After Israelis, Tanzania expects Chinese tourists

An uptick in diplomatic ties between Tanzania and Israel has started to bear socio-economic fruits, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

The premier who saw off 274 tourists on the Israeli Airlines plane at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend, pleaded  with the visitors to serve as Tanzania`s ambassadors back home.

Over 1,000 tourists from Israel were since April 20, this year, in the northern tourism circuit to sample various attractions in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The first group of the tourists left on Friday night, the second, which was seen off by the Premier, flew on Saturday afternoon, the third on Saturday evening and the last on Saturday night.

Majaliwa invited members of the business community from Israel to invest in the tourism sector in the natural-resource rich Tanzania. He further asked the Israelis to consider coming back to visit Rubondo, Katavi and Ruaha National Parks and Selous Game Reserve in the Southern Circuit as well as Zanzibar.

`We are flattered,` Majaliwa told Carmel  Shlomo, the Director of Another World, as he extended his gratitude to local and Israel tour operators for promoting Tanzania as number one tourist attraction in Africa.

Ten tour operating firms were involved in arranging the Israelis` safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, namely Excellent Guides, Mauly Tours and Safaris, Matembezi, Leopard Tours and Safaris, African Queen Adventures and TAWISA from Tanzania and Another World, My Trip, Camel and Safari Company from Israel.

The Tanzania Tourist Board Director, Devotha Mdachi, said a similar group of tourists from Israel were scheduled to arrive in Tanzania by June 2019. `Also expected in May this year are over 300 tourists from China,` she said in an interview, adding that the board was arranging a trip of Israel journalists and tour operators to Tanzania later this year.

One of the Israeli tourists marveled at how the country is very good and its people excellent upon his arrival a week ago, but however observed that roads heading for Serengeti needed to be improved.

Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister said the government was reforming the tourism sector for it to offer quality services. Last year, the ministry unveiled its ambitious plan to invest over Tshs.300 billion ($130 million) in the untapped Southern circuit for the country to register 2.2 million tourist arrivals a year from the current 1.3 million.

Dr. Kigwangalla said the money would be spent on improving infrastructure, increasing tourist services and promoting the virgin destinations and its rich culture, cuisine and the people of Tanzania cemented renewal of its friendship with Israel when it opened its embassy in Ramat Gan in May 2018, over 20 years after ties between the two countries were re-established.

Tanzania had initially established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1963, but they were torn asunder in 1973, thanks to the intense Arab pressure.

Earnings from tourism, Tanzania`s main source of hard currency, jumped 7.13 per cent in 2018, as a result of increased arrivals of foreign visitors. Tourism revenues fetched Tshs5.5 trillion ($2.43 billion) during the period 2018, up from Tshs.5 trillion ($2.19 billion) in 2017. Tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, as opposed to 1.33 million in 2017.

Also read:Tanzania-China Direct Flights set to Boost Tourism

Israeli tourists hail Tanzania`s landscape

The serene rural Tanzanian landscape has wowed more than 1000 tourists from Israel who have just concluded their week-long tour of the country, leaving them planning for more future visits to explore the beauty of the country further.

The visitors from the Middle East have also expressed their admiration of the friendly attitude shown by the Tanzanians who they said were easy to make acquaintance with, noting that Israel stands a good chance of investing in cultural tourism.

The tour guide and leader of the group, Hagit Geffen stated they were surprised by the Tanzanians way of life as most of them seem to live in rural areas far away from towns and cities, and still the government manages to reach out to all these places, providing electricity, water and other essential services.

One of the tourists in the group observed that while back home in Israel people live in cities, towns or Kibbutz (a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture) they are not as scattered as here. He also was surprised to see how people managed to get essential needs and basic services far away from cities and towns, yet he thought people must always live in big clusters in order to get services. He further stated that even the language in simple to master noting that in just a few days most of the tourists were able to learn Swahili words and could easily sing the song `Jambo Bwana, Habari Gani? ` citing that they were singing the song along their trips to Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara.

