Foreign investors are showing increased interest in Tanzania’s Mtwara Freeport Zone ahead of gas and oil exploration activities next year.
Already, the Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) and the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) have invited bids for leasing plots of between 6,200 square metres and 15,900 square metres area earmarked for oil and gas firms supply base.
EPZA research and planning manager James Maziku described the response to the invitation so far as positive.
“Many companies have shown interest to invest in the (Mtwara Freeport) zone — it’s an indication that investors are eager to operate in the area,” he said, noting that the respective authorities will meet soon to evaluate applications.
The Special Economic Zone Act 2006 and the EAC Customs Union (Freeport Operations Regulations) stipulate that companies seeking to undertake operations that provide services to oil exploration and gas extraction companies, should be limited to warehousing and storage, as well as labeling, packaging and repacking; sorting, grading, cleaning and mixing; breaking bulky; simple assembly and grouping of packages.
Gas-rich but underdeveloped Mtwara region has earmarked about 110 hectares for the Free Port Zone, with the first phase of the EPZA/TPA joint project on 10 hectares scheduled to operate as an oil and gas supply base.
According to EPZA infrastructure development manager Kenneth Haule, Mtwara is attractive for its depth as it allows bigger ships to anchor.
“The zone is also at a central location, meaning investors would be able to export oil and gas to Mombasa (Kenya), Mozambique, Zambia and other neighbouring countries,” he said.
Investors are already flocking to the southern region to invest in manufacturing plants. Deep sea exploration is in progress by multinational companies —Petrobras, British Gas and Orphir, making it inevitable to have a logistical centre to supply materials and services to the companies for efficient operations.