One of the two most important laws on investment in Tanzania, Public Private Partnership Act No. 18 of 2010, was put to the test earlier this week.
This was when a Germany-based development finance institution committed itself to supporting the Coffee Partnership Tanzania (CPT) in a move meant to bring together thousands of Tanzanian smallholder farmers in a renewed move to boost the production of the crop.
Under the four-year project, the partnership will seek to vastly raise the incomes of 85,000 smallholder farmers, improve the quality of the produce and thereby better the livelihoods of up to 510,000 people.
A senior official with the German institution, Ian Lachmund, said in Dar es Salaam on Tuesday that the USD8m grant project would be financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other agencies and would undertake capacity building measures to empower the smallholder coffee producers besides supporting their organisations through skills training.
There is every reason for Tanzanians and Tanzania’s development partners to support this partnership. First, there is the fact that CPT is an excellent example of innovative enterprise between public and private partners in facilitating and providing investment aimed at empowering smallholder farmers in the country and across Africa.
Fortunately for Tanzania, this project has already triggered the invocation of a law enacted in 2010 but that was yet to be tested.
However, what is clearly one of the most important and relevant aspects of this partnership and the respective piece of legislation relates to the degree to which this project succeeds.
Should it pass this test of the time, it would serve beautifully in the implementation of a number of programmes that have been lying idle for generations with no quick way to ensure that they get off the ground.
Here we have in mind production of crops such as cotton, cashewnuts, cloves, sisal, tea and pyrethrum which have witnessed a decline in productivity, making farmers – mostly smallholders – continue to languish in poverty.
So, if the CPT project would give the answers that Tanzanians have been looking for to raise production, beef up their incomes and improve livelihoods, it would all be for the better.
And it is not only agricultural producers who would bank on CPT’s achievements; those engaged in small scale enterprises such as food packaging, cloth making, fishing, beekeeping, livestock, transportation, mining, service industries and even entertainment would be lured into picking this new tool for their way out.
The case of the German agency and Tanzanian smallholder farmers is just one of small players whose efforts are complemented by an economic giant.
But the PPP Act does not confine itself to small players. It is about all manner of actors, irrespective of their economic postures. It is on the strength of this consideration that we appeal to the government and other stakeholders to invite more players – particularly big ones – to tap the many opportunities that have not been touched.
We believe that there are hidden jewels in every sector and a myriad of opportunities where partnerships would work wonders. The secret here lies in all parties to the partnerships being as accountable, committed, serious and transparent as possible.