by Ben Taylor

Tanzania concludes review of Covid response, aims to speed up vaccine rollout
The Ministry of Health in the United Republic of Tanzania, with technical support from WHO and other development partners including UNICEF, USAID, British Council, the Jon Snow Institute (JSI) and US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has concluded a second review of the country’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the previous review, conducted in October 2021, Tanzania had intensified immunisation activities, including expansion of outreach sessions and updated the existing National Vaccine Deployment Plan (NVDP).

Vaccine Deployment Manager, Dr Florian Tinuga, said the review was critical to assess the operational capacity of the system for a robust response to the pandemic. “The main purpose was to appraise the functional capacity of the Covid-19 response system at the national and sub-national levels following the introduction of additional vaccines (Sinopharm, Moderna and Pfizer vaccines),” he said. He added that the focus is to assist the country to identify best practices and challenges to further improve the vaccination roll-out.

The WHO focal person for Immunization and Vaccine Development (IVD), Dr William Mwengee reiterated WHO’s commitment to providing needed technical leadership of the Tanzanian response. “Although Tanzania had setbacks at the beginning of her response to COVID-19 pandemic, WHO will continue to provide needed technical leadership of the overall response to ensure that Tanzanians in Mainland and Zanzibar are largely protected from Covid-19 infections,” he said.

Best practices identified include intensified outreach services in Ruvuma region, characterised by the use of contextualised local slogans “Timua vumbi” that have enabled Ruvuma to reach the highest Covid-19 coverage of 12%, more than double the national average of 4%. In Dar es Salaam, the integration of Covid-19 vaccination in routine HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Clinics with the support of Management and Development for Health (MDH) increased the vaccination rate of People Living with HIV/AIDS from 2,000 to 5,000 per day. Engagement of vaccine champions in the communities have also helped to address misconceptions, rumours and misinformation.

Vaccination coverage in Tanzania remains significantly lower than the global and regional targets established for countries. At the time of writing (April 12, 2022), the latest official figures are that just under 4 million people in Tanzania have received one or more dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, representing 6.4% of the population. This compares to over 21% in Kenya and 32% in Uganda.

Key challenges responsible for low vaccination rates in Tanzania include delayed introduction the vaccine into the country, and low demand due to misinformation about Covid-19. Qualitative findings also indicate that many Tanzanians are unwilling to receive external Covid-19 vaccine due to uncertainties towards its effectiveness as deaths are still occurring in countries where people are vaccinated.

Going forward, the review highlighted the need for advocacy with high-level political, community and religious leaders and increased access to vaccines. In addition, a mass campaign to scale up vaccination activities with adequate resource mobilisation is needed in the coming months.

Separately, at a joint meeting of the Ministry of Health and development partnership, the WHO has called on development partners and agencies for a renewed commitment to strengthen the country’s effort to urgently interrupt ongoing transmission.

“Tanzania has an impressive routine immunization programme,” said Dr Tigest Ketsela Mengestu, the WHO Country Representative for Tanzania, “so I am confident that if partners and the government work harder together, Tanzania can surprise the world by scaling up Covid-19 vaccination coverage and be on track to achieving the targets”.

The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Professor Abel Makubi, reiterated the Tanzanian government’s commitment to scale up Covid-19 vaccination and ensure that her citizens are protected from the pandemic. He noted that Tanzania is still far from the national target of 60% of fully vaccinated population by June 2022. “The country is set to achieve the target but this requires the cooperation and support of the partners and donors”, he added.

Study on Covid-19 patients in Tanzania
The first study in Tanzania to examine the characteristics of Covid-19 patients and the outcomes of their treatment reveals about three-quarters of all patients were under the age of 60. Scientists studied the COVID-19 patients in the early months of the outbreak amid scarcity of data on the pandemic. Results of the study were published in IJID Regions, an official journal of the International Organization for Infectious Diseases (ISID).

Researchers tracked 112 patients at two referral hospitals in Dar es Salaam between April and May 2020. Of these, 93% were hospitalized, while 9 patients (7%) were out-patients.

According to findings of the study on characteristics of COVID-19 patients in Tanzania, the age of the studied patients reflects the number of people infected with the coronavirus in Africa. The average age of all patients was 41 years, while the average age of the patients who lost their lives was 58 years. Six out of 10 patients in the study were men. The average age is similar to that reported in South Africa but slightly lower than that reported in China, Libya, the United States (New York) and Italy in early stages of the pandemic, where the average age was higher, with patients being older compared to Tanzania and South Africa.

Headache was the commonest symptom reported among 55% of patients, followed by fever reported by 49%.

Professor Sayoki Mfinanga, a public health Specialist and researcher from the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) is the lead author of the study. He says that the symptoms found among patients during the study are similar to those reported worldwide. But he says, “…symptoms such as shortness of breath, altered consciousness, and neurological signs were significantly associated with mortality in the COVID-19 patients.”

“This is important because it is from Tanzania, the place where data was almost absent and the Covid story was only told by a political narrative,” said Mwidimi Ndosi, Associate Professor of Rheumatology Nursing at Bristol School of Health and Social Welfare in the UK.

“It calls into question all the previous government data and its interpretation that drove the policy, the implications of which are still affecting Tanzania now.” However, he adds: “This study opens the minds of some people who once believed that this is a disease that affects only the elderly,” says Ndosi.

Most Tanzanians use traditional medicines
The acting director of Healthcare Services at the Health Ministry, Dr Caroline Damiani, has said that over 60% of Tanzanians use traditional medicines to treat different diseases before or after trying ordinary health-care centres. Dr Damiani made the remark when opening a training seminar for traditional doctors. The seminar aimed at exchanging experiences among the herbalists and discussing various challenges and strategies of improving the profession of traditional and alternative medicine so that it can continue benefitting Tanzanians.

