Friday, December 24, 2010

Seasonal Greetings from TCAS - 2011 Thank You for Your Support

It’s the holiday season—the time of year when we count our blessings and think about helping consumers whose rights had been violated. For those of us in the nonprofit organizations, helping others is not a once a year phenomenon—it is the heart of the work we do every day of the year.

Even in these difficult economic times, we have much to be thankful for. We are thankful we get to do meaningful work that helps make our community a better place to live, businesses to strive and consumers to get better value to money spent on goods and services.

At Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS), we are proud to work with you for fair and equitable Tanzania and the world at large. It is enormously gratifying to know that through our consumer public education campaigns, one-to-one advisory service, web resources and publications, we are partnering with you to make a real difference at the community, national and international level.

If you’ve supported or attended one of program, received direct assistance from one of our staff, or visited our offices or just been part of our supporter in year 2010, we want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you for all you did to make your communities and our world a better place live. Next year-2011, we plan to continue and expand our work to encourage and support consumer advocacy by individuals, nonprofit organizations, the foundations, government agencies and development partners. We hope you will continue to be our partner in this work.

This past year, TCAS expanded its work across different sectors and activities as consumers issues are cross cutting by nature, while continuing to work intensively with groups working for improved public education, legal reform, consumer’s rights, environmental protection, financial education, competition and standards issues and we hosted on other issues which were of critical importance to social and economic justice to consumers.

Our special thanks for year 2010 go to;-

1. Our esteemed members and volunteers under VOICE - TZ

2. Anne Fransen Fund - Netherlands

3. Department of International Development – UK

4. Financial Education Fund –SA

5. The Foundation for Civil society-TZ

6. Swedish Society for Nature Conservation – Sweden

7. Aim for Human Rights – Netherlands

8. Consumer Information Network – Kenya

9. Consumers International – UK

10. UNICEF – Food Fortification

11. International Telecommunication Union - Switzerland

12. Sectoral Regulatory Authorities;- Bank of Tanzania, Tanzania Bureau of Standards, TFDA, TCRA, EWURA and SUMATRA

13. Media Houses;-IPP media, Business Times, Mwananchi, Majira, Daily News, Star TV, Radio Uhuru, radio one, EATV, Capital TV

14. and many others the list is endless

We promise to do even more in 2011; TCAS management hopes to count on you as a continuing partner in this work. On behalf of TCAS’s management, staffs, volunteers and members, we wish you happy holidays and a New Year filled with peace and justice for all.

Bernard E. Kihiyo

Executive Director

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society
Kindly visit Our Website for more infomation:

Saturday, December 11, 2010

How the US Government Guaranteed the coming food crisis

Friday, 10 December 2010 07:07

OVER the last several years, I've written constantly on the growing likelihood of a global currency collapse.The Governments of Europe and the United States have accumulated debts so large they can't ever hope to repay them, except with currencies whose value will be inflated away by money-printing.

That's led me to recommend inflation hedges like railroads, gold, silver, and various forms of energy. Owning these "real assets" is the single best way to protect yourself from the inflationary crisis. But make sure you don't forget the most important inflation hedge of all: food.

If you've been reading the financial press for the past few months, you know the prices of vital food commodities are soaring. The price of corn is up 47 per cent since this summer. Soybeans are up 30 per cent. Wheat is up 43 per cent.

I expect this trend of higher food prices to continue for years as the U.S government intentionally debases the dollar while lying to you the whole time about wanting a "strong currency." (Make sure to read our essay here about this great lie.) There's also a good supply/demand case to be made for owning agricultural assets. Let's start with the largest crop in the United States, corn...

In 2009, US farmers grew 39 per cent of the world's corn – 307.4 million metric tons. The crop was worth US$48 billion. Our corn exports totaled $8.7 billion.

Most harvested corn in the US is used to feed livestock – 43 per cent of 2009 production. Almost as much (41 per cent) was used for food, consumer, and industrial products (toothpaste, adhesives, cosmetics, starches, sweeteners, oils, beverages, industrial alcohol, fuel ethanol, etc.). The remainder was exported. The US sent most of its corn to Japan, Mexico, and South Korea.

The second-largest corn grower, China, produced 165.9 million metric tons, or half the US production. The European Union was a distant third, harvesting 62.7 million metric tons. Brazil checked in fourth, at 51 million metric tons.

In 2009, a severe drought in China killed millions of bushels of corn. Stockpiles dwindled to alarming levels as the government sold corn to keep the price from rocketing higher. Into 2010, the situation hasn't improved. The Chinese have become net importers of corn for the first time in 16 years. Experts predict China will require 6-to-8 million metric tons of corn this year.

The Chinese corn crunch reminds the world of the food shortages of 2006-2008. Average global prices for wheat, corn, and soybeans spiked more than 100 per cent. Rice prices surged more than 200 per cent.

The PowerShares Agriculture Fund (DBA) noted that there was a sharp rise in agricultural commodity prices from 2007 to 2008...

This price rise resulted from changing diets in developing countries and the US's move to use corn as a fuel source (ethanol). From 2006 to 2008, total global grain consumption increased three per cent per year, up from two per cent per year from 2000 to 2006. People were eating more meat. You need seven pounds of feed grain to produce one pound of beef.

Increasing affluence leads to a desire for greater luxury in everything, including food. Developing and developed countries are now competing for what they want to eat. And that means prices are going up again.

Notice the right edge of the chart. The price of the DBA basket of agricultural commodities is breaking higher. A large component of this fund is the United State's second largest crop, soybeans.

The U.S. produced $31 billion worth of soybeans in 2009. It's our largest agricultural export. Total exports in 2009 exceeded $16 billion, setting a record.

The US produced almost one-third of the world's soybeans in 2009 (91.4 million metric tons). Brazil and Argentina combined for 50% more of the globe's production. China produced seven per cent, and India produced four per cent.

Soybeans are also used for animal feed. They have twice as much protein content as any other major vegetable or grain. Their protein also makes up many common meat and dairy substitutes, including soymilk and tofu. Soybean oil is used for food and industrial applications.

When it comes to soy consumption, the story has changed in recent years. China has overtaken the US as the leader...

In 2005, China was second, consuming 45 million metric tons of soybeans compared with the US's 51 million metric tons. Last year, China consumed at least 60 million metric tons. The US consumed less than 50 million metric tons.

Unfortunately for China, its domestic production can't begin to satisfy its growing soybean consumption. In 2009, the Chinese imported more than 45 million metric tons of soybeans. Almost half came from the United States. Chinese producers harvested a little more than 15 million metric tons on their own.

The China National Grain and Oils Information Center is projecting total Chinese imports for 2010 will total 60 million metric tons. That would be a 33 per cent increase over 2009. The US will likely supply half of this. This demand is already driving soybean prices back toward their record 2008 levels of $16 per bushel...

The combination of increasing global demand coupled with the Fed's quantitative easing makes a huge move higher in these commodities (and funds like the DBA) likely. Prices could soar high enough to trigger a global crisis.

When you read about this in the next year or two, don't say you weren't warned... and don't say you aren't prepared.

Whatever the temporary political solution to the looming food crisis is, the ultimate answer is more production. The only way to substantially increase farm productivity is better technology. [DailyWealth].


Sunday, November 7, 2010

Financial Products to Avoid

By Ray Martin Nov 4, 2010

The financial industry sells a lot of products that most folks should just avoid. Often these products are high cost versions of the same product available at a lower cost, offer a benefit you simply don’t need or expose you to additional risks. In short, they are a waste of your money. Here are three of the worst offenders.

Life insurance policies on children: Life insurance should cover people on whom others are financially dependent. In other words, you should buy life insurance on the family breadwinners but not on the people who are dependent on them. Since you don’t rely on your young children for income, you don’t need a large death benefit if they die. Insurance companies make a lot of money on a child’s policy because it’s pretty unlikely that the policy will ever be collected. Although it’s heavily marketed, this product is not as heavily bought. The American Council of Life Insurers reports that only about 15 percent of children in the U.S. under the age of 18 are currently covered by life insurance with policies generally providing only a few thousand dollars in coverage.

Grandparents in particular seem to like giving life insurance policies as gifts to grandchildren. I encourage them to put money into a 529 education account instead.

Co-signed credit cards: Under the new credit card rules, anyone under 21 can’t get a credit card unless they have sufficient income OR some over age 21 agrees to co-sign on the account. Unfortunately there are many loopholes so this restriction is unlikly to stop younger folks from getting theier own credit cards.

You should NEVER agree to be a co-signer on anyone’s credit card. Yes folks, that means you should never co-sign a credit card for your kids or siblings. Co-signing puts your own credit score on the line. For instance, if the other person on the account is late with a payment, that will reflect negatively on your credit report and that could lower your credit score. For parents with kids in college, instead of using a co-signed card, consider using a prepaid or bank credit card or a debit card.

