Sunday, December 28, 2008

Why do Countries Adopt Competition Laws-Tanzania as a case study

Since independent (1961), Tanzania had adopted three types of domestic economic policies which can be classified as; early years of post colonial era, post Arusha Declaration and free market economy; all these aimed at improving trade and enhance economic development however they had been used in line with international obligations and regional settings to influence the pattern of trade development amongst Tanzanians.

In view of the above mentioned domestic policies adopted in three regimes one can be able to come up with what transpired and what is the main reasons as to why Tanzania had been motivated to all kind of shifts from one regime to another on competition laws aiming on stimulating domestic production, promote exports, safeguarding domestic industries against dumping, national politics, security and consumer protection.

The Rationale of maintaining competition regimes from Tanzania perspective can be viewed onto three economic and political regimes;
1) Early years post colonial era (1961-1967);
This was liberal economy inherited from colonial era whereby private sector played a big role as engine of growth, export was basically unprocessed and in form of semi-processed agricultural commodities (Traditional exports) and other raw materials
a) There was free market economy though too much protectionism on the economy
b) Trade and consumer protection based on colonial laws (British)
c) Business conducts was not open, its was in favour of colonial master-British

2) During and Post Arusha declaration 1967-1985
a) Tanzania adopted socialism policy
b) There was government intervention and control over major economic resources
c) Confinement policy” adopted in 1972 to control all major economic activities including trade
d) Trade policy was based on tariffs and quantitative restrictions
e) Policy instruments used were price controls, import quotas, rationing, administrative resource allocation and the use of permit to control movement of goods and services.
f) Protectionism was imposed with import duty used as control tool
g) The was too much of state monopoly

3) During Liberalization and free market economy (1985- to date)
a). There was privatization of public investments to the private sector,
b). Tanzania adopted open door policy and structural adjustment programs
c). There was emerge of market forces; demand and supply instead of price control
d). Private sector tends to be an engine of economic growth
e). There is free market economy with less protection on the economy

III) The motivations in which Tanzania adopted its current competition laws
Due to failure of the socialism in Tanzania and its restrictive policies to achieve the desired objectives; infant Tanzania industries failed to meet even local demand caused by limited internal capacity, series of oil price increments, inadequate resource mobilization, and inefficient allocation of resources, decline private sector activity and foreign direct investment (FDI) due to nationalization of major economic sectors carried after Arusha Declaration 1967.

Consequently to that; Tanzania experienced severe macroeconomic hardship like; rising inflation rate, severe scarcity of essential goods and services, falling real GDP growth rate, widening fiscal and trade deficits, for this matter therefore Tanzania had not other best option than to adopt rescuer pills (IMF) on structural adjustment programs (SAP) including introduction of cost sharing on all social services, staff retrenchment, liberalization of imports, interest rates and exchange controls, devaluation of shilling; price decontrol, privatization and restructuring of state owned firms – to improve efficiency in domestic production

Therefore; following the mid 1980’s economic reform in Tanzania which led to state withdraw as a direct economic player (manufacturer and distributor), price controller, service provider and the like; consumers and producers have experience the shift of roles from the state monopoly to open market policies.

For instance; National distributional agencies such as National Milling Corporation (NMC), Regional Trading Company (RTC) were replaced by private companies, the former price commission during controlled economy was abolished and replaced by market forces; demand and supply; generally the government was advised not to involve itself in production as a result majority of profitable government business ventures/industries were privatized.

Rapid trade liberalization has made Tanzanians more vulnerable to shocks and removal of policies and state owned distribution and service companies. In other words; the shift caught Tanzanians unaware and unprepared with very little knowledge on how they can respond to current opportunities and threats associated with globalized economy. For instance Consumers lacked reliable and timely information; they were unaware of existing institutional mechanisms for their rights protection and at the same time; there were so many constraints which inhibited growth and competitiveness of the private sector. Therefore this is one of the factors forced Tanzania to adopt new competition law.

Moreover, human-beings are by nature very greed and when it comes to business; they exist to create a super profit with such vacuum (absence of competition law) the impact is always negative; without a well structured competition laws, unscrupulous traders will always take advantage of the situation, therefore Tanzania knowing the fact of human nature and consumer healthy and safety issues must come above corporate profit; the competition laws are vital to control and arrest the situation; for this matter. Tanzania had tried to its level best to the establishment of several sectoral regulatory authorities include ‘’Tanzania Fair Competition Commission’’, the ‘’Tanzania Bureau of Standards’’ (TBS), ‘’Tanzania Food, Drug and Cosmetics Authority’’ (TFDA), ‘’Electricity, Water and Gas Utility Regulatory Authority’’ (EWURA), ‘’Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority’’ (SUMATRA), ‘’Tanzania Communication Commission’’ ‘’Bank of Tanzania’’ Tanzania Civil Aviation Commission just to mention some few

Apart from all the above; efforts by United Nations bodies such as UNCTAD, WTO, ILO, UNIDO, UNESCO, UNDP, and other international Non Governmental Organizations such as Consumers International, CUTS International, OXFAM, ISO, COPOLCO, CODEX, individual country, their grouping (EU, EAC, SADC etc), global business approach such as regional business strategy and forums such as DOHA round table, United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection (as expanded in 1999), and the like has catalyzed countries to adopt more fair business practices and competition laws.

In connection with the above; challenges of globalization including unfair business terms amongst nations do catalyses countries to adopt competition laws for business fairness within and in support of broader UN goals, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)-2000 aim on improvement of the quality of life and social well-being, with particular focus on the poorest and most vulnerable groups improved (e.g. education, survival, health) across geographic, income, age, gender and other groups are reduced, competition laws are there to strike the balance

Cognizant of above challenges and reforms through the world economic order-the open market economy, the government of Tanzania sought appropriate skills acquisition, and adaptation that would respond better to the new realities and needs of the emerging open market economy and at the same time promote environmentally friendly consumption, production and distribution practices to protect consumers, business and other stakeholders in Tanzania market.

IV)How do these motivations and contexts define the timing of introduction and content of the newly-adopted law

First and foremost to understand motivations on this matter we have to understand the object of Tanzania Competition law 2003, as per Part I Preliminary Provisions, subsection 3, Object of the Act, is to enhance the welfare of the people of Tanzania as a whole by promoting and protecting effective competition in markets and preventing unfair and misleading market conduct throughout Tanzania in order to:
a) Increase efficiency in the production, distribution and supply of goods and services;
b) Promote innovation;
c) Maximise the efficient allocation of resources; and
d) Protect consumers.

The contents of Tanzania Competition Law of 2003 appear to be comprehensive and well structured as shown below. It properly focuses on weakness areas such as enhancement of consumer welfare and regulates trading conducts to be fair amongst traders to promote and protect effective competition in trade and commerce to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI).

Contents of the New Tanzania competition law, Competition Act 2003
Part I; Preliminary Provisions
Part II; Restrictive Trade Practices
Part III; Misleading and Deceptive Conduct
Part IV; Unfair Business Practice's
Part V; Unconscionable Conduct
Part VI; Implied Conditions In Consumer Contracts
Part VII; Manufacturer's Obligations
Part VIII; Product Safety and Product Information
Part IX; Product Recall
Part X; Offences, Penalties and Remedies
Part XI; Appeals to the Fair Competition Tribunal
Part XII; Fair Competition Commission
Part XIII; Fair Competition Tribunal
Part XIV; National Consumer Advocacy Council
Part XV; Inconsistency with Other Laws
Part XVI; Miscellaneous Provisions
Part XVII; Consequential Amendments

The new laws contents specify three types of anticompetitive agreements, abuse of a dominant position, and anticompetitive mergers. The legal standards that apply to these three types of abuses under this document are consistent with good practice in competition law enforcement worldwide aiming to protect business and consumers from unfair, misleading market conduct to prevent the existence of cartels, monopolies and oligopolies, which hurt consumers and producers through monopolistic pricing policies.

By so doing all Sectoral Regulatory Authorities present in Tanzania are required by new competition law to support and act within their sphere of influence, sets of core values in the areas of business development, consumer and producer welfare, human rights, standards, the environment, and good business best practices.

V) What are the major developments of the new legislations or the distinguishingly different approach as compared to the old legislations?
In comparison between early years of post colonial era (1961-1967) and free market economy 1985 onwards; appears to be one and the same as both adopted capitalist ethics and principles whereby private sector is an engine of economic growth and monopolistic tendencies were somehow discouraged however the greatest distinction are; the new system adopt what is called open door policy whereby all nations, investor/s from any where in the world with comparative advantage items of capital, right skills, strategies and resources can take advantage of investing in Tanzania instead of colonial master and its allies.