“Over 60% of Tanzanians, at one time or another, get treated by traditional medicine against various diseases before or after going to our health centres or hospitals providing modern health-care services,” said Dr Damiani. She said the main goal of the seminar was to ensure that traditional medicines were better from the stages of growing, harvesting, manufacturing, preserving to the stage of reaching the consumer so that there should not be side-effects.

According to Dr Damiani, the Health Ministry, through the Traditional and Alternative Health Practice Council, has registered 73 types of traditional medicine, out of which 20 had positive results during the period of fighting against the Covid-19 disease.

For his part, the representative of traditional and alternative medicine doctors, Mr Shaban Omary Shekilindi – who doubles as the Lushoto MP (CCM) – praised the ministry and its traditional and alternative medicine unit, for organising the seminar.


Tanzania UK Healthcare Diaspora Association (TUHEDA) making post-Covid progress
by Dr Gideon Mlawa

Dr Gideon Mlawa and other TUHEDA members during their visit to Tanzania

Tanzania UK Healthcare Diaspora Association (TUHEDA) members are continuing to carry out TUHEDA objectives which include collaboration in areas of medical education through knowledge sharing, research activities, and clinical care. Recently TUHEDA members visited Zanzibar and Tanzania Mainland.

In Zanzibar, Dr Gideon Mlawa, Dr Nasibu Mwande, Tania Leach, and Dr Daniel Leach visited the Ministry of Health, Mnazi Mmoja Hospital (Emergency Medicine department and Diabetes Unit), the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) Medical College and the Diabetes Association of Zanzibar (DAZ) headquarters. The team also visited Tumbi Hospital in Kibaha and received feedback on simulation training program set up 3 years ago as part of the TUHEDA-TUMBI(TUTU) collaboration.

TUHEDA and friends of TUHEDA were honoured to have an audience with the President of Zanzibar, Dr Hussein Mwinyi. The team had an opportunity to discuss the purpose of their visit as well as to set up the simulation training using high fidelity simulation manikin, nicknamed Rajab. Rajab’s new home will be at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) Medical College. In addition, 300 glucose meters will be donated to the Diabetes Association of Zanzibar and Mnazi Mmoja Hospital.

Dr Nasibu Mwande visited Kyela (Mbeya) to meet a community of people with albinism. This was a collaboration between TUHEDA and Kyela FM. Dr Mwande presented them with skincare lotion, sunglasses, and sun hats.

Dr Gideon Mlawa presented on Medical Management of Pituitary Tumours at the Neurosurgery-Pituitary Conference held at Muhmibili University Hospital (MOI). This is an initiative by TUHEDA team and Neurosurgery team at Muhimbili University Hospital (MOI) collaboration through the exchange of knowledge and skills and shared learning.


by Ben Taylor

Agricultural Transformation Agenda Launched
On April 4, 2022, President Samia Suluhu Hassan launched an “agri­cultural transformation agenda”, detailing a range of measures to improve agricultural productivity. Under the heading “Agenda 10/30”, these measures aim to produce a 10% annual growth rate for the sec­tor by 2030, up from 2% at present. The slogan “Kilimo ni Biashara” (Agriculture is Business) has been prominently used.

First among the new measures is the government’s desire to see com­mercial banks lower their interest rates when lending to the sector. The President urged banks to provide a single digit interest rate on loans to the agriculture sector. She said this was of paramount importance in shaping the agriculture sector and increasing its contribution to the economy.

“CRDB Bank is already charging a single digit interest rate to nine per­cent. I am positive NMB Bank, which is currently charging 10 percent, will follow suit. I will be even more happy if you go to eight percent,” said President Hassan.

Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA) chairman Abdulmajid Nsekela, also the Managing Director of CRDB Bank, expressed commercial banks’ commitment to addressing the challenge of access to capital that farmers were grappling with. He said currently the agriculture sector was accounting for less than 10 percent of the loans portfolio mainly due to lack of collateral.

“Some 14 banks have signed contracts with Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) for it to issue guarantees that will enable farmers to access loans,” he noted.

NMB Bank said it was fully supportive of the government’s ambitions to radically transform the national farming sector into a commercially driven modern enterprise, saying the lender was already using its financial muscle to propel the sector’s growth, having injected over TSh 1.3 trillion into the farming economy and its value chain in the past five years.

The President also instructed the Ministry of Agriculture to establish a Revolving Fund for agricultural inputs and agricultural development, using contributions both from internal sources of revenue and from development partners. “At a time when prices for agricultural inputs shoot due to external shocks, the Revolving Fund will be coming in to cushion farmers,” she said.

She directed the Ministry and the President’s Office for Public Service Management to review the Irrigation Commission structure, so that it should have offices in each district. Minister of Agriculture, Mr Hussein Bashe, has set a target of raising arable land under irrigation from 2% at present to 50%, which would see around 10 million hectares under irrigation, up from the current 600,000.

Further, the President announced plans to issue a price stability fund for fertiliser (where prices have risen sharply with rising fuel costs) and to establish a common use facility for packing, sorting and grading of horticultural products.

Scaling up extension services is another of the pillars in “Agenda 10/30”. Tanzania reportedly needs some 21,000 extension officers, though there are currently fewer than 8,000. Plans are in place to raise this figure quickly.

Finally, the government announced plans for the treasury to let off land that it holds but which remains idle, giving this instead to investors for commercial farming.

Financing these ambitions will require considerable budgetary resources. In the 2021-22 budget, the Ministry of Agriculture was allocated TSh 294 bn, of which 77% was for recurrent expenditure, leaving just Tsh 65 bn for development spending.

President Hassan has pledged to raise development spending, and Finance Minister Mwigulu Nchemba has hinted strongly that agricul­ture will be one of his top spending priorities in the coming 2022-23 budget.


by Ben Taylor

Tanzanite Bridge opens, connecting Oyster Bay and Dar city centre

Tanzanite Bridge

On February 1, 2022, the Tanzanite Bridge opened to road users. The 1km-long bridge connects Oyster Bay (Kenyatta Road close to Toure Drive) to Dar es Salaam city centre (on Obama Drive formerly Ocean Road) by the Aga Khan Hospital. The bridge’s striking design and construction combines elements of a girder bridge and a cable-stayed bridge to make it lighter.

