Twenty people have been arrested as police press a manhunt for Africa’s youngest billionaire who was kidnapped in Dar es Salaam two days ago, a minister said Saturday.

Mohammed Dewji, who at 43 is Africa’s youngest billionaire, was snatched by gunmen as he entered a hotel gym in Tanzania’s economic capital on Thursday morning.

“Up until now, 20 people have been arrested,” Interior Minister Kangi Lugola told reporters, without giving any detail on their identities. “Security forces are working day and night” to find him.

Officials have implicated the involvement of foreigners, saying he was taken by “whites”. Dewji is chief executive of the MeTL Group which operates in some 10 countries and has interests in agriculture, insurance, transport, logistics and the food industry.

According to Forbes, he is worth $1.5 billion (1.29 billion euros) and ranks 17th on the list of African billionaires. Between 2005-2015, he served as a member of parliament and in 2013, he became the first Tanzanian to grace the cover of Forbes magazine. Two years later, he was named Forbes’ Africa Person of the Year.

Dewji is also the main shareholder in Tanzania’s Simba FC football club.

 

- AFP

Tanzania is known for its tapestry of lush forests, expansive grasslands and tropical beaches, and abundant and diverse wildlife. Its coastal forests are part of the Coastal Forests of Eastern Africa biodiversity hotspot – a place recognised for its wealth of wildlife but threatened with destruction, making it a high priority for conservation efforts.

These forests are home to hundreds of endemic plant and animal species – ones that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. For example, there are five endemic mammals – including the Zanzibar Red Colobus – five endemic birds, six endemic amphibians and three endemic reptiles, as well as 325 endemic plants. More than 300 other species are shared only with the nearby Eastern Arc Mountains.

In our paper we found that biodiversity – and the level of endemic species – is exceptional by global standards. We show that many endemic species are threatened with extinction. This is due to increasing human-use pressures as well as emerging mining, gas and oil exploration. Habitat loss and degradation has continued and the space remaining for the endemic species is shrinking. It’s now often confined to government protected areas and lands managed for conservation by villagers.

The region epitomises the challenges of conserving forests in a developing country with a rapidly expanding population, many of whom are dependent on subsistence farming and biomass for cooking. Both have a direct impact on forest habitats.

Forest loss

The forest habitat where these endemic species are uniquely found has continued to be lost and degraded over the past two decades. Between 1990 and 2007, coastal forest cover decreased by more than a third, and has continued to decline ever since. This is largely as a result of agricultural expansion, charcoal production and logging for timber and firewood.

Endemic species are only able to survive in forest. The loss of their habitat is therefore a direct threat to their survival.

By mapping forest loss we can see that there are areas that are some distance from the major coastal towns – Dar es Salaam and Lindi. The lack of recent forest loss closer to these cities is because it’s already been cleared and replaced with urban areas or farm land. Clearance of forest has spread like a wave from these cities into more rural areas.

Areas of forest loss (red) and remaining tree cover (green) close to larger cities in coastal Tanzania (black) and protected areas (pale brown). Data covers the period 2000-2012. Author supplied

Millions of people in Tanzania rely on natural resources – clean freshwater, healthy forests and abundant wildlife – for food and income. And, the destruction of Tanzania’s coastal forests to support the growing population is putting huge pressure on the natural environment.

The main use of forests by people has been as a source of farmland. Tanzania’s economic development in the coastal region is highly dependent on agriculture. Freshly cleared forest is more fertile than established farmland. This has led to more clearance of unprotected forest patches. The need for fertile soil that is close to water courses puts coastal forest patches under even more pressure. Now, almost no forest patches remain in the coastal areas of Tanzania unless they are protected in government – or village-managed reserves, or are within sacred forest or burial sites for local villagers.

The forests and woodlands in the coastal areas have also been used as a source of timber and poles for construction, and as a source of energy – either as firewood in rural areas or converted to charcoal for transport to the growing cities and urban areas. About 90% of Tanzania energy generation comes from wood and charcoal and is a vital source of income to some rural villages. But this has an impact on many of the endemic species.

