March 11, 2000

Tourist arrivals by air double

THE proportion of tourists arriving in Tanzania by air has almost doubled in the last eight years. This has been revealed by the director of tourism in the ministry of natural resource and tourism, Salehe Pamba, who attributed the achievement to a marketing and publicity campaign abroad, including promotional tours and participation at international tourism fairs

Pamba said tourism in Tanzania has been growing by six per cent annually in the last three years. Tourists arriving by air reached 65 per cent of the total arrival last year (404,833 tourists)

This is an increase of 85.7 per cent when compared to the 35 per cent air arrivals in 1991 (64,555 tourists) Air transport has now overtaken road transport for tourist arrivals, which was leading in the early 1990s

In 1991, 59 per cent of the total tourist arrivals in Tanzania came by road transport, the leading means of tourism arrivals that years. It accounted for just32 per cent of the total arrivals last year.

In the past Kenya, making use of a number of international airlines flying directly into that country from Europe and else where- as well as its aggressive publicity campaign abroad was far ahead of Tanzania in the tourism industry. While there are over 2000 air charter and car hire operators in Kenya, Tanzania, by comparison, has about 200 only.

In recent years, however, the government of Tanzania has started to give the sector the push it need in order to grow.

In adding to the multi-sectoral (including tourism) tour to Sweden and the US which was led by President Mkapa himself, the ministry and the Tanzania tourist Boards (TTB) have participated in a number promotion tours in the Far East, Asia, the USA and Europe.

Last year, the Government abolished value- added tax (VAT) on air charters as a strategy to attract more tourists- and potential investors in the sector.

The minister for natural resources and tourism, Zakia Meghji, has observed that the sector is still not much attractive to potential investors. She mentioned some of the hurdles, which need to be, addressed multi-sectorally as being too much bureaucracy, corruption and the country’s land laws

Although the number of direct arrivals in Tanzania has increased, the country still has increased, the country still has a long way to go in that regard. Recently, the permanent secretary in the ministry of natural resources and tourism, Philemon Luhanjo-in a briefing following a promotional tour of Japan and South Korea was quoted by the media as saying that the lack of reliable direct transport from Japan and South Korea to and from Tanzania has led to a low number of tourist arrivals from that part of the world.

The Japanese are known to be mass tourism travellers. On average, however, Tanzania receives only about 500 tourists from the two countries annually.

With the new developments including liberalisation of the air transport in Tanzania – country is expected to have more flight frequencies from Europe, the USA Asia, and the Far East.

Tanzania and USA have already signed an Open Skies Agreement, which allows for more frequencies and capacity between the two country

The dependency on road transport in the early 1990s meant that, from the tourism point of view, Tanzania was just an appendage to neighbouring countries. Tourists coming in through contries, like Kenya were said to spend less in Tanzania.

On the other hand, Pamba said, with regard to improved air transport, Tanzania is "increasingly becoming a single international destination....... air transport is already playing an increasing role in tourism development".

A Government official in the ministry of natural resources and tourism says the tourism industry worldwide is sensitive in that the increase is either directly or indirectly associated with instability experienced by a neighbouring country

Tanzania’s policy of quality tourism- in the form of controlled number of tourists-has kept the country’s attractions in tact. This, coupled by ongoing aggressive advertising and promotional activities, contribute to increases in direct tourist arrivals.

During the period 1991 to 1999, the international tourist flow to Tanzania is said to have grown by 16 per cent. The total provisional number of tourists received in 1991 and 1999 where 186, 906 and 627, 325 respectively.



March 4, 2000



Importers furious over Increased bureaucracy

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and importers are on a collision course over the new auditing arrangements for imported cargo under which, importers claim, is causing costly Customs clearance delays- and embarrassment to clearing and forwarding agents.

Auditing of all imported cargo is a requirement in a contract under which the Government awarded COTECNA Inspection SA of Switzerland the task of proving pre-inspection services. After imports have been pre-inspected, and then verified on the relevant import declaration forms, an independent auditor is required to further verify COTECNA’S work in terms of cargo quality and the declared values

The auditing services job was put out to tender last year by TRA; and the Washington-based Inspection and Control Services (ICS), Known for its worldwide and reliable database, won the tender in December.

Sources within the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TAFFA) said since assuming its auditing duties, ICS has been causing costly document processing delays. Such costs are exclusively borne by the importers.

The handling charges for a 20ft container selected for physical verification by customs officials, in collaboration with COTECNA, amount to USD 180 (Tsh 144,000) The ICS is empowered to decide to do its own physical auditing, a move which costs importers similar amount

What hurts importers more is the fact that it takes between two week and a month for ICS to process the relative documents, and forward its findings to customs department officials who, in turn, inform importers accordingly

An official of the Dar es salaam-based Baltic Clearing and Forwarding company, Frank Lyimo, showed this reported a document submitted to ICS on February 8this year. The document was released after much hustle suffered by the importer.

An official of the Dar es salaam- based Baltic Clearing and forwarding company, Frank Lymo, showed this reporter a document submitted to ICS on February 8 this year. The document was release after fifteen days- and, then only after much hustle suffered by the importer.

