The program funded by the USAID called The Global Trade and Technology Network, or GTN, was recently launched in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It is expected to give Tanzanian business owners and entrepreneurs greater access to US and other international markets.
GTN will assist small and medium-sized enterprises in building trade ties with the United States; to identify investment opportunities and access new technologies that helps to turn out better products and services.
Tanzania becomes the 13th country in Africa to have a GTN representative.
GTN has been in the country for the past three years under a personal contract in which Alex Mkindi, a Tanzanian, represented its interests. Then, officially on July first the personal contract was replaced by an institutional contract. A local company, the Finance Enterprise Development Associates (FEDA), became the main representative of GTN in the country.
Mr. Mkindi is also working for Finance Enterprise Development Associates.
Mr. Mkindi says in the first year of operation GTN (Tanzania) will focus mainly on ensuring that the program is networked to trade organizations and that opportunities such as exporting to the United States, buying US goods and attracting investors, are made available to companies.
Mr. Mkindi says Tanzanian businessmen and women are going to benefit in a number of ways from the presence of GTN: "This is basically in sync (synchronization) with the current economic currents where countries like Tanzania are looking for trade as a tool for growth rather than aid. So most of the companies will benefit from being able to access easily international markets...and from access to technologies that are available in the international markets."
He further advises Tanzanian businessmen that this is a good opportunity to access markets where they can get new technology to improve their products and services.
Mr. Mkindi says programs like those made possible by the African Growth and Opportunity ACT (AGOA) need products made according to US standards, and GTN and its associates can help in acquiring both the right technology and technical know-how to make this possible.
In Tanzania small and medium sized enterprises are at a disadvantage – by not being able to afford Internet access.
Mr.Mkindi said GTN is not in the business of providing internet facilities. Instead it is promoting the active use of the Information and communication technology to promote global trade, investment and business.
GTN helps in finding markets for registered businesses and providing information on the products and services preferred by GTN. This includes products and services relating to agriculture, environment, energy, tourism, construction and minerals.
Besides Tanzania there are 12 GTN representatives in Africa. These are found in Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
There are also representatives in Madagascar, Mozambique, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.