The tourists expressed their desire to return to Tanzania, but this time to really meet and understand the people of Tanzania whom they described to be warm, friendly, happy and peaceful.

A communications official for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) described the arrival of more than 1000 tourists from the Middle East as a `typhoon` which has occurred during the off-season period in the northern circuit. The number of Israeli tourists visiting Tanzania rose to 36,640  in 2017, from 4,635 in 2012, according to data from the tourism board.

The Tourism Minister Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla said the marketing drive is paying dividends since the world is now turning to Tanzania as destination of choice when studying their global travel plans. In February this year, Tanzanian tourism experts attended the International Mediterranean Travel Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, Israel to promote the tourist attractions in the country.

The Zion tourists were seen off by the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend. The premier said their visit was among ongoing strategies to cultivate mutual cooperation between Jerusalem and Dar es Salaam.

The influx of Israel tourists to Tanzania comes after Israel opened its first visa processing centre in Dar es Salaam putting an end to necessitate people from Tanzania and Israel from traveling to Nairobi for visa related issues. The Tanzanian government also established an embassy in Israel in 2018 which was aimed at strengthening the ties that had been severed by the Arab pressure during the Yom Kippur war of 1973.

Also read: Germany, United Kingdom tourists dominate Tanzania tourism market

Tanzania’s Rufiji Hydro Power project gets first batch of disbursement

The Tanzanian government on 24th April, 2019 released Tshs.688.65 billion ($299.4 million) in advance payment to the contractor of the 2,100 MegaWatts (MW)Rufiji Hydroelectric power project ahead of the start of the construction in June.

To be implemented jointly by Arab Contractors and Elsewedy Electric Company the project is now in mobilization stage which includes setting up of enabling infrastructure such as houses, roads and water prior to its official commencement.

Speaking during the handing over event, the Treasury Permanent Secretary Doto James said that payment was part of an estimated Tshs.6.5 trillion ($3 billion) to be wholly funded by the government.

`The issuance of the advance payment marks a crucial milestone towards commencement of the implementation of the project which upon completion will play a pivotal role towards realization of Tanzania`s industrialization strategy and attainment of middle income status by 2025, ` he declared.

The project will also improve irrigation agriculture, water supply in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions as well as enhancing tourist activities in the Selous Game Reserve. The dam is expected to create a flood plain downstream that can support crop production of 450,000 tonnes of paddy, 7,000 tonnes of maize, 3,000 tonnes of cotton, and some vegetables which will boost agriculture contribution to the GDP which stood at 26.4 per cent in 2017.

For his part, Energy Permanent Secretary Dr. Hamis Mwinyimvua said the project which will be implemented in 36 months to generate 2,115 MW represents a greater power source than all electricity generated from all other sources in the country, which currently stands at 1,602 MW.

He assured the contractors of full government support, urging them to work hard and with due diligence to ensure quality work.

Mohamed Hassan, the deputy project director of Arab Contractors commended the government for its solid commitment towards the implementation of the project. The consortium shall work to ensure that they provide quality work and within the set time frame.

`We appreciate the government of Tanzania for paying us on time. Our job now is to produce quality work, ` he told the gathering.

Last week, CRDB Bank Plc and the United Bank for Africa (UBA) signed a Tshs.1.6 trillion ($737.5 million) bank guarantee to the Tanzania Electric Supply Company Ltd (Tanesco) for the implementation of the massive hydropower project.

On December 12, 2018, the government signed a Tsh.6.5 trillion ($3 billion) landmark deal with Arab Contractors to implement the project.

The signing of the deal was witnessed by President Magufuli and Egyptian Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly in Dar es Salaam.

Speaking shortly after the agreement was signed, President Magufuli reiterated his rejection of exaggerated environmental concerns, saying the project will instead be eco-friendly. Critics including environmentalists and conservationists who have been several times quoted as  saying the project would adversely impact wildlife ecosystem.

