Archive for Miscellany

AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

Cattle straying
Strains in the relationship between Tanzania and Kenya are being exac­erbated by Maasai-owned cattle from Kenya straying over the border between the two countries in search of pasture. Tanzania has now taken drastic action and recently auctioned off 2,410 Kenyan cattle it had rounded up. A further 1,125 Kenyan cattle belonging to the Maasai were also seized because of a fear of the spread of bird flu. Tanzania estimates that some 30% of livestock pastures in Tanzania are consumed by cattle from neighbouring countries.

Controversy continues on GM crops
The controversy about the use of genetically modified (GM) products is widening. GM crops are banned in most of Africa and Europe but are grown in vast quantities in the Americas. Many farmers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi are in favour of the use of genetically modified cotton seeds even though they are more expensive, as they provide stronger resistance against pests.

The whole dispute between users of GM crops is matched by disputes within the British Royal family according to the London Times. Princess Anne, who farms in Gloucestershire, believes that if we are going to be better at producing full value then we have to accept that genetic technology is going to be part of that. The Prince of Wales who also has several farms, is a vigorous campaigner against GM technology. Britain’s Minister of Agriculture George Eustace has stated that the British government is considering relaxing present restrictions on GM crops after Brexit, the subject which is dominating political discourse in Britain.

Poultry
Poultry breeders in Tanzania are asking the government to block imports of poultry and its products to protect their businesses. Manase Mrindwa, the Secretary General of the Tanzania Poultry Breeders Society, has stated that they have the capacity to supply about 85% of the needs of the local market and that an 18% waiver on Value Added Tax had attracted more investment in production, but that the illegal trade in eggs and newly hatched chicks from neighbouring countries was threatening the growth of the business. In October last year govern­ment authorities in Arusha destroyed 6,400 chicks imported from Kenya through the Namanga border point.

The Uluguru Grasshopper
The Uluguru Mountain Range Reserve near Morogoro has become a tourist attraction due to the presence of the Uluguru Grasshopper. The grasshopper has become known as ‘December Ninth,’ as it shares the colours of Tanzania’s national flag. Some residents are said to believe that the creators of the flag chose the colours from this grasshopper. The mountainside has been attracting visitors from across the world because of its unique flora and fauna including flying frogs, chameleons, various species of songbirds and the steppingstone used in freshwater springs.

Lake Natron
Long-standing plans to construct a Soda Ash plant on the shores of Lake Natron have been abandoned following pressure from the international community and environmentalists. The proposed $500 million plant was expected to create 500 jobs but research has shown that building a factory on the shores of Lake Natron could result in the lake drying up in about 10 years.

Support for wheat farmers
In order to end the trade war between Tanzania and Kenya, the two countries have agreed to fund part of the production costs for wheat farmers and create a commercial bank to enable wheat farmers to access loans at a 5 -6% rate of interest. These measures are being taken to improve wheat farming, improve competitiveness of the locally produced grain and curb imports of the commodity from outside East Africa.

Tea and coffee
Tea production went down in Tanzania (and also in Kenya and Uganda) last year largely because of uneven distribution of the lower amount of rainfall received in most tea growing areas.

Threat from dams
Kenya’s plan to build dams on the Mara River and its tributaries is caus­ing growing concern in Tanzania. It believes that they pose a threat to the rich animal and plant life of the Serengeti ecosystem. The area has the river Mara as the only permanent source of water for the herds of wildebeest and other wildlife which migrate between the two countries.

Map of the seven dams in Kenya and one in Tanzania currently at planningstage. Background from www.openstreetmap.org, with information from TheSerengeti will die if Kenya dams the Mara River – Volume 51 Issue 4 – BakariMnaya, Mtango G.G. Mtahiko, Eric Wolansk

Comments

HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Calls for local production of medicine
President Magufuli has argued that the country must build its capacity for local drug factories. “Only 6% of the medicine is produced here… why? We must do something,’’ he said during an event hosted by the Medical Stores Department (MSD) in Dar es Salaam. According to data from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Tanzania spends over TSh 800 billion every year on importing medicine and medical supplies.

In response, researchers, investors and government leaders are now trying to answer the question: Can the local pharmaceutical industry recover its former glories?

Industrial players and researchers largely concur that current policy is unfavourable. Mr Jayesh Shah, Group Managing Director of Sumaria Group and former owner of Shelys, one of Tanzania’s largest pharma­ceutical firms, urged the government to “come up with a policy that makes local manufacturing of drugs mandatory, unlike the current one which favours importation.’’

