Analyzing President Samia’s Stance on DP World Deal: Seizing Opportunities for Tanzania’s Development

President Samia Suluhu Hassan - DP World Deal
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Amidst a morning of discomfort, I embraced the resourcefulness of a true Tanzanian, opting for over-the-counter painkillers instead of a hospital visit. Guided by a spirit of ingenuity, I found myself meandering towards a charming pharmacy nestled along Viwandani Road in the enchanting enclave of Mikocheni. Little did I know that within those unassuming walls, a chance encounter awaited, offering unforeseen insights transcending the mundane realms of politics, economics and DP World Deal.

The Enigmatic Exchange

Another customer came into view inside the pharmacy amidst neatly arranged shelves and the unmistakable scent of remedies. A young individual, seemingly untouched by the weight of tiresome political and economic debates that often engulf us. A character who, at first glance, one would never expect to peruse the pages of publications like the Tanzania Digest. Engaged in a quest for the price of a body spray, he inquired of the pharmacist, who swiftly responded, “8,000 TZS.”

Baffled yet laced with amusement, a mischievous giggle escaped his lips as he uttered, “Duh! Hapa bandari hajapewa Mwarabu bei hii, wakiichukua wao mtatuuzia shi ngapi?” Loosely translated, his words conveyed a playful question: “Duh! If the port has not fallen into Arab hands, how much would you charge us if they were in control?” Setting aside the obvious stereotype within his jest triggered a cascade of ponderings within my mind. This seemingly innocuous banter carries weight, subtly shedding light on the subject of port privatization and the potential ramifications for the average Tanzanian. The underlying sentiment hints at citizens’ concern, but what does the government have to say about it?

In a powerful address yesterday, President Samia Suluhu Hassan passionately urged Tanzanians to shed their lethargy and embrace the abundant opportunities that lie before them. The President emphasized that failure to act swiftly and decisively would hinder the nation’s progress and allow others to capitalize on their indecisiveness. Her call to action comes in the wake of debates surrounding the partnership between Tanzania and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) concerning port development, as well as the need for Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) at the Dar es Salaam Port.

Seizing Opportunities and Capitalizing on Strengths

Drawing attention to the country’s current predicament, President Samia warned against wasting valuable time on endless arguments about who should take charge of the port. She highlighted the alarming fact that neighbouring countries have seized the same opportunities while Tanzanians debate, leaving Tanzania lagging. It’s as if our neighbours have sprinted ahead while we’ve remained fixated on deciding who should carry the baton.

To drive her point home, President Samia called upon the new Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Planning Commission to analyze the vast array of opportunities available within the nation and devise effective strategies to capitalize on them. She emphasized the need for Tanzania to leap forward, demonstrating that swift action can lead to remarkable progress.

Government’s Stand on DP World deal

In defence of the PPP at the Dar es Salaam Port, the government outlined numerous advantages that would manifest with its implementation. The agreement promises to revolutionize port operations by applying cutting-edge technology and efficient systems. Imagine a port where vessels spend only 24 hours instead of the current five days, and containers are offloaded in a mere two days rather than four. These changes will undoubtedly enhance revenue generation, increasing employment opportunities by a staggering 148%.

The DP World Deal has ignited intense opposition, drawing together a formidable alliance of scholars, esteemed lawyers, economists, and retired leaders dedicated to serving the nation. The weight of these dissenting voices has compelled the President to publicly express her stance on “seizing the opportunity.” In the spirit of seizing opportunities, let us weave a captivating case study into the tapestry.

In 2016, DP World forged a 25-year concession agreement with the Government of Rwanda, giving birth to the magnificent “Kigali Logistics Platform.” This pioneering inland dry port in East Africa witnessed its grand inauguration on October 21, 2019, graced by the presence of H.E. President Paul Kagame and the illustrious DP World Group Chairman, H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem.

H.E. President Paul Kagame and the illustrious DP World Group Chairman, H.E. Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem - DP World Deal

Since commencing operations in 2018, DP World Kigali has unleashed a wave of transformation throughout the region’s logistics landscape. With their end-to-end logistics solutions encompassing long-haul transportation, streamlined operations, lightning-fast truck-turnaround times, automation, and the establishment of a dedicated Inland Container Terminal (ICT), Bonded and Non-Bonded Warehousing, and a centralized, one-stop center, DP World Kigali has triumphantly slashed the cost of logistics services.

