Economic development in Africa would be elusive of the 80 percent if the population that relies on local factors for production and livelihoods are not included in the development efforts. Creating an enabling environment conducive enough to facilitate local entrepreneurship, reduce investment risks, facilitating access to capital, extension advice and markets, and establishing a convenient fiscal regime forms the nexus of production capacity in Africa.
Since 2006, the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) in collaboration with the government of the United Republic of Tanzania through its Support to Local Economy in Mwanza (SLEM) Programme that uses Local Economic Development approach has put all these concepts to test in the Mwanza Region seeking to open up the huge local economic potential of the two districts in the lake Victoria zone.
UNCDF Deputy Executive Secretary, Ms. Christine Roth, on her facts finding mission in the Mwanza Region announced the development of a new programme; Local Economic Development Finance Initiative of Tanzania (LED-FIT), which will focus on increasing local government access of capital funds to finance local infrastructure. The increase in access will come through mobilizing domestic resources from the private sector (banks, pension funds, insurance etc ) to finance local infrastructure and catalytic economic projects.
This new initiative follows the SLEM programme which has successfully led to the strengthening and initiation of local enterprises for more than 1,430 households through the establishment of a business advisory centre and linking them to micro-finance facilities, a platform for business and local Government dialogue, enabled local government to acquire pertinent information for decision makers to make right decisions regarding development of their localities.
During her visit, the DES met a number of local economic development stakeholders such as local entrepreneurs (fishermen and processors; horticulture; fashion making; vehicle repairs; leather processing; processing dairy products; tin-ware manufacturing) and urged them to take advantage of the knowledge and training offered by the Business Advisory Centre, the micro-finance facility, and the basic infrastructure improvement provided by the Local Government to grow their respective businesses to serve as the new impetus for creating employment and sustainable economic ventures.
She reiterated the existing potential around the lake and some of the gapping opportunities such as cold-store facilities, fish farming, vegetable processing, and marketing of dairy products. She urged the manager of the Business Development Services Centre (BDSC) and the District Commissioner in Sengerema to consider the promotion of the LED strategic plan that they have developed
Ms. Roth ended her field visit with a courtesy call on the Regional Commissioner for Mwanza as well as the UN Resident Coordinator for Tanzania, Alberic Kokou.