Tanzanian Billionaire Sees Business Booming Under New President

Private business in Tanzania is set to expand rapidly as President Samia Hassan moves to reassure investors and improve the nation’s operating environment, according to billionaire Mohammed Dewji.

Dewji expects MeTL, the industrial conglomerate he owns, to ramp up sisal output as it targets becoming the world’s largest producer of the fiber-yielding plant that’s used to make rope, paper and carpets. MeTL accounts for 35% of the East African nation’s output, according to information on its website.

Dewji joins other investors, including Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, in hailing the president’s determination to spur business. Hassan assumed office in March after the death of ex-President John Magufuli, who was credited with ramping up government spending on railways, ports, roads, power and health centers -- but criticized for stifling private investment.

“I think our new president just wants to create a conducive environment so that we invest, we create jobs, and we pay taxes,” Dewji said in an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum. “Infrastructure projects are going to continue. But in the past the government was more involved in trying to do business.”

Dewji, whose net worth is estimated at $1.6 billion by Forbes, is the chief executive officer of MeTL. The group, with about 31,000 workers, has operations in textiles, sisal, flour milling, beverages and edible oils in southern and central Africa. MeTL forecasts its sisal output will jump about 20% to 12,000 tons next year.

Investors have improved their outlook on Tanzania since Hassan took over and directed her administration to fast-track delayed investments. They include a $30 billion liquefied natural gas project involving Equinor ASA, and a $3 billion joint venture with a Chinese company to develop an iron-ore and coal mine.

Tanzania, like the rest of Africa, has opportunities in industries including agriculture, minerals and infrastructure that investors will find lucrative, Dewji said. “What Africa needs is capital, and there are numerous opportunities,” he said.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.