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President John Magufuli confirms Tanzania
has US $5.4 billion dollars foreign reserves

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Tanzanian President John Magufuli announced on Thursday that foreign reserves with the country’s central bank have reached 5.4 billion U.S dollars.

"This is equivalent to six months of import of goods and services," Magufuli told academicians at the University of Dar es Salaam during a debate on the east African nation’s industrialization drive.

Magufuli is the brains behind the industrialization drive aimed at making the country, the second largest economy in East Africa, attain a middle income status by 2025.

The president said the amount was high and had never been realized since independence in 1961, adding that the handsome reserves had been attained following putting in place prudent policies and controlling of wasteful spending.

The control on wasteful spending included banning unnecessary foreign trips by government officials and a ban imposed on holding of government meetings in posh hotels within and outside the country.

"You must understand that we have money.

"All the grand projects that we are implementing is because we have enough reserves," said Magufuli.

Official statistics released by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) last week showed that by July 2018 gross official reserves were 5.4 billion U.S. dollars.

"The reserves were sufficient to cover about 5.5 months of projected import of goods and services, excluding foreign direct investment related imports," said the BoT’s monthly economic review for August.


Tanzanian distances from regional official’s anti-gay remarks

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania on Sunday distanced itself from remarks against gays made by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda.

On Wednesday, Makonda announced the creation of a surveillance squad that will hunt down gays in the east African nation’s commercial capital of about 5 million people.

Makonda told a news conference that the operation was scheduled to start on Monday, Nov. 5.

However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation on Sunday distanced itself from Makonda’s remarks.

A statement by the ministry said Makonda was airing his personal views that did not reflect the official position of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, on behalf of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania, wishes to clarify that Mr. Makonda was only airing his personal opinion which does not represent the official position of the United Republic of Tanzania," said the statement.

According to the statement, Tanzania will continue to abide by all international treaties on human rights to which the country was a signatory.

"The United Republic of Tanzania will also continue to respect and uphold all human rights as provided for in the country’s constitution," added the statement.

Makonda said last week that the team he had formed will trawl social media in order to track down and arrest people in same-sex relationships.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Tanzania, forcing many gay, lesbian and transgender people to hide their sexuality.

Makonda has brushed aside international condemnation over his remarks, saying, "I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God."

Tanzania government says no plan to privatize insurance body

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania made clear on Saturday that there were no plan to privatize its insurance body, the National Insurance Corporation (NIC).

Susan Mkapa, the Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance and Planning, said the government has embarked on plans to de-list NIC from public institutions that were set to be privatized.

Mkapa assured NIC staff that their jobs were secure and there was no need for panic.

Mkapa was speaking at the NIC workers’ council held in the capital Dodoma.

She said that the provision of insurance services by NIC was a policy issue and therefore the institution will remain under the government.

Mkapa, who represented the Minister for Finance and Planning Minister, Phillip Mpango, said the government’s decision to stop NIC from being privatized was aimed at strengthening the institution.

"The ministry has extended job contracts for NIC workers for three months. Official communication will be made on the decision.

'Workers should continue working hard as the process is being finalized," she said.

She called on NIC to execute its duties competitively, increase efficiency, be innovative and avoid working in the business-as-usual style.

Sam Kamanga, NIC Managing Director, said some of the public institutions were hesitating to use NIC services because the government has not issued a statement regarding its fate.

Tanzanian government says not aware of Bharti Airtel planned IPO

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- The government of Tanzania has said it was not involved in Bharti Airtel’s, a joint shareholder with the Indian-based firm in Airtel Tanzania, intended initial public offering (IPO) in international stock markets to raise eight billion U.S. dollars for its African business.

Athumani Mbuttuka, Treasury Registrar for the government of Tanzania, said in a statement issued on Wednesday that the government as co-owner of the company’s business in Tanzania was supposed to be involved in the IPO plan before it was formally disclosed by Bharti Airtel last week but that did not happen.

"I would like to inform the general public and the new investors in Bharti Airtel that we (the government) do not recognize the plan to invite new shareholders in the company named Airtel Africa Limited, which is reportedly registered in London," Mbuttuka said.

Mbuttuka said the government should have been involved in any decision to sell or transfer shares and invite new shareholders to the business.

The official added: "Against this backdrop, it was not lawful for Bharti Airtel to make such a decision (as the IPO plan) that affects the business without the approval of its co-shareholder, namely the government."

