The Role of State-owned Enterprises in Industrialization in Tanzania: Lessons from East Asian Economies

Inspired by the success of countries in East Asia, the Government of Tanzania is aggressively pursuing industrialization as a strategy to accelerate socio-economic development, create jobs and substantially reduce poverty. Notably, many economies in that region achieved a high level of industrialization and economic transformation through the participation of a large state-owned enterprises (SOEs) sector. This leads to the question: What role can SOEs play to support industrialization in Tanzania? To stimulate and exchange views on this critical issue, the UONGOZI Institute in collaboration with the Office of the Treasury Registrar within the Ministry of Finance and Planning convened a roundtable policy forum in July 2018. This brief summarizes the key messages and policy recommendations from the meeting. In particular, delegates advised that, for SOEs to contribute meaningfully to industrialization in Tanzania, their role within the country’s current development context needs to be re-thought and necessary reforms implemented, including formulating policy guidelines to address the prevailing governance and operational challenges affecting SOEs’ performance.