The ECONOMIST wrote at length about Tanzania in its September 28 issue. Brief extracts: ‘For the moment, Tanzania is one of East Africa’s few good-news stories. That isn’t saying much. The country remains wretchedly poor, inefficient, with little medical care in its remote areas, few roads and with frequent power cuts, even in Dar es Salaam. But donors, disillusioned by the corruption and/or brutality that goes on elsewhere, are happy to pour money into somewhere that is, at least, both peaceful and stable. And in Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania has found a president committed to doing his best to cut poverty. The country’s GDP growth is expected to be 5.8% this year, rising to 6.7% next year, and inflation has been low for years. Tanzania’s relative lack of graft means that some donors now put their money directly into the national budget with few strings attached. The question is whether the government will be able to spend the money wisely….. Prioritising is difficult. For instance, it takes Mr Kikwete over an hour, in an interview, just to outline the basic needs: more schools, universities and hospitals; more roads. Lack of clean water is a particular worry. “It tortures our women,” says Mr Kikwete, with feeling. Much also rests on how the ruling party CCM performs. The party has dominated national politics since independence, with disastrous economic results in the old days. It is no longer socialist – the old mantra of self-reliance is more of a sentiment than an ideology now – but nor is it yet a businessman’s party. Still, CCM can take credit for Tanzania’s strong sense of ‘togetherness.’ It is a place where loyalty to the country often counts for more than tribal or religious identity. Mr Kikwete is an observant Muslim. The first president, Julius Nyerere, was a pious Roman Catholic. Togetherness may also explain why CCM remains as dominant as it still is. Kikwete travels with minimal security. He scrolls through several hundred text messages on his mobile phone each day, most of them from ordinary citizens who have somehow obtained his number. Sometimes he texts back.
He is clearheaded on international issues. He is happy to contribute three battalions to a prospective UN peacekeeping force in the Darfur region of Sudan, he says, so long as someone else foots the bill.
Perhaps the biggest reason for hope lies glittering below the ground in its rich deposits of gold and other minerals. Some reckon that there is $20 billion in nickel deposits alone, somewhere down there in the earth – Thank you Ronald Fennel, Simon Hardwick, Jill Bowden and Keith Lye for sending this – Editor.
The EAST AFRICAN reported on September 19 that Tanzania had been rated highly in the new ‘Doing Business 2007 Survey’. According to World Bank Managing Director, Juan-Jose Daboub, the survey acts as a measure of a country’s receptiveness to investment. Tanzania is expected to use the rating to lure more investors. “What this rating has done is to tell investors that if you want a place to invest then go to Tanzania,” he said. Country risk included political stability, predictability of fiscal policy and the legal framework. “The other important aspect is how long it takes to get a licence, the ease of doing business, access to credit and a host of other issues,” he said. The Survey is based on the opinions of more than 5,000 local experts, business consultants, lawyers, accountants, government officials, and leading academics around the world. Tanzania was ranked second to Ghana in Africa in its reforms to reduce bureaucracy and unnecessary duplication in registering new businesses.
Hilary Alexander, in the DAILY TELEGRAPH (19th August) wrote about a certain William Stanley who was said to be immensely proud of his illustrious great-grandfather, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, who found Dr. Livingstone at Ujiji on November 10, 1871. Mr Stanley has become a house model for Cordings, the traditional British clothing firm established in 1839 that kitted out Sir Henry for his African expeditions. But Mr Stanley’s main activity is garden design. He is busy attempting to propagate cotton, jackfruit and custard apples from Zanzibar as well as trying to grow cinnamon and cloves in Dorset. He proposed to his girl friend in Swahili when they were on the top of Mount Stanley in the Ruwenzori mountain range. (Thank you John Sankey for this – Editor).
Anthea Rowan writing in THE TABLET (26th August) described a project that is ‘simple, traditional, yet so imaginative that it is changing the lives of some people on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.’ The project is a system a self-governance for smallholders, now involving more 1000, using over 100 hectares of land. Other farmers are clamouring to join the project. It was started in 2005 by Hugo Titley, a one-time commercial tobacco farmer who lost his Zimbabwe farm under the Mugabe regime. He and his team have set up a series of horticultural societies working alongside farmers who are not allowed to commit more than 20% of their land and time to the project in order to allow more farmers to take part and to give them more time for their many other activities. Limiting size means limiting, risk he said. The product – mostly peas, but also other vegetables – is destined for the shelves Sainsbury’s and Tesco. It is sold at a commercial rate of up to nine times higher than the traditional bananas, beans, potatoes or onions that farmers grow. Farmers can obtain an average of about $700 over a 16-week programme. The pea plants grow among coffee trees, banana trees and the odd maize stalk. Women are an integral part of the project, for the men cannot register unless their wives comply and countersign. Half of the project managers are women too – Thank you Richard Barton-Wood for this – Editor.
In a reply to this article on peas a reader of the Tablet, Edward Echlin, criticised the whole process. He wrote: ‘In exchange for a fickle temporary market for their crops, Tanzanian growers export their soil fertility and virtual water and damage their (and our) climate (because of the transport involved) and make themselves dependent on the whim of distant shoppers and supermarket buyers….their peas should remain local…..Thank you Doreen Woodford for sending this – Editor.
Tanzania’s State House has said it is dismayed by a cartoon lampooning Kikwete that was published by the SUNDAY NATION in Nairobi. It portrays President Jakaya Kikwete as an emperor with the press corps bowing down and licking his boots. Talking to Tanzania Daima the President’s assistant press secretary said that State House considers it to be in a bad taste. She said that President Kikwete’s position is to ignore it and not to get involved in acrimony with the media.