“The cost of production was higher than the profit I was making, that’s one of the reasons I had to move out of the business,” he added. A report published by REPOA, a research institution, in 2014 found that pharmaceutical production had been a Tanzanian industrial success in the mid-90s, but that such former success is now history. By 2014, the industry was in decline, said the report. “There is a lack of active public sector support for local firms as compared to other competing coun­tries,’’ says the report. “It requires a change of mind-set for policy mak­ers in Tanzania to turn to prioritising and actively engaging in selective support of the sector,’’ suggested an academic study published in 2016, Making Medicines in Africa.

Some investors sense an opportunity. Mr Ramadhan Madabida, Managing Director of Tanzania Pharmaceutical Industries Limited (TPIL), says the pharmaceutical demand is USD $550 million per annum, but added that “locally active pharmaceutical industries in Tanzania which produce medicine are still not enough to curb the shortage.”

A report by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment shows that there are 13 pharmaceutical factories in the country, but that only five are currently active and only four are fully licensed.

Mr Madabida says the government needs to work in collaboration with local investors in filling the gap. But, he emphasises that “the govern­ment should formulate policies that enable investors to access funding from financial institutions to encourage more investment.”

“It is important now to think of motivating the local investors through tax incentives and opportunities for borrowing. There is no letter of credit being given to the local investors to enable them access funding from local financial institutions, as compared to foreigners,” he added.

Following the President’s intervention, calling for local manufacturing of drugs, over 10 local investors have expressed an intention to put up local drug factories, according to the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment. The Ministry added that the government is now laying groundwork for a National Pharmaceutical Sector Strategy, intended to ease operations for local investors.

According to the Ministry, this strategy will create a 15% price advan­tage for locally manufactured medicines compared to imported medi­cines, develop a list of medicines to be manufactured locally, create a pharmaceutical industrial park and cut taxes on imported raw materi­als.

Activists protest expansion of cigarette production for local market
Executive Director of Tanzania Tobacco Control Forum (TTCF), Lutgard Kagaruki, argued that the opening of Mansoor Industries Limited – an affiliate of Philip Morris International – in Tanzania, is bad news for the country’s health sector as smoking youths will likely fall victim to killer diseases such as cancer.

The company has started rolling out its products under the Chesterfield brand, according to a statement issued by Mrs Kagaruki.

She claimed that more than 2.4 million adults (15+ years) in Tanzania and 17,000 children aged 10-14 years smoke tobacco. “Research at Ocean Road Cancer Institute indicated that 32% of all cancers at the institute were tobacco-related, costing government more than $40m annually,” she added.

Expansion of health service facilities
The government has spent a total of TSh 162 billion (USD $72 million) in recent months on improving 170 health centres, President John Magufuli has said. He was speaking at a function to unveil 181 vehicles – worth TSh 20 billion – belonging to the Medical Stores Department.

Upon completion of the improvement exercise, he explained, the 170 health centres will be capable of performing emergency operations on pregnant women and children as the country seeks to further reduce maternal death and child mortality.

Apart from upgrading the 170 health centres, said Dr Magufuli, the government has also built a 268 more health centres, bringing the total number of such facilities across the country to 7,284.

“This includes construction of regional hospitals in the new regions of Njombe, Geita, Katavi and Simiyu. We are also introducing and improv­ing specialized services in various hospitals in the country,” he said.

Reports of Dengue fever outbreak
The Ministry of Health has confirmed several cases of Dengue fever in Dar es Salaam in early 2018. “11 patients have been diagnosed with the disease,” said the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Prof Mpoki Ulisubisya, adding that outbreak control measures are being imple­mented.

He said the ministry in collaboration with the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) and local clinics will continue to make diag­nosis to uncover more cases of the disease if any. Surveillance activities will be conducted in the coastal cities of Dar es Salaam and Tanga, according to the Ministry.

The worst dengue fever outbreak in Tanzania occurred in 2014 when more than 400 patients in Dar es Salaam were diagnosed with the disease and at least three died. Dengue fever is said to affect about 390 million people in the world every year, and is particularly prevalent along the East African coast.

There is no medicine or vaccine for dengue, so health experts recom­mend prevention by preventing mosquito bites. Mosquitoes that spread dengue are not the same as those that spread malaria, and bite both during the day and night.

Comments

ENERGY & MINERALS

by Roger Nellist

Good news in the electricity sector

Dkt. Tito E. Mwinuka and other Tanesco officials view progress on the Kinyerezi II power plant in Dar-es-Salaam.

