Archive for September, 2008

OLYMPICS

 Tanzanian athletes at the Beijing opening ceremony

Tanzanian athletes at the Beijing opening ceremony

The Minister for Information, Culture and Sports, George Mkuchika led Tanzania’s Olympic squad to Beijing. The team comprised eight runners and two swimmers, including marathon runners Samson Ramadhani, Msenduki Mohamed and Getul Bayo. Samuel Kwaang, Fabian Joseph and Dickson Marwa were due to compete in the 10,000 metres, Samuel Mwera in the 800 metres, and the only lady athlete, Zakia Mrisho, in the 5,000 metres. The swimmers were Magdalena Mushi and Rushaka Khalid who featured in the 50 metres free style.

The national athletics team left for Beijing with some uncertainty hanging over the sponsorship of Chinese sportswear manufacturer Li Ning. AT had preferred the use of Li Ning equipment but the Olympic Committee ruled that the team should use those provided by German sportswear manufacturers Puma. This issue of TA goes to the press before the running events have taken place.

Tanzania has won only two Olympic silver medals since she started taking part in the Games. The medals were won by Filbert Bayi in 3,000 metres steeplechase and Nyambui in 5,000 metres at the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Russia.

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HYENA SQUARE

R&B superstar Kelly Rowland, formerly of Destiny’s Child, visited Dar-es-Salaam in June to present an MTV Staying Alive Foundation award to a former Tanzanian sex worker named “Eliza” who is now working to save the lives of her former peers. Ms. Rowland is MTV’s 2008 AIDS Awareness Ambassador for the Staying Alive Foundation.

The Staying Alive Foundation and the Tanzania Marketing and Communications for AIDS, Reproductive Health and Child Survival (TMARC) project both provide small grants to support local projects that reach people who are particularly at risk for HIV infection.

Eliza’s Sad Beginnings
Eliza was born in Iringa, and her father abandoned her mother and the family when Eliza was just a baby. When she was 12, her mother “sold” her to a family in Dar-es-Salaaam to work as a house girl. One day when Eliza was 14, the wife of the family went out, and Eliza was brutally raped and beaten by the husband. Bruised and battered, Eliza went to the police station to report what had happened to her, but the police refused to open the case without a bribe. As Eliza was leaving the police station, the wife and husband arrived and claimed that Eliza had been stealing from them, and Eliza was thrown in jail for six months.

After being released from jail, Eliza found her way to Uwanja wa Fisi (Hyena Square), a poor neighborhood in Manzese notorious for alcoholics, addicts and prostitutes. There Eliza met a young woman who invited her to stay in a guesthouse where she lived, and subsequently taught Eliza how to sell her body to men. Eliza managed to live and work under those circumstances for about four years, avoiding the drug use that felled many of her peers.

Despite the horrors of Hyena Square, Eliza had good moments. She cherishes a photo album chronicling a few happy times hanging out with friends. When Eliza shows that album now, she points out all of her friends who are gone – dead from AIDS, malaria, drug overdoses, or the many other diseases and afflictions that are associated with living and working in impoverished conditions. Along the way, Eliza tested positive for HIV. She was devastated at first, but eventually realized that she could live a healthy life by taking care of her health and taking the appropriate drugs.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel
One day, Eliza met some outreach workers from a local organization that had started a counselling booth for people in Hyena Square. She was inspired and started visiting them everyday, and eventually they invited her to join them in their rescue house. Eliza left her room in the guesthouse, started to think about her future, and before long was in the counseling booth, reaching out to her former colleagues with advice on how to escape the lifestyle and start over.

Now in her early 20s, Eliza serves as a role model for many young girls. The Staying Alive Foundation is funding her return to her home region of Iringa, where she will work with young women and their parents to help them understand the consequences of sending their daughters to be “house girls” in Dar es Salaam. She is also educating her community about the devastating consequences of sex work and the trials of HIV.

Kelly Rowland’s Journey to Hyena Square

Kelly Rowland (centre) and Eliza (right) at Uwanja wa Fisi (Hyena Square)

Kelly Rowland (centre) and Eliza (right) at Uwanja wa Fisi (Hyena Square)

During Kelly’s visit, she spent time with Eliza and T-MARC staff at their office in Dar es Salaam and then toured Hyena Square meeting and interviewing other sex workers. Kelly spoke with many young women and shared that she grew up in a household with no father like many of them and understands that loss. She also shared that she believes in the power of faith and the perseverance to create a better life, just as she did for herself.