Another distinction is, during post colonial era, there was what was called economic embargos including restrictive terms and conditions aiming on import control to protect domestic industries, however not in favour of domestic consumers to enable them to have a wide range of choice of goods and services from a wide variety of sources with different quality and price but only to the advantage of investors; to have ready market due to purposeful set monopolistic tendencies.

On the other hand by comparing between post Arusha declaration 1967-1985 and free market economy; both legislations were influenced by political doctrine adopted, for instance during Arusha declaration Tanzania decided to build a socialist state, whereby all major means of economy will be controlled by the state, the state tend to be the only provider of goods and services, with maximum protection of internal market and consumers at larger. All laws and policies were designed in favour of building socialism-development of the betterment of the general public and not individuals.

But due to weaknesses encountered during implementation of socialism (kindly refer section III of this document para 1, 2, and 3) Tanzania failed; instead open market economy is prevailing; to improve internal supply of goods and services restriction on imports were removed, private sector has to flourish to reduce state red-tapism,

However dealing with open market policy is a very trick phenomenon especially when it comes to consumer’s right of choice, fairness on competition, quality, standard and safety. The delicate part of the story is need of more products in the market to give consumers a wide range of choice at reasonable prices but in the process unscrupulous traders take the advantage of flooding the market with unsafe products, counterfeits, unethical trading and by using dirty tricks always are the signaling factors for a current competition law.

VI) Has the new legislative and enforcement developments successfully addressed those problems leading to the scrapping of old laws and adopting new laws?
This is the best part of all to me, as I’m Executive Director of an independent NGO consumer association known as Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society; I had been actively and closely watching the play, despite the fact that; Tanzania has a good number of legislatures and government owned Sectoral Regulatory Authorities (SRAs) which aim at protecting consumers and business such as the ‘’Tanzania Fair Competition Commission’’, the ‘’Tanzania Bureau of Standards’’ (TBS), ‘’Tanzania Food, Drug and Cosmetics Authority’’ (TFDA), ‘’Electricity, Water and Gas Utility Regulatory Authority’’ (EWURA), ‘’Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority’’ (SUMATRA), ‘’Tanzania Communication Commission’’ ‘’Bank of Tanzania’’ etc. However the problem of consumers’ abuse and violation on their rights is still on the rise and it is affecting lives of many innocent consumers and businesses.

There are severe consumer’s rights violation and unfair business conducts in Tanzania Market one can not imagine, for instance some few media evidence on the same;
a) Mwananchi, 23rd.April.2007, Swahili newspaper had a title; Fake malaria drugs; kill many Tanzanians.
b) Sunday Citizen 10th.Dec.2006, had the article with the title; Many Tanzanians not fully aware of their rights.
c) The Guardian dated 11th July2007, for example, reported that banned HIV/AIDS life prolonging drug –EMTRI 30 - 40 from India that was disqualified by the WHO and its importation banned by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, was still circulating in Kisarawe district, Coast region despite an outcry by anti-AIDS activists.
d) The Citizen of 28th,July.2007, had a title; ‘’In for an injection, out with a limp’’ some people come out of the injection room with a abscess only shows up several weeks later; others come out with disabilities for life.
e) The Guardian of 19.August.2007; had the title ‘’Fake goods impedes producers - Producers are deeply alarmed by the flood of counterfeit products in the local market harming quality and undercut their efforts to thrive.
f) The Guardian of 12.Sept.2007; reported that; Bulk of Kariakoo imported goods fake - about 50 per cent of all imported goods from China and sold in Kariakoo shops in Dar es Salaam are counterfeit
g) The Guardian of 04.Nov.2007; Fake Medicines Pose Big Threat-Counterfeit Medicines In Tanzania; the story continued
i. In August 1999, fake Metakelfin labeled as a genuine product from the original manufacturer, Pharmacia and Upjohn, was found in circulation in some pharmacies in the country.
ii. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the counterfeit Metakelfin actually contained paracetamol. In May 2000, counterfeit Ampicillin capsules (250mg) were found circulating in some retail pharmacies.
iii. Laboratory analysis confirmed the capsules contained potato starch. In June 2001, expired Chloroquine Injection (from an unregistered Indian company) was relabeled as Quinine Dihydrochloride Injection 600mg/2ml from a company in Cyprus.
iv. In January 2005, fake Gentrisone Cream (a product of Shin Poong, South Korea) was reported. In this case, the active ingredient was replaced with hand and body lotion.
h) The Guardian of 08.Nov.2007; had the title; Consumer awareness is no laughing matter.
i) The Business Times of 06.01.2008; had the title; Stakeholders urge for more awareness education.
j) Nipashe of 14th.March.2008; had the title; Importation of counterfeit goods is a threat to consumers. More than 80% of Tanzania consumers are not aware of their rights…
k) Uhuru, a Swahili newspaper of 4th.April.2008, had front page story with the title, ‘’Expired toothpaste chemicals were found for Tanga Sabuni Detergent’’-The chemicals were meant for making a famous toothpaste in the country – Aha
l) Guardian of 27th.March.2008; had the title; Vision 2025: Shall we achieve `Green Revolution`? The prices of fertilizers and farming implements remain higher due to cheating by the distributors of fertilizers.

Fair competition commission has been working so hard to reduce the problem of counterfeit products in the market by destroying them and giving severe punishment in accordance to the law yet still the problem is on the rise.

Despite on the rise in numbers on the acts of unethical business conducts, violation of consumer’s rights; partnership with independent Civil societies to curb the situation is almost zero and had been seen as a very new phenomenon; however this is not a new phenomenon in our country; there are a lot of government programs on child and maternal healthy, HIV/AIDs through its ministries, hospitals, commissions, agencies like TACAIDS but yet still there are NGOs such as AMREF, UMATI, Marie Stopes, SHIDEPHA, Pathfinder, Engender-Healthy, Family Healthy International (FHI) just to mention some few whom are working day and night to supplement government efforts on reducing the effect of HIV/AIDs, and unsafe motherhood that affect majority of Tanzanians.

I) The way forward.
Having Competition law in Tanzania have been seen as the end in itself, the cure of it all; but the way forward to it is to forge a strong Consumer, Private, Public Partnership with a shared commitment and efforts to achieve the intended object of the new law, all key stakeholders including government itself (in this case sectoral regulatory authorities), consumers, producers, distributors, service providers, professionals, civil societies, NGOs, consumers’ associations and others should work toward supplementing government goals of seen business act responsively to consumer’s needs and interests and at the same time there is fairness on business conducts in the end strengthening business environment for Tanzania for the betterment all key stakeholders.

Bernard Elia Kihiyo
Executive Director
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society
Office +255 732 991 409
Cell +255 757 170 555
+255 715 170 555

Friday, December 19, 2008

Kellogg's and Lego 'win' bad company award for toy-like candy

Consumers International today awarded its "Blindingly Obvious Danger Award" to the Kellogg's and Lego companies for creating a candy snack in the shape of Lego bricks. After writing about this risky mixed message earlier this year, we were pleased to see CI's announcement, which came as part of its annual Bad Company Awards.
In bestowing this dubious honor, Luke Upchurch, spokesman for Consumers International said, “Sometimes, even the biggest multi-million dollar companies with the most creative minds, need to just stop, take a deep breath, and ask themselves ‘Is this really a good idea?’ Fun Snacks was definitely one of those moments."
We agree, and as Don Mays wrote in July, "It’s not illegal to sell candy that looks like toys or vice versa, but it’s a really bad idea. ... Each year, about 15 children under the age of three choke to death on non-edibles."
Consumers International is a federation of consumer groups including Consumers Union. Also singled out for "ridiculous and irresponsible behaviour" this year were:
Tesco—Sledgehammer Award for silencing criticism"For its $34 million lawsuit against three Thai journalists critical of the British retailer’s expansion plans."
Eli Lilly—The Marketing Overdose Award for rampant promotion"For repeatedly breaching marketing regulations with its blockbuster drug for erectile dysfunction."
Samsung—Nice Little Sideline Award for selling tanks, not just TVs"For the little-publicized fact that this consumer electronics company also builds artillery systems."
Toyota—Green-scrubbing Award for environmental impact"They may make the Prius, but Toyota picks up an award for audacious greenwashing and some rather contradictory marketing exercises."

Friday, December 5, 2008


Thanh Nien Daily, Vietnam, November 24, 2008

Local buyers need to collect evidence and officially report their complaints if they want to challenge businesses that rip people off, said consumer advocates.

General Secretary of the Vietnam Standards and Consumers Association Do Gia Phan said local consumers have rights; they are just unaware of them.
The group’s deputy chairman Ho Tat Thang said his association can file lawsuits against companies that employ unfair practices but greedy and irresponsible traders are rarely brought to court because consumers who complain about getting cheated fail to provide even the simplest of evidence, such as a receipt. He added that Vietnam had laws that could force firms to compensate consumers they swindle by overcharging, mislabelling or selling counterfeit goods but the association couldn’t spend time chasing lawsuits without evidence.

