DAR ES SALAAM – Tanzanian and Rwandan officials were in talks to enable RwandAir ferry fish from Mwanza airport in northern Tanzania to overseas markets, an official said on Tuesday.
Luhaga Mpina, Tanzania's Minister for Livestock and Fisheries, told stakeholders in the fishing industry in Mwanza city that he was confident that the deal would go through.
"Should the two sides strike a deal, it will be a massive relief for Lake Zone fish traders, who have, for a long time, been seeking an alternative airline to transport their products abroad," said Mpina.
Usually, the wholesale fish dealers in the region have been relying on Entebbe and Nairobi airports in Uganda and Kenya respectively, which they claim are more costly.
"Indeed, the talks are at an advanced stage for RwandAir planes to transport fish from Mwanza to overseas markets," said the minister. He said the government collected 1.7 trillion Tanzanian shillings (about 726 million US dollars) from the fishing industry in the 2017/18 financial year, out of which 1.1 trillion shillings were from Lake Victoria.
Sijaona James, the spokesperson of the Tanzania Fishermen Union, said over 1,000 tonnes of fish could not be exported in the past few months because of transport problems. The total loss of the exports destined for Japan and Israel stood at 5.5 billion Tanzanian shillings, said James.