The challenge

To deal with these challenges – protecting this unique habitat while ensuring people have the resources they need to survive – reserved areas have been created by central and local governments, as well as local communities who are promoting better management. There is also a gradual movement towards private ownership of land.

Between 1995 and 2014, the total area of protected lands increased by more than 20% and now covers 1,233,646 hectares. Much of this is community managed village-land forest reserves – over 140 of these reserves have been developed in recent years, covering many important habitats.

In comparison, the state managed reserve network has not expanded much over the past two decades, and the forested areas within these lands have become more degraded – especially close to major cities.

Reserve managers working along the coastal region of Tanzania are using a simple score card to determine how well their reserve is managed. We also found that the best managed reserves in this area are national parks and village-land forest reserves. This means that these are the places where forest habitat, and hence the endemic species confined to that habitat, are most likely to survive.

What does the future hold?

These challenges will only be solved if the right framework – from policy through to on-the-ground actions – is put in place. Building partnerships with global communities, national stakeholders and involving local communities could improve the effectiveness of managing forests and biodiversity, as well as supporting the country’s development priorities.

Peter Sumbi, independent environmental consultant and Isaac Malugu, former forest officer were co-authors on this article.The Conversation

Neil Burgess, Professor at the Center for Marcoecology, Evolution and Climate, University of Copenhagen

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The government, through Tanzania Roads Agency (Tanroads) has set aside a total of $4.4m to proceed with the construction of a road that links Tanzania to the neighbouring countries of Zambia and Malawi, the Parliament heard on Monday, June O4, 2018.

The Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Elias Kwandikwa told the House that the government understands the importance of the Mpemba-Ileje Road to Tanzania's economic fortunes, noting that currently, construction of the Mpemba-Isongole section was underway.

Mr Kwandikwa was responding to a question from Mr Frank Mwakajoka who wanted to know what the government was doing to build the Mpemba-Ileje Road, saying it was strategically positioned to link Tanzania to the neighboring countries.

According to Mr Kwandikwa, during the 2017/18 Financial Year, the government set aside $1.9m for the Mpemba-Ileje section and that in the 2018/19 Financial Year, some $4.4m will be spent on the project.

 

Credit: The Citizen

The government has allocated Sh1 billion ( $440,000) to upgrade Handeni - Singida road through Chemba to the tarmac level.

The road joins the three regions of Tanga, Dodoma and Singida in which the East African crude oil pipeline from Hoima in Uganda to Chongoleani in Tanzania passes through. 

Deputy minister for Works, Transport and Communications Mr Elias Kwandikwa said the preparations for compensations have started. He also asked the residents in that area to stop settlement development in areas marked.

Mr Kwandikwa was responding to a question from Mr Juma Nkamia (Chemba-CCM) who wanted to know when the construction of the tarmac road from Handeni through Kiberashi, Chemba and Kwamtoro to Singida would start.

 

Source: The Citizen 

Tanzania’s economy grew around 7.1 per cent last year, beating the government’s own revised forecast, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

In November, the country trimmed its gross domestic product (GDP) to 7.0 per cent from 7.1 per cent. That forecast had also been revised from 7.4 per cent. But Majaliwa said East Africa’s third-largest economy grew faster than expected last year owing to an increase in mining activity.

“Latest data ... shows that the country’s gross domestic product grew 7.1 per cent in the period between January and December 2017, compared to a GDP growth of 7.0 per cent in 2016,” Majaliwa said in the parliamentary presentation obtained by Reuters.

The session on Monday was held behind closed doors.

Full-year GDP growth in 2017 was driven by mining and quarrying (17.5 per cent), transport and storage (16.6 per cent) and construction (14.7 per cent) activities, he said.

The World Bank cut its forecast for Tanzania’s full-year GDP growth in November to 6.6 per cent due to slowdowns in public spending and growth of credit to the private sector. Tanzania has pledged to boost public investment in infrastructure projects, including a standard gauge railway, new roads and an expansion of ports.