With four lanes (plus pedestrian sections) and a capacity of 55,000 vehi­cles per day, the bridge is expected to ease congestion on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, which handles at least 42,000 vehicles every day. In particular, it will reduce pressure on the bottleneck point of Selander Bridge, originally constructed across the Msimbazi delta in 1929 and replaced in 1980.

The TSh 256 bn (USD $127m) cost of the bridge has been jointly pro­vided by the Tanzania government (17%) and a loan from the govern­ment of South Korea (83%).

The government said the bridge is significant in efforts to address the challenge of traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam. Minister of Works, Transport and Communications, Makame Mbarawa, said the chronic traffic congestion forced the government to come up with plans that included construction of roads and bridges in order to reduce, if not eliminate, the challenge.

Republic of Korea Ambassador to Tanzania, Kim Sun Pyo, said the project will stand as a symbol of success and cooperation between the two countries.

The bridge makes a bold addition to the skyline of Dar es Salaam, and has drawn praise from many. “Magnificent Tanzanite Bridge amazes city dwellers,” read the headline in the Daily News.

A motorcyclist, Richard Waniga told the same paper that he rode all the way from Kigamboni to witness the opening of the bridge. “I reside in Kigamboni; I just came to see the new bridge across the Indian Ocean… it is attractive, I commend the government for completing this project.”

Media commentator, Maggid Mjengwa, posted on Facebook that he was definitely the first person to cross the new bridge by bicycle.

Writing in The Citizen, commentator Charles Makakala offered praise for the bridge’s design. It is “an iconic structure,” he wrote, and “a work of beauty merging contemporary engineering with superb aesthetics.” He also noted that it is “expected to be popular with tourists too, who may wish to pass through and take memorable photos of their stay in the city.”

Nevertheless, Makakala also questioned the rationale behind the bridge. He argues that the money would have been better spent widen­ing Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road by building a second bridge alongside the existing Selander Bridge – that this would have been considerably cheaper. He adds that a bridge further upstream, connecting Kinondoni Hananasif and East Upanga near Muhimbili National Hospital, would have made more sense. And indeed he questions whether the continu­ous expansion of Dar es Salaam road networks should be top priority, when improvements to public transport services desperately need investment and when the government is in the process of relocating to Dodoma.

He concludes that we would be wise “to follow the money”. In particu­lar, he notes that the bridge will significantly raise the value and use of land in Msasani.

Agreement signed on Burundi rail link
In January, the governments of Tanzania and Burundi signed an agree­ment to construct a standard gauge railway between Uvinza in Kigoma to Burundi’s town of Gitega. The 282km line is expected to cost USD $900m. Finance and transport ministers from the two countries signed the deal in Kigoma.

On the part of Tanzania, the project would involve connecting Uvinza-Malagarasi railway section (156km) whereas Burundi would start from Malagarasi to Musongati-Gitega (126km). Finance and Planning Minister Dr Mwigulu Nchemba said the project would lead to opening business opportunities not only between the two countries, but also for other neighbouring nations. He said the two governments have begun to look for sources of funds to finance the project.

Burundian Minister for infrastructures, Works and Settlements, Dr Deogratius Nsanganiyumwami, said the railway will help to transport over three million tonnes of minerals from Burundi and one million tonne of other cargo, a move which would help stimulate industrial growth, agriculture and economy at large.

Commentators applauded the agreement, arguing that the railway will play a major role in integrating markets and increasing trade, not only across Tanzania and Burundi but also beyond, and that this would help to unlock economic potential in these two nations.

Transportation expert, Prof Zacharia Mganilwa of the National Institute of Transport, noted that the agreement would mean that Burundian cargo from/to Dar es Salaam Port would be transported directly to or from the port by railway. “This helps to avoid cargo double handling which increases transport costs, something that goes further to increase prices of goods and services,” he explained. He added that transporting cargo via railway was also cheaper than road, a situation which would also contribute to decreasing transport costs.

Meanwhile, work continues on construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR) connecting Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Dodoma, Tabora, Mwanza and Kigoma. The government expects a passenger service to begin operating between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro later in 2022. Work is also underway on other sections of the track, along with efforts to improve connectivity between the railway and the port at Dar es Salaam.


by Rolf D. Baldus

Stiegler in camp (Source: Günter Kraus / Rolf D. Baldus)

A Gorge in Africa’s oldest and largest protected Area
The Tanzanian Government is building a large hydroelectric dam at a place called “Stiegler’s Gorge” in Southern Tanzania, where the mighty Rufiji river thunders through a narrow 100m deep gorge and over several kilometres of rapids. To the north is the newly proclaimed Nyerere National Park, while to the south lies the famous Selous Game Reserve, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982 – a status that may be imperilled by the hydropower project. The man after whom the gorge was named – “Stiegler” – remained a mystery until recently.

Franz Stiegler goes to Africa
It was generally assumed that Stiegler had been a Swiss engineer who, at the beginning of the last century, examined the possibilities of constructing a bridge or a dam across the gorge and that he was killed by an elephant while hunting close to the gorge. Information from relatives of the man and some further research, however, has now shed light on this mysterious person and the events leading to his death.

Franz Stiegler was born in a village called Dießen on the Ammersee in Southern Germany around 1878. He became a civil engineer and emigrated to German East Africa in 1905 or in early 1906.

In 1905 the German colonial Government had started to construct the “Tanganyika Railway” (Central Line), which was to connect Dar es Salaam with Lake Tanganyika. Young Stiegler was employed as a surveyor starting in February 1907.

