Zanzibar remain committed to maintain and strengthen relations in East African Community (EAC) and other regional blocks as it sees more economic opportunities for its development, says the State Minister (State House) Mr. Issa Haji Ussi.
Talking about Zanzibar’s position in regional blocks during the 2020/2021 fiscal year, the Minister said, under the umbrella of the united republic of Tanzania, the Isles is happy to continue being part of regional blocks.
“Last year we were involved in many meetings and functions organized to discuss issues concerning the development and challenges in our relations.
This is important in strengthening our blocks,” Ussi said as some people speculate that Zanzibar has always been sidelined in EAC meetings and other blocks.
He said the blocks have helped Zanzibar and Tanzania mainland promote economic diplomacy to boost their economies, but implementation of regulations regarding Common External Tariff (ZET) and removal of Non- Tariff Barriers (NTBs) for smooth business within member countries remains a challenge.
Mr. Ussi also known as Gavu said that under the ‘Coordination of regional relations and Tanzania Diaspora’ programme for the next year, his office will ensure it takes part in regional meetings for the benefit of Zanzibaris.
Apart from EAC, other regional blocks of which Tanzania (and Zanzibar) is a member are Southern African Development Community (SADC) and African Union (AU).
Others are the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He said, “We also plan to increase public awareness about the regional blocks so that residents, particularly members of the business community understand the available opportunities in the relations. Connectivity is important to spur regional and continental development.”
Addressing the EALA sitting recently, the Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohamed Shein urged the EAC to take advantage and to explore the opportunities that make it (region) an economic strong-hold noting that a strong industrial powerhouse would shore up Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across board.
“We need to move from where we are now, where the contribution of manufacturing to GDP in East Africa is estimated at 8.9 per cent, which is considerably below the average target of about 25 per cent that all the Partner States have set for themselves to achieve by 2032. It is through the industrial development that we can eliminate the current unemployment challenges that exist in all Partner States,” Dr. Shein stated.
On tourism, the President called for more efforts to see the sector, which is a mainstay of Zanzibar improved.
“It has been reported that the region receives less than 5 million tourists and holiday makers from abroad a year out of over one billion, which is the world’s total.
This number, in fact, does not reflect the global popularity and fame of our tourist attractions.
We can do better as a bloc,” the President said. The President hailed EALA for its continued role in sensitizing the citizens of the region saying many stood to gain from the initiative.
“Sensitization programs are a costly affair but the benefits outweigh the costs. Sensitization and outreach remain extremely fundamental if the EAC is to be wholly owned by the people and for the people,” the President added.
Also Zanzibar President called for accelerated efforts to improve the infrastructure to spur development.
“It is inspiring to see that we have many infrastructure projects in progress.
However, we still need to accelerate our efforts to improve our roads, railways, waterways, and aviation and communication system.
It is the high-quality and robust infrastructure systems that will facilitate the movement of goods, persons, capital and services.
In addition, having modern and sustainable infrastructure will make us closer together and become more inspired in developing other sectors,” he said.