In early April President Magufuli inaugurated a major new electricity generating plant known as Kinyerezi II in Dar es Salaam. Deploying six turbines, the plant will eventually add an additional 240 MW (mega­watts) of electricity to the national grid. The President said that 1,513 MW is currently being produced in Tanzania, which falls well short of the country’s needs. Noting that about 60% of Tanzanians still do not have any electricity and that hundreds of thousands of hectares of forests are being cut down for firewood and charcoal instead, the President called for a tripling of the country’s present electricity gener­ating capacity so that the government’s goal of attaining middle-income status by 2025 can be fulfilled. “A reliable power supply is crucial for the country’s economic growth since it enables manufacturers to produce continuously, hence creating more employment,” he explained. He also called on TANESCO to find ways to reduce power tariffs, to benefit consumers and industries.

Kinyerezi II was constructed by the Japanese company Sumitomo and cost just over $350 million to build. Japanese soft loans financed 85% of that cost whilst Tanzania funded the remaining 15%. The project was completed more than a month ahead of schedule and employed some 2,000 workers during its construction, 80% of whom were Tanzanian.

The recently appointed Minister for Energy, Dr Medard Kalemani, who joined the President at the inauguration, gave details of the other big power projects that will be implemented over the next five years. Together, they will help fulfil the President’s goal of tripling Tanzania’s electricity generating capacity. Those projects are: Kinyerezi III, which will add a further 600 MW, and Kinyerezi IV at least another 330 MW.

Map showing the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge project -background map from www.openstreetmap.org

Moreover, work on the controversial hydropower generating project at Stiegler’s Gorge is set to begin in July this year and will take 36 months to complete. The huge project – which has been on the cards since the 1970s when ambitious plans were first drawn up – involves the con­struction of a dam on the Rufiji River in the Selous Game Reserve, set to be the largest dam in Tanzania. The Stiegler’s Gorge plant is designed to generate 2,100 MW – sufficient to put an end to the electricity out­ages and shortages that have beset the country for so long and possibly provide some surplus for export to neighbouring countries.

The Minister said that the government is currently providing the essen­tial infrastructure to service the Stiegler’s Gorge project’s construction: “We are now connecting the area with electricity from Morogoro … We are also building roads to connect the area … It is our hope that the project will be completed by early 2021”. The project itself awaits final approvals.

Acacia Mining
Following last year’s mega dispute with the government over the exports of gold concentrates and the amount of tax underpaid, Acacia Mining (Tanzania’s largest gold producer) released a financial state­ment in mid-April announcing that its gold production fell 45% in the first quarter of 2018 compared with a year earlier. Its production of 121,000 ounces was due to lower output at its main Bulyanhulu mine (which has faced reduced operations since last autumn) and because of lower grade ore at its Buzwagi mine. Its first quarter revenues were down accordingly by 33%.

The company said it is currently studying the best ways to restore full-scale operations at its Bulyanhulu gold mine, which it expects to do by 2020. It also clarified that although gold mining will cease at Buzwagi later this year the mine will not be closed but for the next two or three years will process stockpiles of its gold ores.

Also in mid-April, Acacia Mining’s human rights record in Tanzania came under renewed scrutiny and criticism when five Tanzanian and international human rights groups issued a press release and sent an open letter to Acacia’s Board of Directors urging them to step in to improve the company’s human rights record at its North Mara Gold Mine. They expressed alarm that Acacia’s new community griev­ance mechanism to address long-standing human rights and other complaints at the mine fell well short of the company’s human rights obligations.

Since 2014 numerous reports have drawn attention to serious viola­tions at the North Mara Mine, including killings, beatings and sexual violence. Last September the International Commission of Jurists said it was “deeply concerned about the gravity of many of [the] allegations and the difficulties [victims] experienced in accessing any adequate remedy and reparation”. Subsequently, Acacia revamped its commu­nity grievance mechanism at North Mara, providing a process whereby victims can bring human rights and other complaints to mine officials for investigation, compensation and remedy. However, although some progress has been made in addressing some victims’ claims, the rights group consider the revised mechanism to fall well short of what is required. They maintain it is not compliant with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and “lacks human rights benchmarks, lacks transparency, lacks independence, provides very limited legal assistance for an overly legalistic process, and creates confusion about whether it will accept complaints about police abuse at the mine site, among other problems”. Tanzania’s Legal and Human Rights Centre recently stated that “Tanzanians deserve to have their rights respected by multinational companies conducting business in our country … . Acacia Mining and [its parent company] Barrick Gold should … ensure the North Mara community grievance mechanism is independent, fair and transparent”.

Comments

TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

New Air Tanzania plane arrives, finally!
A new Bombardier Q400 aircraft has arrived in Tanzania, after extensive legal delays in Canada, from where the 76-seater aircraft was purchased for USD $32 million. The aircraft is the third such plane to arrive in Tanzania under the efforts of President Magufuli to revive the national flag-carrier airline, Air Tanzania. Three further deliveries are scheduled for later this year, including two Bombardier CS300 planes and one Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner.

