Media stand better chance of promoting Tanzania-China economic ties

11Dec 2016
Lucas Liganga
Guardian On Sunday
Media stand better chance of promoting Tanzania-China economic ties

“A vigorous war on corruption launched by President John Magufuli when he took power in November 2015 has encouraged Chinese investors to do business in Tanzania,” remarked Li Jing, page editor for China Daily,

Part of the $135 million Nyerere Bridge in Dar es Salaam. Photo/LUCAS LIGANGA

an authoritative provider of information and entertainment for global readers with a special focus on China.

She added: “Tanzania’s economy is growing very fast compared to the last five years.”
Li made these remarks last month at the end of a three-day tour of 20 journalists from China and Tanzania. The journalists visited Chinese enterprises and investments in Tanzania with a view to promoting and strengthening economic and trade cooperation between the two friendly countries.

During their tour, the Tanzanian and Chinese journalists from print and electronic media visited a number of Chinese enterprises and investments, including Tanzania Tooku Garments Company Limited, Sunshine Group, StarTimes Group, China Railway Construction Engineering Group (CRCEG), China Railway Jianshe Engineering (CRJE) and China Railway Engineering Corporation (CREC)

They also had chance to visit the state-of-the-art Chinese-built $135 million Nyerere Bridge, connecting Tanzania’s economic capital Dar es Salaam and the south side of Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, the Chinese-built Tanzania National ICT Broadband Backbone Network project, the first broadband backbone transmission network covering all of Tanzania and the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA), connecting Tanzania and landlocked Zambia.

Tony Sun, the Sunshine Group Limited Executive Director, said the group which began investing in Africa in 2012 has now made Tanzania its home with huge investments and services in areas of mining development, exploration and smelting, bulk agricultural by-products processing, sales and export, high-tech card manufacturing and building materials, among others.

“In total, Sunshine Group has made investments of over $100 million in Tanzania and employed about 2,000 local and foreign staff,” said Tony, adding that the group was running a sunflower factory called Dodoma Sunflower Seed oil Factory located in Dodoma, producing 1,500 metric tonnes of non-cholesterol sunflower cooking oil annually.

Leo Li, Chief Executive Officer of Sunshine Industrial Company Limited, another subsidiary of the Sunshine Group situated at the end of Warioba Street in the Mikocheni B industrial area, said his company was also processing cashew nuts in southern regions for exports to the United States, India, United Arab Emirates and Europe.

“Our concept in Tanzania is to develop the local economy. Cashew nuts produced in Tanzania is the best from all over the world, and our clients are ready to pay more,” said Leo, adding that his firm was processing 10,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts annually.

William Tai, the General Manager for Tanzania Tooku Garments Limited, situated at the Benjamin William Mkapa Special Economic Zone in Dar es Salaam, told the delegation of journalists that the firm “wanted to move its massive production of garments from China to Tanzania”.

Established in December 2011, the firm has a total investment of $14.88 million, creating more than 1,800 jobs locally and producing international brands such as Levi’s and Wrangler that are sold to the United States.

The firm was currently producing 200,000 pieces of garments a month and the figure was expected to rise to 250,000 pieces a month after an equipment upgrade was completed by the end of this year, William told the journalists.

“We have requested the government to allocate us more land for investing in the textile industry,” said William.

In response to the request, the Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Charles Mwijage, said the government planned to allocate huge areas of land for new investments across the country, a move it said was aimed at pushing for the country’s industrialization drive.

Mwijage said the newly earmarked land will be operated under special economic zones and will be overseen by the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and district authorities.
“The government has already identified areas for new investments across the country,” said Mwijage.

The minister mentioned identified areas for new investments as Mkuranga and Kibaha districts in Coast region, Morogoro, Songea, Kigoma, Bunda, Kagera, Kilimanjaro and Tanga.
The Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, visited Tanzania Tooku Garments Company Limited in October, this year, and hailed its contribution to the local job market, product diversification and the training of local workers.

Mr Majaliwa said he hoped the “China model” with manufacturing capabilities driving economic growth, will also prove effective in Tanzania.

At the Chinese-built Internet Data Centre (IDC) situated at Kijitonyama, the then Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Faustin Kamuzora, said centre will provide high speed broadband connectivity throughout the East African nation, the second largest economy in the region.

Prof Kamuzora said the state-of-the-art IDC built by China International Telecommunication Construction Corporation (CITCC) was providing specialized Information and Communication Technology (ICT) services.

Kamuzora said the $35 million IDC has been built with a concessional loan from the Import Bank of China, appealing to ICT stakeholders to use the centre to store their data and information and assured them of guaranteed security.

Kamuzora said the use of the centre will serve to speed up the nation’s digital migration, adding: “The use of the data centre will go a long way in enhancing performance of the ICT sector in Tanzania.”

He added that the data centre was a dedicated space where companies can keep and operate most of the ICT infrastructure that supports their businesses.

Prof Kamuzora said the infrastructure will enhance the use of ICT applications for sustainable socio-economic development including implementation of e-government, e-learning, e-health and e-commerce.

At TAZARA, the journalists heard that after more than 40 years, the original track no longer suits the development of the new Tanzania and Zambia, and was in urgent need of upgrades and rebuilding.

Under the supervision of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, other ministries, CREC, and other companies plans are afoot to prepare the revitalization and sustainable development of TAZARA, also dubbed as the “Road of African Freedom”.

Indeed, TAZARA knits together the friendship between China and Africa, which transcends race and time. It is an eternal monument to the friendship between the people of China and Africa.

In March, this year, TAZARA Board of Directors urged the management of the railway line to apply more efforts in turning around the authority so that it stood on its own.

