The Indian Ocean Islands of Zanzibar have officially launched an electronic investment guide (iGuide) to provide up-to-date business information for investors.
Developed by the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA), the guide is an easy-to-use online platform for investors on available business opportunities and applicable laws and regulations.
The platform is categorized in the themes of business setup, labour, production factors, land, taxes, investor rights, sectors and opportunities.
“The iGuide has been launched at an opportune time when investors are facing challenges including accessing consolidated up-to-date investment-related information under one umbrella,” said the President of Zanzibar and Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi, during the launch of the iGuide last week.
He added the Zanzibar Investment Guide was developed to address the existing challenges, adding, “the guide is expected to bring benefits to investors and to the country in general.”
He said the government remains committed to creating an enabling environment to attract the much-needed investment necessary to achieve Zanzibar’s dream of becoming a prosperous middle-income country.
He said the government will continue to collaborate with various stakeholders, including development partners and the private sector, to strengthen and enhance the business and investment environment in the Isles.
“Strengthening investment is among Zanzibar’s development priorities, and our priority is to promote investment in the blue economy, which is geared to ensure efficient use of our oceans and conserve marine biodiversity,” he said.
Dr Mwinyi said his administration’s efforts have already paid off as ZIPA has in the past two years registered 226 projects whose total capital is &3.5 billion (over Sh8trillion).
He commended the great work done by the investment promotion agency, adding that the registered projects have the potential of creating at least 13,500 job opportunities.
The President said the platform will enhance ZIPA services to investors, especially speedy registration and issuance of investment certificates; reduction of inconveniences; revenue enhancement and reduction of unnecessary costs to investors.
President Mwinyi directed ZIPA and all government institutions that handle investors to capitalise on the digital platform to improve services.
However, he turned down a request by the Minister of State, President’s Office, Labour, Economic Affairs and Investment, Mudrik Ramadhan Soraga to have government executives handling the renting out of Zanzibar islets sent abroad for study excursion.
“We have already decided to rent our small islands to private investors; we no longer have discussions on whether to rent out the islets. Bring to me whoever is an obstacle to the process and I will know where to send them,” Dr Mwinyi replied to the minister’s plea.
Soraga had asked the President to approve a foreign learning excursion for government executives handling the issue of islets, citing emerging misunderstanding among some government officials.
He attributed the misunderstanding to a lack of exposure, proposing the trip to some islands that have succeeded in business as a solution.
The minister also asked for an increased ZIPA budget, asking the President to approve the 100 per cent retention of the agency’s revenue collections to finance investment promotion activities.
Responding, Dr Mwinyi said financing ZIPA is not a problem as long as the money is spent properly.
ZIPA Executive Director, Shariff Ali Shariff said the web-based tool will serve as a “one-stop information shop” providing investors with necessary and current information on business opportunities and regulations.
“ZIPA aspires to become a centre of excellence in providing quality and speedy services to investors,” Shariff said.
“Under the system, it will take hardly five minutes for the investor with all documentation to receive the investment certificate,” he said.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Representative Christine Musisi, speaking at the event, said the investment guide will help to promote investment opportunities and create investments in the islands for sustainable social and economic development.
The UN development agency had supported the preparation of the document that summarises investment opportunities and provides a comprehensive sector profile to help investors in making informed decisions.
UNDP Tanzania has also been working with the government to launch investment guides in 26 regions across mainland Tanzania, making a huge impact on development and economic growth.
Zanzibar iGuide will be key in attracting investments shaped by the growth sectors and opportunities section, which highlights the most recent national development strategies in terms of potential investment priorities.
Zanzibar is the modest Indian Ocean Islands, which has always been best known for its exquisite white beaches and get-away-from-it-all lifestyle is fast becoming one of the hottest investment destinations and foremost business hubs in Africa.
The fact that Zanzibar is on a mission to make itself more attractive as an investment environment is clear from its progressive and highly favourable tax regime.
The Islands are also perfectly positioned en route from Asia and the Middle East to the tip of Africa, making it ideal for expansion into Africa, and also from Africa into the rest of the world.