For more see http://www.staying-alive.org and https://pshi.aed.org/projects_tmarc.htm

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AIDS/HIV & MALARIA STATISTICS

Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda released the results from a recent survey carried out by National Bureau of Statistics with assistance from USAID. The survey interviewed and took blood samples from more than 9,000 women aged 15-49 and close to 7,000 men aged 15-49 in all 26 regions of Tanzania. The results indicated a 4.7% HIV prevalence rate among men and a 6.8% rate among women. This is a slight improvement over the 2003-04 survey which found rates of 6.3% and 7.7% respectively.

Iringa recorded the highest rate of 14.7% (previously 13.4%) followed by Dar es Salaam at 8.9% (previously 10.9%), Mbeya at 7.9% (previously 13.5%) and Shinyanga at 7.6% (previously 6.5%). Zanzibar had the lowest prevalence rate at 0.6%. Age-wise, the highest prevalence was among the 35-39 age group (10%).

The survey also collected information on knowledge of HIV, attitudes and behavourial aspects. Over 98% of respondants had heard about HIV/AIDS. 68.6% of women and 76.3% of men knew that condoms can reduce the risk of contracting HIV, while 82% and 86.6% knew that limiting sex to one uninfected partner who has no other partners would reduce the risk. 85% and 89% where aware that abstaining from sexual intercourse is another recognized prevention method.

With regard to Malaria, 56% of the households covered in the study owned some type of mosquito net (increased from 46% observed in the 2004-05 survey). 37% of children under age five years and 36% of pregnant women slept under a mosquito net. Children and pregnant women in urban areas were found to be twice as likely to use mosquito nets than their rural counterparts.

The overall prevalence of malaria in young children in Tanzania was 18%. In rural areas, 20% of children carried the malaria parasite compared to 7% in urban areas. Kagera had the highest prevalence of malaria among young children (42%) while Arusha had the lowest with less than 1%.

The statement ended “To conclude, these results should be taken as a challenge in the nation’s effort to reduce the incidences of new HIV infections and eradication of malaria among children. We all have to work together towards achieving the desired levels so that we save lives of our people especially children under age five years.”

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BIOFUEL PROJECT

A 400 hectare biofuel project to grow sugar cane for use in producing ethanol is planned for Bagamoyo District. The company behind the project, Sekab Bio-energy Tanzania, already operates similar projects in other areas of East and Central Africa and plans to employ around 500 people on the farm. A water reservoir is planned from the Lower Ruvu River to allow drip irrigation of the crops. The farm manager Andre Fayd’herbe is hopeful that the project would start producing ethanol by next year.

Concerns have been expressed by OXFAM and others over the widespread adoption of biofuel crops particularly on land previously used for food cultivation. Robert Bailey, OXFAM policy advisor notes “In the scramble to supply the EU and the rest of the world with biofuels, poor people are getting trampled “

The aim of producing biofuel is to replace petrol used in cars, but scientists have said that it takes so much energy to produce some biofuels that it would be cleaner overall to burn petrol in our cars. That said, ethanol production from sugar cane is said to be one of the more efficient biofuel conversion processes.

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TANZANIA IN THE INTERNATIONAL MEDIA

(In order to make this section as interesting and representative as possible we welcome contributions from readers. If you see a mention of Tanzania in the journal, magazine or newspaper you read, especially if you live overseas or travel outside the UK/Tanzania, please send us the relevant item together with the name and date of the publication. We greatly value the many contributions we receive for this section of TA. – Editor)

Judith Melby writing in CHRISTIAN AID NEWS (Summer 2008) gave her view that Tanzania was not getting the financial returns it should be getting at the Geita Gold Mine: Extracts:
‘When Tanzania entered into contracts with mining companies in the 1990s, the World Bank was urging governments to develop private investments and provide incentives to attract foreign capital. Peter Kafumu, Commissioner for Minerals, says negotiating with the mining companies and their experienced lawyers was intimidating, and likened it to facing a traditional African weapon: “The companies are holding a panga by the handle and we are getting the sharp end.” Instead of reaping the rewards of a bonanza, Tanzania has lost hundreds of millions of pounds because the royalties levied on extracted gold are so low and mining companies have reportedly minimised their tax liability by inflating their losses.