But some investors have been unnerved by some policies from the government of President John Magufuli, who is nicknamed “The Bulldozer” for his governing style.

“There appears to have been an overall deterioration in business sentiment due to the perceived risks resulting from the unpredictability of policy actions,” the World Bank said in its economic update on Tanzania in November.

Tanzania’s central bank last week revoked the licenses of five “critically undercapitalised” community banks to protect financial stability in East Africa’s No. 3 economy.

There are about 40 commercial banks and a dozen community banks, which target savings from specific communities or sectors such as farming, but the financial sector is largely dominated by just a handful of big banks.

The central bank said it would liquidate the Covenant Bank for Women (Tanzania) Ltd, Efatha Bank Ltd, Njombe Community Bank Ltd, Kagera Farmers’ Cooperative Bank Ltd and Meru Community Bank Ltd.
“The aforesaid banks are critically undercapitalised,” the central bank said in a statement.

It said continuation of operations of the banks in their current capital position was “detrimental to the interests of depositors and poses a risk to the stability of the financial system.”

The closure of the banks comes after President John Magufuli ordered the central bank to take action against failing financial institutions. This brings to eight the number of banks whose business licences have been cancelled since 2017.

Analysts said a steep increase in bad loans coupled with a sharp decline in credit to the private sector are threatening to undermine economic growth. The central bank announced new rules last June for capital buffers, a move that will force banks to hold more capital to withstand financial shocks following a sharp rise in non-performing loans.

Tanzania’s economy grew at an annual rate of 6.8 percent in the first half of 2017 from 7.7 percent in the same period in 2016. The International Monetary Fund said last month Tanzania’s banking sector was well-capitalised, but some small and mid-sized banks faced a sizable reduction in capitalisation ratios.

 

- Reuters

The continent of Africa is rich in natural resources and boasts of a wide variety that makes it an intriguing place to invest and look into for business opportunities. Wildlife and tourism have played a major part in inviting a number of entrepreneurs and tourists to the mass of land, bringing revenue to the countries visited.

There has been a concern over the years, however, with illegal activities coming into play. Issues such as poaching have hampered tourism in Africa but government bodies are looking into the matter to ensure there is safety for the animals and that poaching is discouraged for the benefit of the country affected.

There have been cases of illegal fishing as well that has surfaced on the water bodies. East African country Tanzania has been the latest state to address the issue. The sub-Saharan country has raised the awareness as it continues to look sharp in the fishing industry but few cases yet to be looked into hamper it from taking its fishing market to the next level.

The state realized a drastic decline of fish stocks in the Indian Ocean, its mass water body. The awareness has been courtesy of a rise in illegal fishing, which now seems to be a serious issue that endangers its economy.

The use of dynamite in the deep sea fishing has been catalyzed with the users being mostly pirates. According to the reports filed, the illegal fishing by the pirates has accounted for most of the loss of endangered species that has dragged down the fish stocks.

It is estimated that fish catches declined to at least 360,000 tonnes in 2016 from an average 390,000 tonnes over the past four years. Tanzania's total demand is 730,000 tonnes of fish per year.

With this on the surface, it is believed that the local companies of the state have settled for imported fish from China. Reports suggest that 2,000 tonnes of mackerel fish enter the African country monthly from the Asian country.

 

Credit: The Exchange

The Tanzanian mainland is marking the 56th anniversary of independence from British rule. The mainland unified with Zanzibar in 1964 to create the current nation-state under Mwalimu Julius Nyerere who is often invoked as “the father of the nation”.

The new nation-state’s economic, social and political path was paved in 1967, when Nyerere proclaimed the Arusha Declaration. This led to the nationalisation of key industries and the total reorganisation of rural life. Communal farming and forced resettlement were applied, justified on the basis of attempting to bring about self-reliance.

Referred to as ujamaa, the socialist-inspired policies dominated the politics, society, and economy of Tanzania until Nyerere’s retirement in 1985.