Strategically nestled on the outskirts of Kigali City, a mere 11 kilometres from the bustling Kigali International Airport, this logistics marvel has ascended to become the beating heart of the supply chain for businesses, unburdening the central business district from its suffocating traffic congestion. Spanning an awe-inspiring 13.8 hectares during its initial phase of development, DP World Kigali proudly boasts a sprawling 12,000-square-meter container yard and a majestic 30,000-square-meter warehousing facility meticulously designed in accordance with international standards.

Now, why have I woven this tale of the dry port into our conversation? Simply put, this extraordinary facility acts as a gateway, linking the ports of Mombasa and Dar es Salaam, securing two international trade gateways with an astounding annual throughput capacity of 350,000 tons of cargo and 50,000 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) per year. Furthermore, Kigali stands as a gateway to the mighty Congo, unlocking vast opportunities for trade and growth.

Although President Samia did not explicitly mention Kenya by name in her brief speech, she dropped enough breadcrumbs for us to follow. She alluded to our “neighbour” venturing to the same domain, the very edifice that adorned the Tanzanian flag and displayed the neighbour’s flag, too, a clear reference to the iconic Burj Khalifa. Lastly, she mentioned how the neighbour, without holding back, relinquished the entirety of their ports to the private sector. All arrows point to Kenya, particularly the esteemed Mombasa Port.

It’s crucial to clarify that Kenya did not start its conversation with DP World (after Tanzania) but rather before Tanzania. Back in July 2022, Kenya renounced its commitment to a July tender promised to Dubai Port (DP) World. The Kenyan government denied any deal and plans to issue a tender, despite DP World’s expectations. The initial agreement granted DP World preferential treatment for developing three berths in Mombasa, establishing cold storage supply chains, and creating a special economic zone in Lamu. Uncertainty looms as Kenya’s decision casts doubt on the future of these ambitious projects. Hence; this can be used by both sides; President’s side that Kenya ‘missed the opportunity’ or the other side that ‘DP world deal was dubious’ hence we should follow suite.

To summarize the facts:

DP World operates a remarkable Dry Port in Kigali, with the flexibility to engage with either or both Mombasa and Dar es Salaam ports. As of the publication of this article, it is abundantly clear that President Samia and her government stand persistent, unyielding in their determination to partner with DP World.

Now, allow me to pose a question to you:

As DP World, operating a flourishing dry port in Kigali and blessed with a management contract for one of the two ports at your disposal, which path would you choose? Would you opt for the port managed by your very own subsidiary or venture into the domain of the other gentlemen?

Government’s Communication Lapses on DP World deal

Following up the insightful articles on DP World deal, one captivating piece caught my attention. Penned by the esteemed Reverend Godwin Chilewa, an ex-Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service (TISS) officer now residing in Houston, his words carry the weight of wisdom and expertise. As a seasoned intelligence officer, his thoughts on TISS demand our utmost attention. Within his article, he offers a trove of valuable insights on how the agency could have navigated this controversial port contract with greater finesse.

Among his musings, one segment captivated my mind. He astutely remarked, “Perhaps it is for this reason [lack of capable people] that people being used by the government to educate the public about the benefits of developing our ports insist on focusing on DP’s operational capabilities instead of discussing the nature of the agreements made and their impact on Tanzania’s economy and future generations. It is like defending the idea of giving someone a wheat farm under the pretence of their baking skills.

This particular passage stirred my curiosity, for it revealed an intriguing perspective. Upon reflection, it becomes apparent that the opposition to DP World’s involvement in the port is not a direct challenge to their operational prowess, at least not on the surface. Instead, their concerns lie in the inadequacies of the specific agreements and their potential repercussions for Tanzania. Whispers of unease resonate, warning of looming international conflicts, neocolonialism, and the perpetuation of intergenerational poverty.

In my humble view, Samia and her government have stumbled in their approach to addressing the raised concerns and effectively communicating their intentions. If the people’s apprehension stems from the terms of the contract, such as its length, the most sensible course of action would be to address that very concern head-on. While it is acknowledged that the current framework is a preliminary Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA), with project-based contracts to be signed between TPA and DP World, it remains evident that the government’s communication regarding the DP World deal has been beset by challenges.

In public perception, clarity and transparency are paramount. It is imperative for Samia and her government to navigate these treacherous waters with the utmost care, ensuring that the concerns raised by the populace are met with open dialogue and substantive resolutions. By addressing the root issues and effectively conveying their commitment to safeguarding Tanzania’s future, they have the opportunity to rebuild trust and reshape the narrative surrounding the DP World deal.

Read other Opinion Posts by Editor – at – Large

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