AngloGold Ashanti’s (AGA) mine in Geita, one of Africa’s biggest open-cast mines, produced 308,000 ounces of gold in 2006 but AGA would only start paying corporation tax in 2011- 11 years after starting operations. Yet the company’s own annual reports showed that it made operating profits of US$93million from Geita between 2002 and mid-2007.

The residents of Geita had little to show for AGA’s gold boom. The town has few paved roads and intermittent electricity, and water is still drawn from wells. The town’s population has exploded from 20,000 to 120,000 as men flock there in search of work. Geita District Hospital was built in 1956 and probably has not seen much upgrading since. It is busy, with about 250 outpatients a day and 160 inpatients. Many wards have two patients to a bed…..’

‘Tanzania’s Environment Body Gets Tough on Developers.’ This is the heading of an article in the EAST AFRICAN (June 16) explaining that the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) has warned that development projects of almost all kinds must undertake environmental impact studies before launching projects. The Council stated its intention to take stern measures against any violations of the environmental law.

Vicky Ntetema writing in the July issue of the BBC’s FOCUS ON AFRICA explained how even Tanzania’s middle classes were now feeling the pinch as the prices of the main staple foods had gone up two fold in the past few months to 80 cents for a kilo of maize and $1 for a kilo of rice. The article quotes the case of 49-year-old pharmacist Joyce Mwasha who is fairly well paid, earning $700 a month at the city’s main hospital. Her husband is a forestry expert and together they can afford to send their son and daughter to boarding school. But they have noticed other price increases: meat is now $3 a kilo; it is $10 for a chicken and a kilo of cassava flour now costs 80 cents. She also has to spend between $60 and $100 on transport to work each month.

A highly-competitive student competition with £24,000 of prize money for the best ‘Big Idea’ (sponsored by the TIMES) attracted more than 1,000 entries from 68 universities around world. The paper reported that the winner was John Tilleman, the co-founder of ‘Solar Oven Systems’ which had developed a simple solar oven made from a piece of reflective plastic folded into a cone. Tilleman was reported to be in Tanzania to investigate the concept. He was hoping to use solar power to reduce deforestation – Thank you M. Anderson for sending this item – Editor.

According to EAST AFRICAN BUSINESS WEEK (February 25) data now being acquired in off-shore Tanzania has shown that it is possible that commercial production of petroleum oil and gas could be achieved as early as 2012. According to Dr. Philip Nelson, the Director of Petrodel Resources Ltd which has licences in Latham and Kimbiji there have been signs of “flat spots” and “bright spots” which are widespread in the seismic data from Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta. These ‘spots’ are fundamental to the discovery, development, and production of oil and gas he said. Petrodel began its survey in February to collect seismic data. The company expected to begin similar surveys at the offshore sector in Tanga later – Thank you Keith Lye for sending this and other items -Editor.

AFRICA REPORT published in its April issue a list of the top 500 companies in Africa. Way out ahead at the top of the list is Sonatrach, an Algerian hydrocarbon company which is followed by South Africa’s Old Mutual insurance company. The only Tanzanian company on the list – at number 275 – is Vodafone Telecoms. 37 of the top 50 companies in the list are in South Africa.

The EAST AFRICAN (April 21) reported that the Olympic torch had arrived in Dar es Salaam from Argentina on the night of 12th April (see last issue of TA). The torch had a trouble free journey through the Tanzanian capital, the only African leg of the flame’s journey to Beijing. The 25 kilometre route had to be scaled down to five kilometres because of heavy rains that had pounded the city and flooded several sections of the rally route. The paper said that it was, to all intents and purposes, an all-Chinese affair as Chinese citizens working in East Africa turned up at the airport and lined the streets. Only a small crowd of Tanzanians were there at the periphery.

