East Africa: Tanzania Extractive Industry Faces Uncertain Future

Although Tanzania is proud of being endowed with vast and valuable extractive resources, the government is likely to lose as much revenue more than it had anticipated due to lack of transparency, a researcher has observed.

Dr. Martin Kijazi who is an independent consultant at Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) expressed this concern last week in Dar es Salaam at a policy forum breakfast debate which was held at the British Council Hall in Dar es Salaam.

He said lack of transparency about the available resources in some parts of the country still surrounds the mindset of the majority of the ordinary citizens.

Dr. Kijazi was presenting a preliminary research finding of his own research study titled, "The role of local institutions in accountable natural resource management". The full study reports will be made available soon.

In his earlier findings, the researcher has discovered that, "there is a great weakness on accountability especially in the natural resource management as many ordinary Tanzanian citizens do not know exactly how the extractive industry operates and the contribution of their income to the national budget".

He noted that there is a tendency of infidelity on the truth about the sector and this is a challenge as most officials are reluctant to give information concerning the natural resources management and the exploration activities currently going on in some parts Tanzania.

He attributed the attitudes of most officials as being resentful and do not want to cooperate effectively whenever are contacted to give comments or clarifications over the matter.

However, he noted that, there are concerns that Tanzania's lucrative extractive industry is not generating adequate revenues to the national coffers and at the same time is not contributing significantly to poverty reduction strategies amongst the people.

Although he praised the Tanzania Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (TEITI) for its role in increasing transparency, the firm does not guarantee accountability.

In his comments the Program Manager responsible for East and Southern Africa for Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) Silas Olan'g cautioned that as long little continues to be attained from the extractive industry, the government needs to review the laws and policies governing the exploration activities.

Olan'g is on the view of that as the government is now working effectively to ensure good output from the extractive industry and in view of this a change of policy in the mineral sector is necessary for some changes to take place.

"We still have a room to improve our policy and if possible change our laws so as to make the sector work with greater profits. We need to make a dialogue and come up with something useful" he said noting that, Tanzania should emulate Uganda which discussed their mining policy for two years.

"Most government officials are not transparent over the incomes and expenditures incurred to ascertain how the country uses its natural resources in alleviating poverty, education and many other things of national interest," he said.

A discussant over the matter who is a retired University Professor said that the much awaited production economy of the natural gas sector whose exploration is still going on in southern Tanzania now for the seventh year, will not alleviate poverty amongst citizens in the country.

Professor Adolf Mascarenhas was contributing his views over the topic that sparked a hot debate and noted that, working together in transparency as Tanzanians is a sole means to alleviate the persisting poverty situation in the country was inevitable.

Mascarenhas called on Tanzanians to wake up and be aware of the invention of gas in the country and have all the details in hands instead of politicizing the matter which would later on put the nation in jeopardy.

Source: East African Business Week.