Thang said unfair trade practices were rife throughout nearly all sectors in Vietnam. The association estimated the average consumer lost between 8 to 10 percent of the value of their purchases so far this year due to unfair practices.

“No group of consumers has ever been hurt by unfair trade practices as much as Vietnamese customers have been recently,” said former general director of Competition Administration Department Dinh Thi My Loan.

George Cheriyan, director of the India-based non-profit organization Consumer Unity & Trust Society, International, said Vietnam should learn from India, which effectively enforces its Consumer Protection Act and National Consumer Disputes Redress Commission through special forums akin to special courts.

For more information, kindly follow this link:

Monday, October 27, 2008

US-Consumer's News; COOL new food labels display country of origin

Going grocery shopping today? You may notice a change in your supermarket’s meat aisle. As of September 30, 2008, federal law requires fresh meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables, peanuts and certain nuts to display a label that tells you the country of origin (COOL) of the product.

Mandatory COOL for meats, fish, produce, and peanuts became law in the U.S. in 2002, but industry pressured Congress to delay implementation for everything but seafood until now.
As reported on our Health blog, COOL's full implementation is a big step forward for food safety-conscious people. A Consumer Reports poll released last year found that 92 percent of Americans agree that imported foods should be labeled by their country of origin.

"This is a long-awaited change and we think it will be a great benefit for consumers," said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. "If a food safety problem is identified in a particular imported product, as happened with jalapeƱo and serrano peppers from Mexico earlier this year, then consumers will be able to avoid that product."

"On the other hand," Halloran adds. "Some people like to buy certain imported products, like New Zealand lamb or Holland tomatoes. Still others just want to buy local produce. Either way, the new labels will give consumers important new information."

There are exemptions, however, which concern Consumers Union. Meat, poultry, and fish sold in small markets don’t have to be labeled, nor do processed foods such as imported ham or roasted peanuts, or mixtures, such as frozen vegetables or trail mix. Here's a guide to the new rules that you can print out and take to the supermarket.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Education for Sustainable Consumption

Dear activists;
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society in collaboration with Consumer International will have what is called Consumer Action Day 2008 takes place on 15 October.2008. It will serve as the culmination of member lobbying and advocacy work for the adoption of Education for Sustainable Consumption Guidelines such as:

1. Ensure that education institutions reflect in their daily management the priorities given to sustainable development
2. Include themes, topics, modules, courses and degrees about education for sustainable consumption in established curriculum.
3. Encourage research in education for sustainable consumption related areas.
4. Strengthen connections between researchers, lecturers, teacher trainers, socioeconomic actors and stakeholders.
5. Enhance cooperation between professionals from diverse disciplines in order to develop integrated approaches to education for sustainable consumption.
6. Facilitate teaching and teacher training, which strengthens global, future oriented, constructive perspectives within education for sustainable consumption.
7. Reward creative, critical, innovative thinking related to education for sustainable consumption.
8. Ensure that education for sustainable consumption respects the importance of indigenous knowledge and recognizes alternative lifestyles.
9. Foster intergenerational learning as an integrated aspect of education for sustainable consumption.
10. Provide opportunities for practical application of theoretical study through social involvement and community service.

The aim of this day (15th.Oct.2008) is to draw attention to the importance of Education for Sustainable Consumption and the Guidelines. Moreover, it gives ministers the opportunity to publicly voice their support for the adoption of the Guidelines on national level as part of formal education in the national curricula and on international level as part of 10YFP.

What are Consumers International (CI) members doing?
CI members are involved in different activities and programmes concerning education on sustainable consumption and consumer education. Links to active members’ websites will be made available from CI website once they have taken tangible action towards ensuring the adoption of the Guidelines.

Why I'm setting this message to this blog?
I'm setting this to your attention to share some ideas on Consumer Action Day and if possible you are encouraged to send emails asking for support to the ministers of education and environment and also to UNEP and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA) in support of the guidelines.

Minister for Higher Education, Science and Technology,
Jamhuri Street, Plot No. 1168/19,
P.O Box 2645
Dar es Salaam –
Tel: +255 22 2111254, Fax: +255 22 2112533

Mrs. Sylvie Lemmet
Division of Technology, Industry and Economics
15, rue de Milan
75009 Paris
Mr. Sha Zukang
UN Department of Social and Economic Affairs
2 UN Plaza, Room
DC2-1670, New York ,
NY 10017 , USA

Thank you in advance

Bernard Kihiyo
Executive Director
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Friday, September 26, 2008

Is codification has any economic importance to Tanzania consumers.

By Bernard Kihiyo
Codification is termed as identification of individual or public house or apartment (the system also accommodate high-rise building with many apartments as well) by the use of geographical areas including use of city or village or ward boundaries, main street house or apartment number.
The letters and digits should not exceed eight, to be easily remembered known as postcode or ZIP code. The postcode is permanently placed at the main entrance of the house and never changes.
Codification was original designed for the purpose of sorting mails and their distribution some 91 years ago in UK, but in recent years many other purposes have emerged such as property identity, e-commerce, e-business, e-banking, e-insurance, electronically city route planning, e-government such as e-voting and e-census and many others.

Codification can help people living in well developed areas with well arranged infrastructure to get their postal and other goods and services immediately and without problem for instance.

E-commerce and e-business
Through the use of postcode/zipcode one can shop online, buy online and his or her items can be delivered on his/her door steps in few hours or days no matter the distance; anywhere in the world people can trade, can enjoy shopping, order and buy online by the use of Internationally recognised postcode, or ZIP code, so to say e-commerce, e-business can stimuale business in many ways.
E-banking and e-insurance
By the use of postcode, or ZIP code one can open an account, can get loan or credit card, can ensure his or her property online, this is another area which have broaden business on the mentioned areas in countries which have introduced codification system.
Electronically routes planning
With the codification; each and every house or apartment, street, road has been recorded in the databank; planners and other interested parts had made it possible to plan routes electronically. By knowing the postcode of where you start your journey and where you want to go one can calculate the distance between the two; the system can suggest for the shorter route map no matter how far is the route.
Emergency services, taxi and delivery services through the use of their navigation systems in their cars always use the service to reach any destination, No one gets lost unless, one doesn’t know to read and write. This system helped me a lot when I first visited Europe.
E-government such as e-election and e-census
Due to good codification, the government can easily collect tax; the government can easily plan for society development, the government can receive people’s opinions electronically, even people can register for voting, get other government services electronically, as the system can easily identify who is who, and who is living where.
The Situation for Tanzania
There are a lot of positive gains for Tanzania, to introduce codification system and luckily Tanzania can easily adopt codification system especially from the Global Postal Code initiatives.

The system is self-motivated; since the system can start to work immediately parallel to the current domestic postal address systems, it does not need any international agreements to initiate the system.

Any country can start to use the system directly when it is ready itself and will receive all the benefits of the system immediately but it should not be the duplicate of other country’s system.
Having obtained the Global Postal Code, people can start to include it on a letter or any other transaction as extra information to our domestic postal address systems and gradually the system can be replaced by codification in the cause of time.
However it took almost 91 years for UK to have the coding system they do have today. UK codification system based on longitude and latitude of city boundary in particular say London or any other.
Due to poverty in Tanzania; all our cities are characterised with unplanned houses, without proper infrastructure, codification for such cities say Dar es Salaam require a lot on efforts to build a reliable system which covers each and every one.
It has been estimated that some 30% of codification implementation fail to deliver the anticipated benefits if the country is not smart enough to prepare systems, its manpower, and its people with proper skills and general total acceptance of changes expected to occur.
30% percent system failure is a very big risk margin which requires multi-sectoral attention in a joint force to make this project successful; instead of jumping onto the the issue unprepared.
Issues to be given priority
Difficulties on access to some areas; if the system might be introduced by excluding other inaccessible areas; will be like building the seeds of our own destruction- the gap between haves and haves not will be widen and the hatred within society will immense.
Project such as MKURABITA has to be taken seriously as it allows for formalization through registration and improvement of unplanned areas in Tanzania.
Accessibility of all areas by improving or building infrastructure such as roads, lowing the cost of IT, and communication divices so that poor people can easily acquire them and use the service has to be given priority as one of preparatory stages to codification.
The process of codification is like opening the door for the real globalization economy with its carrots and sticks. With wide use of e-commermece, e-banking, e-business; identity fraud will be on rampant and definately many people will be vulnerable to this.