Map showing Franz Stiegler’s route in 1907/08 – Rolf D. Baldus

Later in that year he became the leader of the Rufiji Expedition. In July 1907 he camped at the Pangani Rapids on the Rufiji River – the place which now bears his name. On July 13th, 1907 he wrote in a card to his sister that a lion had attacked the camp and severely injured one of his African staff. Notwithstanding, he concludes: “It is a very nice trip.”

The expedition was to explore the river and the surrounding lands, conduct trigonometric and hydrological surveys, in particular take measurements of water flow and water levels. The colonial administration wanted to appraise the navigability of the Rufiji and the Kilombero (Ulanga) rivers. The viability of connecting Boma Ulanga (southern Kilombero Valley) by railway with the Central Line and with the lower Rufiji was another question.

On December 12th 1907 Stiegler camped at the Shuguli Falls, a very scenic spot where the Kilombero flows over a kilometre or so through a myriad of falls, ponds and ravines. He writes from there to his sister that he will continue from the falls up the Kilombero River to Boma Ulanga. Then he would unfortunately have to return to work on the railway again.

Stiegler was assisted by several local employees and at times by the German survey technician R. Pelz, who will later write in an obituary that Stiegler was “an example of a distinguished and fair-minded superior.”

Franz Stiegler came from a family of hunters, and he used the opportunities that the game-rich land offered, to hunt, not least to feed his party. He bought hunting licences, as his name can be found in the lists of licence-holders which were published every year in Official Gazette for German East Africa.

A deadly encounter with an elephant
On February 17, 1908, Stiegler camped 8 km away from Mberera Mountain. He was most probably on the way back to Morogoro. His local companions narrated later that he went hunting and wounded an elephant. The Deutsch Ostafrikanische Zeitung of April 11, 1908, gives this account: “The elephant … immediately attacked and flung a black man aside. Stiegler also jumped aside, but probably not fast enough, for he was seized by the elephant and hurled into the air. Death was instantaneous.” The body was taken to “Lugongeka’s village” the next morning and buried there. This village can be found on a German map of the time. From Shuguli it is 20 km up the Kilombero river on the south bank.

The place where Franz Stiegler met his fate is about 100 km direct distance south-west and upriver of the gorge which was later named after him.

The German and later the British colonial Governments continued to call the place Pangani Rapids. We find the term Stiegler’s Gorge first mentioned in the 1950´s. A tourist map of around 1970 uses the term too in connection with a lodge that seems to have existed on the high ground over the rapids. It remains a mystery who named the Gorge after Franz Stiegler and when.

The author wishes to acknowledge the contribution of Günter Kraus, a relative of Franz Stiegler, who provided indispensable information and to Mike Shand (University of Glasgow) for his assistance with the mapping.

Baldus, Rolf D. (Ed.): Wild Heart of Africa. The Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania. Johannesburg 2009.
Baldus, Rolf D. (2021) The End of the Game, in: Sports Afield, No.1 and


by Ben Taylor

January to March 2021

The early months of 2021 saw rising alarm in Tanzania over a possible new wave of Coronavirus infection, with anecdotal evidence from hospitals and other sources across the country suggesting a rise in case numbers. Nevertheless, throughout January the government continued to insist that the country had defeated the pandemic. No new data on case numbers or fatalities was reported (as has been the case now for over 12 months).

And more significantly, the government signalled that it had no intention of participating in COVAX, the international effort to supply Coronavirus vaccines to developing countries. On February 1st, the Minister of Health, Social Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Dorothy Gwajima, said the government had no plans of procuring the Covid -19 vaccine which is already in use in other countries, and Tanzania was conspicuous by its absence from the initial COVAX distribution list, published on February 3rd. It was (and remains) unclear whether the country would even license the vaccines, which would allow private hospitals to import the vaccine and individual citizens to get vaccinated.

“The ministry has its own procedure on how to receive any medicines and we do so after we have satisfied ourselves with the product,” said the Minister. This came a week after President Magufuli warned the ministry of the danger of foreign vaccines, doubting their effectiveness and saying they came with ulterior motives.

Instead, the ministry encouraged people to take other precautions against “viral infections”, without specifically mentioning Covid-19: “We must improve our personal hygiene, wash hands with running water and soap, use handkerchiefs, herbal steam, exercise, eat nutritious food, drink plenty of water, and natural remedies that our nation is endowed with because we have quite many of these natural remedies, ”said Dr Gwajima. “Through the Chief Government Chemist, the Ministry has been working to inspect a number of natural remedies that have met the safety standards for use, are already in use and they have helped Tanzanians, including me and my family.”

A few weeks into February, however, there were signs that the government was edging towards an acceptance that the virus was still present and causing serious problems, perhaps pressed to do so by the growing weight of evidence.

The illness of the Vice President of Zanzibar, Maalim Seif Sharif Hamad, who was admitted to hospital with respiratory problems on January 31st after testing positive for Covid-19, and passed away on February 17th (see obituaries section), made the true situation harder to deny. On February 11th, an MP from the ruling CCM party, Zacharia Isaay, spoke in parliament to express concerns at the alarming number of “pneumonia” patients in his constituency – concerns that were echoed by other MPs.

Around the same time, several other prominent figures passed away, all with symptoms consistent with the Coronavirus. This includes Prof. Benno Ndulu, former Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, and the Chief Secretary, Amb. John Kijazi (see obituaries section). Tanzania Episcopal Conference (the Roman Catholic church in Tanzania) reported that more than 25 priests, 60 sisters and two elders of the laity had died within the past two months of various causes including respiratory challenges.

On February 20th, amid claims of a worrying rise in cases and deaths attributable to the pandemic, the government announced measures to contain the spread of the virus. In contrast to its previous stance, the government now asked Tanzanians to adopt preventive measures: prayer, handwashing, sanitisers, face masks, physical exercise, shielding for the vulnerable, improved diets and traditional remedies, but no lockdown measures.

