Drought Continues to Vex African Nations

Shauri Moyo water project in Majengo ward, Muheza district, Tanga region got a shot in the arm last week following the arrival of 31-million/- equipment to start implementation of the project.

Presenting the equipment, Muheza Member of Parliament Adadi Rajabu, reminded a well-attend public rally in Majengo ward that the equipment was ordered in order to solve chronic water problem in that particular ward, adding that tackling seriously the water problem in Muheza District was one of Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s election campaign pledges.

“At personal level,” he said, “I vowed to struggle to end the incessant water problem in this district. I renew my pledge.  I will not rest until the vast majority of residents of this district get a permanent supply of potable water.  This is just a beginning.”

Ambassador Rajabu thanked unnamed stakeholders he teamed up with to secure the equipment to implement the Shauri Moyo scheme projected to benefit 6,000 residents.  He said he will look for more donors to implement other water projects.

He asked Muheza residents to play their part in the struggle to end the water problem because, he said, water problem in the district was age-old, explaining that no individual could solely end the problem without the participation of the people.

“If we shall rise together, we shall solve many of the problems in our society.  I beseech you to play your part as we implement our development plans.”

The MP also presented Pande Darajani, Kilulu, Magila na Majengo villagers with 500 corrugated iron sheets whose roofs were damaged during a storm in January this year.

Majengo Councilor Shaban Kibwana thanked the MP for keeping his word, saying residents will support him in implementing development projects.

Rodents to Help Doctors Fight Tuberculosis

DAR ES SALAAM:- Scientists in East Africa plan to exploit trained rats’ highly developed sense of smell to carry out mass screening for tuberculosis among inmates of crowded prisons in Tanzania and Mozambique.

African Giant Pouched Rats trained by the Belgian non governmental organisation APOPO are widely known for their work sniffing out landmines, and are now developing a reputation in East Africa for their skill and speed at detecting TB too.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death, after HIV, from an infectious disease. Around the world, there are about 9 million new cases a year and around 2 million deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

In Tanzania, people in communities where TB is most common, including prisons, often fail to show up for screening because of lack of money or awareness, creating a huge burden for health authorities trying to tackle the disease, health officials said.

Because existing systems lack the accuracy, speed and cost-efficiency required to scale up screening of the highly contagious disease, many TB cases go undiagnosed, they said.

APOPO, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID,) plans to recruit and train more rats to carry out prison screening that it expects to be faster and more reliable than existing methods.

“We believe our unique TB Detection Rat technology will prove itself as an effective mass-screening tool,” said APOPO’s U.S. director, Charlie Richter.

“We then aim to expand the programme to all prisons, shantytowns, factories and other settings in Tanzania, Mozambique and other high TB-burden countries, as well as in high-risk groups such as those individuals living with HIV/AIDS. This will improve and save lives all over the globe at a low cost,” Richter said.

Though data from African jails is hard to come by, studies from Tanzania, Malawi and Ivory Coast show that TB rates are 10 times higher in prisons than in the general population, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

TRAINING STARTS AT FOUR WEEKS OLD

APOPO says the rats undergo a rigorous training process that begins when they are four weeks old. As soon as the rats open their eyes, they are introduced to various stimuli and learn how to socialize and interact with people.

The rats learn to recognise the presence of TB in samples of sputum, mucus that is coughed up from the patient’s lower airways, and rewarded when they succeed.

The testing process starts when a rat is presented with a row of 10 sputum samples, and when it detects TB the rat hovers over the sample for 3 seconds, Richter said.

The rats’ accuracy at detecting TB is almost 100 percent, but they cannot distinguish between normal and drug-resistant strains, APOPO scientists say.

The APOPO system is fast, cheap and has the potential to greatly lower screening costs in poor countries, Richter said.

While a laboratory technician may take four days to detect tuberculosis, a trained rat can screen 100 samples in 20 minutes, and a rat screening can cost as little as 20 US cents when APOPO operations are running near capacity, he said.