Mutual funds that charge sales commission: These are called LOAD mutual funds. Sales charges on the front-end take four to six percent of your initial investment off the top to pay this sales charge. Funds with deferred sales charges (called back-end or deferred sales charges) come with additional ongoing fees that eat away at the fund’s performance while you own it. These load mutual funds will then need to outperform no-load mutual funds to make up for their extra fees. There’s not much to support that load funds sold by brokers can outperform no-load funds.

Companies say that sales commissions on mutual funds are a fee you pay in exchange for advice from a financial advisor. If you’re looking for investment advice, find an advisor that charges a fee for their advice, and then ask them to recommend no-load funds where your purchase of any funds recommended does not result in any additional compensation for the advisor.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010


By Jehovaness Zacharia; FE Project Consumer Adviser (Legal).
Tanzania like most of the African countries have a long history as far as financial services to the consumers is concerned. I analyzing the issue above, I find it important looking at where the country was to where we are today. Soon after independence, Tanzania adopted socialism and things were run communally. All the financial services were under the government. There was one Insurance company which was National Insurance Company owned by the government as well.

The consumers of insurance services in Tanzania had and still are facing a number of challenges which some of them are historically oriented (legacy). With this I find the consumers themselves bring challenge in the insurance market in Tanzania.

During colonialism, the Tanzania (Tanganyika by then) consumers believed that the Insurance policy is bought by the rich people only. And this was the case since the colonized had nothing to insure apart from his own life of which still even if he knew he was not economically well to do it.

Soon after independence, though there was communalism but still there was gap between the haves and have-nots, and the earlier who are the minority are the ones who had been using insurance services. The later would be in the position to but they wouldn’t since majority of Tanzanians were uneducated and financially illiterate.

In late 1990s Tanzania government reformed its financial sector and it allowed private entities to operate in financial sector and this includes insurance sector. These apart from increasing the number of players in provision of insurance services, it also widen the consumers field of choice when it comes to choosing which product to purchase, on my view this is as well a challenge in an illiterate market.

Though Tanzania financial sector is still in its early stage of development, there is rapid recent growth in the supply of financial services including insurance services; this means that consumers are increasingly faced with complex set of options and decisions. To me, all these pose a number of challenges in the insurance market in Tanzania.

The Tanzania consumers are faced with number of challenges when using insurance services. I can group the challenges into two categories. One if challenges from the service provider plus the regulators so the market point of view and from consumers themselves.

In my own view, I see challenges from consumers themselves include lack of knowledge regarding insurance. The 2009 FinScope report reveals to me the facts that, 14% of people who do not use insurance said that they do not know at all what insurance is, 12% said they do not know how to go about it, 16% do not know how to buy it.

Therefore, the know-how in using insurance among Tanzania consumers has been of great essence. And since they lack this, this brings in a great challenge to consumers.

Again with FinScope report on 2009, depicts that 17.4% of Tanzania consumers never heard of insurance phrase at all while the 39.0% heard the word but they do not know what it is and 43.5% heard about it and know what it is! Therefore, more than 50% lack knowledge of insurance.

Another challenge I see with the consumers is bad belief concerning Insurance in general. For few Tanzanians who have little knowledge of insurance who despite of the little knowledge they have, are still not using it believing that insurance services are meant for rich people and since they are not rich, they belief that it was never meant for them.

Also due to religious belief people who have been taught to keep their faith to their God and not in human beings and so buying insurance policy means keeping your faith in insurance companies which is a sin. Also buying insurance policy is believed to predict ones death (for life insurance) or loss/damage (for property) and so doing so is calling a bad lack to oneself. I see this as a challenge which face consumers when use insurance services and this particular challenge hinder them from utilize the services.

There is also a bad look/ conception of insurance companies by the consumers. Some consumers see the companies as “conning” companies and so by no means do they want to buy insurance policy. They think asking someone to insure the house against fire accident for instance and what will happen to their money if their house doesn’t get fire outbreak?! To me, this seems as, these consumers believe that, the companies want them to insure over things which the possibility of them happening is either not there or zero point zero zero one something, and therefore getting money from them (consumers) is like conning them.

All these, but to mention a few, on my view, are some of the Tanzania consumers’ beliefs when thinking of using insurance services.

Understanding of terminologies used in insurance policy has as well being a big challenge among Tanzania consumers who utilize insurance services in Tanzania. Due to this problem, some have found themselves buying the policy they actually never intended to buy. For example in failure to understand the terms used, one may decide to buy a cheaper policy which will not cover all that s/he wants it to and when this person incur an accident and the insurance company refuses to pay off on the ground that the policy does not cover the loss incurred, the policy holder complains. But all is due to misunderstanding of the terminologies and to me this is a crucial challenge to consumers.

On the other hand, there are challenges from the market side. I have included the challenge from the insurance providers, the regulatory bodies and other market players. These challenges include but not limited to the following;

Non disclosure of information by the insurance brokers, when the consumers buy the insurance policy there are information which may make the insured think twice on whether to buy the policy or not, these info are not well explained to the consumers. Also I see the possibility of consumer hiding some information but on my view, if consumers would be well informed of the effects of non disclosure, they would act differently.

On my view, there is an issue of delay in meeting the claims of consumers who are entitled to redress from the insurer. There is a time frame prescribed for insurance claims to be met, but due to already mentioned lack of information to consumers, the insurance service providers do not comply with such requirement.

According to the new Insurance Act, s.131 the insurer is required to pay the claim within 45 days from the date of receipt of executed discharge.

Nonpayment of insurance claims is yet another challenge facing Tanzania consumers using insurance services. I am distinguishing between delay in making payments/redress and total refusal to pay. Some consumers who incur losses which are covered by their insurance policy but the companies find a way to abstain from paying the insured. This is challenge to insurance service users and a discouragement to others who are yet to use the services. On my view, this might be the sole reason why other consumers view these service providers as con companies.

As far as legal position is concerned, most of the insurance service consumers are not aware of their legal rights and responsibilities under the insurance law and policy. The concerned body has so far put into place the program which will be helping the consumers understand this law and the regulatory body established under it, and this is none other than the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA).

Since the law is not known to the insurance service users, the one who are aware of the service and utilize it are no aware of where to go in case the insurance contract seem to be ambiguous to him or more beneficial to the insurer than the policy holder. They think having an option to go choose another insurer, automatic discharges his right to complain over the unfair terms of contract offered to him by the insurer.

The law clearly explain that the commissioner of TIRA has power to delete or amend obscure or ambiguous terms in contracts of insurance [s.11 (d) ii], or items and conditions in the contract which are unfair or oppressive to the policy holder/consumer [s.11 (d) iii]. To simplify and clarify the terms and conditions of insurance contract can as well be done by the commissioner. I can see the challenge to the consumers is the fact that these and more other things of their favour provided in the new Insurance Act are not known to them.

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) as the only consumer private organization in Tanzania is doing all it can to ensure consumers are protected and with regard to insurance service consumers, TCAS is running a big campaign which was preceded my consumer need assessment which had revealed most of the issues raised here. The need assessment has enabled the organization to identify the need of insurance service users.

The campaign supported by DFID under the Financial Education Fund, TCAS together with the London based organization known as Consumers International (CI) and other financial education experts like Microfinance Opportunities as well as ESF Apex Strategies are providing financial education to Dar es Salaam consumers as well as providing free consumer advice in the center established known as Consumer Advice Centre (CAC).

This campaign among other things will help the consumers of financial services in Dar es Salaam and neighboring regions to understand the challenges ahead of them and how to go through, the law, policy, and regulation as well as to know regulating bodies in place and what are the consumers’ position.

TCAS campaign will go hand in hand with the establishment of Consumer Advice Center which will be providing free consumer advice on financial matter, and this will not exclude consumers who visit CAC for other non financial related matters.

All that TCAS is doing is to supplement what the government has started or is doing in ensuring that consumers who are utilizing insurance services are protected and informed. The Insurance Supervisory Department launched financial education program in 2009 adhering with the Second Generation Financial Sector Reform Program (SGFSP)’s advice on the same.

On my personal view, as TCAS project consumer advisor on legal matter, with regard to challenges facing Tanzania consumers when utilizing insurance services are as outlined above. The challenges show that all market players are concerned in one way or another. This is because, all players have their role to play in ensuring that the market practices are not abused by any of them.

Legal and institutional frameworks are important reforms in encounter these challenges. Having legal and institution frameworks reformed but not known to the people to me is an incomplete action taken.

The work of making the institution known not necessary have solely be done by the creator of the said frameworks. Other stakeholders need to put in their efforts in making these known to consumer. Taking an example of the better enacted law and the authority made under it which is hardly known to consumers! The service providers focus on making profits and so they care less on whether the consumer’s rights are adhered to or not.

Therefore, I am calling upon other players; these include the service provider to support consumer movements which aim at helping out consumers to understand their position in the market. This not only will reduce the number of complaints arising between the consumer and the service provider, but also will increase the number of consumers who will be using the insurance services and this will result into increase of profit it the service provider as well as increase national income which in turn will come back to the consumers in the form of social services.