There should be proper insuarance schemes in place as there will be some interruption of valuable mails such as credit/debit cards, and other valuable items with intention of identity theft/fraud.
Codification system requires a high degree of data management and confidenciality; how prepare is Tanzania Postal Company? Staff who are going to manage the system should be given enough training to handle such enormous volumes of differing data from within and between other key partners with maximum confidenciality.
Consumer education on the same should be in place, people have to be aware on ways to protect themselves from identity fraud as conmen will pretend to be the haves, buy and order without your knowledge.
Introduction of codification (postcode or zipcode) is one of creative thinking and the best strategy for Tanzania but it require multi sectoral approach and preparation before jumping onto it.

Fuel traders are tempering with scales and measurements equipment in Tanzania, what is to be done?

By Hydeman Mrosso
The practise of unscrupulous fuel traders on tempering with scales and measurements equipment is a usual market practice all over this country.

On several occasions’ consumer isn’t noticing s/he is robbed, or even if s/he knows there is no where they can go for assistance.

To react to the situation, some fuel consumers have opted to purchase fuel into containers with right measurements say ‘’five’’ litres and refill to their cars, due to absence of trust within the industry.

Not only measurement tempering; but also there is a problem of adulteration by mixing fuel with kerosene. The quality of fuel used to our vehicles is purely uncertain and lead to very high costs of repair and maintenance of our cars.

Worse still, there are about four government sectoral regulatory authorities and agencies in controlling and coordination of fuel and fuel business these include; Tanzania Bureau of Standards, Energy Water and Utility Regulatory Authority, weight and measurement agency and Fair Competition Commission.

Despite the presence of the above, however the problem of consumers’ abuse and violation on their rights is still on the rise and it is affecting dearly; economic welfare of many innocent consumers in the country.

TCAS do understand that most of these regulatory bodies lack the capacity to investigate, litigate and monitor the increasing consumer abuses among fuel suppliers and service providers in the market.

All are understaffed and lack resources to perform their duties such as consumer protection all over this country. To be more specific to these; TBS-among other things deals with quality control and monitoring, EWURA-fuel business regulation, Weight and measurement agency-monitoring of calibration in support of EWURA, FCC-amongst other things oversee there is no unfair conducts such as these to either amongst dealers or consumers in the market.

What is to be done?
It’s a matter of fact that, it is beyond reasonable doubt that; no matter how strict the inspection on quality, regulation, and measurement could be; it is impossible to inspect all the dispensing outlets of fuel in a country all the time.

The only best backup solution to this is to build a society of well-informed and knowledgeable consumers who can report for any problem to the respective authority for action.

All the above authorise are not well known to the majority of consumers, and consumer doesn’t know what are their roles and the like.

These authorities should give relevant consumer education to the general public; educate the public on complaint procedures and give to the public how best they can be contacted just in case consumer needs their assistance.

I would suggest that, telephone numbers of these authorities’ consumer complaints departments; must be placed at each dispensing station just in case there is any complaint from consumer.

Through this way consumers will supplement the gaps of most of these authorities by reporting any discrepancy found in the market.

Moreover; TCAS is in support of the idea that it should be a must; a pipe from a dispensing machine to the customer’s fuel tank; should be changed from black pipe to transparent one. This will allow for monitoring of fuel colour and some how amount dispensed by a customer himself.

Apart from the above; there must be a deliberate effort by the government to strengthen regulatory institutions and build their capacity to deliver the intended goals.

If these authorities work on their full capacities, will contribute enormously to the reduction of acts which lead to the marginalization of the poor to acquire their economic potentials and hence help to alleviate poverty in the society by boosting equal opportunity for growth at the grassroots level at a balanced and equal development of Tanzanian society.

How does TCAS combat this?
TCAS is working toward supplementing government efforts by giving consumer education on changing consumer behaviour and altitude toward their feeling of powerlessness through advocating for economic justice and their consumer rights.

Moreover TCAS works on promoting access of citizens to information on product safety, and where consumer can go for his/her rights protection, as well as promoting wide public discussion on challenges facing consumers in Tanzania.

TCAS works on supplementing government efforts of working toward emergence of knowledgeable consumers in the market.

Only when consumers are educated, treated equally and fairly into all economic forums and there will be equitable growth, and maintains human security in areas where advances in human development are being threatened through consumer’s rights violation.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

2008/9 Tanzania national Budget On the eyes of consumers

By Bernard Kihiyo
The National budget is the most important economic policy instrument for our government; it reflects government income and expenditure based on government's social and economic policy priorities.

The national budget does translate policies, political commitments, distribution of wealth, and goals into decisions on where funds should be spent and how funds should be collected.

In this budget analysis I will try to touch on anti-poverty focus, the expenditure side and revenue side of this year budget 2008/9.

Anti-poverty focus
Government budget is directly or indirectly affects the life of all its citizens especially people with modest means are influenced the most. They tend to be affected by weak economic growth, unequal distribution or high inflation.

Even when funds have been allocated to anti-poverty programs, weak expenditure and program management — and lack of political power among the poor — can mean that the money never reaches the intended beneficiaries.

By making budget systems more transparent and participatory from grassroots level; to have a particular concern with policies affecting the marginalized poor is inevitable.

Citizen participation on budget preparation is inevitable;
TCAS have realized that citizen’s ability to advance their goals — whether these are to combat poverty or to strengthen democratic practices — will be enhanced if we develop a capacity to undertake National budget analysis from grassroots to national level to see if it is in favour of common citizens.

Expenditure focus
On expenditure side, this year national budget was built on sectoral incremental amounts using the last year budget as a baseline though altered considerably in response to changes in the economic situation or in government priorities for instance;

(In TZS)
SECTOR Budget 2007/8 Budget 2008/9 % Increment
Education 1.086 trillion 1.43 trillion 32%
infrastructure 777.2 billion 973.3 billion 25%
Health 589.9 billion 803.8 billion 36%
Agriculture 379.0 billion 460.0 billion 21%
Water 230.6 billion 309.1 billion 34%
Energy 354.0 billion 383.4 billion 8%

I do have the feeling that; the budget increment for 2008/9 is purely superficial as food and oil crisis is striking Tanzania to the roots of its economy, for instance July.2007 one litre of petrol was TZS 1200 to date July.2008 is TZS 1800 this is 67%

With the assumption that; the above situation is not controlled for the coming six months the ability of the government to spend is going to be affected tremendously by the increase on fuel price as inflationary impact on government’s marginal propensity to consumer will be high.

Even at this particular time, it appears to me there is no any budget increase on 2008/9 budget as compared to the last year budget rather there is budget decrement of more than 10% compared with the 2007/8 budget. Just give yourself a little homework on how much/many goods you can get for say TZS 1000 a year ago and what you can get today.

Based on what you got in the above homework; is the same going to affect the government spending, the government as the main spender of goods and services in the market; if commodity price are affected by the fuel prices increment and the like, definitely the government is going to get few goods and services for this year budget no matter the increment per each sector.

For instance Education (32%), Roads and infrastructure (25%) Health (36%) Agriculture (21%) Water and sewage (34%) and Electricity (8%) this is just to mention a few depending on the volume of activities in place.

Inflation should be the number one government enemy; according to BoT statistics Food inflation has reached double digits to 11% in May.2008 from 7.7% in January; it appears on the side of individual consumer, is going to be badly affected as his/her marginal propensity to consumer will be very much affected

If this situation is not careful taken care off, there will be public disorder such as increase in robberies, public and street protests, employees’ boycotts and possibly the government might call for supplementary budget anytime between this budget year.

I support the ideal of fuel bulk purchase through Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) as one of the immediate solution to frequent price change and curbing of cartels in this business locally and internationally to stabilize consumer prices in the country and hence stabilize the whole economy.

Another issue I would like to discuss on expenditure side is the biggest problem with our government on ethical use of government funds in accordance with Govt procurement Act; do we have enough expatriate on this line, if not what are the plans in place to curb the problem, from LGAs, ministries, government institutions and the like.

Revenue focus
According to my observation, the budget ceiling and sources of taxes are lowly set and reliable sources for taxes are skipped for either political motivation or civil servants’ self gain reasons.

I should say there is low compliance in terms of taxes as all the taxes from tourism, mining, natural resources, industry and service sector are not very well tapped to the fullest to fund the budget gaps and it is possible for Tanzania to have budget surplus as it appeared once in 1974.