APOPO’s current programmes have screened more than 340,000 TB samples, halting over 36,000 further infections, and increased detection rates by over 40 percent in several partnered clinics, officials said.

Khadija Abraham, an expert at Tanzania’s National Leprosy and Tuberculosis Programme, said trained rats had a great ability to detect a wide range of strong-smelling molecules that could help tracking down undiagnosed TB cases, especially in rural areas.

“Training an animal with a strong and reliable sense of smell to help detect disease in a vast country like Tanzania could potentially offer a valuable solution to help detecting the disease,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Training pouched rats requires little human skill since they only have to be exposed to the smell they need to recognize, Abraham said.

“Experiments show that these rats can detect a sample with TB parasites in a second and evidence has shown that they are able to sniff out even those with very minimal parasites,”she said.

TB cases are normally detected by sputum smear microscopy, a slow and costly process that has not changed for years and is not very accurate. The WHO insists that one lab technician should not test more than 20 patients a day, and says the chances of misdiagnosis are high if this exceeded.

Jobs for African Youths

ON March 18 this year, the Compliance Department of Barclays Bank-Tanzania Limited (Barclays/BBT) conducted a Clinic on ‘Curriculum Vitae (CV) Writing & Interview Skills’ for final year students of the Dar es Salaam College of Tumaini University (TUDARCo).

In his opening remarks, the Barclays Director of Planning, Dr. Lotti, pointed out that such Clinics are rarely part of normal curricula in Universities – and, in the event, he encouraged students to make maximum use of the session through active participation.

For her part, Barclays Head of Compliance, Irene Sengati-Giattas, said “there is a gap in the jobs market whereby prospective employers have vacancies to fill – but they experience a scarcity in sourcing candidates with the right skills and mind sets  to fill the vacancies, while job seekers experience a lack of employment opportunities!”

As Barclay’s mission is to help people achieve their ambitions – and doing so in the right way – the Clinic was an act of willing contribution to the society by the Barclays Team, to commemorate the ‘Global Barclays Compliance Citizenship Day.’

“At Barclays, we believe that, as the society around us grows, we grow with it,” Irene philosophised.

Dr. Joyce Chonjo, Deputy Provost (Administration) appreciated the initiative and welcomed the team for many more Clinics and up-skilling sessions in the future.

Feedback from the University finalists

  • Beatrice Kapori, 3rd year student, Bachelor of Arts in Mass  Communications, said “I have learnt lots of things that I didn’t know earlier, which include how to write a CV – and the common mistakes to avoid when writing a CV. Barclays have come in at the right time when we are about to go to the jobs market!”
  • Genovefa Feksi, 3rd year student, Bachelor of Business Administration, said “this is my first training for CV writing and interview skills, and I have really gained a lot. Although I have written a CV before, there are things I didn’t know aren’t supposed to be included. If I were to be called for an interview before this training, I would have been very nervous and scared… The training has really boosted up my confidence as I now know the manner by which to answer questions well. Thank you so much for coming, Barclays!”
  • Alex Mbegu, 3rd year student, Bachelor of Human Resource Management, said “the training was very informative. I have identified mistakes I made in writing CVs in the past. Very recently, I prepared a CV on behalf of a friend and I used first person narration ‘I am…I am’. Luckily, the CV has not been sent out yet so the training is both useful and timely.

With regard to what is next after the CV – the Interview – I have never gone for a job interview, so I have been clueless as to what to expect. However, from the Interview Skills session, I learnt how to tackle questions appropriately – especially in Competence-based interviews. The training is very relevant.”

  • Jackson Simon Shekigenda, 3rd year student, Bachelor of Human Resource Management, said “I have learnt that, through our normal life, we can identify various skills we may unknowingly possess, which employers look for, in spite of not having any work experience!”

Barclays Bank-Tanzania has been operating in Tanzania for the past 15 years – and, currently, boasts a network of 22 branches and 48 ATMs strategically located countrywide, employing over 500 workers serving over 70,000 customers!

