Tanzania offers to lease islands

MWANZA, Tanzania – The government is finalizing the evaluation of two bidders selected to invest on the Indian Ocean islands close to Dar es Salaam city.The selected companies are Landmark Hotels and Prime Time Promotions.

The move by the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserves (DMR) to lease the islands is to boost tourism. The islands have for many years remained deserted.

DMR manages a group of marine wildlife reserves in Tanzania, situated off the coast of Tanzania. The reserve system consists of nine uninhabited islands of Bongoyo, Mbudya, Pangavini and Fungu Yasini.

Others are Makatumbe, Sinda and Kendwa Island. But to start with investors would take over Mbudya, Bongoyo and Sinda islands.

DMR provides protection for several important tropical ecosystems; coral reefs, mangroves and sea-grass beds.

According to DMR’s Head of Tourism Services Dept, Idelfonce Masekesa an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been conducted and upon completion it would be sent to the National Environmental Management Council (NEMC).

“If the EIA will be accepted, NEMC would issue a certificate. Upon issuing the certificate, the Attorney General would also have a look and give advice on the contract to be entered between the government and investors,” Masekesa said.

He said, the approval would be given by the minister responsible for natural resources and tourism—for that matter, Lazaro Nyalandu.

Masekesa said apart from those islands, DMR has also identified six areas for investments along Mtwara region coastline, Southern Tanzania. “Already two areas have got investors, while four of them are open for investors when time is ripe,” he said.

Meanwhile the government is revising the law to include fresh water islands.

“We are in a process to review the Act that established DMR, instead of relying on Indian Ocean islands, we are now planning to include fresh water islands on Lake Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa,” he said.

Islands in both the Indian Ocean and the lakes have been idle in tourism for many years.

Previous government decisions may also been contributed to the delay in investments, because in early 1960s the Kawawa Commission recommended among other things to restrict investors from islands for security concerns.

Mbudya Island is an uninhabited island in Tanzania, north of the country’s capital city, Dar es Salaam.

The island lies close to the beach resort and fishing community of Kunduchi and is reachable by means of a 20-minute motorboat ride crossing from the mainland.

It is therefore a popular daytrip for both tourists and Tanzanian residents alike, serving as a location for a variety of leisure activities, including snorkelling, sunbathing and hiking.

Bongoyo Island is an uninhabited island in Tanzania, situated 2.5km north of Dar es Salaam.

It is the most frequently visited island of the Dar es Salaam Marine Reserve (DMR) and a popular daytrip for both tourists and Tanzanian residents alike for snorkelling and sunbathing.

The Dar es Salaam Marine Reserves were first established under the Fisheries Act of 1970 and in 1998 were transferred to the Marine Parks and Reserves (MPRs), Act No. 29 of 1994.

Over recent years unregulated tourist activities has led to degradation within the reserves.

Concerns have been raised that nearby fishing communities of Kunduchi, Ununio and Msasani in Dar es Salaam use dynamite fishing and illegal fishing gear that led into decline in fish catches and damaging coral reefs.

By Andrew Zablon, Monday, August 18th, 2014