Members of the TAZARA Board of Directors said although there were positive indicators towards improving the operational performance of TAZARA, it still remained unsustainably low.

TAZARA was constructed as a turnkey project between 1970 and 1975 through an interest-free loan of $500 million from the People’s Republic of China, with commercial operations starting in July 1976, covering 1,860 kilometres from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to New Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia.

Along the TAZARA line, the Chinese built 320 bridges, 22 tunnels and 93 stations. Sixty four Chinese workers lost their lives in the course of constructing the railway line.

The Board directed the management to engage more customers in order to increase the volume of business, TAZARA had said in a statement.

The statement said the Board noted that the authority transported 44,945 tonnes of freight and 110,637 passengers between October and December 2015 as opposed to the approved targets of 50,000 tonnes of freight and 137,502 passengers, respectively.

“The Board also noted that the authority needed to enhance business development efforts in order to not only match with the current competitive environment, but also aim to attain the breakeven point,” said the statement.

In December 2014, TAZARA received four new diesel-electric mainline locomotives and18 new passenger coaches valued at $22.4 million.

The new equipment was expected to register a substantial impact on the operations of TAZARA, which has been struggling from diminished capacity due to aged equipment.

The new equipment was purchased through the 15th Protocol of Economic and Technical Cooperation, a trilateral loan agreement that was signed by the three governments of China, Tanzania and Zambia on March 26, 2012.

Guo Zhigi, Vice-Chairman of StarTimes Group, said the Chinese media firm was immensely contributing to Tanzania’s digital migration by enabling households in the country to afford digital television.

She said: “Our aim is to enable every African household afford the digital TV, watch good digital TV and enjoy the digital life.”

Currently, she said, StarTimes has more than 9 million customers across Africa and it was becoming the leading digital TV operator with the biggest influence and fastest development.

Guo said digitalization in Africa was currently at an impressive stage ever where StarTimes was sticking to its principle of serving the common, completing the network and cooperating with different countries to achieve a huge market.

She said by the end of last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will bring satellite TV into 10,000 African villages.

“This project is aimed at sending the welfare to the people living in the villages and to enhance the understanding and friendship between China and Africa,” said Guo, adding that StarTimes was participating in this project positively and continue making contribution to Africa and Sino-Africa friendship.

Nape Nnauye, Tanzania’s Minister for Information, Culture, Arts and Sports, said the media was playing an important role in bridging the gaps between the people of Africa and China.
Nnauye added that the media has an important role to play in publicizing and promoting the investment opportunities in both China and Africa.

Liao Lanfang, Chief Executive Officer of Star Media (Tanzania) Limited, said Star Media (Tanzania) Company Limited is a joint venture established by StarTimes and Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), the country’s public broadcaster.

Liao said the company operates Pay TV services by providing a variety of premium digital television programs, and a series of high quality digital TV terminal equipment.
StarTimes has a total investment of $150 million, creating over 1,700 jobs in Tanzania, east Africa’s second largest economy.

During a visit to the Nyerere Bridge, connecting the Dar es Salaam commercial hub and the south side of Kigamboni district across the Kurasini district, the journalists were told that the bridge was east Africa’s architectural landmark.

Eng. Jamal Mruma, project engineer of the $135 million bridge constructed by CRJE, said completion of the construction of the bridge fulfilled Tanzanians’ long dream.

“During the construction of the bridge Tanzanians were exposed to technology know how,” said Eng Mruma, adding: “Even myself it was the first time to see such landmark architectural engineering through my naked eyes. I used to see it on movies.”

He said such mammoth projects were aimed at making the world a better place to live.
The Nyerere Bridge opened to public on April 19, this year, when President Magufuli led crowds to witness this happy and historic moment.

During the opening ceremony, President Magufuli named the bridge Nyerere in honour of the country’s founding president.

The construction of the bridge that created 5,000 jobs ended years of local residents’ reliance on wooden boat ferry to cross the creek instead of the 30-minute transport circle. The bridge also heralded a new era of development in Tanzania and even all of Africa.

President Magufuli said the quality and successful completion of the bridge was one of the symbols of great relationship between Tanzania and China, which was started by the two countries founding great leaders in the early 1960s.

The journalists also heard that CRJE Estate Limited, a Chinese construction firm, is also putting up a $77 million joint project with the Mwalimu Nyerere Foundation (MNF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to develop the MNF Square in the Dar es Salaam central business district.

The CRJE Director of Projects, Mr Zhou Zejun, said covering an area of 63,000 square metres, the MNF Square project will be composed of a five star hotel, a class A office, and retail and parking facilities, adding that its construction which started in 2010 will be completed in 2017.

Zhou said IFC has invested a total of $21.8 million in MNF since 2010, adding: “The MNF Square will be Tanzania’s first energy-efficient commercial building benefiting both the country’s economy and environment.”

He said upon completion, the MNF Square will provide excellent business infrastructure to attract more investors and tourists to Tanzania, and creating tens of hundreds of employment opportunities for the local community.

At the end of the visit, a Tanzanian journalist observed that the visit by their colleagues from China “was a blessing in disguise” because it enabled them to see with their own eyes what the Chinese enterprises were doing in Tanzania.

“To be frank it is not easy to get access to Chinese firms if one wants to do so,” said the journalist, adding: “We have learned that the Chinese companies are doing wonderful things, including making Levi’s and Wrangler jeans for exports to the US.”

Sun Zhijun, Vice-Minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said he hoped that stories of Chinese enterprises in Africa will bring more Chinese investments to Africa, which will promote and strengthen economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa.

Sun said over the years, under frameworks such as the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), media houses from China and Africa have carried out rich and fruitful exchanges and cooperation.

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