Barclays first opened its doors to business in the country in 1925, where it continued to operate until 1967 when its operations were nationalized to become the National Bank of Commerce. With the liberalization of the economy in 1990s, Barclays Bank Plc re-entered the Tanzania market, re-opening its doors in 2000.

Barclays-Africa Group Limited 

Barclays-Africa Group Limited is 62.3 per cent owned by Barclays Bank PLC (Barclays), and is listed with the JSE Limited. The Group is one of Africa’s major financial services providers offering personal and business banking, credit cards, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management as well as bancassurance.

 The Group was formed through combining Absa Group Limited and Barclays’ African operations on July 31, 2013.

 

The Fossil Fuel Market in East Africa

Dar es Salaam: Stakeholders in Oil and Gas are expected to convene next week in Dar es Salaam for the Tanzania Oil and Gas Law Market Briefing 2016 at the Hyatt Kilimanjaro Hotel.

The briefing among other things will give a chance for stakeholders to gain insight in the state of the Tanzania’s oil and gas legislations.

This follow as a result of recent offshore successes in Tanzania, the entire East Africa margin currently has the attention of the world’s new ventures teams, explorers and gas (LNG) buyers.

According to the ministry of Energy and Minerals, natural gas reserves discovered in the country has increased by 18 per cent to 57trillion cubic feet by end of last year, from 46.5trillion cubic feet in June 2014.

With Gas reserves proven and additional acreage expected to come online in 2016, the Tanzanian Government has taken some very swift steps in providing the legal and fiscal framework for the industry in the form of The Tanzania Extractive Industries (Transparency and Accountability) Bill 2015, The Oil and Gas Revenue Management Bill 2015 and The Petroleum Bill 2015. 

However, the three legislations have faced a myriad of criticism from the opposition members and the public in general who have insisted that should the Acts be assented by the President, the country’s natural resources would benefit foreign investors rather than the locals.

According to Breakthrough Attorneys there are some remarkably clear and unambiguous requirements for transparency in the newly assented Acts. Most obviously, this includes the publication of all existing and new Mineral Development Agreements and Production Sharing Agreements.

Breakthrough Attorneys is an ultramodern legal practice based in Tanzania having a spectrum of cross-borders practices that cater for local and multinational corporations, financial institutions, government entities as well as business private individuals concerning their legal needs around the globe

However, the legal firm asserted that; “despite the shortcoming on the new Acts, it is right to say that the same are a big step forward to transparency on the overall management of the country’s resources.”

Additional opportunities and the relation to the new laws will also be discussed; farming-in into the existing exploration and production licences  and Investment in the downstream projects (cement, fertiliser, petrochemicals, power, gas distribution in the cities).

Others will include emerging services associated with Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) as well as establishing JV with local companies for participation into servicing the oil and gas industry.

The briefing is targeting participants from Oil and Gas companies, Financiers, Development Funds, Commercial Banks, Deal Brokers, Private Equity Firms and the Law Firms.

According to organizers, the briefing will revising the three bills as well as the local content policy draftand non-Citizens Employment Regulation Bill.

The opening presentation titled “Opportunities and investment in Tanzanian oil and gas exploration and development” will provide participant with an encapsulating overview of the market presently and the parameters around future oil and gas developments and subsequent business.

Other presentation will include “Key regulatory developments in oil and gas – Tanzania” by Charles Rwechungura, Founder and Managing Partner, CRB Africa Legal.

Peter Kasanda, Partner, Clyde & Co Tanzania will present the petroleum Act 2015 which will give insight on how to conduct Oil & Gas activities in Tanzania, the Government participation and local content, Domestic supply obligations, Fiscal obligations.

Kassanda will also highlight the dynamic contract negotiation over a project lifecycle, infrastructure investment and local content, Preferential Procurement obligations and Local content priorities – “Tanzania Kwanza”

The 2015 Petroleum Bill stipulates a 12.5 percent royalty for oil and gas production onshore and 7.5 percent offshore.

