable Ministers, Heads of some Diplomatic missions accredited in the country and economic researchers. In his speech President Kikwete reassured Tanzanians that his government will finalise the gas and oil policies which currently is in final touches by October this year so as to pave the way for inclusive growth investment. He said that there has been an extensive discussion with the private stakeholders on how to use  oil and gas resources and noted that, the challenge facing the country is how to link these resources with the aspirations of the Development Vision 2025 and the socio-economic transformation. “The strategies and policies are meant to ensure that our people participate productively in the utilization of natural resources we are blessed with” he said adding that he would make sure this is effectively implemented before his retirement next year. He underscored that the importance of oil and gas sector and that it should be given a priority it deserve as a subsector, given the volume of the resources, the intensity of capital investments, and flow of revenues expected from their commercialization.  According to REPOA’s Executive Director Professor Samuel Wangwe, a two day meeting had the main objectives that discussed ways and look at the possibility on how small scale farmers including entrepreneurs in the country could increase their daily incomes for their survival. It is from this point of view he noted that, the core business of REPOA which stands for Report on Poverty Alleviation relies with a view to improving the quality of life of the entire people of Tanzania. The presentations in this workshop were structured around for reviews basing on the availability of employment opportunities that addressed how to tackle poverty stricken situation in Tanzania. They have also highlighted challenges and risks of achieving high growth which is not accompanied with the requisite transformation of the economy and widespread job creation. This signifies that Tanzania is still faced with a challenge of low productivity and low returns to labour in agriculture and others such as micro and small enterprises are predominantly in the informal economy where the majority of Tanzanians are deriving their livelihoods. In his introductory speech Prof. Wangwe noted that, the low returns to labour in agriculture push people out of agriculture in search of alternative sources of employment but most of these migrating labour end up in the lowest end of the non-farm sectors mainly trade, other services and a few in manufacturing activities.  He said, the resulting kind of urbanization where the informal economic activities provide low returns to labour carries with the risk of turning rural poverty into urban poverty. Elaborating on the main objective of the stakeholders’ annual gathering he said that, is to achieve deeper understanding of the dynamics of micro and small scale economic activities and identify options for managing the enterprise transformation process with a view to realizing more inclusive growth. During a two day meeting, various presentations from experts and distinguished scholars from Tanzania and other countries were selected strategically for the sharing of experiences of the enterprise transformation for inclusive growth.

President Jakaya Kikwete in a teete-with REPOA's Executive Director Professor Samuel Wangwe during the 19th Annual Research Workshop (ARW).

Apart from Tanzania, the workshop also drew some of the key speakers from Japan, USA. Bangladesh, Netherlands and Switzerland. Over 20 presentations during these two days of the workshop covered a wide range of topics in the theme of the workshop. Contributing his ideas over the topic, a Japanese Professor of Development Economics Keijiro Otsuka said in its paper titled ‘Cluster based Industrial Development: KAIZEN management for MSE growth’ that, in order to reduce widespread poverty and achieve inclusive growth in developing countries, it is essential to create jobs by promoting industrial development. He said, there is no clear cut as this is an effective strategy to create employment in developing countries, adding that there is a large number of case studies related to the development of industrial clusters. He said the effectiveness of this is based on the results of six KAIZEN management training experiments conducted primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa region Tanzania included. Professor Otsuka argues in his paper that, efficient management is the key to the innovation, which in turn is a major engine of firm and industrial growth, adding that management training molt only enhances management capacity of entrepreneurs but also serves as an effective screening device to identify promising and non-promising entrepreneurs. KAIZEN programme is a kind of entrepreneurship training for inclusive industrial development which is being used to a larger extent by Japanese government for its people. The programme which in recent years was introduced in Tanzania by Japanese government through its International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is being run in collaboration with the ministry of Trade and Industry since 2008. Its main objectives are to make jobs more effective for entrepreneurs in Tanzania Dr. Shenggen Fan, the Director General of the US based International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) said that stallholder farmers are an important participant in the economic transformation  of developing countries amid increasing demographic, climatic, economic and natural resource pressures. He said in his paper titled, ‘From subsistence to profit: Transforming stallholder farms’ that, not all stallholders are the same adding that they face diverse opportunities and challenges and live in different types of economies. He  further argues that, while some smallholders have the potential to undertake profitable commercial activities in agriculture, others should be supported in exiting agriculture and seeking nonfarm opportunities (both rural and urban), adding that policies must also be adapted to reflect the country’s stage of transformation. Dr. Christopher Awinia of Praxis Tanzania Ltd who is experienced in policy analysis and development planning argues in his paper presentation that, there have been increasing trends of rural to urban youth migration without corresponding job creation in Tanzania. He said in his paper titled, ‘Structural barriers, constraints and urban youth employment: The case of Ilala Municipality’ that, the trends have been responsible for creation of low labour productivity informal urban enterprises. He said, the trend has further contributed to long term urban youth unemployment and increased absolute number of unemployed urban youth, adding that as a result youth in urban areas have not benefitted from growth mainly because of lack of access to services that contribute to their productive capabilities. Professor David Nyange, a Tanzanian national and agricultural economist with over 20 years experience in academic and development work s aid in his paper presentation that, Africa is economies are transforming rapidly with GDP projected to grow at 6 percent this year compared with 3.2 percent globally, and that Tanzania economy is projected to grow mush higher. In his paper titled, ‘Opportunities and challenges for Tanzania’s agriculture in contributing to economic transformation and job creation’ he noted that, despite impressive macro economic performance, poverty, food and nutrition security have remained elusive. He further argues that, one third of Tanzania’s population still lives below the national poverty line and 38 percent of under 5 years children are stunted. He further noted that since 75 percent of Tanzanians are employed in agriculture, it is therefore imperative that the agricultural sector holds the key to eradication of poverty and hunger and promoting broad based growth through jobs creation.

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