The same day, President John Magufuli told worshipers at the Roman Catholic St Peter’s Parish in Dar es Salaam that Tanzanians should take precautions against the Coronavirus. He stated that the government hasn’t prohibited the use of face masks in the war against Covid-19, but stressed however that locally made masks – especially those from the Medical Stores Department (MSD) – should be used rather than imported masks. And he advised people to adopt traditional methods of containing respiratory diseases, including steam treatment, and to avoid fear which can itself have negative impacts. He reiterated that Tanzanians must continue to put their trust in God.

Also on the same day, the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called upon Tanzania to take “robust action” to combat Covid-19. He noted that a number of Tanzanians travelling to neighbouring countries and beyond have tested positive for the coronavirus. “This underscores the need for Tanzania to take robust action both to safeguard their own people and protect the population beyond,” he said. “This situation remains very concerning. I renew my call for Tanzania to start reporting Covid-19 cases and share data.”

Two days later, on February 23rd, Minister Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, held a dramatic press conference from a lobby area within Benjamin William Mkapa Hospital in Dodoma, where he himself had been receiving treatment. Clearly exhausted, and coughing and crying as his spoke, he praised the hospital and its doctors for keeping him alive, and President Magufuli for his support. He spoke of having needed oxygen, but did not mention the Coronavirus by name.

By mid-March, however, events took a different turn. The possibility of President Magufuli changing course began to be overshadowed by the fact that he had not been seen in public since February 27th. Rumours around his own health began to grow.

Coronavirus update – April 2021
On April 6, President Samia Suluhu Hassan (see main article) announced what could be the start of an attempt to change the government’s stance on the pandemic. She stated her intention to form a committee of experts to professionally assess the state of the Covid-19 pandemic and advise the government on the way forward.

“We cannot isolate ourselves as if we are an island, but also we cannot accept everything brought to us. We cannot continue just reading about Covid-19 worldwide, but Tanzania is all blank – it makes no sense.”
Two weeks later, the President spoke at a national conference organised by religious leaders to remember ex-President John Magufuli and pray for the new leaders. She called on religious leaders to advise worshippers to take precautionary measures against the virus, and also reported that the committee of experts had been formed.

“I’m expecting to meet its members and representatives of the Ministry of Health and those from the Ministry of Finance and Planning in the near future in order to establish the way forward,” she said.

At the time of writing (April 27), the committee is yet to report, and no substantive change of policy has been introduced. There has been no new release of data on testing, for example, and no change in the country’s position regarding vaccines.


by Ben Taylor

Kenya-Tanzania dispute over maize imports
In early March, the Government of Kenya announced a ban with immediate effect on the importation of maize from Tanzania and Uganda. The ban was lifted the following week, though not before causing considerable strain on diplomatic relations, and with exports subject to strict conditions.

On March 5th, the acting Director-General of Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority, Kello Harsama, directed that the imports should stop after a survey found that maize from the two countries is not fit for human consumption.

“The authority has been conducting surveillance on the safety of food imports into Kenya. The results from maize imported from Uganda and Tanzania have revealed high levels of mycotoxins that are consistently beyond safety limits,” she said in a letter to Kenya’s tax authorities.

Long queues of trucks were seen over the following days at the Namanga border post after the Kenya Revenue authority denied the trucks entry into Kenya.

Tanzania’s deputy minister of Agriculture, Hussein Bashe, said the Government of Tanzania is taking the ban of maize imports seriously. “We are closely monitoring the ban and I can assure business people and the general public that the government will continue to protect its interests,” he said.

Aflatoxins, the form of mycotoxin reportedly found in this case, are naturally occurring toxins produced by certain fungi and can be found on a variety of different crops and foodstuffs including cereals, nuts, spices, dried fruits and coffee beans, often spread during storage and under warm and humid conditions. Aflatoxins are capable of causing disease including cancer.

Mr Bashe who was accompanied by the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) director general, Yussuf Ngenya, said no official communication has been made to the country.

He said even in the event of one or two incidents the Kenyan government should not draw conclusions to the entire maize industry without involving a wide range of institutions that should communicate during challenges. He added that since Tanzania and Kenya are EAC members their differences should be resolved through procedures governing the regional body instead of tarnishing the image of Tanzania’s produce.

Kenyan millers also faulted the government over the blanket ban, arguing the move will have a serious implication on the price of flour. The processors argued that the government should have only intercepted the maize that has high-levels of aflatoxin and allowed those that meet the set standards to be imported.

By March 11th, the Kenyan government relaxed the ban, but instead introduced tough new restrictions on maize imports. All stakeholders dealing in maize imports into Kenya would be required to be registered, consignments must be accompanied with a certificate of conformity on toxin levels and that traders have to issue details of their warehouses. The certificate of conformity should indicate that the aflatoxin levels comply with the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion.

“While we strive to give Kenya safe food by addressing the challenge in production system, we equally expect our trading partners to trade safe maize as per the East African Community (EAC) standards,” said Mr Angolo, Kenya’s Chief Administrative Secretary of Agriculture.

Locust alarm in Longido
Farmers and residents of Longido District, Arusha, were thrown into panic in February when their farms were invaded by locusts. The pests, which attacked crops with devastating effects , were first seen in Namanga on the Kenya-Tanzania border and later crossed over into Tanzania.

Longido District Commissioner Frank Mwaisumbe said the locusts spread to many parts of the district. He said he had already contacted regional officials and the agriculture ministry who had promised to send experts as soon as possible.

Longido resident Jeremiah Sanka said they were afraid of their crops being eaten by locusts. “We have sent people to the fields because by this time the maize has started to germinate so if eaten it will be such a huge loss” he said.

President Samia announces priority areas in agriculture
During her first State of the Nation address to parliament on April 22nd, 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan announced several priorities for her government in the areas of agriculture, fisheries and livestock.