 

According to the bill, the government’s profit share from future oil production which will be tagged to daily production levels will range from a minimum of 50  to 70 percent while the share of profit on natural gas production will range from a minimum of 60 to 85 percent.

 

The Bill also ring-fences the recoverable costs of exploration and development licenses, establishes a Regulatory Authority and Advisory Bureaus to manage the oil and gas sector and seeks to transform the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) into the National Oil Company (NOC)

In-depth session will cover Model Production Sharing Agreement 2013, Tanzania Petroleum Act 2015 and the Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency and accountability Act 2015, Tanzania Oil and Gas Revenues Management Act 2015 as well as Contracts Management and Negotiations.

A New Online Magazine is Proposed

Singita Grumeti Reserves recently sponsored the Mara Press Club Fundraising event held last week in Musoma region.

The Tsh 4.5 million sponsorship was in aid of facilitating the fundraising event that brought together other journalist, stakeholders and investors within the region, in aid of the establishment of an online magazine for the region.

The event, officiated by Tarime District Commissioner, Mr Glorius Luoga, managed to raise Tsh 15.8 m from other stakeholders including Acacia Gold mine, CaTa  mining and Goldland Hotel  and Tours.

“I applaud your decision to implement the online magazine initiative which will certainly go a long way towards releasing positive stories about development in Mara Region” said Ms Angela Msechu, an official from SGR.  “We have always understood the important role that the media play in raising positive awareness of issues, essentially contributing to influencing positive mindsets in people” she said. “Singita Grumeti are very happy to support you with this and we know it will be for the benefit of the entire region”, Ms Msechu said. added. She said SGR  are committed to continue supporting local media in areas where they operate.

Meanwhile, DC Luoga commended Singita Grumeti Reserves for their support. He also urged the journalists to ensure that they adhere to professionalism and ethical reporting. “Mara region is home to the world reknown Serengeti National Park, and several boasts several natural resources amongst which is Gold”, DC Luoga said. “It is time journalists started reporting on all the good things that happen within Mara and begin to influence perception of the region”, he added.

 “We sincerely appreciate the support from Singita Grumeti Reserves and all other companies and stakeholders for their generous contribution” said Mr Jacob Mgini, Chairman of Mara Press Club.

 “We see SGR as our valuable partner and stakeholder to the region. I would like to ask them to continue with the same spirit “, Mr Mugini said.

The Triumph of the Smartphone

Samsung Mobile is defying barriers once again with its launch of premium Galaxy smartphones.

This time Samsung is not only launching a new phone, but also launching a new way of thinking about what a phone can do that redefine the ways the company imagine its technology.

In Tanzania, Samsung is giving the consumers a very good reason to pre-order its new Galaxy S7 Smartphone.

The Galaxy S7 and S7 edge will make holder rethink what a phone can do.

Given that S6 swept up nearly every best smartphone award in 2015, this year March Samsung Electronics anticipate launching the most awaited galaxy series.

S7, as a high level update from any other galaxy series comes multi covered, with 5.5 inch display supported with high screen resolution.

Samsung Galaxy S7 is the first smartphone with dual-pixel technology with a fast autofocus for less blur. It allows you to capture moments as you actually see them with the new advanced sensor for catching details in low light.

Samsung say their phones go everywhere with – except in water. Samsung’s S7 has now opened up a new world to use it in- rain, shower or the pool. With a longer lasting battery, Samsung S7 is geared to keep you going all day and beyond.

“We believe in a world that is brighter, sharper, more convenient, and more fun. We strive to deliver on that vision with the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge by marrying elegant design with functionality and providing a seamless mobile experience,” said DJ Koh, President of Mobile Communications Business, Samsung Electronics. “We empower consumers with technology to help them get more out of life and will continue to push the frontier of what’s possible.”