I believe the say “together we stand, and separate we fall” with this in mind, let’s all players join our efforts together in helping the consumers overcome the market challenges since, together, at the end of the day, all of us are going to be beneficiaries of whatever efforts we are putting in.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Importation of counterfeit products in Tanzania: What should be done?

By Japhet Makongo –
He Shared his feeling through the Foundation for Civil Society mail page on 26th.Aug.2010

This is a very good and timely topic. Timely in the sense that we shall soon get a new government in place by the end of the year. It is my expectations that views given on this topic can be usefull for whoever comes into the decision making ring box.

I have three observations on what need to be done.

First, we know that this is global challenge and it goes beyond one country strategy. One of the reason why we all fall victims of counterfeit products is the price competitiveness. Unless we provide alternative quality products at affordable prices we shall not entangle ourselves from the web. My suggetion is for the government to become serious in implementing the East Africa Protocal on Trade and make joint efforts to produce and market similar products with quality but at cheaper prices. All what the governments need to do is to import the techonology from wherever these products are coming.... and I am sure we can provider even cheaper labour force. with the technology in our hands, we can use the qualtiy assurance and regulatory systems to improve what our consumers need. It may seem a far fetched idea, but serious governments can do it!

Second, we need some immediate actions to the matter. I do not understand why those who are involved in the game even when caught are left to enjoy their harvest with a token punishment? What does it cost the government to wipe out 100 entrusted and selfish business giants for the benefit of the populace? In China, the very country where these products are believed to come gave a death sentenced to whoever was found to sell poisoned milk for children! We may not want to kill, but we can merely ask these people to stop what they are doing by extracting their business licenses and asking them to help build the nation at segerea and elsewhere. I guess this comes down to having a committed and accountable government. I need to be advised...what is wrong with our rules and regulations? Are our institutions that have been mandated to implement these regulations toothless barking dogs or are they part of the game? HADITHI YA KARUME KENGE inanijia kila mara.

Third, it all comes to what people know about the effects of the counterfeit products. Unfortunately we have created the "I Do not Care Society" so selfish and self-centered individuals. We all want to show off to other that we are different even if it means sacrificing other people’s health. I appeal to the leading Civil Society Organisations and professional associations-engineers, doctors, accountants, environmental activities etc to give priority on educating the people about these products. In my opinion, professionals have not done enough to inform the public about the effects of having tons of counterfeit products on our soil. Take the example of low quality of the dry battery cells. You need to buys several pieces to finish shaving your beard and some do not even kick start the shaving machine.

We do not have proper disposal facilities and knowledge and as result they are thrown every where. We all know what it means when they are buried in the soil or come into contact with fire....they effects are is detrimental and yet these batteries are in all retail shops ...kule ambako watu wenye kipato cha chini wanaumia.... ni hatari

We should be aware that, there is not good governance, quality education, sound environment and climate change workshops if people are eating poison and dying! My wit is that lets all go Civic Education and Awareness on morals, ethics and making the people to take responsibility start seeing "us as well as seeing me"

One last comment........ I was optimistic with Jakaya Mrisho's call some months ago to help the political parties to distinguish "politics and business", but as long as these tycoons are still in the political arena we have slim chances of getting through-they are the ones behind counterfeit products including kuchakachua mafuta!
God protect Tanzania


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Days of sub-standard imports numbered - TBS

25th August 2010

The government is determined to curb current massive importation of sub-standard products into the country by ensuring that all imports are verified at the point of origin to determine whether they meet the requisite quality standards, Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Director General Charles Ekelege said yesterday.

He told a press conference at the TBS premises in Dar rs Salaam that, the exercise would be undertaken through a ‘Pre- shipment Verification of Conformity to Standards programme’ to be managed by the bureau together with other local and international partners.

The TBS chief executive said the process of securing the local and international partners were currently underway to enable timely take-off of the exercise.

“We are going to announce the international tender basing on the Public Procurement Act next month to get partners who will implement the programme,’ Ekelege told participants to the International Organization for Standardisation (ISO) Regional Workshop on Conformity Assessment from 20 eastern and southern Africa countries.

He added that once implemented there would be no sub-standard goods which would be imported into the country because companies that would be contracted to execute the programme would be liable for any imported poor quality products.

According to Ekelege, the international accepted programme was already being implemented by other African countries including Kenya, Uganda and Botswana.

He said the programme would involve all the commodities countrywide and the tender was open to both local and international companies.

Ekelege said the workshop was a starting point as a forum for discussing harmonisation of the conformity assessment procedures in the region with the aim of facilitating the smooth flow and exchange of goods and services in the region.

For his part, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Marketing, Shaaban Mwinjaka said implementation of international standards and conformity assessment practices provided excellent means of technology transfer to developing countries while assisting in overcoming technology gaps.

“International standards are important in improving our developing countries’ access to international markets and to strengthening ability to implement international trade obligations,” he said.

“Consumers shall have more confidence in products bearing a mark of certificate of conformity that attest to quality, safety or other desirable characteristics,” Mwinjaka said, adding that manufacturers needed to make sure that their products met the requirements specified in the relevant standards.

He said assessing products to see whether they met relevant standards further helped manufacturers to avoid costs of product failures in the market.

According to the Deputy PS, Tanzania had already moved a positive step by actively participating in the process of harmonising regional procedures on conformity assessment in both the East African Community and the Southern Africa Development Community.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Automatic Overdraft Protection: Just Say No

By Jane Bryant Quinn Aug 16, 2010

Just say no, when your bank or credit union asks if you want “courtesy” overdraft protection for purchases made with your debit card. This so-called service damages your finances and handed the banks $37.1 billion in fees last year, Moebs Services reports. Most of that money was drained from the accounts of people living paycheck to paycheck.

New regulations, effective August 15, stopped the lenders from hitting you with debit-card overdraft fees automatically. Now you have to specifically agree to the charges, either when you open an account or by signing up for the program later. But who would agree to these abusive fees if he or she knew all the facts? There are cheaper ways than this one of getting the protection you want.

The automatic overdraft started about a decade ago. Until then, banks turned down debit-card purchases if you didn’t have enough money in your checking account to cover the bill. The same was true if you tried to overdraw your account at an ATM. “Sorry,” the screen said, “you don’t have the scratch.” That’s the way prudent money management is supposed to work.

Then the banks had a Eureka moment. Instead of turning you down, they let you overspend and charged you a “courtesy fee” for letting the transaction go through. Moebs puts the median fee at $27 for every overdraft, even if the bill runs just $1 or $5 over the amount you have in your account. Some banks charge the fee if you’re a penny over. Effectively, you’re getting very short-term credit at effective interest rates that reach the high triple digits.

At the big banks that allow overdrafts, the median fee is $35. They charge another $7 to $36 if you don’t repay the overdraft within a few days, according to a 2010 survey by the Consumer Federation of America. (Citibank never allowed debit-card overdrafts unless you arranged for some sort of backup line. Bank of America recently ended them.)

There are much better ways of getting overdraft protection from banks, which are detailed below. But don’t expect banks to volunteer that information. They’re engaged in aggressive marketing campaigns to sell you on the “courtesy” program that will cost you the most.

In their marketing calls, emails and brochures, they grab you with anecdotes. For example, they warn that — without the program — you might have a debit card refused at the grocery checkout because you’re overdrawn by the cost of a $1.50 tin of tuna. Ooooo, that sounds bad, so you sign up.

Personally, I’d rather put the tuna fish back than pay a $35 overdraft charge.

The tuna fish is the least of it. If you left the grocer and used your debit card for coffee and donuts on the way home, that’s another $35 in overdraft fees. A stop at the drugstore for vitamins and aspirin would cost you another $35. You’ve just racked up $105 in penalties, for minor expenditures that you wouldn’t have made if you’d known about the fees. And you won’t know they were overdrafts until you log into your online account or get a letter or email from the bank.

The banks mislead you by saying things like, “Act now, or your debit card transactions will be denied,” according to Linda Sherry, spokesperson for Consumer Action. “You think you’ll be in trouble if you don’t sign up. They don’t explain that the reason for the denial is that you don’t have the money in your account.”

They also say, “Sign up, if you like the way your account is working now.” Most customers rarely experience overdrafts, so they might accept the program without realizing the size of the fees they’re potentially exposed to.

If you want overdraft protection, and many of us do, there are three cheaper ways of getting it. First, put money into a savings account and link it to your checking account. If you overdraw, the bank will take the needed money out of your savings, charging perhaps $5 for the transfer. Alternatively, sign up for a personal line of credit to be used for overdrafts, or link your checking account to a line of credit on your credit card. These are all better choices than the “courtesy” overdrafts that drill into your wallet.

What if you have no savings and don’t qualify for a line of credit? You’re better off having excessive transactions turned down, says Rebecca Borne, senior policy counsel at the Center for Responsible Lending. Serial overdraft fees just make it harder to pay future bills.

The new regulations cover only debit-card purchases and ATM withdrawals. Banks and credit unions still levy expensive overdraft fees if they honor a check that you wrote for more money than you have in your account. The same is true if you’ve signed up for automatic bill payments and can’t cover the debit when it’s due. To opt out of these fees — and still have protection — you have to call the bank and say that you want one of the three cheaper options instead.