She said the sector accounts for only 27% of GDP and 25% of foreign currency earnings despite the fact that 65 percent of Tanzanians are farmers.

“This is because of low productivity,” she said. “For instance, while some can produce eight tonnes [of maize] per hectare, Tanzania’s farmers produce only 1.9 tonnes per hectare. In the same vein, a Tanzanian cotton farmer produces 250 kilograms per acre instead of 1,000 to 1,250 per acre.”

She added that the same applies also to livestock, whereby the sector contributes only 7.4% of GDP, despite the fact that Tanzania has the second largest livestock population in Africa.” She said cows in Tanzania produce an average of three litres of milk per day instead of between 20 to 30 litres if modern livestock keeping methods are put in place, and that Tanzanian cattle produce only 150 kilograms of meat instead of between 500 and 600 kilograms in some countries.

To address this, the President pledged that the government will foster investment in improved varieties and livestock keeping technologies through funding research and extension services. “We will give them seeds, capital and allow them to keep producing on commercial basis. That will prevent us from importing seeds because such seeds will be available locally,” she said.

She also promised that irrigation will be given special impetus, pledging to increase the size of land for irrigation from 561,383 hectares to 1,200,000 hectares by 2025. She said this will enable the country to reduce its dependency on rain-fed agriculture, noting that farmers will be required to farm on a commercial basis and contribute towards costs of irrigation infrastructures.


by Ben Taylor

Note: we are seeking a new contributor to take over this section of Tanzanian Affairs. If you are interested, please contact the editor.

Tanzania-Uganda oil pipeline agreements signed
Uganda, Tanzania and the oil companies Total SE and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) signed three key agreements on April 11, 2021 in Uganda that pave the way for construction to start on the planned east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP). Both President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Samia Suluhu Hassan of Tanzania were present to witness the signing of the agreements.

The 1,443km pipeline will transport crude oil from oil fields near Lake Albert in western Uganda to Chongoleani terminal in Tanga on the Tanzanian coast. From Lake Albert, the pipeline will head southwards, crossing into Tanzania near Bukoba and passing to the west of Lake Victoria before heading west to Tanga via Kahama, Singida and Kondoa. On completion, it is expected to be the world’s longest electrically heated pipeline. Uganda’s crude oil is highly viscous, so it must be heated to be kept liquid enough to flow.

Patrick Pouyanne, chief executive of the French oil giant Total, described this as a “momentous occasion in history … Expect the first oil tanker to dock at Tanga port in early 2025.”

The project is expected to cost at least USD $3.8bn, 80% of which will be spent in Tanzania. The full amount will be pooled through the EACOP holding company co-owned by the oil companies – Total E&P and China National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC), and the governments of Uganda and Tanzania through their respective national oil companies, UNOC and TPDC. The transit tariff per barrel of crude oil going through the pipeline is to be capped at $12.77, after tax concessions were offered by the Tanzanian government.

President Museveni explained that he chose the date for signing the agreements as April 11th for sentimental reasons: to coincide with the toppling of former President Idi Amin by Ugandan rebel groups with the help of Tanzanian troops 42 years earlier on the same date. “So today is a triple victory for Uganda and Tanzania; militarily, politically, add economically,” he said. The event had been planned for March 22nd, but had been delayed out of respect for the late President Magufuli.
Environmental groups have expressed concern with the plans. A letter signed by 38 civil society organisations across both east African countries said the parties had failed to address environmental concerns over the pipeline and had steamrollered over court and parliamentary processes.

Diana Nabiruma, of the Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO), told the (UK) Guardian newspaper: “It is concerning that major agreements are being signed and the companies are being given the go-ahead to award contracts and start developing the Lake Albert oil project. The projects pose major environmental risks. Resources, some shared with countries such as the DRC, Tanzania and Kenya, including Lake Albert as well as Lake Victoria and rivers, are at risk of oil pollution,” she said.

The #StopEACOP alliance campaign condemned the decision to build the pipeline, which it says will displace 12,000 families and would be a huge environmental risk at a time of climate emergency, when the world needs to move away from fossil fuels.

Vanessa Nakate, founder of the Rise Up climate movement in Uganda, said: “There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the east Africa crude oil pipeline because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas. There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet,” she said.

David Pred, of Inclusive Development International, which supports communities to defend their rights against harmful corporate projects, said: “The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal. Total and CNOOC still need to secure insurance and raise $2.5bn in debt financing for the EACOP to move forward and they are going to struggle mightily to find enough banks and insurance providers willing to associate themselves with such a project,” he claimed.

President Samia Suluhu Hassan commits to speed up LNG project
Among the many topics covered by the new President, she stressed the need to speed up the long-planned (and much-delayed) Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) processing plant on the southern Tanzania coast. The project cost is estimated at USD $30bn.

In two major speeches – on April 6 at a ceremony to swear-in new Permanent Secretaries and other officials, and April 22 in her maiden speech to parliament as President – she directed the Ministry of Energy to speed up the project by bringing in investors who are ready to start its implementation.

The LNG project has been stalled for some time now following the government’s decision to review Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs). Host Government Agreement (HGA) negotiations have been on and off, after they initially stopped in 2017 due to technicalities and resumed in 2018 only to stall again.

“We have been singing the LNG song for a very long time, I remember when I was sworn in as the Vice President I tried to work on it, but discovered it was beyond me and stopped,” she said. She stressed that it was time to understand who is in and who is out in the implementation of the project so that it can move forward. “We should do what we did when we decided to start construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) and we all saw how they came back seeking to be put on board,” she said.

There are a number of complicating factors to deal with in kick-starting the project. In addition to maximising the benefits to local communities and national revenue, negotiations will be affected by global gas price projections and the security situation in northern Mozambique.

Barrick Gold CEO praises President Magufuli
The president and chief executive of Barrick Gold Corporation, Mark Bristow, said the company mourned with the people of Tanzania at the loss of President John Magufuli.