The new aircraft was initially scheduled to arrive in the country last year, but was seized by a court order requested by the construction firm Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd. Stirling’s claim stems from a 2010 com­pensation ruling by the International Court of Arbitration over a road construction contract that was terminated a number of years back, and which had not been paid by the Tanzanian government.

In August 2017, when the seizure of the plane was first reported by opposition politician Tundu Lissu, this was initially denied by the gov­ernment. A spokesperson later told reporters that the delays resulted from a conflict masterminded by a few unpatriotic Tanzanians, arguing that lawyers who filed a case before seizing the government property had no legal locus standi to do so, but were pushed by a few local politi­cians who wished the country ill.

The government has made no statement on why the situation has now changed and the plane has been released, or whether the money demanded by Stirling Civil Engineering has been paid.

On its arrival, President John Magufuli called for unity and patriotism among Tanzanians. “Elsewhere, people are always united when advanc­ing their countries’ development agenda. We need to put national inter­ests first. We should not get divided because this plane which arrived today is for our own benefit,” he said.

Air Tanzania currently operates between Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Kigoma, Kagera, Dodoma, Mbeya, Ruvuma, Mtwara, Zanzibar and the Comoros. (The Citizen, Daily News)

President Magufuli urges rapid delivery of rail project
President Magufuli has called on the contractor to ensure timely com­pletion of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project, saying it will benefit the country and its people a lot, as well as help increase govern­ment revenues. He urged the Turkish firm responsible for this section of the project, Yapi Merkezi Insaat VE Sanayi, to do all it can to complete work ahead of schedule, stating that upon completion it will create at least 30,000 direct and about 60,000 indirect employment opportunities.

The President was speaking in Ihumwa, Dodoma Region, at the launch of the second phase of the project to upgrade the Central Railway – build over 100 years ago – to standard gauge, and to electrify the line. This phase will connect Morogoro to Makutupora in Dodoma Region, covering 426 kilometres, part of the overall 1,219km route from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza. The total project is expected to cost TSh 15 trillion.

Further connections are anticipated to Kigali, in neighbouring Rwanda, through a project partly financed by the government of Tanzania from its own sources. This will connect to the Dar-Mwanza line in the town of Isaka, to the south of Mwanza. Attracting Rwandan business to the SGR is thought to be key to the project’s viability, against competition from road freight and the rail route through Kenya and Uganda. Speed – and thus electrification – is seen as a key factor in this regard: Rwanda and Tanzania are targeting passenger speeds of 160kmph and cargo train speeds of 120kmph, compared to 80-110kmph on the diesel-powered Kenya route.
Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Makame Mbarawa, said the Ministry will cooperate with the contractors in trying to complete the project on time.

The Turkish ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Ali Davutoglu, assured President Magufuli of the Turkish government’s commitment to continued cooperation with Tanzania in implementing this and other development projects. He said the SGR project would act as a catalyst to Tanzania’s efforts to transform itself into a middle-income economy by 2025.

Uber establishes firm foothold in Dar es Salaam
The disruptive taxi firm, Uber, has established a firm presence in Dar es Salaam since its launch in the city in 2016. According to a statement released by the company, there are 53,000 active Uber users in Dar es Salaam, and 1,000 active drivers.

The figures show Tanzania well behind continental leaders, South Africa (around 1 million users), and indeed behind neighbouring Kenya (360,000 users). Nevertheless, the number of users in Dar has rapidly achieved the critical mass that means users can generally rely on the service to find a vehicle for them when needed, and that drivers can depend on a steady stream of income from passengers.

Uber has now innovated further in Tanzania, introducing a new part­nership with the mobile phone company, Tigo. Under the new arrange­ments, Tigo users will be able to use the Uber app on their phones with­out incurring any data charges, and to make payments to Uber drivers using the Tigo Pesa mobile money service. (Daily News)

Comments

ARCHIVING RESEARCH ON MAFIA

Archiving material from nearly half a century of anthropological research on Mafia Island, Tanzania – Pat Caplan, Goldsmiths College London

I first went to Mafia Island as a Ph.D. student of social anthropology in 1965, and continued to visit it regularly for the next 45 years. During this time, I kept my own diaries and asked local people to keep diaries for me, filled many notebooks, made recordings, took photos, shot a film using a camcorder, and of course collected a great deal of secondary material, especially when in the country. In between visits I wrote and received many letters (later emails) and set up a website about Mafia in both Swahili and English (www.mafia-island-tanzania.gold.ac.uk).