Also read: Tanzania and Egypt to forge ahead with $3 billion dam project





Tanzania to establish an e-border management system

The Tanzanian government is finalizing plans for the establishment of e-border management control system aimed at improving security at border points and increase revenues.

In the ongoing parliament meetings, the Minister for Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola told the lawmakers that the new system will be operational from July 2019. He also noted that the government will in the 2019/2020 start using e-passport permit and e-visa in all Tanzanian embassies outside the country.

Tabling the 2019/2020 ministerial budget estimates, the minister said the electronic immigration services has shown great success both locally and internationally, citing recent recognition of Tanzanian passport by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The minister said asked the Parliament to approve Tshs.921.2 billion ($400.2 million) for the 2019/2020 financial year whereby Tshs.889.3 million ($386,652) is for recurrent expenditure and Tshs.372.2 billion ($161.8 million) for other expenses and Tshs.517 billion ($224 million) is for salaries.

He said Tshs.31.9 billion ($13.8 million) for development expenditure, whereby Tshs.21.5 billion ($9.3 million) from internal sources while Tshs.10.4 billion ($4.5 million) from external sources.

On the number of visitors to the country, Lugola said about 957,977 people entering the country between July 2018 and March, 2019 compared to 1,021,071 who visited the country in 2017/18.

About 950,507 foreigners left the country compared to 954,926 who left the country in 2017/18. He also stated that during the same period 293 foreigners were denied entry into the country for failure to meet immigration department requirements.

On the same note, some 1,015 Tanzanians who went to foreign countries without following the rightful immigration procedures were returned into the country whereas a total of 5,604 illegal immigrants were repatriated to their countries of origin.

The minister also said following regular operations in the country, a total of 9,610 illegal immigrants were arrested in the country and handed over to various law enforcing organs.

He noted that big criminals cases reported at police stations in the country reached 45,574 between July, 2018 and March,2019 compared to 47,236 reports during the same period in 2017/2018.

He said the deadline in criminal cases is mainly due o early identification by intelligence forces, cooperation with members of the public and the police, increased surveillance and special operations in both urban and rural areas.

The minister further stated that out of the cases mentioned, 17613 of them with 37,267 culprits were filed in courts. About 27,943 are at different stages of investigations and those involved will soon appear in courts.

Speaking on the rate of road accidents in the country, Lugola said deaths caused by accidents were 1,216 compared to 1,985 deaths in 2017/2018, meaning decrease of 769 deaths, equivalent to 38.7 per cent.

The number of those injured in accidents during the same period also decreased from 4,447 in 2017/2018 to 2,639 in 2018/2019, being 40.7 per cent.

The minister told the House that the ministry will in 2019/2020 employ 3,725 police officers to increase the number of the law enforcers.

Also read: East African passports ranked most powerful in the continent


Why Tanzanian government disputed the IMF report

The International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) report on Tanzania’s economic status was one-sided.

Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Phillip Mpango opened up on April 23, 2019 detailing why the government did not give IMF the green light to publish the content.

Responding after the matter was raised in the National Assembly, Dr Mpango said that the go-ahead was not given because opinions given by government experts after reading the first draft were not included in the final report.

“The IMF team was in the country from November 26 to December 7 last year. After preparing the draft I received on March 18 and we gave opinions that should have been accommodated in the final report but that did not happen,” the minister said.

Dr Mpango noted that during his recent visit to Washington DC for the 2019 spring meetings organized by the World Bank and IMF, he held talks on the subject with Abebe Selassie, who is the director of the Africa Department at the IMF.

“Even today we are continuing with discussions on the subject. After the executive board of IMF received the final report, the government had 14 days to go through it and sanction its publication or not,” he said.

Under Chapter IV of its Articles of Agreement, the IMF has the mandate to exercise surveillance over the economic, financial and exchange rate policies of member states in order to ensure the effective operation of the international monetary system.

