Fifth phase energy: Change mentality by necessity to succeed beckoning

26Dec 2018
Dar es Salaam
Financial Times
Fifth phase energy: Change mentality by necessity to succeed beckoning

A CURIOUS principle of management and psychology proposes something like ‘order out of chaos,’ where the chaos comes by itself and then it is expected that order will be the result, by shaking the old system to its foundations, and replacing it with something new.

There is another interpretation, known as a ‘conspiracy theory’ that disorder or chaos is actually willed by a group of individuals for their own selfish interests or by the naked pursuit of power, in the (false) belief that order will arise out of it. This latter view has a point in that it is easy to destroy, but to put together a country to stand up again is hard.

This kind of feeling rushes to the mind when one looks at the zeal, energy and devotion at which senior officials of the fifth phase government discharge their duties, and often going well beyond the call of duty to ensure that something is done quickly, properly or (some will say) perfectly.

For those who have to this day retained their faith in a number of first phase economic concepts all is well and nothing will go wrong in this situation, as what was lacking earlier was the leadership, the zeal of achieving, and shutting out the numerous loopholes for misuse of public resources. Most of that has been done, in which case by terms of the Arusha Declaration the country ought to be on the threshold of success, as it is largely comprehended.

When for instance Tabora Regional Commissioner Aggrey Mwanri cancels all public servants’ holidays so that business opportunities (investments, in particular) are sorted out, it suggests that the RC does not see difficult trade-offs that are needed so that industrial investments take off in Tabora for that matter.

The impression created is that so long as public officials will be at their desk and working intensely to ensure that the requirements industrial investors need are in place, the latter will go into the job rapidly, and the region be poised to fulfil its quota of 100 industries per region. Or build at least 20 industries…

There were special circumstances all the same for the RC’s gesture, in the fact that a three day workshop or forum was held mid-November to make precisions and amply look at what the region disposes in terms of natural resources (the usual point of departure of mapping out industrial opportunities).

That event wasn’t minor as it was graced at its opening by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa and its observations, recommendations or resolutions are the region’s subsidiary ‘election manifesto’ that will make or break the RC’s legacy, for all intents and purposes. Mwanri is missing no opportunity to take this task forward.

Without having to scan through the vast memorandum documentation that was produced in bulky newspaper supplements, it is sufficient to work on external precepts that public authorities prepare a forum for industries because there is a common premise upon which opportunities can be identified. That is how we come back to natural resources-based industries, where there is an obvious risk of excessive production on account of narrow market outlets.

The problem is that with open borders and cross border trade, there are few commodities of daily requirement that the public can’t procure either from within the country or by imports, thus begging the query as to who needs 10 new industries in any particular region.

Two ways of sorting out that problem exist but only one seems to be available in practice, that there has to be deliberate privileging of local industries so that they succeed against regional and world markets competition. This option is limited in its effectiveness, or is altogether ineffective since the tariffs that are usually accessible under the East African Customs Union protocol are the sort to encourage entrepreneurs to place their investments in the region. They aren’t meant to effectively protect against all competition.

The other method that is now out of reach would apply to Tabora as well as other regions now facing those same difficulties, and in that sense, it might just come to be accepted later as a legitimate avenue to enabling industrialization, instead of admitting failure. This avenue is the purchase of assets by those who wish to set up industries, instead of being allocated land from which to do their own construction work to start producing, as this kind of production can’t target the local market as it is congested.

It usually targets foreign markets and is called an ‘export processing zone,’ but this sort of economic model is steadily in decline. It was workable when a few countries used vast demand abroad, not when all countries shift to it. Purchasing assets grows the local market as it creates a series of new entrepreneurs who take the cash from a sold farm or old factory, house in town etc. to purchase land or other assets in less valuable areas of the town or districts. This chain reaction arising from purchasing assets is better than ten civic workshops.