You might think that you can avoid overdrafts by keeping your check register up to date or monitoring your account online. But it’s not that easy. There’s another piece to this story of abuse — and another reason to say no to automatic debit-card overdrafts.

About half of the banks (and most of the big ones) “engineer” the way they cover debits, to make it more likely that you’ll have to pay multiple fees. As a result, you can rack up 10 or more $35 fees in a single day, from a string of small purchases that you thought you had enough money to cover.

A recent court decision, in a class action lawsuit, called this bank practice “gouging and profiteering.” That’s a story for next time.

More on MoneyWatch:

Five Ways the Financial Reform Law Changes Your Money Habits

Financial Reform: A Big Win for Consumers, a Big Loss for Investors

The Dangers of Using a Debit Card

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

U.N. Affirms Human Right to Water

For Immediate Release:
July 29, 2010

Contact: Christina Rossi, 617-447-2540

NEW YORK, NY– In a historic vote, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the human right to water and sanitation, citing concerns that nearly 900 million people worldwide lack access to clean water.

The 192-member Assembly also called on United Nations Member States and international organizations to offer funding, technology and other resources to help developing countries scale up their efforts to provide clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for everyone.

The Assembly resolution, championed by Bolivia with over 40 cosponsors, received 122 votes in favor and zero votes against, while 41 countries abstained from voting. The United States abstained, but issued a statement in support of the overall effort to realize the human right to water.

“The General Assembly vote is a clear victory for the water justice movement and will help ensure that international regulatory bodies and national governments fully recognize the human right to water and begin to work towards fulfilling their obligations with respect to providing clean water and sanitation to those lacking,” said Kelle Louaillier, executive director of Corporate Accountability International.

The text of the resolution expresses deep concern that an estimated 884 million people lack access to safe drinking water and a total of more than 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation. Studies also indicate about 1.5 million children under the age of five die each year because of water- and sanitation-related diseases.

The resolution states that “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation is a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of the right to life.”
The resolution also welcomes the U.N. Human Rights Council’s request that Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations related to access to safe drinking water and sanitation, report annually to the General Assembly as well.
“The right to drinking water and sanitation are independent rights that should be recognized as such,” said Plurinational State of Bolivia Ambassador Pablo Solon. “It is not sufficient to urge States to comply with their human rights obligations relative to access to drinking water and sanitation. Instead, it is necessary to call on states to promote and protect the human right to drinking water and sanitation.”

List of sponsoring countries :
Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, The Plurinational State of Bolivia, Burundi, Central African Republic, Congo, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Eritrea, Fiji, Georgia, Guinea, Haiti, Madagascar, Maldives, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Seychelles, The Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Tuvalu, Uruguay, Vanuatu, The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Yemen.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Consumer Advocacy Group Roots for Secondary Schools Financial Education Project.

The Business Times July.23-29.2010
The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy society (TCAS) has argued various companies to support its effort to raise financial knowledge and capability in secondary schools in the county.

Last month TCAS launched one year project on financial education to secondary schools in Ilala municipality. TCAS is working in collaboration with Consumer International and launched by Anne Fansen Fund, and is undertaking that initiative to support teachers to be able to integrate consumer financial education in their teaching and outdoor activities. This is virtual to boost student’s ability to handle financial issues after they finish school.
TCAS executive director Bernard Kihiyo said in an interview that sake holders such as mobile banking operators, insurance firms, capital market firms and others need to participate in this effort. The mater is immense interest and its merits effort of various stakeholders, he said.

The project aims at boosting students’ financial capability when utilizing financial service in future. Among the benefiting schools are Al-Haramain ,Azania ,Benjamin Mkapa ,Dar es salaam, Jangwani ,Kisutu girls ,Mchanganyiko ,Mnazi Mmoja , Tambaza and Zanaki girls .

Flora Mwaikenda a Jangwani secondary school teacher praised the program as helpful for teachers. Another teacher named Flavian Samari said the program help to eliminate gaps in the curriculum, like the new technology of Online banking (E banking), and Electronic Business (E business).
The current curriculum has inadequate information which needs to be updated for instance the role of Bank Of Tanzania (BoT), noting that training must include how consumers benefit from the presence of BoT, he said. Kihiyo said the teaching kit describes the key knowledge bits, understandings, skills and value in consumer and financial literacy the student can acquire through studies in commerce, booking, economics and accountancy.

That way they would acquire basic skills related to earning, financial discipline, spending, budgeting, saving borrowing, and other basic consumer education. ‘More so there is also lack of advice regarding alignment financial market challenges and the content with the exist curricular in Tanzania education system .Lack of up to date advice to teachers around strategies to introduce financial education or to break the content by logical and sequential steps in the class room is a problem ‘.he said .

There is also a lack of advice around of appropriate students activities and classroom task to enable students to engage with the content and to demonstrate relevant educational out comes with the financial market challenges on the ground ‘ he said .

The training courses also aim to build teachers’ ability to provide an effective form of disseminating financial education so that student can understand and know what is available in consumer’s rights protection.
When students know what to expect from individual level to institution protection and can integrate these skills to issues of relevance to classrooms review on the subject, it would add students understanding, draw student’s interests connecting with future day to day life experience on the area of financial matters.

Another objective is that provide awareness of financial opportunities, to know where to go for help, to make informed choices, and to take effective action to improve their financial well being. This would hence improve understanding managing financial matters and risks, deal effectively with market complexity and take advantage of increased competition toward the building of sustainable finance sector in Tanzania.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Consumers’ Habits and Dental Health

From ''Medical News Today ''

1. What do we mean by dental health?
Dental health refers to all aspects of the health and functioning of our mouth especially the teeth and gums. Apart from working properly to enable us to eat, speak, laugh (look nice), teeth and gums should be free from infection, which can cause dental caries, inflammation of gums, tooth loss and bad breath.

Dental caries, also known as tooth decay or cavities, is the most common disorder affecting the teeth. The main factors controlling the risk of dental caries are oral hygiene, exposure to fluoride and a moderate frequency of consumption of cariogenic foods.

Teeth are also affected by “tooth wear” or erosion. This condition is a normal part of aging where tooth enamel is lost due to exposure from acids other than those produced by plaque.

Attrition and abrasion are other forms of tooth wear. Attrition occurs when teeth are eroded by tooth-to-tooth contact such as teeth grinding. Abrasion is caused by external mechanical factors such as incorrect tooth brushing.

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused by infection and inflammation of the gingiva (gum), the periodontal connective tissues and the alveolar bone. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss.

2. Why is dental health important for general health and well being?
The health of our teeth and mouth are linked to overall health and well-being in a number of ways. The ability to chew and swallow our food is essential for obtaining the nutrients we need for good health. Apart from the impact on nutritional status, poor dental health can also adversely affect speech and self-esteem. Dental diseases impose both financial and social burdens as treatment is costly and both children and adults may miss time from school or work because of dental pain.

3. Individual factors on Dental health
Susceptibility to dental caries varies between individuals and between different teeth within one person’s mouth. The shape of the jaw and oral cavity, tooth structure and the quantity and quality of saliva are all important in determining why some teeth are simply more susceptible to decay than others. For example, some teeth may have pits, small cracks or fissures that allow bacteria and acids to infiltrate more easily. In some cases, the structure of the jaw/dentition renders teeth more difficult to clean or floss.

The quantity and quality of saliva determines the extent to which teeth remineralise. For example relatively fewer caries are generally found in the lower front part of the mouth where teeth are more exposed to saliva.

The type and number of caries-causing bacteria present in the mouth is also relevant. All bacteria can turn carbohydrates into acids but certain families of bacteria such as Streptococci and Lactobacilli are more powerful acid producers. The presence of this type of bacteria in plaque increases the risk of decay. Some people have higher levels of decay-causing bacteria than others due to neglected or inappropriate oral hygiene.

4. Oral hygiene and use of fluoride
In recent years there has been a reduction in the incidence of dental caries in most European countries. An increase in oral hygiene including regular brushing and flossing to remove plaque and the use of fluoridated toothpaste, combined with regular dental check-ups, is thought to be responsible for the improvement.

Fluoride inhibits demineralisation, encourages remineralisation and increases the hardness of the tooth enamel making it less acid soluble. The proper amount of fluoride helps prevent and control caries. Fluoride can be supplied systemically through fluoridated community drinking water, other fluoridated beverages or by supplementation. Alternatively it can be provided topically direct to the tooth surface via toothpaste, mouth rinses, gels and varnishes.

In some countries, salt, milk or other beverages have fluoride added and supplements in the form of tablets or liquid are also available. The level of fluoride in drinking water and food needs to be taken into account when assessing the need for fluoride supplementation. This is especially important in young children under the age of 6 whose teeth are still developing. Excessive intakes of fluoride may eventually cause a mottling of the teeth known as "fluorosis".