My research covered kinship and descent, gender relations, health, food, relations between village and state, development and globalisa­tion, spirit possession and personal narratives/historical biography.

I used a wide variety of methods, including participant observation, interviewing, population surveys, and photography, recording and film. Although the focus of my work was the northern village of Kanga, I also lived and/or visited other parts of the island, including the villages of Bweni, Banja, Baleni, Chole Mjini and the district capital Kilindoni. Time was also spent in Dar es Salaam, including at the University, and in Zanzibar, as many Mafia migrants lived in these places.

Last year I decided to archive all of this material, and SOAS Library said they would be happy to take it. This meant a lot of sorting, labelling, weeding and finally listing everything in a way which would make sense for other users, including the archivists. This took quite a long time, but was an opportunity to-revisit, indeed re-live, some memorable times. In addition to the listings of folders and files, I also prepared a background document detailing the work done on each of my visits, and the publications which resulted.

The bulk of the collection was delivered just before Christmas 2017 and the last remnants of photos just after. The archivist with whom I had been working told me that it might be 2019 before the archive could be open to interested readers, as cataloguing takes a long time and there are of course never enough resources.

Archiving also raises ethical issues, as an archived document is placed in the public domain. For this reason, some files are embargoed for peri­ods of time to protect informants. Nonetheless, archives not only enable the viewing of historical documents but also of the attempts to make sense of information gathered and the creation of knowledge.

What is in the archive?
a. Field notes from research trips to Mafia Island and elsewhere in the coastal region: 1962, 1965-7, 1976, 1985, 1994, 2002, 2004, 2010.
b. Genealogies for 1965-7 Kanga village, Mafia Island
c. Notebooks for 1965-7, 1976, 2002, 2010
d. Sea charts of Mafia and Kilwa channels, showing Mafia Island
e. Photos
f. Copies of film (2003) Life on Mafia Island (English), Maisha ya Watu Kisiwani Mafia (Swahili)
g. Secondary and grey material about Mafia Island
h. Listing of field notes

Comments

MULTIPLE ARRESTS FOR “HOMOSEXUALITY”

Authorities in Zanzibar in September 2017 detained 20 people accused of engaging in same-sex activities, another incident in an ongoing crackdown on homosexuality in Tanzania. Twelve women and eight men were arrested following a police raid on a hotel where the suspects were attending a workshop, said regional police chief Hassan Ali. “We rounded them up because we suspect that they were engaged in homosexuality in Zanzibar, which is illegal in Zanzibar and is against the law of the country,” he said, adding that police “will intensify (their) vigilance against those groups.”

Under a colonial-era law, “carnal knowledge against the order of nature” is a criminal offence in Tanzania. Sex among men is punishable by jail terms ranging from 30 years to life imprisonment.

A year earlier, in September 2016, the government temporarily suspended HIV/AIDS outreach projects targeting gay men. And in February 2017, the government stopped 40 privately run health centres from providing AIDS-related services, accusing them of catering to homosexuals.

It is reported that “several dozen” people have been arrested since December 2016 for “homosexuality” or “promoting homosexuality”.

More recently, in October, thirteen human rights lawyers and activists were arrested while holding a meeting at the Peacock Hotel in Dar es Salaam for “promoting homosexuality.” Lazaro Mambosasa, Dar es Salaam head of police, confirmed the arrests, stating that the “criminals” had violated Tanzanian law. The meeting had been organized by the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa (ISLA), a Pan African organization whose mandate is to advance women’s and sexual rights. ISLA say homosexuality was not on the agenda at their meeting.

“Its aim was to explore the possibility of mounting legal challenges to the government’s ban on drop-in centres serving key populations at risk of HIV, as well as the ban on importation of water-based lubricants, an essential HIV prevention tool,” said a statement issued by Human Rights Watch, a partner of ISLA.

In a separate incident, a woman in Geita could face jail after a video of her kissing another woman and presenting her with a ring went viral on social media. She was arrested in the town after the clip of her at a party was widely shared.

President Magufuli has threatened to arrest and expel activists and to de-register organisations that campaign for gay rights.

Comments

HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH REPORT BLOCKED

Tanzania’s Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) has blocked Human Rights Watch (HRW) from launching a report on abuses against migrant Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and United Arab Emirates. Dr Willium Kindekete of COSTECH said the commission decided to ban the report because the researchers did not follow procedures.

He said HRW officials who were to launch the report have some immigration issues. “Their visas do not identify them as researchers, but just visitors; so they aren’t allowed to work in the country,” said Dr Kindekete.

