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Lake Zone Investment Forum

 
 

During the three days of 13-15 February, 2014, the  Lake Zone Investment Forum was held at the Malaika [means “angel”] Beach Resort Hotel on the shores of Lake Victoria close to the airport. Mwanza is considered to be the “Hub” of the region. Fortunately the management of this large hotel asked twenty of  our tourism students to help accommodate the more than 1,000 participants. Ten of them were Third Year students and ten were First Year students There is a large grounds [including a small sandy beach and playground for small children and  very popular with our Indian expatriate community of Sunday mornings] where many tents were put up for the presentations and meals. The grass is so fine one is tempted to find a golf club and try a few shots on the fairway quality grass.

The main tent looked like one of those circular Circus tents of the age without television and radio and where people enjoyed their entertainment.   The Lake Zone includes five sub-regions [or American counties] and the area has a total population of 15 million = about a third of Tanzania. The Lake Zone is  located in the far western part of the country so getting raw materials and finished goods to the east coast for export via the Indian Ocean will require a lot of investment in transportation especially rail and road transportation.  One Chinese lady at the forum said she sends dried fish intestines to China via the airport at Entebbe / Kampala, Uganda across the lake. Most [about 80-90%] of the participants were civil servants working in various government offices and ministries. They all wore appropriate golf style tee shirts and baseball caps and were given a nice briefcase with the logo of the forum. The discussion was too heavy on “what”  we want to achieve and very light of “how” to achieve it. Does generic cialis cheap that sound familiar??

Participants were a little disappointed that the “major” government officials who were listed on the original program never showed up. The President made an urgent trip to the United Kingdom to do special interviews on the BBC and CCN to defend the government’s position of our out-of-control problem of poaching and the drastic decline in our elephant population. Almost every day there are articles in the newspapers about this trouble and the concern that it has now become an international criminal and terrorist problem like the “Blood Diamonds” problem of several years ago. Rebel groups get their funding for weapons via the sale of ivory tusks. The major problem is policing the vast areas of our national parks as well as the corruption of government officials. The other high government officials were busy in the national capital of Dodoma where a special session on the New Constitution is about to begin.

One concern about the forum was that all the presentations were in Swahili and little explanation was given in English. The foreign investors were really lost. Among these foreign participants were three Americans who are all working for an international Non Government Organization [NGO] specializing in the area of agricultural development and education.  Unfortunately SAUT  does not have an Agriculture Faculty at its main campus in Mwanza but does have one at the constituent college in Iringa in southern Tanzania where they grow teas, coffee and other export commodities.

All in all the forum was a great experience for our tourism students and perfectly timed between the end of exams and the beginning of lectures for the second semester. (Fr. James Spillane, SJ)

 

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