In October 2016, President John Magufuli offered 10,000 hectares of farmland to business tycoon Said Salim Bakhresa, asking him to establish a sugar factory.
That was when Dr Magufuli was inaugurating Bakhresa Group’s fruit-processing plant at Mwandege in Mkuranga District.
At that time, the factory was operated using power generators because it was not connected to grid electricity, a costly feature for the company. State power monopoly Tanesco was directed to supply the electricity needed by the fruit-processor before the end of that year.
Back to the sugar factory. Bakhresa Group accepted the land offer, and the company is already implementing the first phase of the Sh669 billion Bagamoyo sugar project, with an annual production capacity of about 30,000 tonnes of sugar.
But the investor is already facing a number of challenges, including a delayed land compensation report, and poor economic infrastructure. The project area lacks all-weather roads and reliable power that’s key to an efficacious irrigation system in sugarcane growing.
That is just one example of otherwise viable development projects in Tanzania which that are being hampered by lack of basic support, especially in infrastructural terms. Adequate, reliable availability of electricity, water and transport in areas selected for investment projects is pivotal to the efficacy and success of such projects.
That is especially the case for the sugar industry – from cane-growing and harvesting to transporting same to the factory for sugar-milling. If such facilities are not readily available in selected investment sites, the investors are compelled to put them in place at their cost – or rethink their investment plans, possibly seeking another destination.
Indeed, if and when prospective investors have to put such infrastructure in place, it adds to the investment costs – and may hamper projects implementation. Surely, basic economic infrastructure should not wait for directives by the Head of State.