How Can Tanzanian Youth Be Convinced That Agriculture is a Better Choice Than Gambling/Betting?

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Gambling has taken root in Tanzanian society since passing the Gambling Act in 2003. While the industry traces its origins back to early 1967, the introduction of this act and its subsequent amendments have propelled gambling and betting into a significant sector within the country due to continued economic reforms that necessitated the formulation of the National Gaming Activity policy.

Through this legislative framework, betting and gambling—terms that can hold synonymous or distinct meanings in the Tanzanian context—gained legal status. These encompassed activities ranging from predicting sports outcomes to placing bets for financial gains in sports betting centres, casinos and lotteries. Driven by the global surge in gaming markets, the nation’s enthusiasm for sports and entertainment, and unemployment issues all around Africa, this introduction’s timing and target audience proved opportune.

Since its inception, the gambling/betting sector has garnered praise and critique, prompting a reflection on its role as either a boon or a bane. 2022 witnessed a substantial shift from physical betting venues to online platforms, expanding accessibility and bridging urban-rural gaps. Furthermore, the industry experienced a surge in the registration of betting companies, growing from less than 10 in 2013 to over 20 by 2022. This surge in activity translated into increased tax revenue, with contributions rising from 11.4 billion to 52.5 billion Tanzanian shillings between 2013 and 2023.

This reflects a 78% revenue increase—according to TRA statistics in 9 years. Consequently, the gambling and betting industry emerged as one of the top ten revenue generators in the country, with tax rates ranging around 20% for associated services and revenues. This tax income trend underscores the sector’s financial significance.

However, specific gaming categories like sports betting, casinos, lotteries, and virtual games are charged 10%-15% on winnings, as outlined in the 2022 amendments to the Finance Act. The overall revenue contributions of the industry to the government have further increased to 96 billion Tanzania shillings for the financial year, up from 78 billion Tanzania shillings paid in the 2017/18 fiscal year, on account of the growth of technological innovation and improved business environment which now is estimated to be around over 150 Tanzania billion shillings marking over 40% increase in overall revenue contribution.

Read Related: We Make Billions from Betting, and It Manifests at Its Worst…!

Recognizing that Tanzania boasts a population of 61 million, with over 25% constituting its youth, is essential. However, this segment faces multiple challenges, with unemployment being a prominent concern, registering at approximately 9%. In contrast, the agriculture sector employs nearly 63% of the population, offering youth a potential livelihood and income generation avenue.

The agricultural domain, contributing around 27% to the GDP, relies heavily on small-scale farmers, many youth and women. The government, recognizing the importance of integrating youth into this sector, has introduced programs like BBT-YA to facilitate self-employment among youth. Yet, a significant challenge persists, as not all youth perceive agriculture as a desirable career path, often opting for sports betting due to its accessibility and simplicity.

Viewed from a different perspective, addressing youth participation in agriculture becomes imperative before they enter the labour market. Annually, around 900,000 youth enter a competitive job market with approximately 55,000 job opportunities. Distressingly, less than 10%  (assumption made from a total number of graduates from agricultural institutes and universities ) of graduates possess even rudimentary crop production knowledge, leading some to venture into agriculture without proper capital or guidance.

Unlike agriculture, which demands knowledge and resources, betting provides a seemingly more accessible income source due to promotion campaigns, accessibility, and peer influence. A 2021 study by Geopoll indicates that 62% of youth in Tanzania have engaged in betting or gambling, with 54% participating daily, predominantly in urban areas. This highlights betting’s appeal as an income-generating activity driven by the lack of employment options.

Meanwhile, youth participation in agriculture in rural areas hovers between 10% and 20%, suggesting a higher prevalence of gamblers and bettors than food producers. The ongoing digital advancement, expanding internet access to rural areas, further enhances betting’s popularity among youth, potentially outweighing their presence in farming communities. Nevertheless, gambling has been proven to be well branded, and our agriculture, on the other hand, is associated with struggle, process, and other challenges that are aired out and reach a more significant audience.

Acknowledging this mindset barrier among youth, which impedes government efforts to bolster youth participation in agriculture, more emphasis in addition to imposing more taxes on gambling/betting companies should come in handy. While both the agricultural sector and the betting industry engage youth, the farm domain could glean insights from the gambling/betting industry, particularly its rapid returns and technological advancements, to attract more youth engagement.

Agriculture in Tanzania for youth poses a long-term solution for unemployment but also embodies a pathway to livelihood enhancement, empowerment, and sustainable progress. Through the Agricultural sector, the younger generation is offered a chance to contribute meaningfully to their communities, bolster food security, and actively shape their nation’s economic trajectory, unlike betting and gambling, which could be linked or lead to mental health and financial problems associated with the industry.

Youth involvement in Agriculture holds numerous advantages, including access to diverse employment prospects from traditional farming to innovative agribusiness ventures. Also, cultivating crops and nurturing livestock generate income and incubate crucial skills in crop management, animal husbandry, agribusiness management, and technology application.

Such skills are beneficial within agriculture but also extend their value to broader sectors. Nevertheless, agriculture’s fusion with technology encourages youth to embrace innovation, propelling the industry towards sustainable practices and heightened efficiency.

All these advantages, in their broader and narrower senses, should be enough for both the youth and the available support system to ensure that the spurring betting and gambling industry trend doesn’t corrupt their mentality and diverge the intention to look at Agriculture as a merry solution for unemployment and income generation.

However, with the industry contributing exponentially to the tax revenues and its activities metastasizing among the Tanzanian population way faster than it was before, a pivotal question remains for decision-makers: How can Tanzanian youth, whether in rural or urban settings, be persuaded that agriculture presents a more promising path than gambling/betting with the government trying to ensure Tanzania maintains its course to become the Africa’s food basket.

My worry now is around the setting and execution of such youth-led interventions, which seem to be characterized by poor planning and implementation. It could be a pull factor for young farmers, leading them to a thought-easy way for income-generating betting.


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