The executive board of IMF announced last week that it had concluded the consideration of the 2019 Article IV Consultation with the government but was not allowed to make the report public. `The authorities have not consented to publication of the staff report or related press release,` the IMF statement reads.

The IMF said in a notice published on its website that appraisal of its members’ economic, financial and exchange rate policies involves a comprehensive analysis of the general economic situation and policy strategy of each member country.

“IMF economists visit the member country, usually once a year, to collect and analyse data and hold discussions with government and central bank officials. Upon its return, the staff submit a report to the IMF Executive Board for discussion. The Board’s views are subsequently summarized and transmitted to the country`s authorities,” the notice intoned.

However, in a leaked report last week in which the IMF said was not made public because after Tanzanian authorities did not consent to its publication, the Fund said a weak business environment and the implementation of projects that may not have high rates of return were likely to constrain annual GDP growth.

Tanzania has of recent undertaken multiple projects that are aimed at making the country a middle-income economy by 2025.

Some of these projects include the Tshs.8.2 trillion ($3.6 billion) Rufiji Hydropower project which is expected to add 2,115 MegaWatts to the national grid and the purchase of aircraft for the national carrier that cost over Tshs.1 trillion ($500 million).

Earlier this month, the IMF lowered its forecast for Tanzania’s economic growth for 2019 and in 2020 to around 4 per cent from a previous forecast of 6.6 per cent in 2018.

In it’s World Economic Outlook, released on Tuesday, April 9, 2019, the Fund also predicted Tanzania’s consumer price inflation will reach 3.5 per cent this year and edge up to 4.5 per cent in 2020.

In January last year, the IMF said it expected Tanzania’s economy to grow at 6–7 per cent over the medium term if the country hiked capital spending and improved its business environment.

Also read: World Bank advises Tanzania on how to achieve middle-class economy

Tanzania in attempts to boost tobacco sales

Tobacco growing in Tanzania may get a boost if plans by the government to increase sales are successful.

The Tanzanian government is planning to initiate talks with the member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to seek markets for tobacco in those countries.

Data indicates that in 2017, tobacco brought in more foreign exchange to the country than coffee, cotton, tea, cloves and sisal combined.

However, tobacco production fell considerably over the third quarter of 2018, dropping by a third of the previous quarter’s performance.

The setback was that Tanzania’s tobacco was sold at high prices in other countries because of charging high tax, compared to the same tobacco from Uganda and Kenya.

The country is in talks with Egypt and Algerian ambassadors to Tanzania to prepare bilateral agreements that would enable reduced tax on Tanzania’s tobacco to be sold in those countries in attempt to increase income to tobacco farmers and country at large.

Tanzania is second in Africa in tobacco production after Malawi. However, despite high production of tobacco, it remains a poor country and tobacco farmers worse off while the country loses more than 61,000 hectares of forest annually due to tobacco growing and curing.

In recent years, there has been considerable debate about the social, environmental and economic impact of tobacco growing, especially in developing countries.

Organisations such as the Framework Convention Alliance and the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have called for tobacco farmers to be encouraged to switch to alternative crops.

Such calls are based on claims that tobacco growing has worse impacts than other crops. In particular, there are concerns regarding deforestation, the exacerbation of poverty and social inequality through bonded labour and child labour and occupational health risks such as green tobacco sickness (GTS).

Despite tobacco being a vital foreign currency earner, most local growers of the crop are languishing in abject poverty with nothing tangible to show for their hard work.

Some 2000 delegates – researchers, scientists, UN and civil society representatives, healthcare professionals and policymakers from more than 100 countries – attended the triennial conference, whose name, “Tobacco or Health,” implies that the two cannot co-exist.

The conference was held amid concerns that the tobacco industry, flush with money from huge profits from their operations worldwide, are targeting the youth group to increase tobacco consumption and cigarette smoking among the young adults.

However, global efforts against tobacco industry received a massive boost from former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg who announced to provide 20 million US dollars to create a new global watchdog agency that will be monitoring tobacco industry’s attempts to undermine tobacco control measures under the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC).

