Tanzania, Africa’s second biggest sunflower seeds producer, currently faces a large deficit in the production of edible oil, forcing it to depend on imports to meet growing demand and seek investors in the edible oil sector to tame its huge import bill, which stands at $294 million.
While the government has imposed duties on imports, including East African Community member states, Tanzania has failed to attract investors, resulting in frequent shortages of cooking oil and exorbitant retail prices.
The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) now seeks investments in edible oil processing to help bridge a supply gap of 320,000 tonnes.
According to the TIC, Tanzania’s annual demand for edible oil stands at 500,000 tonnes, whereas the country can supply only 180,000 tonnes, forcing it to import 320,000 tonnes annually.
With demand forecast to increase from 500,000 to 700,000 tonnes by 2030, Tanzania guarantees a growing market for investors for the foreseeable future.
The major sources of edible oil in Tanzania are sunflower, palm, groundnuts, sesame, soya beans and cotton. Oilseeds are produced in almost all regions in Tanzania.
Tanzania accounts for 35 per cent of the continent’s output after South Africa, which accounts for 46 per cent.
The country seeks investors at a time when a protracted standoff with other EAC members, particularly Kenya, over its duty imposition on regional imports remains unresolved.
A 35 per cent import duty on semi-refined and double refined edible oil and a 25 per cent import duty on crude palm oil and another 25 per cent on other forms of crude edible oils have been imposed so far.