DEVELOPMENTS, published by the UK’s DIFID, highlighted in its Issue 4 of 2008 what it described as an unprecedented joint venture between the Japanese giant Sumitomo Chemical and A-Z Textiles in Arusha (see cover photo TA 0). Sumitomo are the creators of the ‘Olyset’ anti mosquito net – the first long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets which are guaranteed to last for at least five years. They never need re-treatment, are virtually tear-proof and can be washed up to 20 times while remaining effective. The non-toxic insecticide is contained within the fibre, not coated on the outside. The Arusha factory is now one of Tanzania’s largest employers with approximately 3,200 staff, mostly women – Thank you John Sankey for sending this – Editor.

‘Eco philanthropists are now buying up vast tracts of East Africa with little interest in commercial gain. Will this be the generation to rescue Africa’s wildlife and offer affluent consumers a true wilderness experience?’ This was the subject of an article in the FINANCIAL TIMES on 17th May by Lucia van der Post in which she described an ‘African miracle’ taking place in the north-west corner of the Serengeti. Extracts: ‘Just six years ago, this vital Western corridor of the reserve was a dismal hunting block with badly controlled hunting and poaching by the desperately poor population. It had now been transformed so that all its 346,000 acres were flourishing again under the beneficent eye of Wall Street fund manager Paul Tudor Jones. He has turned the area into ‘Singita Grumeti Reserves’ and made it one of the most sensationally luxurious safari destinations in Africa…. It has created jobs for some 600 people, offered educational scholarships and founded small businesses for neighbouring residents, to bring to this corner of Tanzania something of the prosperity that eco-tourism has brought to other places….. Nobody has any illusions that this eco-tourism can ever be made to pay its way. Keeping the costs down is the most that they are aiming for. Tudor Jones is rumoured to have poured some £45 million into the project and any future profit is to be directed to the ‘Grumeti Fund’ which helps villagers to set up small enterprises –Thank you Debbie Simmons for this – Editor.

A fun event reported in the WANTAGE HERALD (3rd July) comprised 20 specially created scarecrows scattered around the village of East Hagbourne and followed the heroes, heroines and villains theme of a church fete. It attracted a lot of attention. The objective was to raise funds to equip a hospital plus solar panels and equipment for schools in Liuli, Tanzania – Thank you Geoffrey Stokell for sending this – Editor.

The EAST AFRICAN (16th June) quoted the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List as describing a ‘grim’ roll-call of endangered species of birds around the world. Among the 1,226 species now threatened are the Sokoke Scops owls which feed mostly on insects such as beetles in the forests of coastal Kenya. But the birds are also found in the Usambara Mountains where a few hundred birds are still thought to reside. Global warming is affecting the bird population through long-term drought and sudden extreme weather which disrupts the natural environment of the birds.

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IVUNA METEORITE

Ivuna Meteorite

Ivuna Meteorite

The Natural History Museum (NHM) in London have acquired the largest specimen of the Ivuna meteorite from a private collector in the United States of America.

The 0.7 kg meteorite landed near Ivuna, Tanzania, on December 16, 1938, and was subsequently split into a number of samples. Most of the other specimens are held by private collectors or by the Tanzanian government.

Ivuna is one of only nine known meteorites that are classified as carbonaceous chondrites. These meteorites contain “heavy elements” (i.e. elements other than hydrogen and helium) in nearly the same abundances as in the sun, which means that they are essentially unaltered since they were formed at about the same time as the solar system itself, some 4.6 billion years ago. In 2001, investigation by a team from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, and the NASA Ames Research Center showed the presence in Ivuna of two simple amino acids, glycine and beta-alanine, and linked Ivuna with a likely origin in the nucleus of a comet.

‘Ivuna is a real-life time capsule that means we can look at the very first steps of how our solar system formed,’ said Dr Caroline Smith, meteorite curator at the Museum. ‘We hold one of the most comprehensive meteorite collections in the world, yet Ivuna has been a missing piece in the jigsaw.’

Ivuna will be a star specimen in a new meteorites gallery, which the NHM is planning for the near future. Before being put on display, the NHM’s Ivuna fragment will be taken to NASA’s Johnson Space Center, where a 20g piece will be removed and subdivided into two 10g pieces. One of these pieces will be set aside, while the other will be further divided into 200mg allocations for various teams of researchers to study.

