Zanzibar's government has opened up ten of its smaller islands for "holistic development projects" in a further bid to attract foreign investors.

Its decision to extend investment opportunities to ten smaller islands falling outside Zanzibar's main islands of Unguja and Pemba, was based on its "vision for diversification of high-end investments", the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) said in a statement on 8 September.

The Strategic Investment Project (SIS) status, which offers stakeholders a host of residential and investment benefits, came into effect into effect in July.

Among the incentives are a residency permit that authorises real estate buyers, along with their partners and a maximum of four children under the age of 20, to live in the country after purchasing a property.

There is also a 50% exemption on capital gain on purchased properties, 100% foreign ownership, 100% exemption from worldwide income for foreigners and no minimum stay being required.

The smaller islands or islets, "with pristine beaches, fertile soil, abundant marine resources and populations eager to work on potential developments, are ideal for specialised investment projects", said ZIPA executive director, Shariff Shariff.

"The small islands surrounding Zanzibar are major assets that have enormous potential for both investors and the island's residents."

The ten islets each possess their own unique characteristics, thereby offering diverse selling points and opportunities for potential investor, he said.

Changuu (Prison Island) (pictured) 
The 11.27ha islet is located about 5.6km from Stone Town, and is surrounded by shallow coral reefs. It boasts a mix of indigenous and introduced vegetation, giant tortoises, 110m of idyllic beach and a natural tidal pool.

Bawe Island
Located just south of Changuu, the 35ha islet is known for its spectacular sunrises and sunsets. About seventy percent of the islet is conserved as forest while the remaining 30% is used for tourism purposes and by local fishermen. Bawe is known for its colourful coral reefs and excellent snorkeling and pristine 550m beach. It could also soon be declared part of the Zanzibar Town Islands Marine Conservation Area.

Chumbe Island
Lying south-west of Unguja Island at the edge of the Menai Bay, Chumbe is praised for its rich marine biodiversity. It comprises 17ha of conserved forest, 55ha of coral reef sanctuary on the west part of islet, and 2.44ha which have been allocated for the development of eco-tourism operations. Both protected areas were formally registered by the IUCN World Conservation Monitoring Centre in 1995. The islet boasts a magnificent beach, a lighthouse and small mosque. A rare coconut crab, Birgus latro, is a must-see for wildlife lovers.

Kwale Island
This 50ha islet in Menai Bay lies about 4km off the western coast of Unguja. Some 390m of white sandy beach is complemented by a natural lagoon, and coral rag bush. It is paradise incarnate and is used as the major fish camping site for local fishermen from Unguja.

Misali Island
The 9,000ha islet is relatively undisturbed compared to others parts of Zanzibar and Tanzania, and as such possesses incredible terrestrial and marine life, and is an important nesting site for turtles. Diving, snorkeling, swimming, boating and scientific research are permitted. In the extractive zone, all legal fishing is permitted and two areas - Mbuyuni and Mkwajuni - have been designated as fishers camping areas.

Njao Island
Njao islet lies on the northwest coast of Pemba Island and has an estimated area of 474ha. The islet is characterised by its rich, fertile soil, making it ideal for agriculture. Most of its inhabitants are involved in fishing activity.

The 80ha piece of land is found south of Pemba island, and has huge potential for fishing tourism, including game fishing.

Pamunda A & B
Located in the west of the archipelago, the islets possess white beaches, a natural lagoon, and coral rag bush. They are used as the major fishing camping site for local fishermen from Unguja and are famous tourist attractions.

The 5ha island is situated northwest of Stone Town and can be reached by boat in just 15 minutes. Chapwani has an untouched beach and a spectacular reef filled with starfish and multi-coloured corals.

The promotions authority further said Zanzibar's government recognised that these islets possess sensitive ecosystems and were already home to thriving fishing and agricultural communities. As such, potential developments require careful planning, handling, guidance and oversight, and potential investors will need to adopt a holistic approach in implementing future projects.

Shariff said: "Our investors Expressions of Interest should provide information demonstrating that they possess experience and the ability to develop, operate and manage investment projects.

"They should also demonstrate financial capacity, and skills in conserving environments, biodiversity, cultural heritage and community development. Interested Investors should specify the intended small island/islands for investment and provide detailed information on the kind of high-end investment intended."

The promotions authority said the deadline for submission of Expression of Interest is 30 September 2021 at 10am (Eastern Africa Time).