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    Tanzania, Unveiling a Hidden Gem


    International Trade Forum - Issue 1/2007, © International Trade Centre,
    Interview with Ramadhan Hashimu Khalfan, President, Board of External Trade, Tanzania

    © Fundacion Export.ar Mr Khalfan at the 6th World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations.

    Tanzania is working to make itself better known to attract foreign buyers and tourists.

    ITC's Natalie Domeisen interviewed Ramadhan Hashimu Khalfan during the World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations in March 2007. Mr Khalfan, a former member of parliament, is Director General of the Board of External Trade of Tanzania.

    Q: How does being part of "Brand Africa" affect you when presenting Tanzania and its exports in other countries?

    A: People, especially in the United States and Europe, often think Africa is one country. They don't know that there are 54 of us. When there is war, hunger or disease, they hear about Africa. But take a country like ours, Tanzania. It's been peaceful. Despite the fact that it's one of the most stable countries in Africa, it's not well known in Europe. There are no disasters, famine or wars!

    Q: What are you doing to counteractthis image?

    A: Our president is taking initiatives, and we are moving. There is much to do. The Board of External Trade and the Tanzanian Investment Centre are going everywhere to promote exports and solicit investors. We are also working with the tourism board.

    In the process, we are trying to learn from others. We know our economy has a road to travel, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are trying to learn from others - for example, how the Republic of Korea and Viet Nam transformed so rapidly. I am here at the World Conference of Trade Promotion Organizations in Buenos Aires, in fact, to see how we can learn from others.

    Q: What exports do you promote?

    A: Our economy is 80% agricultural, with only a few small-scale industries. We have fish, gemstones, edible oils, tea and coffee among our exports. In gemstones, we are the only ones to have tanzanite, a blue stone which is very popular.

    We see a lot of potential in tourism. Mt Kilimanjaro is in Tanzania, but many people take travel packages to visit it from Kenya. The Serengeti National Park is a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. Our gems are sold to South Africa, our fish to European markets.

    Q: Why are you present at the services promotion workshop of this World TPO conference?

    A: There is great potential in services exports. Over 20% of our economy is in this area now. But we know there are many challenges. Of 85,000 kilometres of road in Tanzania, only 10,700 are paved. Over 50,000 are in very poor condition.

    Whether we are dealing with goods or services, this is a major issue for us. How can rural villages get produce shipped internationally if there are no roads to take their fruit and vegetables? And for tourism, we need roads too.