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TANZANIA & SUDAN

Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation Minister Bernard Membe has said that Tanzania is opposed to the idea of the International Criminal Court (ICC) indicting Sudanese President General Omar El-Bashir for genocide. He said if this were to happen there would be a power vacuum that could hamper the peace process in Darfur, adding that the priority should now be to deploy the 26,000-person UN/African Union mission there – Mtanzania.

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BUSINESS & THE ECONOMY

By Joseph Kilasara
Exchange rate £1 = TShs 2,222

The Budget

The mood from the finance minister Hon. Mkullo about the economy’s performance was both upbeat and optimistic. Coming at a time when his counterparts, particularly in Western Europe and America, are reeling in the fallout from the credit crunch and skyrocketing commodity prices he must be a very optimistic man.

He estimates that the economy will grow at 7.8% this year (2007, 7.1%) and at over 8.1% next year with inflation being controlled at below 7% by June 2009 (9.7% April, 2008). His confidence is evidenced by the increasing availability of commercial bank credit which rose by 42% with lending rates declining to an average of 15.1% to March, 2008. The signing of the US sponsored Millennium Challenge Compact Agreement totalling around US$698m over 5yrs for infrastructure projects will also play a part.

While he identifies inflation as one of the major challenges to the economy, faltering economies of most donor countries could also prove to be another headache, as they are estimated to contribute about 34% of the budget. The falling price of oil may facilitate the achievement of the inflation target but it is likely to affect the level of revenue as oil related taxes contribute up to 20% total revenue projected. Read the rest of this entry »

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MISCELLANY

President Kikwete did not cross the Ruvuma River bordering Tanzania and Mozambique to accept the invitation he had received to join celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Frelimo, the ruling party in Mozambique. The president was offered the use of a small boat with a sail to cross because the Mkenda Kivukoni Bridge was still under construction. Jokingly, he said: “I gazed at that small boat and said to myself, mhh, I am a Mkwere without swimming skills. Better for Membe to do it because he has married an Mbambabay. He can swim.” The president was therefore represented at the anniversary celebrations by Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Membe – Sunday Observer.

The Infrastructure Development Ministry has directed upcountry bus operators and drivers to discontinue their tendency to stop anywhere on the highway to let passengers alight for short or long calls in adjacent bushes – Guardian.

The government is in the process of drafting a new law that would allow Tanzanians to have dual citizenship. When the process has been completed a Bill will be presented to both parliaments.
The government has plans to raise the number of agricultural extension officers so as to be able to post one officer in each village in the country by the year 2011. The Minister of Agriculture said that a number of training centres for the officers had been revived and that, by the end of this year, 1,200 officers would be available, while from next year the centres were expected to churn out 3,000 officers annually in a move to usher in an agricultural revolution in the country.

MICROSOFT and the Aga Khan Foundation are planning to establish 13 Community Technology Centres in Tanzania. ‘‘This project will characteristically focus on training unemployed and under-served youth in ICT skills to enhance their opportunities for employment and income generation,’’ said Mr Louis Otieno, the Microsoft East and Southern Africa, General Manager. He said the project will first be implemented in Arusha and Songea regions before moving to other regions. To promote rural economic development, the two organizations plan to help expand access to information and technology through the Aga Khan Foundation’s existing Rural Support Programmes.

Ally Rhemtullah

Ally Rhemtullah


Tanzanian fashion designer Ally Rhemtullah has been invited to take part in the London Fashion Week scheduled for September 14-19. It is the first time a Tanzanian has been invited to the London Fashion week, which allows fashion designers or “houses” to display their latest collections. An excited Rhemtullah said he will showcase the modern Khanga because it will be a way of promoting Tanzanian culture “I am delighted because it is an honour to go and represent East Africa in one of the best fashion finale in the world,” he said – Daily News

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OBITUARIES

Mourners at the funeral of Bokhe Munanka

Mourners at the funeral of Bokhe Munanka

Former minister in the first post-independence cabinet, Bokhe Munanka (81) died on July 25 after complaining of chest problems. He was at one time Secretary of the Pan Africa Freedom Movement for East and Central Africa and was imprisoned for political reasons in 1958. He was elected Member of Parliament for North Mara in the first general election in Tanganyika in 1959 and served as a personal assistant to the President from 1964 to 1972.

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