Tooth brushing with fluoridated toothpaste is thought to be the most important factor in the observed decline in dental caries in many countries. Brushing and flossing helps concomitantly to the fluoride application to remove bacteria from the mouth and reduce the risk of both caries and periodontal disease.

The regular application of fluoride varnishes by dental practitioners is an established caries preventive measure in many countries. This practice is especially suitable for children at high risk of dental caries.

Regular dental check-ups can help detect and monitor potential problems. Regular plaque control and removal can help diminish the incidence of dental caries. If very little plaque is present, the amount of acid formed is insignificant and decay cannot occur.

Dietary factors

Although the decline in tooth decay in many countries has been largely linked to fluoride exposure and improved dental hygiene, eating habits still affect the risk of tooth decay.

Fermentable carbohydrates
For many years the simplified message to prevent tooth decay was ‘don’t eat too much sugar and sugary foods’. Over the last few decades sugar intake in many countries has remained constant whilst caries levels have declined. This suggests that where appropriate oral hygiene is practiced (i.e. regular tooth brushing using fluoride toothpaste) the role of sugars in tooth decay is less manifest.

Advice to replace sugar with starchy foods to avoid tooth decay is of questionable value. It is now known that any food containing fermentable carbohydrates can contribute to tooth decay. This means that as well as sweets and confectionery, pasta, rice, potato crisps, fruits, and even bread can set the scene for demineralisation. For example, a study testing the acid-producing potential of various starchy foods including pasta, rice and bread, found that these foods produced the same amount of acid as a 10% sucrose (table sugar) solution. Another study found that acid formation in plaque after eating soft bread or potato chips was greater and lasted longer than after eating sucrose.

Food characteristics
The physical characteristics of a food, particularly how much it clings to the teeth also influence the tooth decay equation. Foods that adhere to the teeth increase the risk of tooth decay compared to foods that clear from the mouth quickly. For example crisps and biscuits stick to teeth for longer periods than foods such as caramels and jelly beans. This may be because caramels and jellybeans contain soluble sugars that are washed away more quickly by saliva. The longer carbohydrate-containing foods are around the teeth, the more time bacteria have to produce acid and the greater the chance of demineralisation.

Frequency of eating
There is some debate over the relative importance of the frequency of consuming carbohydrate foods and its link with dental caries. As with the relationship between diet and caries, the link appears to have been weakened with the adoption of good oral hygiene and fluoride.

Each time we nibble a food or sip a drink containing carbohydrates, any decay-causing bacteria present on the teeth start to produce acid and demineralisation commences. This continues for 20 to 30 minutes after eating or drinking, longer if food debris is locally entrapped or remains in the mouth. In between periods of eating and drinking saliva works to neutralise the acids and assist in the process of remineralisation. If food or drink is taken too frequently the tooth enamel does not have a chance to remineralise completely and caries can start to occur. This is why nibbling or sipping continuously throughout the day should be discouraged. The best advice is to limit the consumption of food and drink containing carbohydrates to no more than 6 occasions per day and ensure teeth are brushed with fluoride toothpaste twice a day.

Baby bottle caries or nursing caries is a condition in which infants’ teeth are damaged by prolonged frequent exposure to drinks containing sugars usually via a baby feeding bottle. In particular, problems arise when infants are put to sleep with a bottle of formula or juice. The flow of saliva is greatly reduced during sleep and the sweet liquid pools around the teeth for extended periods of time. This provides the perfect environment for tooth decay to develop.

Protective foods
Some foods help protect against tooth decay. For example hard cheese increases the flow of saliva. Cheese also contains calcium, phosphate and casein, a milk protein, which protects against demineralisation. Finishing a meal with a piece of cheese helps counteract acids produced from carbohydrate foods eaten at the same meal. Milk also contains calcium, phosphate and casein, and the milk sugar, lactose, is less cariogenic (caries causing) than other sugars. Nevertheless caries have been found in children breastfed frequently on demand.

Tooth friendly products
Tooth friendly products are formulated using sweetening ingredients that cannot be fermented by the mouth bacteria. Intense sweeteners such as saccharin, cyclamate, acesulfame-K and aspartame, and sugar substitutes such as isomalt, sorbitol and xylitol fall into this category.

Sugar-free chewing gums use these sweeteners. Both the sweet taste and chewing stimulate salivary flow, which contributes to the prevention of caries. Such chewing gums may also contain minerals such as calcium, phosphate and fluoride to enhance the repair process. Studies have reported that chewing sugar-free gum after a meal accelerates the clearance of food debris and reduces the rate of caries development in children.

Toothfriendly products have to comply with a specific test regimen in order to get ‘safe for teeth’ approval.

What is tooth erosion?
Tooth erosion is the loss of dental hard tissue from the tooth surface by chemical processes, usually acid, without involving plaque bacteria. There are many acidic foods and drinks in our diet and it is possible that in a susceptible individual in certain circumstances, for example, a higher frequency of exposure to acidic foods and/or drinks, erosion may occur. This increased frequency of exposure may override the natural buffering capacity of the mouth, which varies between individuals.

It is advised to avoid frequent nibbling and sipping of acidic foods and drinks throughout the day, restricting their consumption preferably to main meals, and to clean teeth at least twice per day using fluoride toothpaste. It has been suggested that cleaning teeth immediately after consuming an acidic food or drink should be avoided as this can result in physical wear to the teeth resulting from tooth brushing in the presence of acid. Chewing sugar free chewing gum to stimulate salivary secretion following an acid challenge helps neutralize the acid effects.

How can we ensure dental health?
Good oral hygiene and the use of fluoride are now considered the main factors responsible for preventing tooth decay and promoting good oral health. The following advice is also important for keeping teeth caries-free.

• Start dental care early, brush baby’s teeth with a fluoride toothpaste as soon as they appear in the mouth. Do not habitually allow infants to fall asleep while drinking from a bottle of milk, formula, juice or sweetened drink. These sweet liquids pool around the baby’s teeth for long periods of time and can lead to “baby bottle tooth decay”.

• Brush teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. And if possible, clean between the teeth with dental floss or toothpicks once a day. Do not eat after cleaning teeth at bedtime as salivary flow decreases as we sleep.

• Visit the dentist about every 6 months for a check-up. And seek dentist's advice before using aesthetic products (e.g: teeth whiteners) that could have a deleterious effect on the teeth.

• Do not nibble food or sip drinks continuously. Allow time between eating occasions for saliva to neutralise acids and repair the teeth.

• People at high risk from tooth wear and erosion should take special precautions, such as:

o decrease frequency and contact with acidic foods and drinks;

o avoid brushing teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods, drinks, citrus fruits and juices. This allows time for remineralisation to occur.

Fluoride mouthwashes and sugar-free chewing gum may be useful after taking acidic food or drinks as they encourage remineralisation.

• Sugar-free chewing gum is “toothfriendly” as it helps increase saliva flow and clears food debris from the mouth.

Good dental health is the responsibility of individuals, communities and governments although their relative importance varies. For example in some European countries water fluoridation is not yet publicly acceptable and so responsibility for preventing tooth decay lies largely with the individual.

Dental professionals play an essential role in monitoring dental health and treating or preventing any problems. Access to good dental care, including regular check-ups is vital. For some people, especially those from lower socio-economic groups, access to dental professionals may be limited. These groups are important targets for dental health education programmes. Schools also play an important role in educating children on the importance of good oral hygiene and diet.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Women to control $15 trillion of global consumer spend by 2014

United Arab Emirates: Thursday, June 03 - 2010 at 14:00
The financial power of women globally is rising at a faster rate than at any other time in history. According to the World Bank the global earning power of women is forecast to reach $18 trillion by 2014.

At the same time they will control $15 trillion - 70% - of total global consumer spend says the Boston Consulting Group…………….. the story continues; for more details click to below link……

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

AFRICA: Diabetes cases to double by 2030

DAKAR, 28 June 2010 (IRIN) - Without a major breakthrough in preventing and treating diabetes, the number of cases in sub-Saharan Africa is projected to double, reaching 24 million by 2030, according to the Brussels-based International Diabetes Federation (IDF).

A recent study, Diabetes in sub-Saharan Africa, led by the University of Yaoundé in Cameroon and published in the British medical journal, The Lancet, said inadequate donor attention and national prevention programmes were creating a global "public health and socioeconomic time bomb".

Diabetes is caused by inherited genetic factors and lifestyle choices, and manifests when the body does not produce enough insulin, or cannot break down sugar in the blood, according to the World Health Organization. The disease usually requires long-term treatment and can lead to costly and serious health complications, including heart failure.

In the 34 poorest African countries, the cost of diabetes per person is more than double their average income. In 2010 an estimated 6 percent of total mortality in sub-Saharan Africa will probably be caused by diabetes - a three-fold increase in the past 10 years, the IDF noted.

Jean Claude Mbanya, IDF president and the study's lead researcher, told IRIN that diabetes had been misunderstood as a rich country problem, despite medical data compiled by IDF showing that 70 percent of cases were reported in low- and middle-income countries.

