Doing business in Tanzania: New legislative developments
As the year draws to a close, we provide a summary of sector-specific legislative changes that occurred in 2021.
Companies in Tanzania have been obliged to submit details of beneficial ownership since 1 July 2020 in accordance with the Finance Act No. 8 of 2020. In February 2021, a notice made under the Companies Act extended the period for the submission of the beneficial owners’ information. According to the notice, the deadline for submitting the beneficial owners’ information is extended until 31 December 2021.
In April, the Interpretation of Laws Act [Cap 1 R.E. 2019], the Land Disputes Courts Act [Cap 216 R.E 2019] and the Magistrates’ Courts Act [Cap 11 R.E. 2019] were amended by the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 1) of Act 2021 to the effect that the language of the courts in land disputes and any proceedings in primary and magistrates’ courts are now in Kiswahili. The amendments provide that:
The following are the exceptions to the use of Kiswahili as the language of the courts:
Prior to the amendments, the language used in primary courts was Kiswahili while the language at the resident magistrate and district courts was either English, Kiswahili or other languages as directed by the presiding magistrate. The language of the District Land and Housing Tribunal was either English or Kiswahili, but the record and judgment of the Tribunal was in English.
In July, the Insurance Act was amended by the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No.2) Act of 2021 to allow both Tanzanian and non-Tanzanian insurers to cover ground, marine and air cargo. Prior to the amendment, non-Tanzanian insurers were prohibited from providing such services unless granted an exemption by the Commissioner of the Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority.
In October, the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Act of 2021 amended the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act of 2015 (the Act) by extending the time limit for work permits of non-citizens from 5 to 8 years. A non-citizen whose 5-year work permit is expiring or who has applied for their final grant can now make an application to get an extension of up to 8 years. This is a welcome change to expatriates working or who intend to work in Tanzania.
In addition to the above, the Act has been amended to allow for electronic application of work permits. This move may potentially address the delays caused by physical submissions and issuance of work permits. Also, investors can now employ 10 instead of 5 non-citizens. This is an incentive to investors who need to employ skilled labour not available locally.
In October, the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 4) Act of 2021, made a change to the Mining Act Cap. 123 R.E. 2019 (the Mining Act) by making an addition to the provision on state participation.
Section 10 (1) of the Mining Act provides that the Government shall in any mining operations hold not less than 16% non-dilutable Free Carried Interest (FCI) shares in the capital of a mining company holding a mining licence or special mining licence. The amendment has added a new provision to the Mining Act which is to be read together with section 10 (1) above.
The new provision, section 10 (4), now reads as follows:
Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1), the Government and a holder of a mining licence or special mining licence may, for the purposes of ensuring Government’s effective participation in the mining operations as contemplated in this section, establish a special arrangement in a manner prescribed in the regulations.
The provision cited above supplements the state participation requirement by allowing the Government to enter into an arrangement with existing mining companies that already hold either a mining licence or special mining licence (Existing Companies). Through the special arrangement, the Government is guaranteed to exercise the right to hold not less than 16% FCI shares in a joint venture company with the shareholders of Existing Companies, as it has been the case in recent years.
The above provision also implies that the special arrangement will be incorporated in the Regulations  through an amendment.
The Permanent Sovereignty Act  and the Unconscionable Terms Act  apply to natural wealth and resources in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. The Acts have been amended by the Written Laws (Miscellaneous Amendments) (No. 2) Act of 2021 to the extent that they will not apply in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar where there is an agreement that provides for a special arrangement approved by the Cabinet relating to the transportation of natural resources that are not exploited in Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The Finance Act No. 3 of 2021 (the Finance Act) has had a direct impact on the mining sector by amending the Value Added Tax Act Cap. 148 R.E. 2019 (the VAT Act). Particularly, the Finance Act amends the Schedule to the VAT Act which provides for imports exempted from VAT. The list includes precious minerals, tin, tungsten, tantalum, mineral concentrates and loaded carbon imported by any person for processing, smelting, refining or selling at mineral and gem houses or buying stations designated by the Mining Commission.
As is the case around the world, the Tanzanian economy has faced a number of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of sectors including mining, agribusiness, banking and finance, tourism, among others, were affected. However, as we are heading towards a new year, there is hope that things are about to change for the better. Investors and stakeholders are hopeful that measures put in place to address the effects of the pandemic, positive legislative changes and policies will stir the economy into recovery. It is hoped that 2022 will see an increase in appetite for investment in Tanzania.
Please visit our related insights below to read some of the firm’s 2021 updates in more detail. If you require any further information, please contact Peter Kasanda, Aliko Simon, Tenda Msinjili, Margareth Maganga or Esther Kilimba.