“Tanzanians consumers’ lifestyles are changing fast and their demands and expectation for classic mobile phones is highly increasing. Operating System is a crucial factor when considering modern smartphones because it has a very big impact on the phone’s overall usability, functionality and convenience. The range of features available in Samsung Galaxy S7 provide access to countless high quality mobile applications to consumers”. Said Rayton Kwembe product manager Samsung electronics Tanzania.

Smartphones are as much about enjoying media as they are about communicating. One can watch movies, play games and view photos on your mobile screen and you want the crispest display around. The Crystal-clear display of Galaxy S7 is meant to provide Tanzanians with great entertainment.

Shortage of storage space and security has always been an issue to Tanzanian’s mobile users, With S7 these are no longer most gabbed-about feature on the new S7 is definitely the fingerprint sensor. Long-lasting battery and speed are still the ultimate prize in S7.

Most Standard mobiles have very limited Internet capabilities, the Internet is difficult to use because of the small screen and slower hardware. With high processing power and software compatibility, S7 can be used to perform all internet activities.

Since 4th March, Samsung is hanving having live demos of Galaxy S7 at Samsung shops at Mlimani City, City Mall & JM Mall as well as Vodacom Shops at Mlimani City & Samora Avenue.

Is There Still a Glass Ceiling?

A research conducted last year in November by Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE) through its Female Future Tanzania program has revealed that only four out of ten women’s are in managerial level.

Female Future Coordinator at the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE)  Lilian Machera said that a research was aimed to expose and revealed bottleneck that hinder women to acquire top position in the workplaces.

‘The research was conducted to 300 companies to private sector in Dar es Salaam region with the ultimate goal of finding sustainable solution and pave the way for women to acquire top position in the workplaces,” she said.

She noted that the findings also revealed that emotional, family matters and little confidence are the bottleneck that hinder them to expose their capabilities in the workplaces.

Machera said the major aims of the programme is to get more women into management positions, decision making processes and on Corporate Boards and that it will be delivered through executive training on Leadership, Rhetoric and Board Competence where as the courses will be directly linked to participants’ daily work routine at their workplaces.

“Currently, Tanzanian unemployment rate stands at 10.3 percent; therefore, job creation should be a development agenda that the government should focus on,’’ she noted.

Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan graced the one day forum that aims at attracting more women into leading positions and on Boards of Directors of Companies with the ultimate goal of having 50% to 50% in the long run.

VP noted that the programme would help in promoting talents to the men and women of Tanzania and attain vision 2025 which aims at ensuring the country is becoming a middle income country by 2025.

Co-organised by Kazi Service Limited in partnership with the Association of Tanzania Employers (ATE), the event  provides a platform for more than 400 women leaders and professionals drawn from the private and public sectors in areas of academia, military, judiciary, diplomatic missions and non-governmental organizations.

Female Future program was established by ATE in collaboration with the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), the programme will officially commence in July this year.

Medical Advances Save Child’s Life

Following the Apollo Hospital’s successfully Asia’s first en-bloc combined Heart and Liver transplant; Apollo Hospitals has performed ground-breaking surgery to a one-year-old child from Kenya who underwent an unusual liver transplant at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, Delhi.

A segment of the liver was donated by the child’s father. Paul was suffering from biliary atresia since birth, a condition in which the bile ducts (required to drain the bile from the liver to the intestine) were not developed. This is among the most common reasons for liver failure in infants.

The condition can be treated if detected within two months of birth. However, in Paul’s case, the condition went undetected. The only option for him was a liver transplant. The procedure was conducted at the Centre for Liver and Biliary Surgery at Apollo Hospitals Professor.

 Anupam Sibal, Group Medical Director, said: “Paul’s case was high-risk because he was severely malnourished, was born with a complex anatomy and his liver failure was rapidly worsening. Because of that he needed an urgent transplant. We took on the challenge with such a small baby weighing only six kilograms and with several risk factors as that was his only hope. ”Professor Sibal added that the child had made a remarkable recovery and was discharged two weeks after the surgery.

