Researchers at the Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) have urged the government to include a stronger element of green growth in the long term and five year development plans in order to achieve high economic growth and move the country towards middle income status.
Speaking at the national conference on unleashing growth in Tanzania last week in Dar es Salaam, ESRF executive director Dr Bohela Lunogelo, said the 2011/12-2015/16) and subsequent five-year development plan will meet a number of challenges.
He said here will be a need to attract significant investment to finance the plans, besides the necessity to to minimise the economic impacts of industrialisation and manufacturing (externalities) which would otherwise reduce economic activity.
Furthermore, climate change itself is a major risk for Tanzania, he said, adding that it could affect the achievement of the plans if not factored in adequately to this investment.
“A possible solution to all challenges is to include a stronger element of green growth in the long term plans,” he suggested.
Green growth is a new model of economic growth, which simultaneously targets key aspects of economic performance and those of environmental sustainability, such as mitigation of climate change and biodiversity loss and security of access to clean energy and water.
He said a recent African Economic Conference urges continental countries to take ownership of the Green Growth Agenda which recommended that Africa should unleash its immense natural resources to pursue sustainable economic growth and development.
“This would mean creating resilient, low-carbon economies, which would not only help contribute to global climate change mitigation efforts but generate economic and business opportunities, including new employment, and boost trade for the benefit of all Africans,” he said.
The first major benefit of reframing some of the five-year plan and long term plans in terms of green growth is the access to finance it could attract, he said.
According to him, by moving down a green growth pathway, Tanzania could reduce the impacts of industrialisation and manufacturing on these natural economic sectors, and even enhance the opportunities for them to be major economic drivers on their own.
The plan would also bring important environmental benefits, and reduce the external costs of pollution, he said. Tanzania’s current economy is very heavily reliant on natural resources (and ecosystem services).
While the investment in infrastructure will change the structural composition of the economy, reducing the importance of these areas, they will remain large components of GDP, and offer economic opportunities (tourist sector), he said.
He said finally, a low carbon, climate resilient strategy would help protect the investment in infrastructure from future climate change. This is extremely important given the funding levels outlined in the plan, and would ensure that the investments made deliver the stated objectives.
A key element of the plan is the use of fossil fuels to drive an economic transition, specifically, building coal fired power plants to address energy supply shortages, extracting and utilisation gas reserves.
While the investments will provide the necessary infrastructure to drive economic growth forward, they will put Tanzania on a classical high carbon, high pollution pathway, he said.
The one-day conference attracted more than 80 participants mainly researchers, the business community, diplomats, politicians, academicians and senior government officials.