Following the discovery of offshore gas in Tanzania, the country's president, Jakaya Kikwete, has announced plans to establish a sovereign wealth fund (SWF). In August 2012, exploration firm Ophir Energy made its sixth discovery of offshore gas in Tanzania, while in a televised speech just hours later, Mr Kikwete said that his government was studying the possible ways of managing revenues from the country’s gas reserves, with a focus on countries with SWFs.
Mr Kikwete said that the government's ultimate intention was to ensure that natural gas revenues were used to accelerate development. It plans to look at other countries that have set aside revenues generated from energy resources for investment, particularly infrastructural development. “We want to learn from them by setting up our own fund to ensure we similarly benefit,” said Mr Kikwete.
According to the Financial Times, Tanzania’s proven natural gas reserves were initially estimated by the World Bank to be about 4.6 trillion cubic metres, worth approximately $150bn, which is six times Tanzania’s current GDP. But following discoveries by Ophir Energy and its UK partner BG Gas, Norway’s Stat Oil, and US group Exxon Mobil, Mr Kikwete has claimed that his country’s recoverable gas reserves could be as big as 8.8 trillion cubic metres. Tanzania, which is east Africa's second largest economy, could see an increase in revenue of up to $3bn a year from gas exports, according to the World Bank.
According to research and consultancy firm SWF Institute, sub-Saharan Africa’s SWFs currently make up a small proportion of the total existing sovereign fund investor class in terms of assets under management, while, according to research firm Preqin, sub-Saharan African SWFs make up just 0.2% of global SWF assets under management. If Tanzania successfully establishes a SWF, it will join other African countries including Gabon, Ghana and Nigeria, which are also moving towards establishing state-owned investment funds for revenues generated from the energy sector.