This successful operation took 12 hours and involved a medical team of 50 people. Dr. Subash Gupta, Chief Transplant Surgeon at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, conducted the operation.

Liver transplantation involves the replacement of a diseased liver with an entire or partially functioning liver from another individual. As there is currently no machinery that can replicate the functions of the liver this risky procedure is only undertaken as a last resort due to the unavailability of other cures. Despite its recent success rate the procedure is potentially fatal due to the complication involved during and after the surgery.

Dr. Subash Gupta, Chief Transplant Surgeon at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals states that “there are 3 liver transplantation techniques: cadaver donor transplantation, living donor transplantation and the less used auxiliary transplantation. In Cadaver donor transplantation the donor liver is obtained from a person who is diagnosed as brain dead, whose family volunteers to donate the organ for transplantation. People who receive cadaver donors wait on the institutional / regional list until a suitable donor becomes available.”

“Living donor transplant involves a healthy family member, usually a parent, sibling, or child, or someone emotionally close, such as a spouse, volunteers to donate part of their liver for transplantation. The donor is carefully evaluated by the team to make sure no harm will come to the donor or recipient.”

“Auxiliary transplantation involves part of the liver of a healthy adult donor (living or cadaver) being transplanted into the recipient. The patient’s diseased liver remains intact until the auxiliary piece regenerates and assumes function. The diseased liver may then be removed.”

Last year a team of doctors from Apollo Hospitals – Centre for Liver Disease & Transplantation (CLDT) successfully carried out a Multi-Visceral on multiple patients courtesy of a cadaver individual. Liver transplant which is normally used for a single recipient, but occasionally split to benefit an adult and a child, on this occasion was split for two adults, a feat that is rarely achieved. In doing so the hospital group became the first to perform such an operation in India and with an individual suffering intestinal failure since childhood. The case was also the first where the abdominal wall was transplanted over and above the intestines in-order to overcome the difference in size between the donor and recipient’s abdomens.

 LIVER CARE AT APOLLO HOSPITALS

Apollo’s comprehensive liver transplant care programme aims to provide effective health care by connecting to people dealing with liver disease. A successful liver transplant, ably supplemented by Apollo’s care and commitment affords a fresh lease of life and puts the smile back on your face as you return to normalcy.

Apollo hospitals have the fastest growing Liver Transplant program in India with the biggest cadaver program for liver. Apollo hospitals in Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Bangalore offer liver transplant surgeries thus making India’s largest liver transplant network centres in India

Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi successfully completed 200 Liver Transplant cases of Pakistani patients, in November 2011. With a success rate of over 90%, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals has created a milestone in the history of medicine by becoming the first hospital in the country to reach the 200 mark for patients from a single foreign country.

Over 500 Liver Transplants performed with a success rate of 90%.Apollo Hospitals performs 537 liver, kidney and heart transplants in 238 days making ours the second busiest transplant program in the world.

The Economic Crisis in Africa

THE latest (17th) meeting (NOT ‘last,’ please; it seems there’ll be many of such meetings well into the future… Mark my words) of the Summit of the East African Community (EAC) met in the Community’s statutory ‘capital,’ Arusha, March 2-3 this year.

The Summit is the supreme authority (so we’re told) of the (hitherto) five-member nations, namely: Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – named strictly in alphabetical order, NOT on any other merit!

During the Summit, a new member – Southern Sudan, hewn from The Sudan-Khartoum in 2011, becoming the world’s newest nation-state – was mollycoddled on-board the EAC using kid gloves.

South Sudan (Sudan-Juba) had earnestly pleaded for EAC membership – perhaps little-knowing what the future of the Community would be on the ground… A Community that’s navigating with considerable difficulty treacherous regional integration waters, ostensibly bent on forming an East African Federation (EAF) – complete with single this, single that and single the other… Sheesh!

Another EAC membership applicant, Somalia, metaphorically had the door slammed in its face – or what little ‘face’ that beleaguered country still has as a cohesive, viable nation-state!