All sources where the government can get income should be taken into consideration instead of relaying on the traditional method of taxing consumer’s goods such as beers, soft drinks, cigarettes, cooking oil, gas oil and the like

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Warning issued on faulty tire valve stems following rollover death-US

The death of a Florida man in a rollover accident coupled with the recall of faulty tire valve stems made in China has prompted at least one safety expert to caution consumers to check vehicle wheels to make sure they don't contain the rubber replacement tire valve stems. The valves may crack prematurely and lead to serious crashes, says Sean Kane, president of Safety Research and Strategies in Rehoboth, Mass

I belive serious similar situation is facing Tanzania consumers

More story on US incident follow the below link;

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Happy Birthday!!! Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Happy Birthday!!!!!!! Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society today 11th.July.2008 is turning one year, what are TCAS's achievements all along this year?

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) was founded in 11th.July.2007 as a non profit, non governmental, independent consumers’ association which had been established with interest to promote, protect, disseminate, and advocate for consumers’ rights in Tanzania.

TCAS had been established after a substantial accumulation of knowledge and skills from the grand consultancy work carried out by its founders on the fields of consumer development, empowerment and consumers’ rights promotion and protection in Tanzania.
Above survey findings (your can link the report) challenged the members to come up with a body of seven Tanzania citizens who have a wide range of accumulated experiences and expertise which can be translated into practical consumers’ development interventions.

Since 11th.July.2007; days have passed making twelve months of Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society existance; today 11th.July.2008 TCAS is one year old, Today I would like to share with you what had been achieved since day one to date.

During TCAS’s campaigns we would like to address a number of barriers including:
-Limited knowledge of consumers on the their rights and obligations;
-Poor citizens’ involvement in policy making and policy implementation
-Lack of capacity among individual consumers in developing and evaluating public policies;
-Lack of organizational capacities among key consumer related stakeholders
-Lack of reliable and sustainable markets information for consumers on goods and services.
-Inequalities caused by globalization economy

To eliminate the above, TCAS has four main strategic objectives
Objective 1; Raising Awareness
Working toward raising Tanzania consumers’ awareness on their rights and obligations.

Objective 2; Right to be heard
Working on providing a platform to Tanzania consumers to make their voices to be heard.

Objective 3; Capacity to claim Rights
Working effectively on building the capacity of Tanzania consumers to claim for their consumers Rights.

Objective 4; Make markets accountable and responsive
Working toward making markets accountable and responsive to consumers’ needs and interests.

Through the following campaigns:
-Consumer Education,
-Food Safety
-Drug Promotion,
-Consumer Protection,
-Corporate Social Responsibility
-Watch dog on Quality of Public Utilities,
-Watch dog on Standards,
-Sustainable Consumption and ethical consumer

TCAS Achievements since its establishment are;-
1-TCAS had successful carried an important step in preparing for consumer advocacy campaign,out of our April.2007 Consumer Survey. TCAS has careful identified the causes and consequences of consumer problems prevailing in Tanzania market and the survey recommended for possible solutions in solving the problems.
2-Able to have wider consumer membership from 56 in July.2007 to 582 members to date to form Voluntary Observers in Interest on Consumers’ Empowerment’’ (VOICE) in Tanzania.
3-TCAS was capable of doing plenty of Advocacy activities through media since July.2007, for instance we have done 17 press conferences.
4-TCAS advocacy campaign had appeared almost thirty five times in Swahili and English newspapers since July.2007 to date.
5-TV or Radio talks; There have been four television programs and five radio talk shows about TCAS advocacy campaigns.
6-TCAS had represented consumers’ opinions in TBS, EWURA, SUMATRA stakeholders’ meetings.
7-We are using drama and comedian shows to send the message to the beneficiaries
8-Demonstrations; On 15th.March.2007 we organized a street rally from Uhuru Primary School to Mnazi Mmoja grounds where we held consumer meeting; a greater emphasis was on consumer’s rights and unethical marketing of junk food to children. Tanzania's Consumer Advocacy Society had celebrated World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) for the first time in Tanzania history (the event was started to be celebrated since 1982).
9-On 13th.April.2008, we protested against substandard goods from China during Olympic torch relay in Tanzania. We acquired National and international media coverage on this advocacy.
10-Letter Writing; we wrote advocacy letter to the president, prime minister, ten different government ministries, the speaker of Tanzania parliament and chairpersons of parliamentarians committees, we wrote to all sectoral regulator authorises, we wrote to seven different embassies, we wrote to 24 news editors of different media houses being radio, TV and newspapers.
11-We have done consultative meetings with DGs of TBS, TFDA, FCC, chairman of NCAC, ED of Confederation of Tanzania Industry and key government officials.
12-So far we have represented 42 consumers in solving their consumer problems amicably with retailers.
13-Website; we have been able to establish our own websites (two) and blogspot
14-We have printed about 870 brochures, posters and leaflets on consumers’ rights and distributed them to consumers free of charge.
15-TCAS has been working closely with youth in order to build a generation of well informed and aware consumers who can easily solve their common consumer problems. About 785 youth of all carders had been involved into this.
16-TCAS had attended Arusha Sullivan summit from 2nd. To 6th.June.2008; TCAS was fully participated in several forums one being ‘’US Government role in Enhancing Business, trade and Investment in Africa’’

17-These are just some few

All the above happened by the use of very limited resources from members' contributions, TCAS deserves a word of Congratulation!!!! and a HAPPY birthday !!!!.

Bernard Kihiyo
Executive Director
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Pradeep S. Mehta, Business Standard, June 21, 2008

Contestability of markets is the adrenaline of all economies. While countries liberalise their economies, an extremely vital concomitant reform is the enactment and implementation of appropriate competition laws so that consumers and businesses get the benefits of liberalisation.

In India, a new competition law was passed in 2002 to replace the archaic Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices Act (MRTPA) of 1969. The new law has been further amended in 2007 and will be in operation soon. One of its active agenda will be to curb abusive monopolistic practices by businesses.

Businesses either collude through cartels or abuse their dominance through exploitative and/or exclusionary behaviour. Every other day, cartels are being hauled up by competition agencies around the world.

But a more difficult area for competition authorities is taking action against dominant players abusing their dominance through monopolistic practices.

Abuse of dominance (AOD) is broadly of two types: Exclusionary and exploitative. Exclusionary abuse involves driving out competitors from the market. Exploitative abuse is when a firm is exploiting customers by ignoring their needs as well as those of its competitors.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

200 students in higher learning institutions team up to protect consumers

By Mgeta Mganga
More than 200 students from local higher learning institutions have teamed up to protect consumers against substandard products being sold in the country.

Speaking to this paper during the first meeting which discussed consumer rights held in Dar es Salaam last week, Ali Suleiman, a Second Year student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said the team was formed to educate the public on the effects of substandard products.

The students are from University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Institute of Finance Management, College of Business Education (CBE) and Dodoma University. The meeting was organised by the Dar es Salaam based Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) and attracted more than 150 students.

He said the acts of violation of consumers` rights have been increasing and they intended to educate them on the same. Follow this link;

Cross section of University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) students, Teachers, TCAS Chairman and Executive Director who attended mobilization meeting on 31st.May.2008 at UDSM

``We have been witnessing a lot of violation of consumer rights in almost every thing starting from food to clothes. Unfortunately they do not have a place to present their complaints to,`` he noted. Suleiman, said students want to be part of the consumers` lobby in protecting their rights once they are violated.

Speaking at the same meeting, Dr Rose Shayo, from the Institute of Development Studies (UDSM), thanked the students for their decision but insisted about education on fake goods. She said many consumers do not understand fake goods, adding that intensive education is needed to help them.

``Many people do not take trouble to read expiry dates of products or cannot distinguish the fake from genuine ones, so we need to educate them,`` she said. She said even affected people do not know where to complain as they end up lamenting or take the unnecessary costs. Dr Shayo urged academics from all higher learning institutions to join the bandwagon and defend the consumers.

For his part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe, said the society intends to conduct more campaigns to educate the public on the effects of substandard products through various ways. The lobby group claims that 80 per cent of consumers in Tanzanian do suffer from lack of awareness about what rights they were naturally entitled to enjoy from suppliers of goods and services.

In recent times, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in companies that are seen to be acting in a socially responsible manner. Transparency and a commitment to responsible business could give a company an advantage in securing public contracts.

Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) said the goal is to work toward addressing consumers` right for quality products as well as getting best deal for the value of their money. Since 2005, TCAS has been providing an advocacy platform that would make the voices of consumers heard and hence make markets work better both for those in urban and rural areas.

· SOURCE: The Guardian through the following link

Some few media coverage of consumer rights violation in Tanzania

The issue of consumer protection in Tanzania has become acute especially since the liberalisation of the Tanzania economy in the late 1980s. Since then there is poor link between producers and consumers.

Tanzania Consumers do lack reliable and timely information; they are unaware of existing institutional mechanisms for their rights protection after abolition of state controlled economy established through Arusha declaration in 1967.

One of Tanzania state controlled icons found in Arusha.