Bristow described the late president as “a visionary statesman” who saw the value of a thriving mining sector to his country’s economy. He praised the late President for partnering with Barrick in a joint venture, Twiga Minerals Corporation, to manage the company’s mines in Tanzania and to share the economic benefits they generated equally. Bristow said Twiga would stand as a monument to President Magufuli’s foresight and should serve as a model for future partnerships between governments and mining companies in Africa.

The joint venture came after several years of a strained relationship between the government of Tanzania and Acacia, a company majority owned by Barrick and operating gold mines in Tanzania. President Magufuli accused Acacia of “stealing” by failing to pay proper taxes and exporting more gold than declared, and slapped the company with a USD $190bn tax bill. Protracted negotiations led to a compromise with Barrick offering a goodwill gesture to Tanzania of $300m, and establishment of Twiga Minerals as a joint venture.

Anti-smuggling measures at Mererani Tanzanite Mines declared ineffective
President Samia Suluhu Hassan noted new tactics of smuggling Tanzanite at the Mererani mines in Simanjiro District, Manyara region, and demanded security reinforcement to curb the malpractice. Previously, President Magufuli had overseen the construction of a perimeter wall surrounding the mines in an effort to reduce loses.

In her speech at the State House in Dar es Salaam on April 6, she said smugglers have now resorted to digging underground channels through which they have been sneaking Tanzanite past the 24.5km perimeter wall. As a result, she said, the stones are escaping just as before. “We have TPDF (Tanzania People’s Defence Forces) soldiers protecting the mineral site yet Tanzanite finds its way out of the fortified place,” said the President. She expressed her dismay over the trend, calling on the Ministry of Minerals to further reinforce security despite a successful installation of 24-hour surveillance CCTV cameras on the perimeter wall.


by Ben Taylor

Air Tanzania losses
The National Audit Office report presented to parliament in April 2021 reported that Air Tanzania Ltd (ATCL) recorded a loss of TSh 60bn for the financial year 2019-2020. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG), Charles Kichere noted also that the airline had been making losses annually for the past five years, adding up to a total loss over this time of over TSh 150bn. This is despite having received additional equipment in terms of aircrafts that were bought by the government to aid the company’s performance.

The period under review was one of the most difficult one in the aviation industry due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic which forced most countries to go into lockdowns, and many airlines – includ­ing Air Tanzania – to suspend flights. Passenger numbers fell dra­matically worldwide. As an example of these challenges, in March, Air Tanzania suspended what should have been the airline’s maiden flight to Guangzhou, China. The airline cited Covid-19 control measures put in place by Chinese local authorities.

Since 2015, the government has purchased new eight aircraft consisting of two Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners, two Airbus A220-300 models and four Bombardiers Q400. These aircraft are leased by the government to ATCL. Partly as a result of the pandemic, these aircraft have been under­utilised, while the government continues to charge ATCL the full lease rate. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa announced that the government had completed payment for three further new aircraft, which were due to arrive in the financial year 2021-2022.

Analysts cautioned that profit-and-loss figures are not the only measure of an airline’s performance. Even without the Coronavirus pandemic, a new (or re-launched) airline should not expect to make a profit for sev­eral years, if at all, they noted. Aviation expert, Juma Fimbo, pointed out that the contribution made by national airlines to the national economy is more significant in terms of improved transport links fuelling other economic activities than the airline’s own profitability.

Ubungo flyover launched, named for Chief Secretary Kijazi
The newly constructed Ubungo road interchange was launched on February 24 by President Magufuli, who announced that it was to be called the ‘Kijazi Interchange’. This was in memory and recognition of John Kijazi, the former Chief Secretary (the country’s most senior civil servant), who died in February.

The interchange has three levels, at the intersections of Morogoro Road, Sam Nujoma Road and Nelson Mandela road, close to the Ubungo bus terminal for up-country bus connections. The middle section of the interchange, on Morogoro road, is 260m metres long and 8.9 meters high, while the top level is 700m long and 16.3m high. All three levels of the roads have six lanes.


by Roger Nellist

Tanzania’s gold earnings surge
According to the Bank of Tanzania the country earned US$2.72 billion from gold exports during the twelve months ending on 31 July 2020. It was an increase of almost $1 billion over the previous year. The 52% increase meant that gold exports overtook tourism receipts as Tanzania’s number one foreign exchange earner. The principal reason for the surge in gold earnings was the higher price of gold on world commodity markets, as investors switched to gold to counter economic uncertainty arising from the Covid pandemic. In July 2020, the average price of a troy ounce of gold reached $1,846, compared with $1,732 in June and $1,531 in May. The July 2020 gold price was the highest since September 2011.

Other recent gold news
In October 2020, the recently formed Twiga Minerals Corporation declared its first dividend, of $250 million. In accordance with the respective shareholdings, $40 million of it (about TSh 100 billion) was received by Tanzania, reflecting the government’s 16% free stake. Twiga is the joint venture gold mining company established between Barrick Gold and the Tanzanian government in January 2020, following the government’s protracted dispute with Barrick’s subsidiary, Acacia Mining. It operates the three gold mines at Bulyanhulu, North Mara and Buzwagi.

In December 2020, five people in Mbeya region were suspended and arrested for allegedly smuggling 15.4 kilogrammes of gold worth TSh1.8 million. Three of the five were working at the Chunya Mineral Centre and were suspended by the Minerals Minister, Dotto Biteko. The other two were Police officers. The Director of Public Prosecutions announced that his office had acquired enough evidence to prosecute the five on six counts. Three of the five appeared in Court but the other two went missing.

