Zanzibar on Tuesday embarked on its transformation into a free port in a move aimed at boosting economic activity in Tanzania's semi-autonomous Indian Ocean islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.
Inaugurating the project, Zanzibar President Salmin Amour said the project was designed to diversify the islands' economy that had for centuries depended on cloves and spices. "The free port is part of our struggle to better the life of the people and to revive our economy, following the fall of clove prices in the world markets," Amour said.
Zanzibar government officials told AFP on Tuesday that many sub-Saharan countries are expected to route their cargo through the port on its completion.
Free Port Authority Director General Ahmed Sheikh said that cargo routed through the port was expected to reach 30,380 containers a year, up from the present 7,300 containers. "This means the project, growing at an average 4.8 percent a year, can generate a minimum of $84 million a year," Amour said, pointing out that the project would contribute substantially to the economy of the twin-islands.
Amour said that turning Zanzibar into a tax haven was not aimed at undermining economies of the neighbouring countries, including Kenya and mainland Tanzania.
"We just want to transform Zanzibar into another Dubai. We also hope that several investors will come from the Gulf states," said Amour, who recently visited the Gulf state of Oman. - (AFP)
© Agence France Presse 2000
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