"There is also the perception that when diabetes does affect people in low-income countries, it only affects those who are the wealthy elite. This is absolutely not the case - diabetes is devastating for the poor, affecting breadwinners," he told IRIN.

Researchers acknowledged that data was scarce in Africa and estimates were based on a limited number of studies. "More studies would increase our confidence in the numbers, but this does not mean they are wrong ... Most people in Africa who have diabetes are undiagnosed and, therefore, even when statistics are available from health systems, they will always underestimate the size of the problem."

Sophie Sar, 29, was diagnosed with diabetes in Dakar, capital of Senegal, when she was nine years old. Doctors prescribed insulin, the main anti-diabetic drug, three times a day, costing her almost US$3 per dose. "Every penny I earn as a hairdresser goes to insulin," she told IRIN.

She earns around $6 a day if she has three clients; when she falls short, an uncle lends her money. Her medically approved diet is unaffordable: "We eat mostly rice here in Senegal, but I can only have a few cups of it a day. I am supposed to eat more vegetables but they are so much more expensive."

The authors call for diabetes treatment to be funded in the same way as HIV/AIDS drugs are, along with "support for delivery mechanisms and chronic disease education and care models".

Also needed are "socio-culturally appropriate health promotion campaigns" to address health beliefs in African, mostly rural, settings, that raise the risk of diabetes – such as obesity being a sign of "good living", and a preference for foods with a high saturated fat content, as well as improved access to care and affordable treatment.

"Late diagnosis of diabetes, coupled with inequalities in access to major anti-diabetes drugs ... leads to early presentation of diabetic complications and premature deaths," the study noted.

"HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis are important conditions, but they are not the only conditions," IDF's Mbanya told IRIN, questioning donor spending priorities that appeared to overlook "chronic non-communicable diseases", or non-infectious diseases requiring long-term treatment.

According to UNAIDS, 6 percent of patients infected with HIV died in 2008 - roughly the same percentage of global patient deaths IDF estimates will be caused by diabetes in 2010.



Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Compliment from one of the stakeholders on Financial Education in Tanzania

From: Emilian Busara

Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2010 12:11 AM
To: ''
Subject: Financial Skills Project in Tanzania

Dear colleagues,

I read an interesting article from Business Times newspaper, about financial skills project in Tanzania , in collaboration with Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society. (TCAS). I also read it from you website. I missed email address of TCAS but please forward this message to them in case you have their email address. They are doing a good job by setting such an initiative in this lovely country of Tanzania .

In that regard, I would like to congratulate you -Consumers International, (Anne Fransen Fund and TCAS) for initiating such a wonder financial capacity building project. As an accountant, administrator and stock investor, I feel that such a project may help by setting the right financial skills at the secondary level.

I would like to bring to your attention that I authored a Kiswahili book about cultivating a culture of saving and investing for financial and economic prosperity (Wekeza Akiba – Jifunze Kuweka Akiba na Kuwekeza Ufanikiwe Kiuchumi na Kifedha). Details and book cover are attached.

Given that we are sharing same vision and mission in promoting financial education in our country, I wonder if you would have time to read and comment and see if such book could be an instrumental to educating Tanzanians and East African about key financial aspect.

Best regards

Emilian Busara, CPA.,MBA.

Director of Finance and Administration


Plot No. 277 Chato Street , Regent Estates

P O Box 105410
Dar es Salaam


The Business Times Reporter

Friday; June 25th-July.1st.2010

A ONE-year project to raise the financial knowledge and capability for ten secondary schools in Ilala municipality in Dar-es-salaam was flagged off last month. The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS), working in collaboration with Consumers International and Banked by the Anne Fransen Fund is undertaking that initiative to support teachers to be able to integrate consumer financial education in their teaching and outdoor activities to boost students’ ability to handle financial issues.
The picture above shows teachers following the session

The project is geared to impart teachers with the necessary consumer financial education topics and use this acquired skill by imparting it to students. That would make those leaving secondary school to be capable of handling matters, thus literate enough to participate in initiatives involving financial opportunities. They need to know where to go for help and to make informed choices, project officials said.

Bernard Kihiyo, executive director for TCAS, said in an interview last week that the project aims to improve students’ and teachers’ financial well being, by a better understanding and ability to manage risks, dealing with market complexity and increased credit sector competition. “That would help them to take part in building a sustainable finance sector in the country”, he said.

The project, ‘Teaching for financial education’, will encourage financial education in the selected school as entry point across the country, where it will also enable the recognition of well performing teachers, students and schools, he said.

The initiative challenges youth to take control of their financial future by learning more about personal finance, as well as teachers and schools to incorporate vital information and topics into day to day education activities. “The teaching kit describes key knowledge, understanding, skills and values in consumer and financial literacy that students can acquire through studies in commerce, bookkeeping, economics, and accounts”. The director noted that.

Those benefiting from the project are Al-Haramain secondary school, Azania secondary school, Benjamin Mkapa secondary school, Dar es salaam secondary school, Jangwani secondary school, Kisutu girls’ secondary school, Mchanganyiko secondary school, Mnazi Mmoja secondary school, Tambaza secondary school and Zanaki girls secondary school.

Kihiyo said that the initiatives is basically aimed at developing skills in financial education and build on consumer financial literacy which is still low in the country compared with other countries in the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community(SADC).

The director, who heads Parasol Real Estate & Developer Agent Ltd, said that there is growing concern on violations of consumer rights, rising consumer debt, reduced household savings, lower Pension and retirement coverage.

There is also a problem of low levels of financial literacy and basic skills, negative charges in the marketing and delivery of financial services with increased reliance on alternative financial services under informal systems, he said.

Growing concern was also being registered on changes in the delivery of government services and benefits, he said, arguing that all these features show the rising importance of the provision of financial education. “This would help to increase the financial capability of consumers, in this case secondary school students”, he further noted.

On the left is a group picture of teachers participated on the two days training

Saturday, May 8, 2010


By Jehovaness Zacharia- LLB (Hon) UDSM -TCAS Program Officer

Past years till 1980s, Tanzanians communicated through letters and messengers, almost every office had a messenger who was there to be sent from one office to another, staff collogues could communicate through short written messages known as memos. From memo we developed and start using desktop phones. Thanks to globalization which brought us development including cellular phones which has became the cheapest mean of communication that is easier and faster.

This has well developed business sectors whereby one can easily make communications wherever he is and move on the business. It has even go further to roaming service whereupon cross boarders businessmen who can move from Tanzania to other countries with the same chip card and recharge with the local vouchers.

Increase on the number of service providers in this sector has necessitated intensive competition amongst players resulting to decrease on tariff charges. But…there is a say that, there is no free lunch, that is to say when one gives you something freely, it is not free indeed, there must be the other way s/he is going to get back whatever he has spent on you. Practice shows that what s/he gets back is in most cases greater than what he had spent on you.

In capitalism and trade liberalization, “predatory pricing” is not a new phenomenon. And it has always been the duty of the government-Competition Commission, Service providers and Civil Societies to ensure that there are healthy checks and balances and fair competition not to amount to malpractices. The enactment of Fair Competition Act 2003 (FCA) which put in place Fair Competition Commission (FCC) put in place the checks and balances for Tanzania.

Currently, all telecommunication companies struggle to conquer the market share, we have witness amazing lower prices never experience before. It started from 30Tshs to 10Tshs, 6Tsh per sec to 3Tsh to 1Tsh per sec few days ago we heard 0.50Tsh per second, and now enjoying below 25cents per second.

We may all be happy with the astounding offers and forget to think of our future as consumers of these important services which might be at stake. One may view this in form of predatory pricing or cartel which is a form of anti-competitive arrangement that occurs when a group of firms or companies agree to fix prices, shape geographic markets between themselves or jointly determine other market experience.

But due to lack of experience in combating predatory and cartel activities in most of developing countries Tanzania being among them, most of predatory and cartel activities go un-noticed. Under these practices, one or few service providers may sacrifice to go below company’s overhead costs for a certain period whereby, during this time, the dominant firm will keep surviving while others will not and therefore withdraw themselves out of the market as they cannot sustain the predatory pricing war.

Similar situation was experienced by Namibians who in couple of years back were celebrating the lowest cement price in history. The cement market dominancy were between Holcim, a South African company and Cheetah a Brazilian which imported cement from Brazil with the intention of building cement industry in near future.

When Cheetah got into market the price of 50kg cement bag was US8$, soon it went down to US4.5$per 50kg bag, in 2006, it went down to US3.5$per 50kg bag. At the end of the same year Cheetah could not sustain its activities in Namibia and ended its operation whereas Holcim become the sole cement provider whereby they later made an extraordinary change of price from USD 3.5 to US9.5$ per 50kg bag. Therefore Tanzania Consumers and all other key stakeholders including TCRA and FCC need to be on alert as this shouldn’t be the case on telecommunication industry, since not all what glitters is gold.