LNG negotiations to resume
Just before Christmas the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) announced that it was hopeful that negotiations between Tanzania and foreign oil companies would resume in January 2021 for the Host Government Agreement (HGA) that will govern the establishment of the much-delayed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project at Lindi. The HGA is a crucial project agreement and the negotiation of it has been proceeding on and off for several years. Originally, it was expected to be concluded by September 2019. However, negotiations stalled when the many companies involved – Shell, Ophir, Pavilion, Equinor and ExxonMobil – supposedly could not agree amongst themselves on important aspects of the project. Then Tanzania decided to review and renegotiate some of the terms of the Production Sharing Agreements under which those companies hold exploration and development rights in the country. In December 2020 TPDC confirmed that it was still finalising the amounts of compensation to be paid to landholders in the Lindi region where the LNG plant will be sited. Once the HGA is concluded the investors will then be able to make a Final Investment Decision. The complex LNG project is likely to cost about US$30 billion.

The use and benefits of domestic gas
TPDC also announced that between July 2004 (when Songo Songo gas was first piped to Ubungo in Dar es Salaam) and the end of 2020, the use of domestic gas had saved the country $15.6 billion (TSh 36 trillion) – by displacing expensive imported fuels. $13.2 billion of the savings was attributable to the generation of electricity for the national grid and the remaining $2.4 billion was saved by industries that elected to use domestic gas directly rather than imported fuels. TPDC explained that 48 factories are fully using gas in their operations, as well as four institutions. Moreover, about 1,000 households in Dar and Mtwara are also now powered by gas. Additionally, a modest number of vehicles (about 400) are currently powered by Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), the number being constrained by the costs of converting vehicles from petrol/diesel to CNG and by the lack of CNG refuelling stations. At the present time there is only one CNG station operating in Dar (at Ubungo). However, TPDC clarified in December that it is planning to build five more CNG stations – at Ubungo, Kibaha, the ferry/fish market, Muhimbili hospital and at the University.

In November 2020, TPDC’s Managing Director, James Matarajio, told a conference that TPDC plans to extend the use of gas by households in up-country areas like Morogoro, Dodoma, Mwanza and Tanga. He pointed to both environmental benefits and significant household energy cost savings arising from the use of domestic gas. Matarajio added that Tanzania has discovered sufficient gas resources to be able to export some to neighbouring countries after satisfying Tanzania’s domestic needs, including those of the LNG and perhaps other export-oriented projects too.

East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP)
TPDC has confirmed that preparations are now well advanced for the construction of the Uganda–Tanzania East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), that will enable the oil discovered in Uganda in 2006 to be exported through Tanzania. The 898 miles long pipeline will link Uganda’s oil fields with an export terminal at the port of Tanga. About 80% of the pipeline will run through Tanzania. The project is expected to cost $3.5 billion and create more than 18,000 jobs for Tanzanians.
The two governments signed the overarching agreement for EACOP in September 2020, at a ceremony attended by Presidents Museveni and Magufuli. That was followed in October by signature of an agreement between the French oil giant, Total, and Tanzania. Total is the majority stakeholder in the Ugandan oil discoveries and is developing the pipeline project together with the China National Oil Company.

Map showing the proposed route of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) from Uganda to Tanga.

Possible fertiliser project
The Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Authority (PURA) which regulates the exploration, development and production of natural gas in Tanzania announced in mid-December 2020 that the planned $1.9 billion fertiliser project on the Mtwara coast is still on – but, significantly, the commercial terms have not yet been agreed with investors. According to PURA’s acting director general, Charles Sangweni, the main stumbling block is disagreement over the price that Tanzania’s natural gas will be sold to the fertiliser plant. Gas is the main raw material feedstock in the manufacture of fertiliser. Sangweni told the media at a workshop that the natural gas price should be at least $3 per MBTU but a German investor wants it reduced to $2.6, which would mean government having to subsidise the gas input. The plant is expected to export 70 percent of the fertiliser produced and the remaining 30 percent will be sold to Tanzanian farmers. It is unclear when the project will be realised. It had been expected to commence in 2016 through a joint venture between TPDC and foreign companies, but the partners were unable to agree on the commercial terms.

The project is reminiscent of the planned Kilwa Ammonia Company (KILAMCO) fertiliser project that this contributor advised on in the Tanzanian Ministry of Water, Energy and Minerals in the early 1980s. As a joint venture between TPDC (26%) and a large USA fertiliser company (74%), KILAMCO was to be a world-scale export-oriented project intended to earn the country much-needed foreign exchange at a time when the economy was in dire trouble. At $645 million (though subsequently downscaled to $425 million) it was to be the largest single investment ever in Tanzania. Intensive domestic and international efforts were made over several years to realise the project and by 1985 in-principle funding commitments were received from the World Bank Group, UK (CDC), Sweden, Italy, USA, Yugoslavia and China. However, by the late 1980s world fertiliser prices had softened considerably, undermining KILAMCO’s commercial viability. Moreover, TPDC was unable to raise the foreign exchange to support its equity stake and, given the magnitude of the sums involved, donors signalled that their financial support for the project would have to be fungible (reducing their commitments to other Tanzanian developmental projects). During the 1990s, the Songas gas-to-electricity project was developed as the preferred alternative use of Songo Songo gas, and began generating electricity at Ubungo in 2004.

Zanzibar’s hopes for oil and gas
Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein told reporters in mid-October 2020 that the results of preliminary 2D seismic and other pre-drilling technical work undertaken to date point to the existence of geological structures with high oil and gas potential in five areas in the Pemba-Zanzibar block. The potential natural gas reserves there have been estimated at 3.8 trillion cubic feet. (For comparison, Tanzania has so far discovered coastal and offshore gas reserves of at least 57 tcf). He cautioned that it is early days yet and that more sophisticated 3D seismic needs to be acquired before any wells are drilled to confirm the possible reserves.

Editor’s Note: This is Roger’s final article as our regular contributor on Energy and Minerals, after eight years. I am confident that our readers would like to join me in thanking him for the brilliant way he has handled this important, sensitive and complex subject. Asante Roger, and best wishes for the future. Ben