By Masato Masato
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ended his two-day visit in the country yesterday afternoon amid hopes of invigorated economic ties between the two friendly countries.
Although the visiting premier held talks with his host, President John Magufuli, on a wide range of issues, particularly on the economic sphere, it remains the duty of all Tanzanians to aggressively grab the immense opportunities that the cemented relationship comes with.
India, according to Dr Magufuli, offers a huge market for Tanzanian chickpeas, green grams and pigeon peas, which are most favourite among Indian consumers. Indians, most of whom are vegetarians, consume 23 million tonnes of peas annually against her production capacity of 17 million tonnes.
There is, therefore, a deficit of six million tonnes of peas that India imports, a huge business opportunity for Tanzania, which last year exported 200 million US dollars (over 400bn/-) worth of peas, to the Asian nation.
During yesterday talks, India agreed to fund commercial production of peas in Tanzania. But, India too offers immense market for Tanzanian cashew nut, with over 90 per cent of the produce exported in raw form to India for processing.
However, under the country’s new industrialisation drive, which envisages among other things to add value to agricultural produce, Tanzania stands to benefit greatly from Indian expertise in agro-processing.
“We have invited our Indian friends to come and assist us in sustainable exploitation of our resources, we want a win-win situation,” President Magufuli said in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
The entourage of over 50 businesspeople that Premier Modi came with denotes the seriousness of the Indians to invest in Africa, especially in Tanzania. Already, India is the third, after Britain and China, largest source of foreign direct investments to Tanzania.
According to records from the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), the centre has registered 426 Indian projects worth 2.4 billion US dollars (about 5 trillion/-), with 54,176 new jobs on offer.
Following the visit, more investments are expected from the Asian nation in the industrial sector, especially in sugar and medicine manufacturing that has attracted the interest of the visiting businesspeople.
India is one of the most successful countries in small industries in the world, with over 40 per cent of industrial production coming from the sector. Tanzania expects to get a big boost from the Indian expertise in exploring the available resources in various parts of the country and the type of small industries that can be established.
Through the agreed formation of industrial incubators countrywide, hundreds of Tanzanians will receive specialised commercial and financial trainings as well as initial capitals.
According to President Magufuli, his administration is determined to borrow a leaf from India in its efforts to promote the small industrial sector as the engine of economic growth.
Already, India has a legislation that compels all commercial banks to allocate 20 per cent of their credits to small industries, with local governments required to source at least 30 per cent of their procurements from small and medium industries.