TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

According to an EAST AFRICAN STANDARD report on 2nd July, not all was sweet and light in CCM before President Mkapa voluntarily opted out of the chairmanship of the party a year earlier than an election was due. Extracts: Mkapa was quoted as speaking about the poisoned political atmosphere in the party in 1995 when founding President Julius Nyerere had decided to back Mkapa for the presidency, despite Jakaya Kikwete having won the nomination. The grudge was said to have persisted to this day. The worst moment for the two came during the party’s presidential nominations last year, when muffled hostility opened up cracks within the party. One faction coalesced around Kikwete while another rallied behind former Prime Minister and OAU Secretary General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim who is now UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s special envoy to the troubled Darfur region of Sudan. One of Kikwete’s first acts on becoming President was said to have been to get rid of Mkapa adherents including CCM Party Secretary General Philip Mangula and others. But, as the paper pointed out, when the election for new party chairman took place on June 25th this year the popular President Kikwete won virtually unanimously (Thank you Christine Lawrence and Keith Lye for this – Editor.

A recent paper under the title ‘Pro-poor Public Investment’ published by the INTERNATIONAL FOOD POLICY RESEARCH INSTITUTE (IFPRI) described how policy makers could improve the allocation of public spending to achieve higher growth and poverty reduction. In the case of Tanzania an analysis based on household survey data showed that additional investment in rural education could have a very favourable impact on poverty, raising about 43 poor people above the poverty line per million shillings spent. The paper said that investment in education should be a priority in all regions of the country. Investments in agricultural research and extension were estimated to raise about 40 persons out of poverty per million shillings spent with substantial impacts in the central and southern regions of the country. Investment in rural roads gave about half the benefit of investments in education (Thank you Ann Burgess for this item – Editor).

“Baisikeli moja; watu wawilli (sic)!’ (One bike; two people!)” called out a farmer we passed on our journey. So wrote Geoffrey Gettleman in an article under the title ‘Travelling Tandem in Tanzania’ in the NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE recently. Extracts: ‘We (he and a friend) cycled from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma – some 770 miles…. Few people in Tanzania have seen a bicycle built for two. In many villages it drew a curious crowd of hundreds. One kid asked us if in America they make bikes for three and four people….Cycling in Tanzania guarantees a certain degree of intimacy – with the bugs, the bumps, the hills, the heat, the people and the mind-blowing, almost spiritual emptiness….. However, you meet all types of friendly people…..
To make the trip we bought a $650 ‘Raleigh Companion’ in San Francisco and fitted it with saddlebags, extra pumps, fortified rims and Kevlar tyres that were allegedly thorn-proof – but were not!…..
‘Bicycle Africa’ leads trips in Tanzania at $1,490 for two weeks. – www.ibike.org/bikeafrica.’ (Thank you Eirlys and Peter Park for sending this story – Editor).

The London GUARDIAN reported on June 9 that when Marks and Spencer was threatened with a takeover bid two years ago its Chief Executive, Stuart Rose, promised to donate all the gains he might obtain from his share options to a school in Tanzania which he had already been helping for some time. However, last autumn, the M&S share price took off and Mr Rose, who spent eight of his childhood years in Dar es Salaam, has now decided to make the payment in the near future. It looks as though the school might receive anything up to £500,000. (Thank you Ron Fennell for this – Editor).

The EAST AFRICAN (June 26) reported that the mining sector in Tanzania was coming under intense scrutiny with signs that government officials were beginning to yield to public pressure for a fresh look at mining contracts. The government publicly acknowledged that some major mining companies had been fiddling the figures to avoid paying the requisite duties and royalties. Members of Parliament pressed the government for more action on mining contracts, with the legislators demanding better profit sharing arrangements and better accountability to the communities where the mines are located. Companies are obliged to pay $200,000 annually to their respective local authorities depending on the tax regime of the district and additionally pay a royalty of 3% of the value of exports to the Tanzanian government. The mining sector grew by 15.7% in 2005 compared with 15.4% in 2004, contributing 3.5% and 3.2% to GDP respectively.
In responding to public pressure, Minister for Planning, the Economy and Empowerment Juma Ngasongwa, said later that the government had formed a special committee to undertake an in-depth evaluation of why the revenue accruing from mining activities was so little. Gold is the main mineral export with 48.2 tonnes being exported in 2004, but its impact on economic recovery and job creation has been minimal. Review of the mining contracts was one of the priorities identified by President Kikwete when he took office last year. Despite being the continent’s third largest gold exporter behind South Africa and Ghana, Tanzania was cited by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) as one country that, despite massive Foreign Direct Investment inflows, had yet to attain the desired goals, including job creation. The report had advised that countries like Tanzania needed to add value to the raw minerals.

The WALL STREET JOURNAL AND HERITAGE FOUNDATION has published its 2006 ‘World Index of Economic Freedom.’ Tanzania was described as ‘mostly unfree’ economically and 94th in the list of 157 countries. African countries described as ‘mostly free’ economically included Botswana, South Africa and Madagascar. Placed 154th was Zimbabwe just ahead of North Korea. Top of the list in the ‘economically free’ category were Hong Kong, Singapore, Ireland and the UK. (Thank you Christine Lawrence and Keith Lye for this – Editor).

