Tanzania's richest 10% people own the whole economy - PM

10Feb 2016
Our Reporter
The Guardian
Tanzania's richest 10% people own the whole economy - PM

PRIME Minister Kassim Majaliwa yesterday laid bare the scale of economic inequality in Tanzania, saying just 10 per cent of the population owns the country's entire economy.

Kasim Majaliwa

The PM's statement at a meeting hosted by the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) in Dar es Salaam came amid concerns of a growing wealth disparity in the country, despite reports of the economy growing rapidly at an average of 7 per cent per annum over the past decade.

Appearing to confirm that the benefits of this economic expansion have not been trickling down to the majority of the people, Majaliwa pointed to “available data” that showed “just 10 per cent of Tanzanians own the country's economy."

He said the government was now taking measures to ensure that most citizens are empowered economically through creating a favorable business environment and availing equal opportunities to all social groups to develop economically.

"The government's economic empowerment policy is aimed at ensuring that citizens are given access to various economic opportunities that would enable them to benefit from their own country's economy," said the premier.

The state-run NEEC was established to oversee affirmative action measures to promote and enhance knowledge, skills, economic prowess and financial prudence among Tanzanians.

Tanzania’s current Development Vision envisages that by the year 2025, a large segment of the country's economy should be owned by local citizens. The government of the day thus has just nine years left to achieve the elusive target of ensuring that the bottom 90 per cent of the populace gains an equitable chunk of their country's economy.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Tanzania has a population of over 47 million, the bottom 90 per cent of which would be around 42.3 million people.

The richest 10 per cent of the country’s population accounts for less than 5 million people, most of whom reside and operate in Dar es Salaam and a few other major urban centres, according to the analysts.

WHO OWNS TANZANIA?

Despite having vast tracts of agricultural land, a wealth of mineral resources and huge natural gas reserves, Tanzania has positively struggled to make a bigger dent on poverty.
The country’s economic growth has been concentrated in a few capital-intensive sectors such as mining and telecoms, but without producing enough job creation, raising average individual incomes, and significantly reducing poverty, according to a recent World Bank report.

Despite the impressive macro-fiscal performance and decades of concerted efforts to lift the rural masses out of poverty, farming incomes in Tanzania have stagnated, with aggregate agricultural production growing barely faster than the population.

So although Tanzania's economy is one of the fastest-growing in Africa, it is growing from a low base, with income per capita below the average for sub-Saharan Africa, according to World Bank figures.

The fact that this economic growth has not been inclusive means it has failed to lift millions of Tanzanians out of poverty.

While growth in some African countries such as South Africa and Nigeria has managed to create scores of American dollar millionaires, Tanzania only has a handful of very wealthy people who own the economy.

The internationally-respected Forbes magazine lists the Dar es Salaam-based businessman Mohammed Dewji as "the richest man in Tanzania," estimating his net wealth at $1.1 billion.

Also in the list of the wealthiest people in Tanzania are businessmen Rostam Aziz (net worth $900m) and Said Salim Bakhresa ($600m), according to Forbes.

Elsewhere in the continent, the number of extremely wealthy Africans is increasing, says the World Bank in its latest Africa Poverty Report.

Differences between urban and rural areas and across regions are large as the number of people living in extreme poverty in Africa has grown substantially since 1990.

On a global scale, British charity Oxfam said last month the richest 1% now has as much wealth as the rest of the world combined.

Oxfam also calculated that the richest 62 people in the world had as much wealth as the poorest half of the global population.

The wealth of the poorest 50% dropped by 41% between 2010 and 2015, despite an increase in the global population of 400m, Oxfam said. In the same period, the wealth of the richest 62 people increased by $500bn to $1.76 trillion.

The charity said in 2010, the 388 richest people owned the same wealth as the poorest 50%. This dropped to 80 in 2014 before falling again in 2015.

“It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so small, in fact, that you could fit them all on a single coach,” said the Oxfam GB chief executive Mark Goldring.

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