The CEO Roundtable of Tanzania, a policy dialogue forum has been urged to help the government in its efforts to develop a strong middle class for the country.
The appeal was made by seasoned investment promoter and expert, Emmanuel ole Naiko at a dinner gala organised by the CEO Roundtable to present him with a Lifetime Achievement for Outstanding Public Service Award in Dar es Salaam at the weekend. He becomes the first recipient of the award.
“Please do whatever it takes to help the government in its efforts to grow a strong middle class in Tanzania,” he told members of the CEO Roundtable at the event.
The award winner requested the Roundtable chairmanAli Mufuruki, to use the experience he has in business to help the country to build a middle class economy.
Naiko said that building a viable middle class in Tanzania is a government’s wish and that it should be honoured and implemented for the good of the country.
Recalling his days at the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) where he worked as the agency’s Executive Director, he said, when President Jakaya Kikwete came to power he tasked the agency to spearherd the building of a strong middle class.
“Our primary focus then was to bring the disadvantaged Tanzania into the mainstream of the economy as a middle class stratum because nationally and internationally we have inherited and created institutions and systems that exclude too many of our people from global and national prosperity,” he said.
Explaining further, he said, the strategy would make Tanzanians play a more inclusive role in national and global business.
“We took that challenge seriously by creating a group of 80 young entrepreneurs…unfortunately this initiative was quickly highjacked by someone in one of the ministries… and we completely lost that drive,” he said.
He said it is not right to blame past leaders in the mining and petroleum sectors by accusing them that they exposed the country to bad agreements with the investors.
Naiko said such people are oblivious of the fact that before 1998, Tanzania did not have a single private gold mine in production.
“It is only after that period that Tanzania became one of the leading gold producers in Africa, and now mining between 30 and 50 metric tonnes per year,” he noted.
On the petroleum sector, he said, many exploration firms have invested in this sub sector to the extent that they will very soon make Tanzania a leading gas producer.
“Some of the so called ‘dubious contracts’ were signed by people with highest integrity in our country and such people will never sign such ‘bogus contracts’,” he said.
Explaining further he said those leaders “did what they did because they had only two options—that is leave the minerals underground or get someone to extract them so that the country can benefit.”
“Those condemning the leaders for signing the agreements are sort of laughing at our parents and grandparents who had no option but to nurture us in mud houses,” he noted.
“This is a process any country that promotes investment has goes through,” he said giving the example of Mauritius which is today regarded as the shining case of Africa after attracting many investments. Because of that in 2010 they slashed corporation tax from 30 percent to 15 percent, he said.
He said history shows that the country went through the same process like Tanzania, but it is gratifying to learn that no Mauritian is going back to condemn what their forefathers did.
“They started with sugar cane economy, and now they are an ICT economy. Imagine!” he said.
CEO Roundtable of Tanzania chairman, Ali Mufuruki speaking on the award said the selection committee arrived at the decision to award Naiko after looking at his impeccable record as a strong advocate of the private sector agenda during his many years of public service.
“We thank you for your tireless efforts, many policies and regulations were put in place by our government that helped attract investments to Tanzania both foreign and local,” he said.