The Export Processing Authority (EPZA) has partnered with the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) and Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) to establish the Mtwara Freeport Zone by December, this year, to facilitate full exploitation of natural resources in the southern region.
“We are in final stages of having the Mtwara Freeport Zone operational,” EPZA Development Director Zawadia Nanyaro said in Dar es Salaam at the weekend. He noted that the site for the Freeport Zone had already been earmarked.
The envisaged zone is expected to serve oil exploration and gas extraction activities in the region.
Mtwara Region is endowed with a huge amount of gas and oil.
The presence of oil and gas companies creates opportunities for investors to set up petrochemical processing and allied industries in the region. Investors are already flocking to the southern region to invest in manufacturing plants—cement and fertilisers in particular.
Deep sea exploration is in progress by multinational companies—Petrobras, British Gas and Orphir.
“Having a special centre to supply materials and services is inevitable if these (exploration) companies have to operate efficiently,” Nanyaro said.
She said the envisaged Freeport Zone was specific for foreign companies that supplied materials and provided services to exploration firms that had to invest over US$1 billion (about 1.6tn/-) with over 5,000 direct employment opportunities for Tanzanians.
EPZA has since its inception about six years ago been striving to invite investors in its designated areas for investment under special economic zones and export processing zones.
Statistics show that the authority has attracted US$700 million (over 1tn/-) worth of investments that have created over 14,000 direct jobs with US$450 million (over 700bn/-) exports.
The EPZ was established by the Export Processing Zones Act, 2002, which provides for establishment of export investments in the designated zones.
Its objectives are to attract and encourage transfer of new technology, attract and promote investment for export led industrialisation, create and expand foreign exchange earnings and increase employment opportunities and development of skilled labour.