Hardware Business in Tanzania: How can a Foreign Company enter Tanzania’s Hardware Market

Detailing key strategies, howtos, requirements, challenges and proposed way forwards.

Overview of hardware business in Tanzania

Tanzania’s hardware market is projected to experience a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 7.8% from 2020 to 2026. The market’s expansion is linked to the growing urbanization, increasing income levels, and higher consumer expenditure on household appliances. Additionally, governmental efforts to enhance housing facilities are anticipated to contribute significantly to market growth in Tanzania. The surge in construction projects for both commercial buildings and infrastructure further underscores the rising demand for hardware products in the foreseeable future.

Key hardware materials exported to Tanzania

  1. Building materials: Tiles, white cement, gypsum powder.
  2. Building work tools: Trowels, wheelbarrow, ladder, chisels, saw, crowbar, hammer, tile cutter, drill, putty knife, spirit level, spade, measuring tape, shovel, helmet, plumb bob, rubber boots, safety glasses, spade, concrete mixer, etc
  3. Boards: gypsum boards, marine boards, MDF, melanin boards, plywood, hardboards, HDF, fiber boards, flush doors, veneer, chipboards.
  4. Steel and Iron: The demand for steel and iron products is high in Tanzania, especially for structural purposes in construction. These materials are used in the fabrication of beams, columns, and other structural components.
  5. Aggregates: Gravel, sand, and other aggregates are fundamental in construction for making concrete and for use in road construction. The demand for aggregates is closely linked to infrastructure and real estate development.
  6. Bricks and Blocks: Traditional clay bricks and concrete blocks are widely used in construction. There is a market for both handmade and machine-made bricks.
  7. Roofing Materials: With the growth in housing and infrastructure projects, roofing materials such as corrugated iron sheets, tiles, and roofing shingles are in demand.
  8. Wood and Timber Products: Wood is used for various purposes in construction, including framing, flooring, and finishing. Timber is also utilized in furniture manufacturing.
  9. Paints and Finishes: As construction projects increase, there is a demand for paints, coatings, and finishing materials for both residential and commercial properties.

How to Enter Tanzania Market: Six Strategies

First, foreigner(s) can setup a company in Tanzania as a branch or a subsidiary of a company registered abroad or as an independent company. Second method is direct and indirect export to Tanzania. The third method is forming a joint venture with a local company in Tanzania. The fourth strategy is franchising. Fifth strategy is mergers or acquisitions. The sixth strategy/method is forming strategic alliance.

1. Setting up a hardware company in Tanzania

The first option that a foreigner can use to enter Tanzania hardware business is to setup a company in Tanzania. This involves establishing an office in Tanzania. It can be an office as a branch or an office as a subsidiary of the a company that a foreigner owns abroad or an office as a totally independent company.

2. Direct and Indirect Exporting

Direct exporting, a common practice in Tanzania’s real estate sector, involves a foreign company selling building materials directly to end-users. This method gains prominence when furnishing buildings, as owners often import and install furniture before renting out spaces. On the other hand, indirect exporting occurs when a foreign company opts to sell its hardware products to an independent agent or distributor within the Tanzanian market. While direct and indirect exporting are considered less risky than some alternatives, they are susceptible to trade barriers, tariffs, and fluctuations in exchange rates. It necessitates vigilant risk management strategies to navigate potential challenges.

Direct exporting provides a direct line to consumers, allowing foreign companies to establish a presence in the market and build brand awareness. It enables a more hands-on approach to customer relations and market feedback. In contrast, indirect exporting offers a more localized distribution network through partnerships with local agents or distributors, mitigating the challenges of managing operations from a distance. Both methods require a thorough understanding of Tanzanian market dynamics, consumer preferences, and regulatory frameworks to ensure a successful entry and sustained growth.

3. Joint Venture with Local Companies

Joint ventures represent a collaborative effort between foreign and local companies, a strategy actively encouraged by the Tanzanian government to foster economic partnerships. In this method, a foreign company can capitalize on the local knowledge, contacts, and reputation of its Tanzanian counterpart. The collaboration allows for the sharing of risks and rewards, facilitating compliance with regulatory requirements and achieving mutually agreed-upon objectives. The pooling of complimentary assets enhances the competitive advantage of both entities, fostering a symbiotic relationship that extends beyond market entry.