"Therefore, the general public and investors in Airtel Africa Limited who acquired Bharti Airtel’s shares in 14 African countries, including Tanzania, are hereby notified that their stake in Airtel Tanzania is subject to approval by the government through the Treasury Registrar in line with the outcome of ongoing discussions between the government and Bharti Airtel," he said in the statement.

The said discussions are centred on devising new ways of improving the performance of the second largest mobile phone company in the country by number of customers, Mbuttuka said.

Last week’s IPO announcement by Bharti Airtel was followed by media reports earlier this week that the intended offering would be delayed, but this was subsequently denied by the company.

"We would like to categorically state that Airtel Africa’s IPO preparations are proceeding as per plan and there is no change in the plans," the India-based company said in a statement on Tuesday, adding:

"A new board is in place with new investor representatives and we remain very confident about the IPO process," added the company.

Media reports this week stated that Bharti Airtel, which is India’s second-largest wireless carrier, would delay the planned IPO of its Africa unit due to turmoil in emerging market stocks, quoting people with "knowledge" on the matter.

The company, which originally aimed to list the Africa unit in London by March this year, had pushed back the share sale by about half a year, according to the reports.

It planned to seek an enterprise value of about eight billion U.S dollars for the Africa business, the sources said, asking not to be identified because "the information is private."

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., which owns a stake in Bharti’s parent company, said in August that the listing was slated for the first quarter of next year.

Bharti, backed by Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal, is seeking the listing after spending heavily to acquire a spectrum in India and defend its position in the country against upstart rival firm Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd.

It has operations in 14 African markets including Tanzania, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, according to its latest annual report.

Tanzania launches crackdown on illegal fishing in Lake Tanganyika

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- Authorities in Tanzania on Friday officially launched a massive crackdown on illegal fishing in Lake Tanganyika, one of the oldest freshwater lakes in the world.

Luhaga Mpina, the Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, said the crackdown should go in tandem with the arrest of local government officials and fisheries officers who protected syndicates of people involved in illegal fishing.

He said 93 boats, 32 vehicles, 16 motorcycles and 5,000 tonnes of fish have been seized since the crackdown on illegal fishing started in Lake Tanganyika, adding that 3,250 illegal fishnets were impounded.

"We have burned all the illegal fishing nets," said Mpina, directing government officials in the region to oversee the crackdown.

"The government’s position is to make sure that illegal fishing is put to an end not only in Lake Tanganyika but also in all lakes in this country," said Mpina.

The minister said illegal fishing resulted in depletion of fish stocks in the country’s lakes, forcing Tanzania to spend more money to import fish.

In March this year, Tanzanian President John Magufuli supported ongoing crackdown on illegal fishing in Lake Victoria that was aimed at replenishing fish stocks in the lake.

Magufuli’s remarks came barely a week after the Council of Ministers of the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization approved scaling up anti-illegal fishing operations in the lake.

Seven killed in central Tanzania as two government vehicles collide

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- At least seven people were killed and three others injured on Saturday at dawn when two Tanzanian government vehicles collided in the country’s central district of Kongwa in Dodoma region, said police.

Gilles Murotto, the Dodoma regional police commander, said the accident occurred at 3:30 a.m. when one belonging to the office of the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) and another belonging to the Public Service Social Security Fund (PSSSF) collided head-on.

Murotto said the vehicle from the CAG’s office was heading to Dar es Salaam from Dodoma with seven people on board while the PSSSF’s vehicle was heading to Dodoma from Dar es Salaam with three people on board.

Murotto said it was not immediately established whether the victims were government employees.

He said the two vehicles collided head-on when one of the drivers tried to avoid a stationary vehicle along the road.

The police official said the three survivors were admitted to the Dodoma regional referral hospital.

Nine injured in commuter train derailment in Tanzania’s business capital

DAR ES SALAAM Tanzania (Xinhua) -- At least nine passengers were injured on Friday morning after two carriages of a commuter train derailed in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

Tanzania Railways Corporation Police Commander David Mnyambugha said the train derailed as it was plying between the central business district and Pugu on the outskirts of the city.

"The nine injured people were taken to hospital. We are also working hard to remove the damaged wagons to free the railways," said Mnyambugha.

Mnyambugha said the early morning accident occurred at Karakata area, near the Julius Nyerere International Airport.

The commuter trains, which started services in the commercial capital in October 2012 to ease congestion, are operated by the Tanzania Railways Corporation.

Mnyambugha said the two wagons were damaged badly and they could not continue operating without comprehensive repairs.

The cause of the derailment was not immediately established, he said.


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