HRW researcher on Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, Rothna Begum, said she had followed the correct procedures – including getting agreement for the launch from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Labour – but received information of the ban one hour before the scheduled launch. She noted that something must have happened behind the scenes leading to the ban. She added that the real focus of the research was to give a chance to the government to find a way forward in helping domestic workers from Tanzania abused in Oman and UAE.

She said HRW interviewed 87 people including Tanzanian officials, trade unionists, recruitment agents and 50 Tanzanian female domestic workers who worked in Oman and the UAE. “All the respondents said their employers and agents confiscated their passports. Many worked long hours (up to 21 hours a day) without rest. They said they were paid less than promised or not at all, forced to eat spoiled or left-over food, shouted at and insulted daily and physically and sexually abused.”

The report, “Working Like a Robot’: Abuse of Tanzanian Domestic Workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates” was released by Human Rights Watch on their website. It found that Tanzanian domestic workers in Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) face excessive working hours, unpaid salaries, and physical and sexual abuse. Abusive visa-sponsorship rules in those countries and gaps in Tanzania’s policies leave the women exposed to exploitation, according to the report.

There are thousands of Tanzanian domestic workers in the Middle East. While some have decent working conditions, many others face abuse, said Human Rights Watch.

Comments

AGRICULTURE

by David Brewin

Charcoal and wood
Moves are underway to ban trade in wood and especially in charcoal in Tanzania in a government program to curb deforestation. Statistics from the Tanzania Forest Service Agency show that the country converts more than 370,000 hectares of forest to charcoal every year. But charcoal traders are opposed and saying that thousands of people who use charcoal or earn a living from producing or selling it will suffer. Poor households across Tanzania’s main cities and towns regard forests as a source of income, harvesting trees to supply growing markets for charcoal and timber. About 2 million tonnes of charcoal is consumed in Tanzania ever year, half of it in Dar es Salaam.

Sea cucumbers
The growing demand for sea cucumbers has prompted traders in Zanzibar to call for regulation of exports of this marine species. According to the East African they say that trade in the sea cucumber is unregulated on the island with poachers smuggling it to Asian markets. In China a kilogram of processed sea cucumbers can go for as much as $300 depending on the species.

Sea cucumbers are processed and exported either by sea or air to China, Hong Kong and Dubai, where the demand is high. Exporting to Asia via Ethiopian airlines costs $1.20 per kilo. To process the sea cucumbers, farmers boil them in hot water sprinkled with salt, then dry them on the shore. 1 kg of sea cucumbers shrinks to about 200 grams. The dried product is considered a luxury food item in many Asian seafood markets. The delicacy not only generates revenue but also contributes to food security among fishing communities. It is believed to have high nutritional and medicinal value and is used in China to treat health problems such as fatigue, impotence and joint pains. The harvest period lasts about seven months. There are about 1,000 species worldwide according the National Geographic Magazine.

Coffee levies
The Tanzanian government is scrapping 17 taxes and levies imposed on coffee as part of measures to boost production. The levies include coffee buying, processing and selling fees as well as marketing. Examples of fees include $1,000 for a licence to sell coffee, $20 for a permit to purchase parchment dry cherry coffee and $250 for a coffee processing licence. The country has put in place a 10-year development plan to raise the annual production of coffee. It is hoped that production will increase from about 50,000 tonnes 100,000 tonnes over the next four years

Coffee accounts for about 5% of Tanzania’s total exports and generates about $100 million per year. Tanzania is the fourth largest coffee producing country in Africa after Ethiopia, Ivory Coast and Uganda.

Fertiliser pricing
Tanzania has set regulations for the importation and supply of cheaper fertilisers and appointed two firms to supply 55,000 tonnes of urea and diammonium phosphate. 50kg bags will sell between for $26 and $50.

The fertiliser deal was agreed upon between King Mohammed of Morocco and President Magufuli during the King’s tour of Tanzania in October. Tanzania plans to build a $3bn fertiliser factory in partnership with German, Danish and Pakistan industrialists.

Sweet potato laws
New efforts are underway to harmonise standards for sweet potato seed production, which is considered crucial in improving the quality, quantity and market access of the crop. New standards for production of the crop include ensuring that potato seed multipliers sell quality vine seedlings that are disease-free and that they are of the right variety and quantity. Margaret McEwan, a senior project manager for the International Potato Centre has been quoted as saying that the production of sweet potatoes had been hampered by virus diseases that affect the quality of vines. She said: “with the improved disease – resistant sweet potatoes farmers can produce between 12 and 15 tonnes per hectare compared with 4 tonnes using the existing varieties.” Sweet potatoes are the most important food crop in East and Central Africa after cassava and maize.