“Returning to my naturally air-conditioned hut, I disturbed an intruder in my bedroom; not the sort of thing you would expect in a tropical paradise, but there he was trying to make his escape with a clatter of claws. I picked up the solar-powered torch in time to catch a blue and red crustacean with the body the size of a rugby ball shinning down the wooden steps that led to my bedroom. I tried to cut him off with a well-placed foot, but, wearing only flip flops and with my quarry armed with claws like nutcrackers, my cautionary instinct cut in and I left my visitor to scuttle off into the night”. So wrote Nick Baker in the London GUARDIAN (1st April). He went on: “I had the good fortune to be staying on Chumbe island, a one kilometre by 300 metres coral chip sandwiched between Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania. I have stayed in many so-called ‘Eco resorts’ that claim to offer isolation but Chumbi actually lives up to its claims. There are no swimming-pools, no TV’s, no generators or cocktail bars. All buildings on the island (except the lighthouse built by the Sultan of Zanzibar way back) are made of natural materials. Rain water is collected from roofs and heated by hand pumping through a solar-powered heater. Even the soap is biodegradable and made by local villagers…. Chumbe is special” (Thank you Christine Lawrence for this – Editor).

South Africa’s BUSINESS DAY reported on 27th March the launching by President Kikwete of the ‘Investment Blue Book for Tanzania’, a document drawn up with the help of UNCTAD and the Japan Bank for International Corporation. The writer of the article said that the recently renovated Kilimanjaro Hotel was a microcosm of the progress being made in Tanzania, a country paralysed by socialism for years. Dar es Salaam had now become a thriving metropolis, its streets filled with traders and hotels packed with business people…. The country was attracting about $500 million in foreign direct investment each year which could be doubled if the government removed existing bottlenecks to investment. Blue Book recommendations include improving the running of the commercial courts, developing performance charters for agencies involved in business regulations and reforming tax regulations. The President pledged his commitment to removing these bottlenecks (Thank you David Leishman for this – Editor.)
The EAST AFRICAN reported on July 31 that even as the formal end of the marriage between the Government of Tanzania and South African Airways (SAA) the partners in ‘Air Tanzania Company Ltd’ (ATCL) is awaited, the government has gone ahead and contracted Lufthansa Consulting GMbh to come up with a model for a completely new national carrier for the country. In this task, its specific mandate will be to make a business plan and a formula for recapitalising ATCL and strengthening its competitive position in the region. ATCL was said to be at an advanced stage of disengagement from SAA and wanted to operate on its own. Air Tanzania has three Boeing 737-200 and one Fokker F28. In the current financial year, the government has set aside $13 million as an operational subsidy for the ailing airline. In the past financial year, the government allocated it a subsidy of $6 million.
‘Ghost’… ‘Foreigner’… ‘Body without a soul.’ These are just some of the names that have been hurled at four-year-old albino Lavina Boniface in Dar es Salaam.’ So began an illustrated article in the July 9th issue of the SUNDAY TIMES MAGAZINE. It went on: ‘But insults are the least of her worries. Because her almost paper-white skin lacks melanin, the pigment that should give it colour and protect it from the sun, and because she has no sunscreen or long-sleeved-clothing, she will almost certainly die of skin cancer…. Now, an extraordinary project is offering hope to her and the rest of Tanzania’s 17,000 albinos. Funds from the International Foundation for Dermatology and the Tanzanian government have provided for a centre in Moshi to train health care workers from across the country to set up clinics to educate people about albinism and other skin conditions. The centre advises on measures to detect skin cancer and also supplies sun hats, dark glasses and sun cream…. Until about 60 years ago, almost all albinos were killed at birth. People believed that the mother had committed adultery with a European or that it was due to evil spirits…. The gene for albinism is recessive so that a child must inherit it from both its mother and father. This means that ordinary-looking parents can give birth to albinos…..’ (Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor.)

EAST AFRICAN BUINESS WEEK on April 17 included a lengthy article on how Tanzania is blessed with a myriad of economic opportunities especially its mineral wealth and its fisheries. Extracts: ‘Some economic analysts coin Tanzania as the ‘economic sleeping giant’ in terms of its potential for growth.
At sea….Tanzania’s economic potential is bountiful. It has the potential for ‘fishing’ billions of dollars in tuna fish… However, so far the biggest beneficiaries have been foreign fishing companies…Sources in government said recently that under the new ‘zeal and courage’ of President Kikwete, some 60 foreign fish trawlers have been sent off and fined for fishing illegally. Most of the ships have fish factories on board. They catch, process and export without government’s knowledge because of the country’s inability to patrol its waters……in the 2005 tuna fish season, some 78 fishing vessels were licensed to catch fish at a fee of $18,000 per vessel. This is a pittance when compared to the value of catches they illegally export to Europe and Asian markets.’

The World Bank’s IK NOTES (July) reported on a number of workshops which had been held, aimed at improving the well-being of rural dwellers in the miombo ecosystem through improved domestication, utilisation and commercialisation of indigenous fruit trees and their products. The Tanzanian workshop was held in Tabora and the participants chose the species and products which they considered most important for them to develop. These were, in order of preference: Zambarau (Zisiphus mauritania) juice, Guava jam, Ntonga juice, Ntalali jam, groundnut butter, mango juice, marula (Sclerocarya birrea) wine, Parinari wine, Baobab juice and Flacourtia juice.

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