Asian countries have dominated much of the news in this decade over their economic growth and boom. Despite talks on the recent strides, Africa has remained on the back burner. And yet African economies have grown steadily despite the global economic and financial crises. Should Africa establish itself as the new global manufacturing hub for its natural resources, the continent is poised to overtake the Asian tigers, becoming a global new economic frontier.
Among other countries, Tanzania could take a lead in pushing the continent into a new economic frontier. Due to its low cost of labour and abundant natural resources – ranging from minerals, oil, and natural gas to agricultural and non-agricultural natural resources – Tanzania and the rest of Africa are the new destination for the developed and developing economies thirsting for energy, food, and raw materials. Discoveries of mineral resources in many of African countries, especially those in Sub-Sahara Africa, point to the tremendous economic potential.
Non-renewable fossil fuel discoveries along the Indian Ocean East African coastline are likely to generate significant amount of wealth, which could be converted into renewable resources which will in turn continue to produce wealth after oil and gas are long gone (this is rather idealistic although possible). On turning the rents from non-renewable resources into renewable resources, Tanzania is a case in point. It must exploit her current natural gas boom by designing a blueprint that will see the country enter into the much needed industrial revolution to help uplift the living conditions of the people.
During the colonial era, most African countries supplied raw materials for European industrialization. The colonial powers established authoritarian control over their colonies and people in order to extract resources from them as cheaply as possible and did little in terms of infrastructural development. There was nothing more than railways and harbors built to carry raw materials to feed the industries of the Global North and when such infrastructures were built, they were never intended for future economic development of the colonies.
Africa remains the continent that has the most natural resources. Asian and western nations, along with their nationals, have discovered Africa’s potential in quenching their growing thirst for energy and raw materials for their industries. They are flocking to Africa in large numbers. Flights from Dubai, Doha, and Addis-Ababa into Dar es Salaam, are 80 per cent filled with young men and women of Asian descent arriving to seek the endless economic possibilities in Tanzania. Tanzania and most African countries are like modern day colonies, where emerging powers and developed nations battle it out over natural resources. They are taking jobs away in the form of exports of raw materials and unprocessed minerals. The Tanzania government on its part must urgently design a policy that will ban exportation of raw materials in order to promote domestic industrialization. This process will in turn create jobs for the youth and wealth for the people.
Investors, foreign and domestic, must be encouraged to invest in domestic processing and manufacturing of both renewable and non-renewable resources. Developed and developing nations, which have been engaging in economic cooperating with Tanzania, for instance, now have the opportunity to support the country by investing into domestic processing and manufacturing. Their long time purchase of the country’s raw materials at a throw away price, processing it, before selling it back as expensive finished goods, has not been equitable business practice.
Tanzania is a lucrative market that is continuing to grow. With a population of 44 million people, and the growing middle class, Tanzania is a gold mine that will not only propel the country into another frontier, but also likely to improve the living condition of its people if our abundant natural resources are properly managed and processed domestically. domestically.