Only 9% of Tanzania consumers are ready to actively seek protection of their rights by challenging manufacturers, sellers, or state bodies for providing them with products or services of insufficient quality.

As a result, the market is full of unsafe and low quality goods and services to the degree of leading to the presence of more globalization economy losers than winners.

Some few media evidence of Consumer’s rights violation in Tanzania Market
a) Mwananchi, 23rd.April.2007, Swahili newspaper had a title; Fake malaria drugs; kill many Tanzanians.
b) Sunday Citizen 10th.Dec.2006, had the article with the title; Many Tanzanians not fully aware of their rights.
c) The Guardian dated 11th July2007, for example, reported that banned HIV/AIDS life prolonging drug –EMTRI 30 - 40 from India that was disqualified by the WHO and its importation banned by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, was still circulating in Kisarawe district, Coast region despite an outcry by anti-AIDS activists.
d) The Citizen of 28th,July.2007, had a title; ‘’In for an injection, out with a limp’’ some people come out of the injection room with a abscess only shows up several weeks later; others come out with disabilities for life.
e) The Guardian of 19.August.2007; had the title ‘’Fake goods impedes producers - Producers are deeply alarmed by the flood of counterfeit products in the local market harming quality and undercut their efforts to thrive.
f) The Guardian of 12.Sept.2007; reported that; Bulk of Kariakoo imported goods fake - about 50 per cent of all imported goods from China and sold in Kariakoo shops in Dar es Salaam are counterfeit

g) The Guardian of 04.Nov.2007; Fake Medicines Pose Big Threat-Counterfeit Medicines In Tanzania; the story continued
i. In August 1999, fake Metakelfin labelled as a genuine product from the original manufacturer, Pharmacia and Upjohn, was found in circulation in some pharmacies in the country.
ii. Laboratory analysis confirmed that the counterfeit Metakelfin actually contained paracetamol. In May 2000, counterfeit Ampicillin capsules (250mg) were found circulating in some retail pharmacies.
iii. Laboratory analysis confirmed the capsules contained potato starch. In June 2001, expired Chloroquine Injection (from an unregistered Indian company) was relabeled as Quinine Dihydrochloride Injection 600mg/2ml from a company in Cyprus.
iv. In January 2005, fake Gentrisone Cream (a product of Shin Poong, South Korea) was reported. In this case, the active ingredient was replaced with hand and body lotion.

h) The Guardian of 08.Nov.2007; had the title; Consumer awareness is no laughing matter.
i) The Business Times of 06.01.2008; had the title; Stakeholders urge for more awareness education.
j) Nipashe of 14th.March.2008; had the title; Importation of counterfeit goods is a threat to consumers. More than 80% of Tanzania consumers are not aware of their rights…
k) Guardian of 27th.March.2008; had the title; Vision 2025: Shall we achieve `Green Revolution`? The prices of fertilisers and farming implements remain higher due to cheating by the distributors of fertilisers.
k. Uhuru, a Swahili newspaper of 4th.April.2008, had front page story with the title, ‘’Expired toothpaste chemicals were found for Tanga Sabuni Detergent’’-The chemicals were meant for making a famous toothpaste in the country – Aha

One of main TCAS goal is to support government efforts by creating opportunities for poor Tanzania consumers to take part in the economy and in the expanding market and thereby realize their potentials being translated into actual strategy on how to make investment climate for Tanzania conducive for all stakeholders in the economy including government, producers, investors and consumers.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Call for Sullivan Summit to bring lasting benefits

09:12:43 By Mgeta Mganga
The government and private sector are challenged to ensure that the coming Leon Sullivan Summit brings long-term benefits to the country. Sullivan Summit would be held in Arusha early next month amidst expectations that lots of business deals would be sealed between Tanzania`s companies and their US counterparts.

Speaking to this paper in Dar es Salaam last week, the executive director of Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society(TCAS), Bernard Kihiyo, on the picture left said Tanzania needs to foresee and put on the drawing board all important issues that are expected to be explored during the grand business event,
this time labeled `Summit of the Life Time?.

In his view, there was a need for Tanzania`s business experts to come up with practical business approaches that could be put to work as soon when the Sullivan Summit was over, targeting to develop people and the country at large over the longer runs.

``This will make the intended Sullivan Summit`s goals be met and positively benefit people and the country,`` he said. One of the key goals of Summit is to bring together the world`s political and business leaders, delegates representing national and international civil and multinational organisations, and members of academic institutions in order to focus attention and resources on Africa`s economic and social development.

The other motive to this summit is the belief that the development of Africa is a matter of global partnerships, that Africa`s Diaspora and Friends of Africa are active participants in Africa?s development.

``I am quite excited and have the passion to see Africans are starting to draw a picture of Africa in twenty, thirty, years to come? we can start thinking of what changes can be expected, which direction to take, what kind of investments are required and what approach to be taken to arrive at the intended goal of developing the continent and its people``, he said.

When establishing the Foundation, The Reverend Leon Sullivan had set global principles of social responsibility to the corporate world, aimed at improving human rights, social justice and economic fairness in the conduct of business.

``I hope no one would like to see Africa with irresponsible business, who are robbing peoples` abilities to live their dreams by selling substandard products and poor services``, he said. In order for companies to survive, he said, they require greater efficiency and cost saving, technological improvement, new manufacturing techniques and strict control of production costs.

But he cautioned the search for profitability should not compromise on efforts to protect the interests of consumers and promote competition as much as possible in order to arrive at stable prices and improve quality and quantity of goods and services.

SOURCE: Guardian of 2008-05-17

Monday, May 5, 2008

Tackle consumer’s rights violations to archieve MDGs

By Bernard Kihiyo

I will be honoured to share with you some issues which are important to UN millennium development goal project. For the matter of facts if we real want countries to make progress in reducing poverty and attain the MDGs we have to think twice and analyse the trend of events with intention to help countries hit the intended targets.

In 2000 the UN Millennium Declaration, adopted at the largest-ever gathering of heads of state, committed countries (rich and poor). I should acknowledge; this strategy is one of the best ever being adopted by UN agreed by 2015 all 191 United Nations Member States have pledged to:
1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger,
2. Achieve universal primary education;
3. Promote gender equality and empower women;
4. Reduce child mortality;
5. Improve maternal health;
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases;
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

We are almost half way to 2015; however I have the feeling that so many countries around the world (including Tanzania) will fall far short of the Millennium Development Goals if the world will not urgently take into account consumers’ rights violation as the matter of concern.

For instance; how can a country eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, if the market if full of counterfeit products, poor services and unfair charges? How can a country eradicate poverty while businesses form cartels to rip more profit out of the little income/resources of the poor especial on food, fuel, essential human drugs, building materials, farming equipment and the like?

How can a country reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; while the market is full of fake drugs of all sort with very poor customer service characterized with unprofessional conducts; with minimum checks and balance by consumers themselves and other stakeholders?.

How can a country ensure environmental sustainability while consumers and producers don’t know their responsibilities to attain sustainable consumption and production? For instance the demand for safe sanitation and environment depends far more on hygiene education.

How can the countries develop a global partnership for development while trade policies in developed countries remain highly discriminatory against developing country exports at the same time encourage sabotage on economies of weaker partners (unfair contracts, counterfeit goods)as a result, we found in our countries with more globalization losers than winners.

Other factors such as declining level of aid, pledge were made by rich countries to allocate at least 0.7% of their gross national income to development by 2015 but; many countries are by far behind this, how can MDGs being attained under these circumstances? This is just to mention some few.

Rich countries have made promises to support MDG but these words must be backed by deeds.

It is not about hard work, support or individual efforts that will reduce poverty but also it is about all potential opportunities to eradicate poverty; should be part of the system which ensures equal rewarding to the hard work or opportunity gained or given to individuals especially the poor.

Thus, to achieve a higher rate of successful national strategic program interventions to achieve MDGs, consumer rights protection and promotion program is of paramount importance.

Section IV (67) of the 1999-UN Consumer Protection guidelines, underscores the need for governments and international organizations to promote and facilitate capacity-building in the area of consumerism.

In particular, governments and donors are urged to facilitate cooperation among consumer groups and other relevant organizations of the civil society, with the aim of strengthening capacity in the area of sustainable consumption and production.

I do believe in this world there is no single approach to reform; the MDGs must become a world reality, embraced by their main stakeholders especially the poor people to ensure they get value for their little money sent on goods or services.

The Author is
Executive Director
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Service Revolution; the future of Africa and Global Sullivan summit

By Bernard Kihiyo

I have to acknowledge I started to have interest on what is Global Sullivan summit just because there are a lot about it in Tanzania media as this year summit viii will be held in our country this coming June 2nd to 6th.2008 in Arusha.