Ujamaa policies are much debated. Generally, they are seen as something of a social success but as economically ruinous. By emphasising Tanzanian citizenship, ujamaa created a sense of unity and effectively removed the kind of ethnic politics that dominates Kenya, for example. But it short-circuited the economy and saw food production collapse.

Nyerere’s handpicked successor Ali Hassan Mwinyi Tanzania practically reversed all the earlier policies. His government moved from one of the most influential and vehement defenders of African Socialism to one of the most neoliberal regimes on the continent. As Pitcher and Askew thoughtfully assert, this really put the “self” in “self-reliance”.

This openness to investment and trade was further enhanced with the introduction of multipartyism in 1995. Under both Presidents Mkapa and Kikwete, the country generally remained economically liberal. It also remained investment friendly with significant levels of foreign investment when compared to the socialist period.

But sweeping change has come under the current President John Pombe Magufuli, who has just entered the third year of a five-year term. Magufuli has taken a different approach to that of his recent predecessors and is harking back to policies advocated by Nyerere. Comparisons between the two are commonplace, both positive and negative. This is particularly so when it comes to natural resources.

Perhaps the most contentious area today is the mining sector and the role of the contemporary government in seeking better returns from mining companies. This move has the hallmarks of a policy of resource nationalism. This is a sign of a shift in policy as well as rhetoric.

Opening a closed economy

Tanzania was close to bankrupt after the economic collapse of the 1970s and the conflict with Idi Amin’s Uganda in the late-1970s. The latter years of Nyerere’s presidency were marked by his continual attempts to resist IMF assistance which involved signing up to a structural adjustment package. This was mainly down to his concerns over dramatic cuts to social provision.

The first programme was finally implemented in 1986 under Mwinyi whose presidency was marked by Tanzania’s economy opening up and dramatic reductions in social expenditure.

Multi partyism also arrived in Tanzania. The first multiparty elections in 1995 were won by Benjamin Mkapa who remained in power for the next 10 years. Another 10 years followed under Jakaya Kikwete until 2015.

During this period foreign investment has come in many sectors, but especially in tourism and mining. A significant part of the financial inflows came from post-apartheid South Africa.

“The Bulldozer” approach

“The Bulldozer” Magufuli is Tanzania’s fifth president, and the fourth since multiparty elections. As he enters his third year, there are strains of authoritarianism in Magufuli’s approach which bear the hallmarks of Nyerere. For example, he seems to have centralised power within the executive branch of government.

At the same time, he seems to be placing himself more closely to the socialist era of Tanzanian politics than anything since Nyerere.

Both approaches seem politically acceptable to Tanzanians – as long as they generate results. Nevertheless, Magufuli’s approval ratings fell to 71% in June from a high of 96% last year.

It’s still unclear what effect his recent attempts to claw back revenues from multinational mining giants will have on his rating.

New regime for mining

In the Arusha Declaration, Nyerere describes natural resources as owned by all citizens and held in trust for their descendants. When the new mining laws were passed in July, Magufuli said:

We [Tanzanians] must benefit from our God given minerals and that is why we must safeguard our natural resource wealth to ensure we do not end up with empty mining pits.

The new laws raise royalties on tax for gold, copper, silver and platinum exports from 4% to 6%. This is a nominal increase perhaps but an indication of a different direction of travel. Expectations are that such changes will soon be introduced for tanzanite and diamonds.

Following the new laws the government agreed a 50-50 profit sharing arrangement with Barrack Gold as well as a minimum government of stake 16% in all mining activities. Gold generates around a third of the country’s export revenues.

The new mining laws aren’t akin to the nationalisation of 50 years ago. But Magufuli has described the agreement with foreign investors as groundbreaking and a model to be adopted elsewhere across the continent.

The long term impact of mining reforms are yet to be felt. Claims from multinational corporations that the new laws threaten future investment may well prove to be overblown. As might the opinion pieces in The Economist suggesting Armageddon for the sector in Tanzania. But, certainly from some quarters, the view is that Magufuli has managed the process well.

