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EXPERTS ON BIG RESULTS NOW:Govt must have priorities, focus

5th October 2013
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UKs Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Simon Fraser

As the Government throws its weight behind a newly adopted development initiative codenamed Big Results Now (BGN), the UK’s Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Sir Simon Fraser has said the Government must come up with priority areas to focus on for the initiative to yield desired results.

Sir Simon Fraser, who is also the head of the Diplomatic Services at the Foreign and Commonwealth office said this on Thursday in Dar es Salaam when asked by our correspondent on what the Tanzania government should do to get the results from the BGN initiative.

He said the government of Tanzania should define its priorities on the BRN, and that such ministers should take full responsibility in those selected areas.

“The Big Results Now is a very good development initiative … but to a achieve it, its priorities must be defined and all ministers whose sectors are involved in the initiative have to take full responsibility,” he said .   

BRN is a development model which the government adopted from Malaysia in efforts to transform the country’s economy by 2025, focusing on six priority areas of the country’s economy -- Energy and Natural Gas, Agriculture, Water, Education, Transport and Mobilization of Resources.

Sir Fraser also said his country was keen on helping Tanzania achieve its vision of becoming a middle-income country (now rated low) by 2015, and also increase its investment in the country.

“The UK is already the largest investor in Tanzania and also the second latest donor with Sh 480 billion spend this year alone … I believe our investment in gas and renewable energy will help bring reliable and sustainable electricity to more Tanzanians , our investment in Agriculture will also help bring better technologies, improved yields and more markets for the produce,” he said .

He also said he discussed with the government on the recent ban of two newspapers, and that he had asked the authorities to respect freedom of the press.

“This morning (Thursday morning) I had a discussion with government officials where among other things we talked on the ban of the two publications … I asked them to respect freedom of the press and that media houses should also adhere to their professional ethics,” he said .

The top UK diplomat also disclosed that president Kikwete had accepted an invitation to attend an open governance summit in the UK end of this month – which is aimed at facilitating the president and other leaders to discuss the challenges facing poor people.

The UK-based consultancy firm, Africapractice, has observed that Tanzania has seen several development initiatives falling short of expectations in recent years, including the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction, Kilimo Kwanza (an agricultural initiative) and the Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor Tanzania (SAGCOT).  The constant amongst each of these projects is a failure to achieve stated goals.

It states that ‘in varying measures’ insufficient state funding, lack of private participation, over-heightened expectations, lack of organisational capacity and unclear mandates have all played their part in the slow demise of these projects.  Political involvement has also typically centred on the hyperbole rather than the actual, and “grand scheme after grand scheme” has fallen to the wayside.

The initiative comes at a time when the government is struggling to identify priorities on key sectors in efforts to attain its Vision 2025, and has reinvigorated a concerted and centralised approach to completion in the short and medium terms.

However, the firms provides that only the energy section of BRN had so far shown any political traction, with the Ministry publicly declaring its commitment at an unprecedented public gathering in the commercial city of Dar es Salaam recently. 

For the past two decades, the country has been struggling to establish a reliable, affordable and efficient supply of energy across the country. Currently, Tanzania’s electricity sector falls behind its East African neighbours, with an estimated annual kWh consumption of 78 per capita, compared to 150 in neighbouring Kenya, according to 2010 World Bank data.

BRN i focuses on the construction of seven new power plants that would generate 1310MW of electricity; the building of 3000km of high voltage lines; and enhancement of distribution by establishing 590,000 new connections that would provide more than five million people with access to electricity.

Africapractice says looking solely at the energy section of BRN, success compared to previous development initiatives is likely to be achieved, even if not all expected outcomes are met.  A combination of heightened political will and global political and commercial factors are aligning for the country’s energy sector.

 Both the Chinese and American governments have pledged – albeit separately -- to support the Tanzanian energy industry: China, through its favourable financing of a 500km-plus gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam, and America, through the nascent Power Africa initiative. 

US energy giant General Electric has already entered into a cooperation agreement to build a gas-fired power plant in Dar es Salaam.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN