TIC not aware of Alistair Group's 1.5bn/- Mtwara free port investment

20Jan 2016
Grace Kambaulaya
The Guardian
TIC not aware of Alistair Group's 1.5bn/- Mtwara free port investment

A US$ 700,000 (approx. 1.52bn/-) Mtwara free port project by Alistair Group which took off in December last year is not registered by Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC).

TIC Public Relations Manager, Daudi Ridanda said there are no records relating to the project at the centre which is the sole government agency to process such foreign projects. “May be they are registered at another government agency but not with us,” Ridanda told The Guardian.

He however noted that it’s compulsory that every foreign investment is registered at TIC but advised investors to visit the centre to get better information pertaining to secure investment in the country.

“Just because it is absent here at TIC does not mean that the project does not exist in the country” he pointed out.

According to the 1997 Tanzania Investment Act, the TIC is a one stop agency of the government established to promote, co-ordinate and facilitate investment into the country. The law requires that any foreign project with minimum capital investment of US$ 300,000 (approx. 654.3/-) or US$ 100,000 (approx. 218.1m/-) for locally owned projects qualifies for registration at TIC.

Alistair Group through one of its subsidiaries, Alistair Freeports Limited, was given an operator’s license after signing a 33 years lease agreement for 14,154 square meters of land with the Export Processing Zones Authority adjacent to Mtwara port in the natural gas southern region of the country.
Maritime stakeholders have questioned the meager investment by a foreign company which has a workforce of over 400 people and a logistics company with a fleet of trucks and cargo loading equipment.

“It’s high time that our investment laws are amended so that we can get value for our resources, US$ 700,000 for a 14,154 squares metres of land at a prime port like Mtwara where natural gas boom is taking shape is ridiculous,” an official at Tanzania Ports Authority in Mtwara said.

He pointed out that a huge investment is required to establish a serious free port area in Mtwara because the region is already becoming a busy hub with oil and gas and exploration companies. “We need much more big and serious infrastructure investors in this regard,” the source argued.

During the project’s inauguration last December, EPZA Director of Investment Promotion and Facilitation, Zawadia Nanyaro, said the authority in partnership with TPA are targeting to tame unemployment by creating sustainable projects such as Mtwara free port zone .

She said the free port area which provides plenty of storage space and service solutions for cargo, is aligned with government efforts to attract investors in the area.

Alistair Group’s Managing Director, Alistair James promised to support government efforts to create jobs and contribute to growth through provision of integrated logistical solutions.

“We are truly proud to be one of the first companies to start offering public access to the Mtwara Free Port Zone and so today we not only celebrate its inauguration but a significant milestone for Alistair Group,” James said during the launch.

Among other roles, the Mtwara Free Port Zone is specially designed to be a convenient and cost effective in handling imported equipment by oil and gas companies including that being used in exploration which at some point will be rendered idle. Such exploration equipment will be exempt from value added tax and customs duty payment until such period when it goes back into service.