But, that’s really another story…

The EAC Summit this time round brought together only four of the six eligible Heads of State, Government and Commanders-in-Chief of their Armed Forces. These were Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta; Uganda President Yoweri Museveni, Rwanda President Paul Kagame – and, of course, the Host, Tanzania President John Magufuli…

[Incidentally, for some reason that isn’t clear, Tanzania was also ‘represented’ in Arusha by ‘another President:’ Zanzibar’s Ali Mohhammed Shein!

If Dr Shein was just another ‘invited guest,’ why was he involved in ceremonial functions like the cutting on March 3 of the tape to formally open the way for the construction of the Arusha-Holili/Taveta-Voi road…? After all, that road doesn’t traverse Zanzibar!

Again: Burundi was represented at Arusha NOT by the hale, ‘soccer-mad’ Pierre Nkurunzinza, but by his Vice-President, Joseph Butore.

South Sudan was represented NOT by its President, Salva Kirr, but by his Vice-, James Wani-Igga!

Oh… I don’t know… But, one’d have expected the real/22-carat President of the fresh-faced EAC member, South Sudan, to proudly be up there at the ‘socio-econo-political marriage’ which almost squarely puts his country with other members of the Comity of Nations!

Again: how does one explain the absence of Burundi’s strong-arm President Nkurunzinza who didn’t avail himself of the opportunity to mix it in there with his fellow Heads of State, etc, etc, during the sundowners, pray?

Oh; I (almost) get it… It’s quite possible he knew there’d be no sundowners in Arusha – what with Tanzania’s austere, no-merrymaking President Magufuli in charge…

Magufuli was confirmed the ‘new’ EAC Chairman by his colleagues – thereby practically succeeding himself in that ‘portfolio,’ as it were! Indeed, the man had virtually assumed the Summit Chieftainship from his predecessor, immediate-past President Jakaya Kikwete, on being sworn into the Presidency Nov. 5, 2015!

Then his Summit peers ‘gifted’ him with a full-year Chairmanship – ostensibly in tacit recognition of his much-vaunted prowess at Governance… Whew!

For starters, the ‘new’ Chairman criticized the choice of Ngurdoto Lodge as the Summit’s meeting place, at US$45 per person, instead of (say) the Arusha International Conference Centre ($30/person)… [Mtanzania: March 3, 2016].

There also were other positive developments… For instance: launching the 1120km Oil Pipeline Project from oil-rich Uganda to Tanga port, projected to create 15,000 jobs; and the 234.3km Arusha-Holili-Taveta-Voi Road Project…

On the face of things, one’s tempted to believe that, with Tanzania’s Magufuli at the EAC helm, who needs a Magic Man, pray?

The truth is that most consternating is the way the Summiteers tried to explain away the seemingly-endless impoverishment that beleaguers East Africans two generations post-political Independence from colonial rule!

The Summiteers correctly admitted that the EAC countries are relatively well-endowed with potential wealth in the forms of natural and other resources, as well as a myriad comparative advantages. Yet, they also freely admitted that East Africans have for inordinately-long remained relatively backward economically and socially!

So…? Says Chairman Magufuli: ‘If East Africans closely cooperate in Agriculture and Manufacturing, we’ll become autarkic, no longer depending on Western (sic) countries!’ Really…?

Uganda’s Museveni: ‘Tukizungumzia Uchumi was kisasa, Africa hakuna umaskini! Ina Utajiri mwingi wa Rasilmali isipokuwa inakosa Maendeleo tu! Shida ya wa-Afrika ni kulala; wanalala huku kumekucha…!’ (Roughly: in Modern Economics, there’s no poverty in Africa. The Continent is phenomenally-endowed with minerals and other resources. Problem is that Africans are still asleep well after dawn!

My God… What contrived abracadabra, coming from a leader 30 years at State House! What’s he done to ‘awaken’ his sleeping compatriots? What can he now achieve in his fading, failed reign – or is it feeding the greed by letting sleeping dogs lie?