Tsetse fly eradication
The Tanzanian islands of Zanzibar are among pioneers to successfully use radiation against the tsetse fly, according to a report released by the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation (ROSATOM). This has been achieved through the nuclear-based sterile insect technique (SIT), a form of insect pest control that involves the mass-breeding and sterilisation of male tsetse flies using ionising radiation in special rearing facilities. The sterile males are released systematically in tsetse infested areas, where they mate with wild females, which do not subsequently produce offspring.

Comments

TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

Arguments flare over Air Tanzania plane seized in Canada A new commercial aircraft, purchased by the government as part of President Magufuli’s efforts to boost the previously-ailing Air Tanzania (ATCL), has been seized in Canada by a construction firm in dispute with the Tanzanian government over a long-standing debt. The aircraft – a Bombardier Q400 – had been expected to arrive in Tanzania in July 2017, but remains in Canada at the time of writing. The Canadian firm, Stirling Civil Engineering Ltd, seized the plane in Canada over a $38 million lawsuit before it could be delivered by Bombardier Inc to the Tanzanian government. The claim stems from a 2010 compensation ruling by the International Court of Arbitration over a terminated contract to construct a road between Bagamoyo and Wazo Hill / Kunduchi.

The government plans to revive ATCL involve the purchase of at least six new aircraft, including one Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The new planes are reported to have been placed under the ownership of the Tanzania Government Flight Agency – a state-owned firm – to avoid possible confiscation of the planes from lawsuits related to Air Tanzania’s multi million-dollar debts from previous suppliers.

The seizure of the aircraft came to light after two opposition MPs, Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo) and Tundu Lissu (Chadema), asked questions about the late arrival of the new plane. Kabwe raised the matter on social media and then Lissu held a press conference. In response, the then acting director of Information Department

Services, Ms Zamaradi Kawawa, described the “Bombardier fiasco” as “dirty games” by some members of the opposition. “The government is aware that some of the opposition leaders are behind this. They hold malicious intentions towards efforts done by President Magufuli on bringing development in the country, but their days are numbered, their betrayal is intolerable,” she said, accusing them of being unpatriotic.

Lissu asked “who is patriotic between me and the government that didn’t want to tell its people about the court case and subsequent seizure of the plane? Who is sullying the image of the country internationally between me and the government which is failing to adhere to international standards and clear the debt since 2010?”

A few days later, Lissu was arrested and his residence in Dar es Salaam was searched by the police. Two weeks later, in early September, he was shot multiple times by unknown assailants outside his home in Dodoma. He narrowly survived the attack. (See politics section, this issue).

The government of Tanzania has appealed through diplomatic channels to the government of Canada to intervene to ensure the plane’s release and delivery to Tanzania. Further, the government has promised to challenge Stirling Civil Engineering’s claims in court. (The Citizen, Reuters)

Former ATCL chiefs found guilty
Two former senior officials of the same national airline (ATCL) have been found guilty of conspiracy, abuse of office and occasioning loss. Former Managing Director David Mattaka and his Chief Finance Officer Elisaph Ikombe were each sentenced to 21 years imprisonment or fines of TShs 35m each. They are expected to pay the fines. The trial magistrate, Victoria Nongwa, also gave the two convicts a one-month ultimatum to compensate ATCL with 143,442 US dollars (over TShs 320m), representing the loss they had caused.

The court found that while discharging their duties in 2007, the two intentionally abused their positions by inviting tenders to supply ATCL with 26 motor vehicles without approval of tender board, by procuring the motor vehicles from a Dubai-based firm without conducting competitive tendering, and by authorising payments for purchase of the motor vehicles without a formal procurement contract.

Tanzania purchases new radar equipment
The Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), has signed a TShs 61 billion contract with the French firm Thales Air Systems to install a new surveillance radar system. The system will involve installation of new equipment at four airports: Julius Nyerere International Airport (Dar es Salaam), Kilimanjaro International Airport, Songwe Airport in Mbeya and Mwanza Airport.

The Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Makame Mbarawa, spoke at the signing ceremony, explaining that a shortage of the relevant equipment in Tanzania has meant the eastern triangle portion of the country’s airspace is currently being monitored by Kenya. He noted that this has been denying TCAA up to $1m in fees annually from airlines using that portion of the airspace.

TCAA director general Hamza Johari said the project was part of wider efforts to secure the country’s air space. He added that TCAA would purchase the radars with internally sourced funds, of which 45% would be from the authority’s various sources and the government will provide the remaining 55%. He explained that the French firm won the tender through competitive bidding which involved five bidders.

