Tanzania made a profit of $450million (about Sh675billion) in the last five years after exporting goods from the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) despite the country facing fluctuating power supplies, said Dr Adelhelm , director general of the Economic Processing Zones Authority (EPZA), this week.
Dr Meru told The Guardian on Sunday in an exclusive interview that the amount, collected from the authority’s six industrial parks, is equivalent to the budget of a single government ministry.
EPZA is an autonomous government agency under the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing, established in 2006 with an objective among others including attracting and promoting investments for industrialisation.
Meru said there are 59 companies that have invested $792.2 million since the establishment of SEZ. The companies are categorised in three groups in terms of the percentage of ownership, with local investors leading with 44 per cent.
Foreign companies constitute 41 per cent of investments while the third comprises both local and foreign joint venture investments with 15 percent.
Meru said the investors, clustered in four areas of business specialization, are agro-processing, 38 per cent; engineering 38 per cent; textiles 18 per cent; and 10 percent light assembling plants such as motorbikes, tri-cycle, vehicles, tractors and the earthmover chases truck, have created 16,105 direct employment opportunities for Tanzanians and over 80,000 indirect employment opportunities during that period.
The six industrial parks are William Benjamin Mkapa (WBM/SEZ), the biggest in the country located at Mabibo in Dar es Salaam, Millennium Business Park, Hifadhi EPZ at Ubungo, Kisongo EPZ in Arusha, Kamal Industrial Estate at Bagamoyo and Global EPZ at Mkuranga District in Coast Region.
According to Meru there are plans to extend development of economic processing zones and to that effect the government has allotted 2,000 hectares in each region in Mainland Tanzania.
He said priority would be on Bagamoyo SEZ where townships would be developed through building of roads, to be connected to a sea port and an airport which is to be constructed later, as well as introducing other social services. EPZA expects to spend $317million for the infrastructural development of Bagamoyo to cover 23,000 hectares, which is expected to be transformed into an industrial area-cum-commercial centre.
Mtwara and Kigoma SEZs would be second and third priorities respectively, Meru said, adding that the former was chosen for its potential of oil, gas and mineral exploration, apart from agro-processing, also in view of increased demand for social economic development along the southern development corridor.
He suggested the expansion of Tanga and Mtwara ports to reduce congestion at Dar es Salaam ports that is adversely affecting the implementation of EPZs.