With the ongoing so called “promotions” by some of the telecommunication companies in Tanzania, a thorough immediate check on is required to ensure that they do not amount to go below recovering their overhead cost or ending up with anti-competitive practices. TCAS therefore calls upon professionals, academicians and relevant government organs to check on this and ensure service provider survival and consumer protection guaranteed.

Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) wouldn’t wish to see incumbent operators with dominant market position are pushing other mobile phone companies out of the market and later the hunter (consumer) turns to be the hunted. The more the players in the market the better as it gives consumers a wide range of choices.

World Economic Forum for Africa : any real, long-term gains for Africa, Tanzania?

Friday, 07 May 2010 08:46
TODAY, May 7, 2010, one of the more important events in Tanzania's post-Independence history comes to a close in the nation's de facto capital and commercial metropolis Dar es Salaam. For three days beginning May 5, Tanzania was the cynosure of world attention as the capital bustled with activity generated by the 20th World Economic Forum for Africa (WEF-Africa), the first to be staged in the region.

Most of the past 19 events were staged in the Republic of South Africa. This latest event brought together about 1,000 participants from 85 different countries of the world to the scenic Mlimani City Business Complex on the outskirts of sprawling Dar es Salaam where they deliberated upon, and rethought, Africa's social and economic growth strategy.

The Forum was graced by a myriad dignitaries who included a goodly dozen Heads of State and/or Government, as well as scores of public officials and world business leaders of considerable renown.

The event was organised by WEF, a task in which it was ably partnered by – among others – ABB, CITI, ArcelorMittal, CISCO, Dow's, KPMG, Ernst & Young, Microsoft, HP and UNILEVER.

It is still very much early days yet to know with much certitude what impact the Forum will have upon Africa and its nearly-one-billion people – or upon Tanzania and its 44 million population...

But, activists are already saying that the country will not particularly benefit from this Forum – or, indeed any other for a in the foreseeable future, citing a number of reasons for that gloomy view.

For starters, they glumly note that, more than 40 years after the 'Mother WEF' was launched in Davos, Switzerland – and 20 years after the African Edition of the event was introduced – Tanzania is yet to make its mark upon the WEF Map!

Not a single company from Tanzania is among the 300 or so leading companies from over 50 countries which have been formally admitted into the WEF fold as 'family' of the first water!

The selection criteria for WEF membership are yet to be attained by any company in Tanzania. For instance, to be eligible for consideration, a company must register – and be seen to register – an “annual growth rate exceeding industry-and-regional average by 15 per cent; minimum turnover of between US$100 million and US$5 billion (depending on the industry); demonstrated growth potential, capacity and intent to build a global business; as well as exemplary executive leadership.”

WEF membership 'earns' a company the right to enjoy the following opportunities and benefits... “New business opportunities across industries and regions from weak and dependent economies such as Tanzania; networking with the world’s leading business and policy experts; peer-to-peer collaboration and experience exchange, as well as industry-specific and cross-industry knowledge sharing.”

Commenting on the matter, the chairman of the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS), Daimon Mwakyembe, wondered “how many Tanzanian firms can be classified into the above criteria – especially with regard to turnover?

“How well-prepared are Tanzanian companies to use the world market potentials that are available...? Or, how vulnerable is Tanzania to being used by other global industries with maximum quest to expand? How prepared are Tanzanians, and Tanzanian firms, in this? Are there any deliberate efforts to empower them?”

Mwakyembe said “there must be deliberate efforts in ten-twenty years to come to have self-made Tanzanian billionaires in US dollars, so as to enable them enter into joint ventures in Tanzania and all over the world... This is what WEF is all about!”

Noting that “deliberate moves must be made to have a stable middle class with a lifestyle, education levels and social etiquette with strong ethical consumerism in mind,” Mwakyembe said “this culture – if it can adopted – could improve the quality of our people, build our brand and have our billionaires in USD who can drive the world economy as per 'World Economic Forum' visionary principals... But, as of now, Tanzania is here only to provide new business opportunities for the existing WEF members!”

But, this is not for lack of natural endowments, the Chairman stated...

“Tanzania has quite a unique number of strong assets to be taken as comparative advantage vis-a-vis other countries in Africa and the world,” Mwakyembe says.

“Tanzania is said to have peace and stability; abundant natural resources; stable macroeconomic performance; a good fiscal regime – and, lately, improved infrastructure facilities connecting all parts of Tanzania...

“The three major ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mtwara function as hubs for traffic emanating from, and destined to, the landlocked neighbouring countries of Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Zambia, Malawi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC),” he said.

Moreover, “Tanzania is not a unique investment destination without its own resources... How best can these resources be tapped and used for the benefit of Tanzanians – and investors in general?

“This is purely a policy issue. I do advise our Government to make a provision for investors to partner with Tanzanians – both individuals and companies – in joint ventures. The Government and private sector companies need to mobilize their own internal resources to stimulate short- and long-term development of our resources,” he stressed.

For his part, the executive director of the Consumer Society (TCAS), Bernard Kihiyo, said “Tanzania beyond WEF should be changing its mindset regarding the responsibility and ownership of our own development.

“The situation we have adopted for now will not get us anywhere. Lack of self-confidence is apparently one of the greatest problems facing Tanzanians today. A survey conducted upon one thousand students from five Tanzanian Universities sought to establish their most difficult personal problem.

“Eighty five per cent listed 'lack of confidence' as the greatest stumbling block for them. It can safely be assumed that the case is the same for an equally large proportion of the general population,” Kihiyo stated.

“Everywhere you go, you encounter people – be they politicians, workers, farmers, men and women – who are inwardly afraid; who shrink from life; who suffer from a deep sense of inadequacy and insecurity; who doubt their own powers and capacity. Deep within themselves, they mistrust their ability to meet responsibilities – or to grasp opportunities!”

An economist by profession, Kihiyo said “Tanzanians are always beset by the vague and sinister fear that something is not going to be quite right. They don’t believe they have it in them to be what they what to be – and, so, they try to make themselves content with something less than that of which they are capable... And in most cases, such frustration of powerlessness is unnecessary.”

According to Kihiyo, “Tanzania’s entire education system, as well as Government institutions, civil societies and politicians, should work toward building confidence in Tanzanians. The Government should stop preaching the 'dependence approach' so as to remove the growing dependency attitude, overcome the inadequacy attitude, avoid superficial solutions, and work on speed and quantitative expansion while ignoring quality!

“To that end, the government will have to work with strategic partners such as WEF – but only for stronger reasons i.e. technology transfer, cross-industry knowledge sharing and the like.

“We have to seriously work on promoting intellectual engagement and innovation, to catalyze links between industry and universities which intend to help expand industry through creative innovation, to support all self-groomed talents and innovation...

“This is so as to provide a soul of the nation’s advancement and the everlasting driving power of national prosperity. We don’t have this for now; it might sound childish... But it is very important for Tanzania in order to be competitive,” he concluded


Thursday, March 18, 2010

How Care-free Attitude is Source of Consumer Woes

Speak no evil, How unquestioning attitude of Tanzania consumers is source of shoddy services
By Sharifa Kalokola

When Nicodemus Masanji, 50, discovered that he had bought a fake pesticide for his crops, he felt hopeless. For weeks, he watched helplessly as his once fertile three-acre cotton field in Geita District was reduced to worthless grassland.

“I don’t understand what really happened because it was the same pesticide that I have been using for years, except that this time it worked against me,” says Masanji. A month before he bought the pesticide at a local dealership last year, he had a promising cotton yield.

But all was gone in a flash. “The pesticide was fake, but there was nothing I could do about it,” notes the former farmer, who is now selling second hand clothes and Chinese sandals he orders from Kariakoo.

Masanji is disillusioned with the process of seeking recourse against the trader for the losses he incurred. Like the majority of Tanzanian consumers, he sees his case as something “that happens”. He argues: “Even if I were to complain, who would listen to me? Going to court will waste your time and money.”

A recent study conducted by the Tanzania Consumer Advocacy society (TCAS) shows that over 90 per cent of Tanzanians are not aware of their consumer rights.

The majority of the victims cited in the study did not know they had the legal right to demand compensation for market abuses.

And according to the study that was conducted in five regions - Kilimanjaro, Dar es Salaam, Coast, Arusha and Mwanza – most of the affected are women.

“Many people do not know when their consumer rights are violated, and the few who seem to understand do not file complaints against their service providers with relevant authorities,” Bernard Kihiyo the Executive Director of TCAS says.

The study is part of a baseline survey aimed at assessing the extent of the problem, he adds, noting that there are plans to establish a non-governmental organisation to protect consumers from shoddy services, as well as fake and risky products.

Uncritical “We have a lot of work to do to convince local consumers to know their rights, and seek recourse with relevant authorities when their rights have been violated,” he says.

Generally, the idea of complaining against shoddy services or when one discovers that they have bought a fake or dangerous product is not common among local consumers.

“A lot of people tend to be uncritical when it comes to what kind of service or product they get from a supplier,” says Kihiyo. The problem is rampant in the hospitality sector, where most hotels tend to take advantage of ‘uncomplaining customers’ to get away with shoddy services.

