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.