On the other hand, his bulldozing style has seen his popularity decrease. It has also seen critics express their views over his presidency more forcefully.

A balance sheet of positives and negatives is perhaps the most striking similarity with the legacy of Nyerere as Tanzania marks yet another independence anniversary.

 

I would like to thank Alessia De Vito for her blog as part of our African Politics course at the University of East London. It certainly informed my ideas for this article.

Rob Ahearne, Senior Lecturer in International Development, University of East London

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

The Kipembawe Division is hidden in the southern highlands of south-west Tanzania, a long seven-hour drive north from the city of Mbeya. The scenery is stunning, yet when you look closer you can see that tobacco plants dominate agricultural areas, and the sound of trees being felled is a constant background noise.

Just the word “tobacco” conjures up vivid imagery of death and disease, as depicted on graphic cigarette packets and through hard-hitting anti-smoking campaigns. But tobacco’s impact starts long before it is found wrapped in a cigarette, and affects many more people than the estimated one billion smokers worldwide.

Tobacco also impacts the health and well-being of the people who grow it and the environment where it is grown, often with devastating consequences. My colleagues and I have recently published research demonstrating just how damaging it can be to the environment and communities in rural Tanzania.

Most villages in Kipembawe don’t have electricity or mobile phone coverage. There are minimal healthcare facilities, and water is obtained from wells and rivers. There are few crops people can grow to make money and the dominant one is tobacco, farmed by 86% of the 196 households we surveyed. In Tanzania, 47% of the population lives below the international poverty line and rural poverty rates are even higher, where most people are reliant on agriculture.

Nutrient-hungry crop. Eleanor Jew

In Africa, tobacco cultivation is often associated with the presence of a dry tropical woodland called “miombo”, which dominates Kipembawe. Miombo woodland covers over 2.4m km² in Africa, but is undergoing rapid deforestation and degradation throughout its range. Both tobacco and miombo trees like sandy, slightly acidic soils.

Unfortunately, these soils don’t contain many nutrients, and tobacco is one of the most nutrient-hungry crops there is. This means farmers must clear more woodland almost every year to create new fields, because the land can only support one or two cropping cycles.

For tobacco leaves to be preserved for transportation and further processing they must be dried or cured. This places another burden on the trees, which are used for fuel. In total, approximately 4,134 hectares of woodland are cleared annually within Kipembawe. This reduces biodiversity and the benefits the local environment can provide people, including carbon storage, firewood, building materials and fresh water.

Risks to farmers

But woodland clearance is just the start of the process. Throughout the growing season, farmers apply several rounds of fertiliser and pesticides to the crop, yet few farmers understand the risks associated with their use. During our time in Kipembawe, we didn’t see anyone using protective clothing or equipment, exposing farmers, families and labourers to harmful chemicals.

What’s more, despite regulations that aim to reduce the impact of fertilisers on water sources, the crops are often initially grown close to rivers so that the distance to carry water is shorter. This means the only source of drinking water for livestock can become contaminated, causing conflict between livestock keepers and tobacco farmers.

Young farmers. Eleanor Jew, Author provided

Child labour within tobacco growing is a also well-known issue, and the main tobacco organisations have joined the Eliminating Child Labour in Tobacco Growing Foundation. But we saw children working in the fields, and evidence from primary schools indicates that children are likely to start working on their parents’ fields from around the age of 13.

While this has obvious consequences for their education, there are also severe health impacts. Green tobacco sickness is a form of nicotine poisoning that occurs when the tobacco leaves are wet and contact the skin. Nicotine is absorbed through the skin, and leads to fever, vomiting and dizziness. While it rarely results in death it can be extremely frightening to children, who are more susceptible to severe symptoms due to a lack of nicotine tolerance and smaller body size.

Little other choice

So why do farmers grow tobacco? Many people have few alternative ways to make a living and farmers can get a good price for top quality tobacco. This money can significantly improve the lives of the farmers, enabling them to pay school fees, invest in other businesses, and afford bicycles and solar electricity.