The WHO FCTC measures are aimed at reducing the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.

The new global watchdog agency, Stopping Tobacco Organisations and Products (STOP) to be run by his foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies was launched as the 17th World Conference on Tobacco or Health got underway in Cape Town.

The new initiative came amid reports that tobacco kills seven million people a year and more than 80 per cent of the globe’s 1-billion smokers live in low and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Also read: Tanzania in talks with Chinese firms in exploration of exporting tobacco to Hong Kong

Tanzania, China in cement bilateral ties

The Tanzanian government has pledged continued support to Chinese investments at the 2019 Tanzania-China High-level Investment and Business Environment Dialogue in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam on April 17, 2019.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Investment, Angellah Kairuki, said Chinese investment has had and will continue to play an important role in helping us reach our goal of attaining a middle-income country status by 2025.

She said as the two countries marked 55 years of diplomatic relations this year, Tanzania was committed to continuing working closely with China, particularly through mechanisms within the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation that promotes government and private investments. However, it is unavoidable that some misunderstandings may occur in the rapidly growing and wide-ranging economic relations and trade, she told the event.

“Even so, it is my sincere belief that cooperation and common development will continue to represent the main trend.” “I wish to use this opportunity to urge all of us here present that when problems occur, we should not hesitate to seek appropriate solutions as equal partners through consultations and dialogues with the view to further expanding mutually beneficial cooperation,” said Kairuki.

The minister said Tanzania will strive to ensure ease of doing business by addressing delays in the issuance of work permits and residence permits. Wang Ke, the Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, said the dialogue was a good beginning for the two countries to strengthen communication on investment and business policies.

“If such dialogues can be institutionalized, the Tanzanian government would know better the wishes and appeals of Chinese enterprises in Tanzania, and the Chinese enterprises would better adjust themselves to the new policies of Tanzania,” she said. She said recent years have witnessed steady development of bilateral relations between China and Tanzania, especially the fruitful cooperation in economic and trade fields.

The bilateral trade volume in 2018 reached about Tshs.8.9 trillion ($3.9 billion, registering a year-on-year growth of 15 percent, said the Chinese envoy, who added that China has been the largest trading partner of Tanzania for three consecutive years. Up to now, she said, China’s total investment in Tanzania has exceeded Tshs.16.1 trillion ($7 billion), which made China the largest foreign investor in Tanzania.

Wang said at present, over 200 Chinese companies were making investments and operating in Tanzania, adding that China was also the largest project contractor in Tanzania with investments ranging from infrastructure, mining, agriculture to manufacturing, hotels, real estate and banks. Noting that this year marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of China-Tanzania diplomatic relations, Wang said the Chinese embassy in Tanzania will continue fulfilling its obligations by building connections and facilitating participation in China-Tanzania cooperation.

The China-Tanzania high-level dialogue on investment and business environment was aimed at providing a platform for the Tanzanian government to publicize, introduce and promote its investment policies and business environment and to facilitate investment, project contracting and trade business operations of Chinese companies in Tanzania.

Also read: Tanzania to open consulate in Guangzhou trade hub


Newly introduced e-tax stamps save Tanzania $1.7 million

The Tanzanian government has been losing about Tshs.4 billion ($1.7 million) per month in uncollected taxes on locally produced cigarettes and alcoholic beverages before Electronic Tax Stamps (ETS) started being used in January 2019.

The Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) Commissioner General,  Charles  Kichere told  reporters on April 16th that in March 2019, TRA collected Tshs.42.8 billion ($18.6 million) on the on cigarettes and alcoholic beverages which is an addition of Tshs.3.5 billion ($1.5 million) compared to Tshs.39.3 billion ($17 million) collected the same month last year.

The Commissioner General said the lost revenue is estimated to be higher than that because some producers are yet to enter ETS due to some reasons and the real amount of money that was being lost will be known once all manufacturers use the new tax system.