One of the very key goals of Sullivan Summits is to bring together the world’s political and business leaders, delegates representing national and international civil and multinational organizations, and members of academic institutions in order to focus attention and resources on Africa’s economic and social development

The other motive to this summit is the belief that the development of Africa is a matter of global partnerships that Africa’s Diaspora and Friends of Africa are active participants in Africa’s development.

I have been excited on the way founding member such Afro American - Rev Leon Sullivan devoted his life to the well being of others. On establishing this organization they set global Sullivan principle of social responsibility to the corporate world, aimed at improving human rights social justice and economic fairness in the conduct of doing business.

I’m quite excited and have the passion to see African are starting to draw a picture of Africa in twenty, thirty, years to come, it is know we can start thinking of what changes to be expected, which direction to take, what kind of investments are required and what approach to be taken to acquire the intended goal of developing the continent and its people.

I hope no one would like to see Africa with irresponsible business, who are robbing peoples’ abilities to live their dreams by selling substandard products and poor services unless your are benefiting out of this unethical business approach.

Currently the world is in a new economic era which has force to the removal of countries’ trade barrier and companies now are operating beyond borders, through this there is intensification of international competition, in order for companies to survive they require greater efficiency and cost saving, technological improvement, new manufacturing technique and strict control of production costs in order to survive.

During this era we have seen production shift away from the so called 1890’s to 1970’s industrialized European countries to lower cost countries in the South East Asia, the Far East and Latin America.

Companies in Europe closed factories and transfer their production activities to the emerging market of the South East Asia, the Far East and Latin America. For instance there is no businessman who can ignore the reduction in production cost for about 75% by using cheap skilled labour; for instance in China.

What are the industrialized countries like USA, UK, France, Germany and the like are doing after shifting their industries to South East Asia, the Far East and Latin America. They have shifted their effort onto Service Revolution which continues to create more jobs to the citizen; tax base for their governments and the like.

For instance they invested heavily on improvement of logistics management including transport and transportation, warehousing, state-of-the-art shopping centres, state-of-the-art telecommunication, insurance, tourism architectural, engineering, financial sector, stable power supply, a highly educated workforce, a technology and supporting infrastructure.

What remained in terms of industrial production in these former industrialized countries have been in the area of the high-tech goods; such as military equipment, high-tech industrial machines, and telecommunication devises.

In the so called Service Revolution, the trick part of it is to make sure that consumers are getting their goods and services at their maximum satisfaction no matter where they come from. These countries invested so much onto economic infrastructure.

They are very strict on adherence of companies on product and service, good record keeping for traceability, quality management principles as per standards set by International Standard Organization (ISO), CODEX Alimentarius Commission through their local standards agencies and consumers associations.

Others efforts; done by these countries are to; invest heavily on the quality of labour who can give excellent customer service, service providers are trained to be keen to the concept of consumerism, governments of these countries have established excellent policies that allow business and consumers to enjoy the benefits of globalized economy.

For instance; textile goods from China made for UK standards are shipped from China to UK and are becoming more than 60% cheaper compared if the same could be produced in UK. Then with improved logistics infrastructure and automated warehouse management operating under the principle of Just-In-Time (JIT) are filling the gaps of time to be wasted on inbound and outbound logistics.

In the so called Service Revolution; there must be transformation of the way business treat customers; the role of consumer has to be changed from one of human cash dispenser into essential element for the existence of business companies.

This is not possible if companies do not work to win the home game first; customers are the business, it is their demand that drives the whole concept of supply chain, so finding out what customers value and then delivering it is critical, it is only the movement to consumers needs and interest that add the ultimate value, smooth continuous flow of business to the adhered company.

Such a transformation has far reaching effect on the provision of goods and services to the customers, so that the servicing of the requirement of customers is now at the heart of market philosophy in all sector of the economy. This concept has easily transferred to the provision of quality of service that will lead to business and these countries’ economies to prosper.

Deliberate effort must be in place to protect the interests of consumers and promote competition wherever possible to drive prices and improve quality and quantity of goods and services to ensure that businesses, local communities and consumers benefit.

On the matter of fact; the structure of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has shifted towards services. In the early 1970s, this sector accounted for only one-quarter of the world FDI stock; in 1990 this share was less than one-half; and by 2002, it had risen to about 60% or an estimated $4 trillion.

Over the same period, the share of the primary sector in world FDI stock declined, from 9% to 6%, and that of manufacturing fell even more, from 42% to 34%. On average, services accounted for two-thirds of total FDI inflows during 2001-2002, valued at some $500 billion.
(Source; UNCTAD; World Investment Report; 2004- The Shift towards Services - Overview)

Middle East countries are now expanding their economies through international trade and many are diversify their economies away from industrial production and invest in infrastructure and service provision to plug into the world competitive market. ‘’If these countries ahead of us are flexible enough to the wind of globalization; who are we not to start the move?’’

Africa requires a serious approach to start Service Revolution for the betterment of our economies and consumers at large. In the meantime we are having a lesser-fair approach on issues and remove all barriers to creative thinking like;- it wont work, we don’t have capital, why change, we cant get there, we are better off, twenty/thirty years to come is very far away from now etc.

We have to start change our mind-set toward the way we perceive globalized economy for instance the old fashioned colonial motto like agriculture is the back born of our economy. I do agree; but we should not be too rigid to involve ourselves on activities which we are not good at; especially into this new economic era; we need to begin thinking about combination and right mix strategies to consolidate our position in this new world economy.

I believe African governments, donors community, businesses and other key allies are working together now; more than ever- as part of the solution rather than the problem; if all these are present; it can be done let us marshal our efforts and start to act now, or rather our future and our economic position in this globalized economy will be ever black.

If you want to participate on Sullivan Summit register yourself online follow this link

The Author is
Executive Director
Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

How Tanzania Commemorated WCRD on 15th.March.2008 for the first time

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) is a newly established Non Governmental Consumer Organization which has made it possible to commemorate for the first time World Consumer Rights Day in Tanzania; apart from the event been cerebrated by other countries in the world including African countries some times ago.

In doing this; It was not an easy task for us as it was a new line, venture, and it was difficulty for people to grasp single line of a message all over a sudden as people’s mind-set was far behind the concept.
TCAS Chairman Mr Daimon Jim Mwakyembe addressed to the event; He is a retired Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards where he worked for 17 years up to 2006

TCAS chairman in his speech amongst other things he stressed for ‘’Sustainable consumption includes meeting the needs of present and future generations for foods, goods and services in ways that are economically, socially and environmentally sustainable’’.

We had to have a mix of messages on the consumers’ rights and a bit of messages on other years WCRD themes to find a level ground, however more focus was given to this year theme ‘’Junk food generation-stop the marketing of unhealthy food especially to children’’

Tanzania Consumers on the peaceful rally to commemorate WCRD on 15th.March.2008 in Dar es Salaam.

MEDIA Involvement
TCAS do understand that there is no advocacy without involvement of media, in order to acquire the intended results. The campaign in Tanzania focused on a wide range of media adverts such as: Television, radio, and newspapers adverts;

Based on this background we got in touch with four television stations, five popular radio stations, six English and six Swahili newspapers- respective news editors of these media houses where sent with a letter about the day; its theme and some participated on TCAS’s press realise event about WCRD on 7th.March.2008.

As we involved the media the general public (consumers) were addressed with information which we believe will turn around the scourge of junk food and drinks, as consumers were associated with lack of awareness on junk foods and drinks.

To this end; we had a very good support from two television stations, two popular radio stations, different ranges of newspapers produced 8 articles on Swahili and English about the day and the campaign. For more information; follow these links.

Other stakeholders Involvement
TCAS do understand the war against ‘’Junk food generation-stop the marketing of unhealthy food especially to children’’ is not a one man show; it requires strong partnership with relevant partners in order to attain positive results.

Group picture of some of stakeholders who participated on commemorating WCRD in Tanzania

To this end TCAS invited several members of government; NGOs such as National Organization for Legal Assistance (NOLA), Marie Stopes Tanzania (MST), professional bodies like Medical Doctors, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) and Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA) to talk about effects and efforts to curb Junk food Generation and to determine a way forward for this campaign.

The Way forward;
Majority of the stakeholders recommended that the campaign should focus to pupils in the primary schools who are more vulnerable to junk foods; as majority of primary school pupils are between the ages five to fourteen years old.

Young, old, Youth men and women were there to participate and lessen to the message on the WCRD-2008. During the rally we had children and youth participants however it’s in TCAS agenda to extend this campaign further to most of the primary school pupils in the country through intensive use of media.

Leaflets were shared amongst participants during commemoration of World Consumer Rights Day at Mnazi Mmoja Ground, more to be shared during future TCAS campaigns on the same.