The likes of Museveni should heed Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, who told it like it is – painting it warts and all!

Digging in deep, Kenyatta correctly averred that it’s the leaders who’ve been asleep on their watch down the years, not the people! In the event, he urged his fellow EAC leaders to change – and walk their cruel political talk which has so far been empty rhetoric.

Truer words were never said in a very, very long time… Are our leaders plain wrong or cunningly evasive on the real causes of poverty in resource-rich Africa? Cheers, anyway!

Social Security Fund Reaches Critical Mark

THE Zanzibar Social Security Fund (ZSSF) accumulated fund (net assets) grew by a quarter, to Tsh177 billion, during the year that ended on June 30, 2014 – up from Tsh141.63 billion in 2013. This indicates that the Fund is about to click Tsh200 billion mark!

The tremendous increase of the Fund in a single year was the result of increases in both contributions and investment income.

ZSSF was established under Section 4 of the Zanzibar Social Security Fund Act 1998 and re-enacted under section 4(1) of the ZSSF Act 2005 with the objective of providing social security to all eligible employees.

The Fund’s Managing Director, Abdulwakil Hafidh, says the Fund continues to invest in different portfolios such as Treasury Bills and Bonds, Government Stocks, fixed-term bank deposits, equity investments, call accounts, institutional loans, syndicated loans and in real estate.

He said that ZSSF has a total of Tsh65.96 billion currently invested in fixed term deposits, while a total of Tsh33.3 billion is invested

in Treasury bonds.

He also mentioned that a total of Tsh11.5 billion has been put in equity Investments which include TAN-RE, TPCC, UTT, CRDB and NMB.

During the period under review, overall performance of the Fund continued to meet with its corporate objectives/targets – including registration, collection of contributions, investing and payment of benefits to its members.

The Fund has captured the informal sector membership, which involves a large group of self-employed persons through Zanzibar Voluntary Social Security Scheme (ZVSSS) as its supplementary scheme.

According to the Managing Director, the Fund increased its membership size to 72,210 members reported in the year to June 30, 2014, rising from 66,488 members reported in the year to June 30, 2013. This represents an increase of seven per cent in a single year!

The total number of registered employers increased to 1,200, up from 1,091 in the period under review.

There was also an increase in contributory collections, rising from Tsh24.8bn in 2013 to Tsh29.1bn in the year which ended June 30, 2014.

The Chief Executive mentioned that, during the period under review, there was an increase in income from investments that were held by ZSSF.

“This investment income increased to Tsh146.0 billion in the year to June 30, 2014, up from the Tsh126.3 billion registered in the year to June 30, 2013: an increase of 15.66 per cent. This increase was largely due to appreciation of share values in the different institutions in which the Fund has invested, as well as increased interest rates in the money markets,” Hafidh said.

During  the review period, the total amount paid by the Fund to its members in the form of various benefits increased by 53.67 per cent.

The benefits increased to Tsh9.9 billion in the year which ended on June 30, 2014 – up from Tsh6.5 billion in the year to June 30, 2013.

The increase in benefit payments was a result of new retirees and foreigners who left the country.

Hafidh noted that, despite the achievements made by ZSSS during the year 2013/2014, the Fund has been facing a number of challenges. These include depreciation of the Tanzania Shilling, taxes on Fund’s income – both of which hinder our efforts at increasing financial sustainability of the scheme, insufficient investment opportunities and low returns on real estate.

“Also, on account of these challenges, the Fund will continue finding new investment areas; implementation of five years ICT Strategic Master Plan in order to improve efficiency and effectiveness of our daily activities; enhance risk management procedures, and use the social media to simplify communications”, the Managing Director strategized.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been one of ZSSF’s undertakings since 1998. The Fund continued to invest in the community with the aim of improving the quality of life of the people at large.

During the period under review (2013/2014), the Fund engaged in various social projects in health, education and community development.