Dar es Salaam is Tanzania’s largest city and economic center with a rapidly growing startup ecosystem. The commercial port that grew from just a fishing village is now both a cultural melting pot and an economic center of Tanzania.
On a quest to expand Kotani Pay’s on-ramp and off-ramp services to fast-growing Tanzania, we had a chance to meet some key players building and contributing to the tech ecosystem in Tanzania with the help of Nicholas Kyandaof Intersection Magazine Podcast.
In the second and last part of our trip, we will share some of the conversations and key insights that make Dar es Salaam the tech hotspot for Tanzania.
We first heard about Silicon Dar and the famous Tanzanite Valley from Elsie Eyakuze, a columnist at the East African newspaper and blogger who is keen to bring out Tanzania as an innovation hub beyond its stereotype.
To understand Silicon Dar, you need to first experience it. Ushering you to the Tanzanite Valley is the 1.3km state-of-the-art bridge linking Aga Khan Hospital and Coko Beach in Dar es Salaam. The majestic bridge was built not only to connect the two areas but to reduce traffic congestion.
Silicon Dar is a 440 hectares self-formed tech district housing telecom companies, startups, consulting firms,co-working spaces, hubs, accelerators, learning institutions, and both government and NGO offices. Similar to Silicon Valley which houses major global tech companies such as Microsoft and Apple, Silicon Dar is a cluster of office blocks that makes the region a major investor destination, especially for the Tech ecosystem.
Silicon Dar is not only creating jobs for thousands of Tanzanians but is also linking academia to industry needs.
As mentioned, the Tanzania startup is a vibrant and growing community. How vibrant? First, we have the Tanzania FinTech Association (TAFINA) led by its president Eng. Dr. Dennis Mwighusa. TAFINA seeks to nurture and empower the fintech ecosystem in Tanzania. Through TAFINA, fintechs in Tanzania are represented, advocated, and united with a joint mission to grow the ecosystem. The association also gives its members linkage to local, regional, and international fintech-related partners.
Another association that is heavily contributing to the growth of the Tanzania startup ecosystem is the Tanzania Startup Association. The Association led by Jumanne Mtambalike, the CEO of Sahara Ventures seeks to bring together all relevant stakeholders in the startup ecosystem together. Through the association, start-ups in Tanzania have a united voice that advocates and lobbies for an inclusive and conducive business environment creating an investor-friendly ecosystem for startups to thrive.
Setting up a business in Tanzania
Tanzania is a business-friendly place to open your company or a branch. Kheri R. Mbiro a senior partner at Breakthrough Attorneys, a law firm focused on corporate commercials ranging from arbitration, taxation, and project management sheds more light on how you can set up your business in Tanzania.
“For a company to open a business in Tanzania, the company gets to choose the regulation they want. They can register as a new company or as a branch. The only thing is the exposure of the headquarters company if you register a subsidiary regarding other compliance issues such as tax and regulatory licenses.” Mr. Mbiro adds.
As for permits, licensing, and approvals for startups, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) Official page provides a one-stop destination for you to open a business through its facilitation center. The center provides all relevant information for businesses to set up shop in Tanzania. Beyond facilitation, the center is also responsible for promoting and coordinating investments in Tanzania by providing industry-based investment opportunities.
An innovative ecosystem
Tanzania has a budding and dynamic innovative ecosystem courtesy of incubators, accelerators, and numerous tech hubs distributed across the country. An example of this is Sahara Ventures an accelerator hub that provides builders access to professional mentors, industry experts, a diverse network of strategic partners and investors among others. The virtual program is equity free and only aims at helping startups and SMEs access these opportunities to grow their business.
Some of the amazing Fintech operating in Dar we had a chance to interact with include OpenMap Development Tanzania (OMDTZ), a non-profit organization that seeks to use data to solve challenges locals face through community mapping data visualization, and innovation led by its CEO, Innocent Maholi
We also had a chance to talk to Maarufu Muyaga, the CEO of Remmo Africa, a digital platform for the event industry that connects ceremonial vendors to clients, provides e-card services through SMS or QR codes, E-tickets service and E-pledge services.
In the financial sector, we had a chance to speak to Emmanuel Kimaro, the CEO of BizzynHq, a platform that utilizes alternative credit scoring to provide valuable financial insights and link SMEs with micro-lenders.
We also talked to Salum Awadh, CGIA the CEO of SSC Capital, a diversified financial services outfit in Dar es Salaam that works to support different players in the market from startups, government agencies, investors, Corporates in doing business in Tanzania and investing.
What better way to position Tanzania as a fintech hub than a festival? That’s the goal with the Fintech Festival Tanzania seeks to achieve. Speaking more on this was Deogratius John, the Managing Director of the Eastern Star consulting group. According to Deogratius, the festival that will be held on November 8th and 9th will bring more than 4,000 delegates from more than 46 Countries across the world together. The event will host more than 6 conferences, gala dinners, masterclasses, live demos, and awards such as the Africa Fintech awards.
You can learn and register for the event here: https://www.fintechfestivaltanzania.co.tz/
Tanzania is rapidly positioning itself to be a start-up haven for businesses with its tax incentive and simplified ways to open a business, giving the country a competitive advantage over its neighboring countries and Africa at large. But as Elsie Eyakuze stated to thrive in Tanzania, you need to work on your Kiswahili first.
A big thank you to Nicholas Kyamba of Intersection magazine for organizing our meetings through his podcast. And a big thank you to all the participants of the podcast.
Have a listen to some of the amazing conversations we had with the Tanzania tech builders: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/nicholas-kyanda