“It begins with the belief among too many people that they are at the mercy of providers of services – ironically, here the supplier is given the status of benefactor, or a boss who is supposed to be feared,” observes Andrew Chove, a Dar es Salaam hotel manager.

Several cases of people who are hospitalised after consuming toxic foods or buying fake or expired drugs remain with the victims.

In January this year, over 40 people from two families were admitted to Maweni hospital in Kigoma Region after eating poisoned food. They told the police that they started feeling unwell after having ‘ugali’ for lunch.

Both families had earlier bought maize flour from the same shop. The incident brought back memories of the tragedy that struck Kagunga Village in the same region 10 years ago when 10 people died after eating ugali prepared from poisonous cassava flour. ‘Talking to deaf ears’

There are more similar cases that go unreported. Ms Blandina Ilas, a chef with a Dar es Salaam hotel, says she is still recovering from the side effects of a prescribed malaria drug she bought from a local hospital pharmacy but was not told it contained sulphur, which she is allergic to.

“What I fail to understand is that I bought this from a pharmacy in the same hospital that I had been admitted, and these people could not read the prescription or medical report to see what allergies I have,” says the 32-year-old.

However, she didn’t report the case or file a complaint, even after she was readmitted to the same institution and paid extra costs.

“I don’t believe complaining would have changed much because in most cases you will be talking to deaf ears, and they usually do nothing,” she says.

But consumer rights group, TCAS, says the problem is not simply with providers of services. “When a case is presented to us we fight for the consumer, but we have noted that people don’t complain even in worst-case situations,” notes Mr Kihiyo.

In addition, the TCAS boss blames widespread complacency among Tanzanian consumers on socialism.

According to him, nobody would dare complain against shoddy services during the era of socialism because the government was the sole supplier and distributors of most goods and services.

“Everything was under state control, and it was inconceivable for an ordinary person to complain against a government service provider; apparently, the majority Tanzanians are yet to shed this culture in this free market economy.”

But Dr Semboja Haji, an economic researcher at the University of Dar es Salaam, does not see it that way. He blames the complacency on lack of competition in several sectors. “The problem of consumers fearing to speak out and demanding their rights is not just in Tanzania, but also in many poor nations,” he says, adding:

“We still have fewer service providers in many areas compared to the high number of consumers, who are mostly uneducated.” Corroborating, Dr Fortunatus Sunghwa, a laboratory scientist who lived in Japan for two years, says in the developed world where competition is high “the consumer’s voice is heard.”

“The services there are almost perfect, except that sometimes you encounter long queues on two open counters instead of, say, five available.” A programme officer with TCAS, Jehovaness Zacharia, attributes the “see no evil, say no evil” attitude among most local consumers to their “quest for cheap products and services.”

“Most people want to buy the cheapest thing they can lay their hands on, and at the end it doesn’t come that cheap,” she notes. However, she says the consumer body will use this year’s World Consumer Rights Day tomorrow (March 15), to highlight the rights of consumers; lobby support for those rights to be respected and protected and provides a forum for exposing the market abuses and social
injustices, which undermine those rights.

“This year, our theme is: 'Our Money, Our Rights', and the message we want people to get is that they have both the right to go for cheaper items and to bring up any form of market abuse that undermines their rights,” she says.

Consumer Rights Directive might not feature UK right to reject, says Reding

OUT-LAW News, 15/03/2010
The European Commissioner's consumer law chief has promised a 'breakthrough' on plans for a new Europe-wide consumer law but has said that existing UK rights cannot be safeguarded.

The Commission's proposed Consumer Rights Directive faced opposition in the UK because the process of harmonising law across the EU actually reduced UK consumers' rights to reject goods.

Vivian Reding, EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, who is responsible for consumer law, said that she plans to resurrect the Directive.

"This legislation needs to be the cornerstone for consumer protection in the Single Market in the coming years," she said. "It is therefore my priority to work with the European Parliament and Member State governments to make a breakthrough on this important legislation. The proposed law must balance businesses' need for legal certainty with a guarantee for the highest level of consumer protection."

eding said that while she would address the problem of an erosion of consumer rights in some countries, such as the UK, it may not be possible to protect existing rights, and that the remedies for defective goods that UK consumers are guaranteed might not form a part of an eventual EU-wide law.

"The relationship between the consumer remedies and the national contract law remedies is not always clear," she said. "In the UK, there is a right to reject a product. In France, consumers can have a guarantee for hidden defects in a product. These are typical examples. I do not yet know whether the prospect of achieving full harmonisation of all the remedies for defective products is realistic."

"Full harmonisation of these cross-border rights means that EU countries may have to adjust some national rules that go further than the proposal," she said. "This has led to concerns among Member States, consumer organisations and European Parliament members that the level of protection would decline and that consumers would be worse off. There are also concerns that full harmonisation makes consumer protection inflexible and curtails the national legislators' ability to react quickly and appropriately to new market developments."

"These are legitimate concerns, and I will address them. In my view, consistently basing the proposal on the most stringent rules that already exist in the 27 Member States is not necessarily the most proportionate way to help consumers," she said.
Reding said that one way to address the complex issues would be to introduce two-tier regulation, differentiating between different kinds of consumer sales.

"I am … going to look at whether the harmonisation in the Commission's 2008 proposal is sufficiently targeted towards those issues that have the most benefit from a Single Market point of view," she said. "A possibility could be to go for fully harmonised rules on distance contracts and allow diverging national rules for face-to-face contracts. Workable fully harmonised rules for the online world could then pave the way for more harmonisation for off-line contracts at a later stage."

The Directive which Reding wants to put back on the political negotiating table was controversial in the UK and is still opposed by UK consumer rights body Consumer Focus.

"Hopefully it won’t progress in anything like its current form," Lola Bello, senior policy advocate at Consumer Focus, said last month. "Along with other nations with strong consumer rights, the UK has been lobbying hard for changes to this Directive."

Government legal reform bodies the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission were asked to examine the issue last year and advised the Government to oppose the abolition of the right to reject.

UK Market Abuse “Unacceptably High”, Says Financial Watchdog Chief

Jennifer Thompson
Hector Sants, chief executive of the Financial Services Authority (FSA), has said that market abuse in the financial services sector is at an “unacceptably high level.”

Although he said that there was no evidence abuse was worse in the UK than in other major financial centres, he called for more action in tackling the problems of insider dealing and other examples of malpractice.

"Our benchmark should seek to have a market that participants really believe to be clean and fair," Mr Sants told the Sunday Telegraph. "I think that if you were to ask the market participants, they would share my view that there is too much market abuse," the former investment banker added.

The FSA is set to increase its workforce with an extra 460 members of staff, taking the total number to 3,700. The increase in employees, whose roles are expected to be elaborated on in an FSA strategy paper later this week, underlines the more proactive role the organization wishes to play in regulating the UK financial services industry.

Last week it announced the successful prosecution of a former employee at stockbroker Cazenove who was found guilty of insider dealing. An investment banker and his wife were today charged with insider dealing with the FSA currently seeking the extradition of a third suspect in the French overseas territory of Mayotte.

Source; - - United Kingdom

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Know Your Consumer Rights: 10 Top Tips

Posted by Ally Seleman Goronya
The following are 10 top tips when shopping
1. Not my style: You might be surprised to learn that, if you buy something in a shop, you do not have the right to a refund if you later decide you do not like it.

2. Six month rule: It’s worth being aware that if you make a claim for the repair or replacement of faulty goods within six months of purchasing them, it is actually up to the retailer to prove the item was not faulty when it was originally sold to you.

3. No receipt required: Contrary to popular belief, you do not actually need a receipt to obtain a refund for faulty goods. What you are likely to need is proof of purchase – but a bank statement, cheque stub or credit card slip should be sufficient.

4. Online is fine: If you buy goods over the internet, you have the right to a seven-day ‘cooling off period’ from the date they are received. You can send your items back in return for a full refund, no matter why you have rejected them – and even if it’s because you have simply changed your mind.

5. Returning items to a retailer: When you buy something, your ‘contract’ is always with the retailer, not the manufacturer. Therefore, you should always take a faulty item back to the shop where you originally purchased it.

6. Fit for purpose: Any goods you buy from a retailer should be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. If they are not, you are legally entitled to claim for a refund, repair or replacement.
7. Act quickly: If your goods are faulty and you wish to claim a full refund, you must return them to the retailer within a reasonable period of time.

8. Smarter sales shopping: You are not entitled to a refund on sale goods if you were made aware by the retailer that the goods were faulty or if the fault you are concerned about was obvious at the time of purchase. Also, if you decide you no longer like the goods, you are not entitled to a refund.

9. Nearly new: If you buy ‘nearly new’ second hand items, your rights to a refund, repair or replacement are similar to those you would have for new goods. However, the law will not expect second hand goods to be of the same quality as brand new ones.

10. Stick up for your rights: If a retailer is failing to acknowledge or respond to your consumer rights and you live in England or Wales, you can file a claim against with the small claims court (provided your claim is for under £5,000).

Source; rights guides