Follow this link for Consumers International member action during WCRD 2008

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Consumers Protest on substandard goods

By Bernard Kihiyo
Tanzania is only country out of 53 African nations to host Olympic torch relay for year 2008; Dar es Salaam City had been selected by the Olympic committee to be the only African city amongst twenty two world cities to be visited by the Olympic torch out of China land.

Tanzania had never hosted an Olympic torch relay before; it was quit mix-feelings experience for Dar es Salaam dwellers. The 5-km relay in the city of Dar es Salaam was accompanied by heavy police security; living aside non official torch bearers several meters away from the torch.

Some people perceived may be it was a military event and not an event whose intention is to seek for world ownership of Olympic Games, which aim at sharing the passion, glory, dreams and joys of the coming games.

(Pictures of Olympic torch-bearer surrounded by several police men to avoid experiences of other cities.)

Based on the fact that; the latest events of attacks including interruption of the relay and attempts to snatch the Olympic torch; by human rights activists who are angry over China's human rights record; Our police force in Tanzania was over protective to the extent of distorting the essence of the torch.

Tanzania Consumers were stationary/immobile on the road side near the gate of new national stadium where the main relay last event was conducted; taking full advantage of local and international spotlight to get our messages through; however we had been illegally stopped by the police (Tibaigana) who ordered for confiscation of our nine placards which had the following messages;-
1. We support Olympic Games in China; but not counterfeit products.
2. Olympic Games are the best way of bringing the world together; is the world happy with fake products?
3. Tanzania Consumers don’t want counterfeit products in our market.
4. Substandard goods are causing a lot of sufferings to poor Tanzania consumers; can China government help in this war?
5. Can China be part of the solution to stop counterfeiting in Tanzania?
6. The right of expression is our constitutional right; we are here to practise our right.
7. ‘’Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society’’ is the only Independent and active consumer organization in Tanzania.
8. The world is one through Olympic Games in China; can the world join together to fight the war against counterfeit products?
9. We are happy to have this Olympic torch in Tanzania; please take these consumers’ messages for us.

(Pictures of Tanzania Consumers with their placards bearing the message elaborated above)

The police move; was illegal and completely against the constitution of United Republic of Tanzania; part iii –Article 20 sub-article; (1) which stipulates; ‘’Every person is entitled to freedom, subject to the laws of the land, to freely and peaceably assemble, associate and cooperate with other persons, express views publicly, and more specially to form or join associations or organisations formed for the purposes of preserving or furthering his beliefs or interests or any other interests’’.

(Picture of Tanzania Consumers with their placards had called to the attention of local and international media.)

Moreover Article 21 sub-article (2) gives; every citizen has the right and the freedom to participate fully in the process leading to the decision on matters affecting him, his well-being or the nation.

In this regard; we (Tanzania consumers) have experienced severe violation of our constitutional rights and worst still the problem of counterfeit products is still affecting Tanzania; Africa and the whole of the world consumers’ lives; some of these counterfeit products are originating from China.

With counterfeit products in the market, consumers are locked out of economic opportunities and remain poor, swimming in the cycle of poverty as they don’t get actual return for their money spent on substandard goods and the like.

Based on the world economic situation through globalization, the world has become a small village; good citizens of the world will never keep quite while something bad is happening to any part of the world.

Heavy weight politicians such as Gordon Brown, Bernard Kouchner, Angela Merkel to heavy weight activists such as Steven Spielberg, Prof Wangari Maathai and simple people like us will always air our voices to be heard whenever we get an opportunity for a good cause.

Chinese government should listen from people of the world and act upon these challenges; it will be unwise to take this as a personal attack. The same could happen to France, UK, Greece, Germany, India, Tanzania and the like based on their situation/s if they could hold this same chance.

Follow these links for other messages on the same

Web site: http://

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Textiles industry could still save the day

By Erick Toroka

THE collective views among most observers are that Tanzania does have by far great comparative advantage over most of the other countries in the region in the area of textile production.

For example, the country already has in place ample supplies of raw cotton, the possibilities of cheap coal and hydropower, as well as cheap domestic labour with skills already horned through past dabbling in the textile industry. In the 1970s and ’80s, Tanzania was home to at least 32 thriving textile mills.

That was before reforms leading to economic liberalization were undertaken beginning in the late 1980s, resulting in the sidelining of the domestic textile sub-sector in favour of imported substitutes. That is the bad news...

The good news is that this negative trend can be turned round, with the textiles sub-sector being enabled to once again play a major role in propelling the economy up and forward. According to Bernard Kihiyo – an expert in the field of consumerism –

“the cotton and textile sub-sector in Tanzania can leap forward if and when it demonstrates strong capabilities at the firm-level on the supplyside to market products and services worldwide coupled with a high willingness of sophisticated consumers on the demandside to pay for the (domestic) industry's output.” Kihiyo is currently the executive director of the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS).

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Business Times in Dar es Salaam recently, the man said Tanzania needs to take up “the challenge of global trade seriously for it to survive in the rapidly globalizing situation.

“What is missing in our mix is seriousness in exploiting these potentials for our economic development. If we really want our textile industry to grow, we need to critically analyze the tricks of globalization economics.”

This, he explains, “includes all elements of cost-effectiveness and adherence to standards and consumers choice ...In other words, it means flexibility in the market as the world continues to grow smaller, competition for the consumers money ever becomes fiercer – and choices ever wider!”

In that regard, Kihiyo says, “TCAS is ready to join in a national campaign on sensitizing consumers to buy locally-made textile materials and garments ... as long as the producers adhere to the highest standards of quality and ethical conduct.

At the end of the day, this would result in creating more jobs and alleviating poverty in Tanzania.” Before trade liberalization, the textiles sub-sector in Tanzania was one of the strongest growth sectors in the national economy.

It was one of the largest employers – and the third largest source of Government revenues in the form of taxes and export earnings. In fact, cotton was the second most important export crop for Tanzania.

Following trade liberalization over a little more than two decades, the nation’s textiles sub-sector went under, losing heavily to an influx of imports from Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and other South-East Asian countries.

Admittedly, some of the imports were of a better quality. But, more often than not, they were cheap, shoddy affairs, thereby underselling even the few textile goods that were still trickling out of the struggling domestic manufactories.

In effect, Tanzania joined the growing family of countries that were dumping grounds for sub-standard textiles and garments (imported mostly from the Far East) and second-hand clothing, imported from Europe and North America.

In the event, local consumers continued to access a wide range of textile goods that were generally available in the market. One direct effect of this is that these developments hammered the last nail in the coffin of an already moribund domestic industry. Hence the highly unsatisfactory situation which is currently obtaining in Tanzania ...

The ample supplies of cotton in the country, as well as potentially cheap power and labour, do not as yet meaningfully contribute to the national economy in the forms of employment creation and income-generation compared to 1970s and early 1980s.

In recent years, the textiles industry has tried to gather itself together again, compliments of new developments like the Africa Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) of the United States. That piece of legislation enacted in 2002 set out to liberalise access to the vast US market for about 7,000 export items from sub-Sahara Africa and other least developed countries (LDCs).

Ditto for a roughly similar trade initiative by the European Union going under the programme-title of Everything But Arms (EBA). As trade programmes, both AGOA and EBA expanded the duty- and quota-free benefits which were previously available to the poorer nations of the world only under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).

The two programmes in particular are by no means confined to textile goods. The goods covered range from footwear, chemicals and steel to certain motor vehicle components and varieties of agricultural products, including wines!

But, when all is said and done, countries like Tanzania have not been in a position to exploit such opportunities to the hilt. For instance, according to information from the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam, the value of bi-lateral trade flows between Tanzania and the United States in terms of textiles and apparel tells only part of the story.

The value of US imports from Tanzania dropped from US$4.12 million in 2005 to $3.34 million in 2007. On the other hand, US exports to Tanzania went up from $9.48 million in 2005 to $14.5 million in 2007.

The barriers to entry in the US market of Tanzanian exports include the high sensitivity of the American Government and people to standards of quality – with Tanzania consistently falling under par.

In the event, China has taken full advantage of the situation, whereby it supplies about 45 per cent of the entire garments requirements in Europe and America! In fact, many industries in Europe and America have found it prudent to transferred their production activities to China, thereby effectively exploiting the principle of comparative advantage – including availability of cheap skilled labour, good investment policies, and good infrastructure for businesses to flourish.

It is understood that America and European countries are wary of becoming over-dependent on China in this area of economic activity. In this regard, Kihiyo argues, those countries would conceivably be more than thankful to have other alternative sources that are equally reliable.

“It is, therefore, imperative that the Tanzania Government and other stakeholders in the textiles and other industries take greater advantage of these opportunities by seriously acting upon them,” he urges.

Source The Business Times