He said all local manufacturers as well as importers of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks have until the end of this month to install and start using ETS. After that period products bearing paper stamps will not be allowed into the market, he stated.

He further stated that all four cigarette companies, seven beer brewers as well as 12 wine and spirit makers already use ETS technology while seven producers stick the stamps manually under supervision of the TRA since they still use old technology that cannot support the system.

He also said that 14 importers of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages have already joined the new system, with the second phase of implementation of ETS starting on May 1, 2019 targeting soft or carbonated drinks, water, juices and CDs/DVDs.

Installation of ETS in factories and dealership points for the second phase has already began with 45 tax stamp applicators having been put up in 18 industrial establishments.

Kichere expressed hope that all local manufacturers and importers of cigarette and alcohol beverages as well as carbonated drinks, water, juice and CDs/DVDs go electronic, this will boost revenue collection significantly as the old paper stamp system shortchanged the public in uncollected revenues. He gave an example of a liquor producer who paid between Tshs.140 million ($60,800) and Tshs.160 million ($69,500) per month in excise duty before ETS but now is paying Tshs.274 million ($119,130).

President Magufuli recently said outlawed paper tax stamps entrenched systemic corruption whereby the government officials entrusted with revenue collection colluded with the private sector to evade taxes.

After the introduction of the ETS in 2018, manufacturers of beer, soda and cigarettes said at a joint meeting with the government that they were not opposed to the stamps but bearing the cost of running the system would add to the cost of doing business. The manufacturers said that the tender was not awarded competitively and that the terms inappropriately required them to pay for the installation of the stamp machines. The Commissioner General defended the government by stating that the ETS was meant to safeguard government revenue by providing accurate production of data on real time, and would enable the government determine in advance, the amount of duty to be paid and provided by TRA. It will also enable the government to track goods right from the factories, border entry points, warehouses to the final destination.

The ETS is administered by the Electronic Tax Stamps Regulations, 2018 and violation of the ETS is punishable by imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or a fine not less than Tsh.5 million ($2,173) and not exceeding Tshs.50 million ($21,739) or both.

Also read: Tanzania losing out big time from informal sector revenues

Tanzania cautioned over signing EPA with EU

A visiting renowned German scholar has cautioned Tanzania not to  sign an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) trade pact with the European Union (EU), saying the deal is rhymed against the country`s aspiration of becoming an industrial economy.

Addressing reporters in the capital, Dar es Salaam on 15th April, 2019, Helmut Asche who is Professor of Economics, Politics and African studies at the University of Leipzig said as a country set to build industries and export produce, Tanzania should not sign deals that flood its market with imports.

The EPA is an anticipated trade deal between the East African Community (EAC) and the EU which gives EAC products total access to the EU market, with 82.6 per cent of imports from the EU allowed on the EAC market.

Professor Asche warned African countries against signing EPA because the arrangement does not favour their economies. He further said that Tanzania in particular has no need to rush into signing the deal at a time when other African countries were reviewing such trade arrangements with rich nations.

But if other countries chose to ink the deal, they can go ahead but Tanzania should not be swayed by such decisions as it seeks to protect her own interests and choices of other countries won`t affect her, argued Asche.

Professor Asche also advised the government that the focus for Tanzania – and indeed other African countries should be to build strong economies through industries that use local raw materials and not otherwise.

Kenya and Rwanda have already signed EPA, leaving out Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and South Sudan still contemplating their next course of action. Negotiations for the EPA were concluded on October 16, 2014 and all EU member-states and the EU itself signed it.

Tanzania has been unhappy about the trade pact, arguing that the agreement will have serious consequences on its revenues and the growth of its industries.

At the EA Summit in Arusha on February 1, Kenya, with the biggest stake in the EPA, lobbied the partner states to start applying the trade pact on an individual basis rather than as a bloc to allow those that have not signed to sort out their issues.