Some men spend their money during the weeks after harvest drinking in the local pubs and pop-up bars which emerge. Canny women brew home beer from maize, and make a roaring trade. But prostitutes also flock to the area around this time, raising the risk of STI transmission. HIV rates in Mbeya are the third highest in the country, with nine per cent of 15-49 year olds testing positive for HIV – four per cent higher than the national average.

Crop collectors. Eleanor Jew, Author provided

Despite the 2005 World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and falling smoking rates, global population growth means total tobacco use looks likely to keep rising in the foreseeable future. But in Kipembawe, the deforestation associated with tobacco cultivation will ultimately make production unviable because there will be no fuel left to cure the crop. This will leave the community without a significant source of income and a degraded environment.

If people had other ways to make their living, it would help reduce the social and environmental burdens of tobacco production, but opportunities are limited. Tobacco production could be made more sustainable using alternative drying methods, reforestation, more efficient use of fertilisers and pesticides and land use management plans. But extensive training and support is needed, and child labour must be eliminated.

All of this will be difficult while there is such great demand for tobacco. So next time you think about lighting up, remember it’s not just your health at risk. Kicking the habit could save both trees and children’s chances.

 

Eleanor Jew, Researcher in Conservation and Agriculture, University of Leeds

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

A new era of agriculture has unveiled with the latest cash crop soaring on the surface of the sphere. Tanzania is set to get competitive in cotton farming, with its season kicking in at such a favorable time for the country's economy.

Geita Region is delighted to make the debut of the crop for the 2017/18 that was opened under 196, 373 acres. The land is set to be cultivated in contract farming, an effective methodology for the crop.

With this launch, Tanzania will get more competitive in the agricultural sector. It is a smart move by the government to expand its territories in the agricultural sector, venturing into varieties of export commodities to better the economy and strengthen the sector as well. This will earn the country great revenue to boost other sectors and expand them.

In the launch, that was conducted by the region's Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr. Roberts Luhumbi, he expects more than 66,000 cotton farmers to contribute to the planting and cultivation of cotton in the final stages of this year. The new cotton plating season that was hosted in Buharahara Village is hopeful of striving through the market by next year and achieve their goals.

The RC assured the farmers that the government has put a thumb for the go-ahead of cotton farming and will support the farmers and the project to the latter to see the success of the plantation.

The farmers' wellbeing is another aspect the government is looking to cater for hence giving them the opportunity to invest their human resource in the new venture. The government is hoping to lift the standards of the farmers through the cotton cultivation.

The nation is as well looking to provide raw materials for the textile industry. The demand will find the optimum supply with the government's plan and quench the thirst for their need in the industries.

During the 2016/17 plan for the cotton farming calendar, the area had planned to cultivate almost 67, 002 hectares of land with an estimated production of 93,343 tons of cotton. Unfortunately, the farmers were able to till 24, 791 of the land with an emergence of 13,267.82 tons of cotton seeds. The seeds were estimated to be worth Tshs. 15,926,181,600.

One of the challenges the RC addressed was the lack of technology to be applied such as fertilisers and believed their presence would bring a massive difference for them. A number of farmers have lamented on the availability of such resources that reduce their yields by significance percentage.

The RC has admonished the use of urea and di-ammonium phosphate that the government will affordably sell to them to increase their harvests. He as well requested for the supervision of the cultivation and ensures the productivity level is not tampered or compromised with. He has commissioned the District Commissioners (DCs) to see the welfare of the farmers well maintained.

Cotton is the main cash crop that is being cultivated in the region bringing in a fortune to the farmers. Most harvest their income from that to meet their basic necessities and maintain their living standards.

Geita RC has applauded the civil servants in their commitment to invest in the farmers by giving them educational services. He has urged them to continue in the same to enhance better farming practices for improved yields.

The civil servants will help boost the farmers' individual income by the best farming practices they can equip them with and facilitate the industrialization sector in the country.

 

Source: The Exchange

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