A successful joint venture requires meticulous planning, a clear understanding of each partner’s contributions, and a commitment to shared goals. Legal considerations, including the structuring of the partnership and adherence to Tanzanian regulations, are paramount. The choice of a local partner with a strong market presence and aligned business values is critical for the venture’s success. Joint ventures offer a strategic advantage by combining international expertise with local insights, fostering a mutually beneficial environment for long-term growth.

4. Franchising

While relatively nascent in Tanzania, franchising presents an expedited entry into the market for foreign companies. Under this arrangement, Tanzanian franchisees pay fees and royalties to utilize a foreign company’s intellectual property and sell its products. Franchising accelerates market entry, tapping into local entrepreneurs’ resources and expertise. However, it comes with the trade-off of reduced control over day-to-day operations. Potential disagreements with independent franchisees necessitate a delicate balance between standardization and flexibility in adapting to local market dynamics.

Franchising offers a scalable model for rapid market penetration, leveraging the entrepreneurial spirit of local partners. The success of franchising hinges on thorough training programs, effective communication channels, and a robust support system to ensure consistent brand representation. Foreign companies must carefully select franchisees with a deep understanding of the local market and a commitment to upholding brand standards. Despite the challenges, franchising can be a powerful strategy for foreign companies to establish a widespread presence and gain consumer trust in the Tanzanian market.

5. Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A)

Mergers and acquisitions offer a strategic avenue for foreign companies to gain a foothold in Tanzania’s hardware market. Governed by the Fair Competition Act, 2003, mergers involve the consolidation of two companies to form a new entity, while acquisitions entail a foreign company acquiring a Tanzanian domestic company without dissolving it. This strategy provides economies of scale, tax reliefs, and a strengthened position for business growth.

The M&A process requires a comprehensive understanding of Tanzanian legal frameworks, due diligence procedures, and regulatory compliance. Identifying potential acquisition targets or merger partners necessitates a thorough analysis of market dynamics, competitive landscapes, and growth prospects. M&A activities offer increased control over operations, enabling foreign companies to streamline processes and align business strategies more effectively. Success in M&A requires strategic planning, effective integration processes, and a commitment to fostering a cohesive corporate culture.

6. Strategic Alliances

Entering Tanzania’s hardware market through a strategic alliance involves a voluntary formal agreement between a foreign and a Tanzanian company. This collaborative approach allows companies to pool resources to achieve common objectives while maintaining independence. Given the ever-evolving legal and regulatory landscape, strategic alliances provide flexibility in adapting to market dynamics. The success of such alliances hinges on selecting partners with shared values and a commitment to long-term objectives.

Strategic alliances foster a synergistic environment where each partner leverages its strengths to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. This approach is particularly effective when entering a market with unique challenges or when seeking to explore new opportunities. Effective communication, transparent decision-making processes, and a shared vision are vital for the success of strategic alliances. Regular evaluations of the alliance’s performance, coupled with adaptability to changing market conditions, contribute to the sustained success of both partners.


Choosing the right market entry strategy is paramount for foreign companies venturing into Tanzania’s hardware market. Each method carries distinct advantages and challenges, necessitating a comprehensive understanding of the Tanzanian business landscape. As foreign investors contemplate independent operations, the prospect of forming strategic alliances or engaging in joint ventures underscores the importance of cultivating trust-based relationships with Tanzanian partners.

The hardware industry in Tanzania presents a dynamic landscape with vast opportunities for growth. Regular communication, visits, and adaptability are indispensable for navigating the nuances of the Tanzanian market. Successful market entry requires a meticulous approach, combining market research, legal compliance, and strategic planning. Whether through direct exporting, joint ventures, franchising, mergers and acquisitions, or strategic alliances, foreign companies must tailor their approach to align with the unique characteristics of the Tanzanian hardware industry. By doing so, they can establish a strong foothold, contribute to local economic development, and position themselves for long-term success in this vibrant market.

Published by Kessy Juma

Kessy Juma

Kessy Juma is the founder of Miamia Trading Company (miamiatz). He is a Techpreneur with roots in accountancy. He believes that any business is good as long it caters the right market using the right strategy.

miamia miamia miamia miamia

Published by Kessy Juma

Kessy Juma Kessy Juma is the founder of Miamia Trading Company (miamiatz). He is a Techpreneur with roots in accountancy. He believes that any business is good as long it caters the right market using the right strategy.

miamia miamia miamia miamia
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