Rap star signs up to privatisation
A video is being shot for Mr Ebbo's privatisation song
By Daniel Dickinson
in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania [IMG][IMG]
The Tanzanian government has recruited one of the country's leading rap
artists Mr Ebbo to boost a publicity campaign that extols the virtues of
The campaign, by the Tanzanian authorities, aims to educate the public
the benefits of private ownership as the privatisation process in the East
African country nears its end.
It has taken a decade to sell off about 260 state-owned businesses with
another 130 remaining.
They include one of the largest sell-offs so far, the national railway
system. It is also likely to be the most problematic and that is where rap
star Mr Ebbo comes in.
Music with a message
Mr Ebbo's latest single is called Ubinaf-sishaji which translates as
"I'm singing about privatisation... it's about... to co-operate with
thegovernment just to let people know what privatisation is... what
privatisation really is... I mean what has to be done to improve our
Mr Ebbo's lyrics
In this song, Mr Ebbo is explaining why it makes sense to privatise the
He asks whether it's better to let it die in public hands or revitalise it
byleasing to investors.
Mr Ebbo, otherwise known as Abel Loshilaa Motika is a Maasai
He is an imposing figure in his traditional garb and he has a political,
social and economic conscience.
Rap music is booming in Tanzania and has broad appeal.
Mr Ebbo believes it is the right medium for the privatisation message and
video is also being shot to accompany the song.
But selling the railways is not going to be an easy task. Memories of the
rail crash in June last year in which almost 300 people were killed are
Mr Ebbo is one of the biggest selling rappers
The privatisation process as a whole in Tanzania has been a massive
undertaking lasting more than a decade.
The country's socialist past means that compared to many other African
countries it was top heavy with state-owned firms or parastatals.
There are a total of around 400 companies being sold off including
everythingfrom regional trade associations to the national airline.
It is difficult to gauge just how much the public knows about
although many people do see it in a positive light.
John Rubambe, chairman of the Parastatal Sector Reform Commission - the
responsible for the privatisation process - said educating the public was
James Macharia: the common man hasn't seen much change
"Privatisation is a new thing considering the history of this country and
theway the economy was run," he said.
"Progressively people have come to understand what privatisation is all
aboutand what are the benefits."
"One has got to deal with the notion that privatisation is not about
the family silver."
The privatisation process is, of course, unprecedented in Tanzania's
James Macharia, managing director of the investment bank African Banking
Corporation, said it has been relatively smooth but real benefits have yet
"I don't think the common man has possibly seen much change," he said.
"Maybe indirectly because some of the revenues that the government has
collected from privatisation has been ploughed back into social services,
butthe government needs to bring that awareness to the common man."
The common man will have to take a back seat for the time being, while the
authorities concentrate on privatising the remaining parastatals.
The December 2003 deadline to finish the job is unlikely to be met but if
allthe companies are sold off successfully the authorities will still, no
doubt, consider it a job well done.
Rap star signs up to privatisation
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