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Zanzibar eyes resources, ICT sectors to diversify economy away from tourism

Zanzibar has put 12 new oil and gas exploration blocks up for grabs, which in line with President Hussein Mwinyi’s $2.4 billion plan to entice shipping, oil exploration, and seaweed processing while fostering the “blue” economy, as the East African country is looking to explore other economic options outside of tourism Suleiman Masoud Makame, Zanzibar’s minister for blue economy and fisheries, said “the government now welcomes oil and gas exploration and extraction firms to visualize Zanzibar’s data and propose areas of interest for them to invest in before the commencement of the tendering process.”

Other government’s initiatives include establishing an international gateway from Mombasa, constructing a data center, and creating a digital free zone to attract tech investments — all part of an effort to diversify Zanzibar’s economy and reduce its reliance on tourism, which now accounts for more than a quarter of its GDP.

These information and technology projects are commissioned through the Zanzibar ICT Infrastructure Agency (ZICTIA) that aims to develop a cyber metropolis, providing a digital platform for major corporations to invest in and bolstering the growth of the indigenous IT industry. Zanzibar’s economy has always been heavily reliant on tourism. In order to provide employment possibilities and raise national income, it now wants to reverse course and seek investment in the IT industry.

Therefore, more than 30 innovative and investor companies met recently on the isles in a three-day meeting organized by ZICTIA to show how they could work together in order to make Zanzibar an investment hub on the Internet.