During such delays, importers are required to pay USD8 for a 20ft container (USD16 FOR A 40ft container) as demurrage, which becomes due at the expiry of 14 days from the date of docking. In addition, an extra USD20 (usd40) for each container has to be paid to ports Authority as storage charges

Customs warehouse rent attracts Tsh 100 per tonne after the expiry of 21 days. This is in addition to the pre-shipment inspection service fee, which is 1.2 per cent of the free- on-board value of the cargo at port of lading.

TAFFA sources said some of its affected members have plans to take the matter to court

When contacted for comment, the TRA tax payer education director, Protas Mmanda, referred this reporter to another officer, Augustine Mukandala, who is a tax payer affairs manager, for clarification. The latter declined to comment on account that the former is the only competent official to comment on such a "controversial issue"

For their part, Treasury official said ICS was "imposed" upon the Customs department, and without the necessary prior consultation as regards to its mandate as well as working relationships with importers. But, they said, the auditing idea is good

TAFFA held an inconclusive meeting over the auditing delays with the Customs department on February 9 this month in an attempt to seek a workable compromise.






Communications Commission operating illegally?

THE Tanzania communications Commission (TCC) which is currently in place is said to be operating illegally, following a High Court injunction barring it from operating. The Order was issued last July.

The Order is the are result of Miscellaneous Civil Case No. 69 of 1999 which was filed by five former TCC commissioners who had allegedly been fired from the Commission "contrary to the TCC Act" (No, 18 of 1993)

A highly placed Government official (identity withheld) confided to Business Times that the five commissioners were allegedly following their reluctance to award an operator’s licence to one cellular phone company (name also withheld).

According to the source, the minister is said to have ordered the Commission to grant a licence to the company. Apparently, the five commissioners objected, protesting that nobody not even the minister had authority to order them on such a matter.

The source further told Business Times that the Commissioner "wanted to scrutinise the company in details before deciding on the application. This infuriated the minister".

The source added: "the five commissioners were fired on June 29 last year, and new commissioners were appointed soon thereafter the following day-to replace them

A mere three days later-on July 3, 1999- the newly- constituted Commission held what was ostensible a ‘familiarisation’ meeting. Opportunity was also taken at the meeting to award a licence to the company!

The commissioners at the centre of the controversy – who are also the applicants in the High Count case, are Julian Raphael, Anthony Diallo (MP), Zullu Ally Lyana, Fatma Aman Karume and Arif Jinnah. The minister for transport and communications, TCC and the attoney-general are the first, second and third respondents respectively.

The applicants claim to have been removed from the Commission without lawful cause, and when their tenure had not expired. They had by then served for only one and half years; The Commission’s tenure is three years.

The High Country Order, issued by Justice Stephen Ihema on July 21, 1999, reads in part as follows:

"The 2nd respondents be and are hereby restrained from taking any action to (sic) the 1st respondent’s impugned decision to expel/terminate the applicants from the Tanzania Communication Commission, pending the final determination of the Application."

When removing the five commissioners last June 29, the minister for transport and communications, Ernest Nyanda, reportedly said the step taken "was for (sic) increasing TCC’s efficiency." (Majira of June 30, 1999).

Out of the seven commissioners who constituted the Commission at the time, only two were retained in their positions: Professor Penina Mlama and Hashim Sagaaf

Professor Mlama, who is a presidential appointee, was the chairperson of that Commission. She has since then left the Commission and replaced in the chair by another presidential appointee, Ambassador Ahmed Hassan Diria, on July 23, 1999.

Sagaaf, who is the CCM member of Parliament for Dodoma Urban, was handpicked for the Commission by minister Nyanda himself to replace Edward Lowassa when the latter was appointed a minister

As, fate would have it, the five sacked commissioners were appointed by Nyanda’s immediate predecessor, former communications Minister William Kusila.

Asked to comment communication minister Ndanda said; "I comment nothing due to the fact that the issue is now in a court of law".

When contacted on the matter during last month’s sitting of the National Assembly in Dodoma, Ambassador Ahmed Hassan Diria, current chairman of the newly formed Commission, said he added, "they’ve sued the minister, not the TCC; hence, we’re not barred to execute our daily operations We’ll continue to do our duty until the court decides otherwise’’

Abihudi Nalingigwa, director general of the Commission, said last Tuesday: "I’m not aware of the injunction. May be the Order is on its way to us; but, so far, we haven’t received it we’re, therefore, proceeding with our daily activities".

Observers say sacking the formed commissioners will have shaken the confidence of prospective investors in the telecommunications industry, raising concern on the credibility, trustworthiness and transparency of Government decisions in the industry.

Two weeks ago, Mobile Telecommunications Networks (MTN) of South Africa said it had pulled out the process of privatising the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) due to what was alleged to be the country’s unstable privatisation policy, and absence of transparency.

MTN was also among potential investors who had ‘unsuccessfully’ applied for a cellular ‘phone licence to the Commission.

Efforts to get further details on the development of the case were unsuccessful on the grounds that the Judge in the case, Ihema, was away on leave.

The newly-constituted Commission, under the chairmanship of Diria, is made up of Professor Mark Mwadosya, Hashim Sagaaf, Doctor suleiman Juma Omar , Peter Nyamhoka, August Kowelo and Timothly Shindika.