Tanzania is one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies with a GDP projected to increase by 5.7% year-on-year in 2023. We had the chance to visit Tanzania’s mainland and Zanzibar, an island off the coast of Tanzania that is becoming an increasingly popular destination for tourism, start-up ecosystem, and tech cities.
In this first part of our visit, we will cover Zanzibar, some key events that happened during our stay, and a glimpse of the ecosystem that makes this archipelago a sought-after destination for both business and leisure.
Africa Regenerative Cities & Future
The 4-day event brought together a group of investors and innovators together in a conference that explored how science and technology can be used to develop Africa. The event organized by Threefold Foundation explored how Africa can be a hotspot for innovation and sovereignty. It also created a platform for innovators who wanted to learn and create communities, cities, and free zones to meet and share ideas.
Our CEO, Felix Macharia had a chance together with more than 12 start-up founders to pitch their business and how it contributes to a regenerative city.
Part of the session included a trip to Fumba Town, a 149-acre size piece of land in Zanzibar that is being developed into a charter city providing amenities such as housing, offices, schools, health, sports, and fitness facilities. Speaking more on this were Mark Lutter and Kurtis Lockhart as they discussed how Fumba town can be a futuristic city.
In the heart of Fumba Town will be the Home of Silicon Zanzibar, a public-private initiative that intends to attract and relocate tech companies and workers to Zanzibar. Speaking more on this was the CEO and founder of Wasoko, Daniel Yu. Silicon Zanzibar has already attracted companies such as Ramani.io and Tushopwith more than 50 other companies inquiring about setting themselves up in Fumba Town
The island with almost 900,000 inhabitants has long been a tourist destination and according to World Bank, this accounts for 80% of their foreign exchange earnings and 27% of their GDP. As a measure to reduce the country’s dependency on the Tourism sector, Zanzibar’s blue economy plan, the Country is boosting its local digital services.
Speaking more on this informative panel discussion is Zanzibar’s Ministry of Investment and Economic Development, Mudrick Soragha, Daniel Yu, the CEO and founder of Wasoko, Sebastian Dietzold, CEO of CPS, Curtis Lockerhurt of Charter Cities, and Kristof De Spiegeleer of Threefold foundation.
What makes Zanzibar a lucrative startup and tech hub destination is not only its white beaches and historic sites. According to the president of Zanzibar, Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi who was also in attendance giving his key remarks is the free economic area policy.
The government of Zanzibar is also offering tax incentives and strategic investor incentives to attract more businesses. The government also in collaboration with the private sector is also working to build necessary infrastructure such as fibre connectivity for last-mile connection.
Mobile money adoption in Zanzibar
Despite the dollar being a popular currency together with the Tanzania shillings, Zanzibar is highly dependent on mobile money such as Tigo Pesa, Zantel, Halotel, and Vodacom. In the streets of Stonetown, you’ll meet several mobile agents popularly known as Wakala’s that facilitate mobile money deposits and withdrawals. You could also receive access to your M-pesa money from your Safaricom in Kenya and withdraw it using a Wakala agent in Tanzania. This opens up an off-ramp alternative for tourists and locals from cryptocurrency to local fiat, a potential that Kotani Pay is looking to explore.