Industrial transformation in Tanzania



Dave Wield was in Dar Es Salaam (4-8 April) for the Annual Research Workshop organised by Tanzania’s prime think tank REPOA (Policy Research for Development). He was mixing with major figures in Tanzania’s industrial policy, including the Vice-President, Minister of Industry and a large swathe of ministry, policy, NGO and private sector leaders – more than 300 in fact. The OU was recognised as an official partner of REPOA at the opening plenary attended by all these dignitaries.

The big numbers for this year’s Annual Research Workshop signal a key moment. For decades, industrial policy was a dirty word in Tanzania, but the new government has prioritised industrial development for social transformation. It feels like full steam ahead, powered to some extent by the potential of large gas exploitation.

OU economist, Maureen Mackintosh, presented a major paper with her Tanzanian colleague Paula Tibandabage on the importance of the health sector for economic growth. Their paper, which received major interest, argues that the pharma industry, which survived the 1980/90s crisis, is under threat from weak state action. Maureen, Paula and Dave spent some time bending the ears of sympathetic senior civil servants about the need to act quickly and smartly.

Dave also chaired and acted as reporter for two sessions and discussed initial data from a paper with Roberto Simonetti, on ‘Learning to Compete in Tanzanian industry’.  Dave observed: ‘It was exciting to be back in Dar Es Salaam, where I worked during the Nyerere years, and to see so much enthusiasm for policies that we worked so hard to develop at that time.’