Uganda argued that signing the pact as individual countries would compromise the unity of the region, hence its decision to wait it out.

Burundi, which was sanctioned by the EU after political unrest when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a controversial third term in 2015, also maintained that it would not agree to sign the trade deal, given its deteriorating relations with Europe.

But economic experts warn that signing the agreement as individual countries would weaken the region`s rules of origin and give rise to partner states operating on different trading regimes, a situation that is likely to compromise efforts towards regional integration.

The deadline for the signing by EAC countries had originally been set for October 1, 2016 but was extended since then.

Trade and development agreements have been negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific partners to cover goods, fisheries and development cooperation.

Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade and development agreements negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific partners engaged in regional economic integration processes.

The EU-EAC EPA covers trade in goods and fisheries as well as development cooperation that aims to reinforce cooperation on the sustainable use of resources. Further negotiations are ongoing to include services and trade-related rules in the future.

The deal is balanced and fully in line with the EAC Common External Tariff. It bans unjustified or discriminatory restrictions on imports and exports, which contributes to the EAC’s efforts to eradicate non-tariff barriers in intra-EAC trade. It supports the EAC’s regional integration agenda and has what it takes to foster development.

Also read: Uganda now willing to sign EU’s EPA agreement

Acacia registers decline in gold output

Acacia Mining Plc has registered a 13 per cent fall in gold production for the first quarter of 2019, attributing the decline to lower output at its North Mara and Buzwagi mines.

The company`s Interim CEO, Peter Geleta said in a statement accompanying the quarterly report that gold production stood at 104,889 ounces , with ounces sold for the quarter standing at 104,985 ounces and in line with production.

Production in the first quarter was affected by unanticipated production issues at North Mara, which produced 66,324 ounces of gold for the quarter, cited as a 14 per cent year-on-year decrease.

The lower output was mainly driven by the consequence of a fall of ground in the Gokona underground mine in December, as well as an excavator breakdown in the Nyabirama open pit.

The fall of ground at Gokona prevented access in the quarter to two higher-grade stopes in the east, impacting mine sequencing and head grade which, at three grams per tonne, was 19 per cent lower year-on-year and below expectations of the quarter.

The miner has since taken steps to address the issues at North Mara, including the introduction of a revised mining plan in mid-March for both the underground and open pit mines.

Meanwhile, the Buzwagi mine produced 28,577 ounces for the quarter, a 20 per cent lower year-on-year but in line with expectations, as a result of the mine having fully transitioned to a lower-grade stockpile processing operation.

The Bulyanhulu mine, however, produced 9,999 ounces of gold for the quarter, a 17 per cent year-on-year increase and in line with expectations, owing to the higher grades recovered from the retreatment of tailing, as well as improvements in plant throughout.

All production continued from the retreatment of tailings as a result of the mine being placed on reduced operations in late 2017. In 2017, Acacia was hit with a Tshs.437 trillion ($190 billion) in which Tshs.92 trillion ($40 billion) was in unpaid taxes in a 17 year span between 2000 and 2017, and additional Tshs.345 trillion ($150 billion) in interests and penalties. Acacia`s concentrates were banned from exportation, until the company reached a settlement with the government to pay Tshs.690 billion ($300 million), an amount that has not been paid up to now.

The miner similarly said its cash balance as on March 31, stood at about Tshs.277.7 billion ($99 million), representing a decrease of net cash of about Tshs.39.1 billion ($17 million) during the quarter, primarily as a result of lower production.

Throughout the quarter, Acacia continued to engage with its parent company, Barrick Gold in its direct negotiations with the government. The company anticipates receiving a detailed proposal for a comprehensive resolution of its disputes with the government once Barrick`s negotiations have been concluded, the report indicated.

Despite the challenges, Acacia remains confident that it will deliver against its full year production guidance of between 500,000 ounces and 550,000 ounces, it concluded.

Also read: Acacia Mining holds its ground even after Magufuli and Barrick Gold truce