New railway law
The Tanzanian Parliament has passed a new law – the Railways Act, 2017 – which will, among other things, enable the establishment of a new railway company, the Tanzania Railway Cooperation (TRC). The new company will be responsible for handling all rail matters including transportation services, developing, promoting and managing infrastructure assets in the country. The new law also facilitates the disbandment of Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) and the Rail Assets Holding Company (RAHCO). “All the contracts and agreements entered by TRL and RAHCO will be accommodated into the new company that means even the debts that the two entities had,” said Minister of Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Mbarawa. He added that the new law will replace the 2002 Railways Act.

Bulldozer goes to work around Ubungo

Tanesco building and Morogoro Road, Ubungo (Paul Scott. wikipedia)

President Magufuli has directed that the Tanesco headquarters building on Morogoro Road in Ubungo, Dar es Salaam must be demolished as it encroaches on the road reserve. The 10-story building is located within 90m of the centre of the road, in contravention of the Road Reserve Act. On the other side of the road, a boundary wall for the offices of the Ministry of Water also encroaches, and has already been demolished following the President’s instruction.

Potential demolition of the Tanesco building was raised in 2011 while President Magufuli was Ministry of Works. He had then instructed the National Roads Agency (Tanroads) and Tanesco to demolish the building, only to find himself overruled by the then Prime Minister, Mizengo Pinda.

Demolition of the building has become more urgent as the space is required for construction of a new $88m flyover interchange at Ubungo, similar to the interchange already under construction at TAZARA. Around 1,300 houses, public buildings and houses of prayers have been demolished this year by Tanroads to pave the way for the expansion of the Kimara-Kiluvya section of Morogoro Road.

Comments

HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Prize for Dr Malecela
Tanzania’s Dr Mwele Malecela has been awarded the 2017 Kyelem Prize in recognition of her work in combating neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). Dr Malecela, now serving as a Director in the World Health Organisation (WHO) African regional office, was previously director general of the National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in Tanzania. She was fired from that position by President Magufuli in December 2016, the day after she told the media there were signs that the Zika virus was present in Tanzania.

Dr Malecela’s prize was received on her behalf by Dr Upendo Mwingira, the NTD programme manager in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children. “It’s a real honour to have Dr Upendo receive the award on my behalf! Thanks Tanzania NTD Programme, it’s our collective success!” said Dr Malecela.

The Kyelem Prize is awarded by the NTDs research coalition (CORNTD), a group of researchers, programme implementers and their supporters with a shared goal of optimising elimination of NTDs. The prize is named after the late Dr Dominique Kyelem, a medical doctor from Burkina Faso who worked tirelessly in combating NTDs. (The Citizen)

Innovation in malaria prevention
The London Times recently published an article by Kate Wright about what it described as ‘Trojan cows’ and the worldwide campaign to defeat malaria. A biotech company is going further than the use of nets or insecticides to thwart the mosquitoes that carry malaria from person to person. They have now begun using livestock doused in human scent to lure mosquitoes to their deaths.

In much of East Africa livestock such as cows and goats often live alongside people. These animals get malaria. Mosquitoes tend to prefer sucking blood from humans. A potent cocktail of four or five human odour compounds has now been developed that can be sprayed on to animals so that they can develop their own alluring ‘eau de human’ rather than ‘eau de cologne’.

The concept has been tested on a small scale where researchers conducted experiments in which they go into a greenhouse, and then, together with the goats, face the mosquitos, noting where each one landed. The researchers found that mosquitos were attracted to the goats sprayed with a common worming medicine that also kills mosquitos. The mosquitos can thus be persuaded to bite cows or goats that will kill them and prevent them from spreading malaria. (The Times)

Malaria past and present
A new study has found that the prevalence of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa is at the lowest point since 1900. A team of researchers led by Professor Bob Snow of the Centre for Tropical Medicine & Global Health at Oxford University, spent 21 years finding and analysing data from over 50,000 surveys of malaria prevalence from across Africa.

The study found an overall decline of 24% in the number of children infected with malaria between 2010 and 2015, and a 40% drop between 1900 and 1929.

“Investment in malaria control in Africa has been sporadic in the past,” said Professor Snow. “The world has seen a reduction in malaria over the last 15 years, based largely on the use of treated bed nets and antimalarial drugs. If we take our eye off the ball, then rising drug resistance and falling control will lead to the sorts of increases we saw in the 90s.”

The financial boost provided by the Global Fund has, since 2005, led to one of the largest drops in malaria infection prevalence witnessed. However, gains made after 2005 have stalled since 2010. A decline in funding, coupled with increased insecticide and drug resistance, are the main obstacles to the elimination of malaria in Africa. (The Conversation)

Comments