Archive for Miscellany

FERRY TRAGEDY

by Ben Taylor
Over 200 dead in latest Lake Victoria ferry tragedy

Rescuers on the upturned hull of the MW Nyerere


The MV Nyerere, a ferry operating on Lake Victoria, capsized on September 20th. The Tanzanian government have declared that 228 people died as a result while 41 were rescued.

The ferry was running its route from Bugolora on Ukerewe Island to Bwisya on Ukara Island with passengers and a cargo of maize, bananas, and cement as well as a tractor. It went down in the afternoon, 50 metres from the dock of its intended destination.

Survivors said the man steering the vessel made a sharp turn after realising he was preparing to dock on the wrong side of the ship. With the ship close to docking, many passengers had congregated on one side of the boat, with the result that it was unbalanced and unable to cope with the sudden change of course. It keeled over wildly, righted itself, and capsized on the other side, throwing dozens of passengers – none of whom were wearing life jackets – into the lake. Most of those who drowned were trapped inside the upturned hull.

Originally, officials believed that the ferry may have been carrying more than 400 passengers, approximately four times the reported maximum capacity of the vessel. The precise number of passengers is unknown as the official responsible for dispensing tickets drowned and the machine that recorded the number of passengers was lost in the wreckage. A week after the incident, the government stated that “close to 270” passengers had been on board.

President John Magufuli declared four days of national mourning and ordered the arrest of “all those involved in the management of the ferry”.

The government formed an investigative team led by a former army general to establish the cause of the disaster. Subsequently, President Magufuli dissolved the board of directors of the Tanzania Electrical, Mechanical and Electronics Services Agency (TEMESA), which runs ferry services on Tanzania’s mainland, as well as the board of the transport regulator, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA).

Just one week earlier, on September 14th, the local MP, Joseph Mkundi (Chadema), had complained in parliament that he had repeatedly warned the government that the MV Nyerere was “malfunctioning” and in urgent need of repair. A government spokesperson responded that new engines had been fitted recently.

The day after the disaster, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kangi Lugola, warned people against spreading false information that might cause turmoil. President Magufuli later cautioned politicians not to take advantage of the situation to gain political popularity.

The tragedy has led to renewed calls to address overloading on passenger and cargo boats. Overloading is seen as being largely responsible both for this latest incident as well as previous Tanzanian ferry disasters, notably the sinking of the MV Bukoba on Lake Victoria in 1996 and the MV Spice Islander in the Indian Ocean in 2011, causing the loss of 892 and 1,573 lives respectively.

One commentator argued that “most commentaries miss the point when attributing blame for such disasters. Rather than focus on the culpability of those endangering lives by overloading vessels, they lament the lack of life boats or life jackets, untrained navigators, inadequate maintenance and so on. … The elementary starting point— that government agencies perform all the roles that affect the safety of passengers, and therefore share full responsibility for disasters when they happen—is carefully avoided.”

Pope Francis, the United Nations secretary-general, Russian President Vladimir Putin and a number of African leaders expressed shock and sorrow. “His Holiness Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt solidarity with those who mourn the loss of their loved ones and who fear for the lives of those still missing,” the condolence telegram said, according to the Vatican.

“Our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the Lake Victoria ferry accident. Our thoughts are with you. We cannot thank the rescuers enough,” said President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in a tweet.

The ferry did not sink and was righted a week after the disaster.

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REBECA GYUMI WINS UN HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE

by Ben Taylor

Tanzanian gender rights activist, Rebeca Gyumi, has been awarded the prestigious UN Human Rights Prize.

Miss Gyumi is the 31-year-old Founder & Executive Director at Msichana Initiative, a civil society organization which aims to empower girls through education and addresses challenges which limit girls’ right to education. She has worked for over eight years with an organization working on youth, as a TV personality and youth advocate. Ms. Gyumi challenged the constitutionality of section 13 and 17 of The Law of Marriage Act of 1971 that allowed girls to marry at the age of 14 and 15 where there is parental consent or court’s sanction. She won the case before the High Court of Tanzania in 2016.

“I was pretty much shocked. So shocked and caught unaware that I was even considered for such a prestigious prize,” she said.

Rebeca had previous won the UNICEF Global Goal Award in 2016, and was named 2016 Woman of the Year by New Africa Magazine.

The Prize, established by the General Assembly in 1966 (A/RES/21/2217), was awarded for the first time in 1968 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, on what is now known as Human Rights Day, 10 December.

This is the tenth award of the prize, coinciding this year with the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Previous winners have included Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter, Denis Mukwege, Malala Yusafzai, Amnesty International and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Gyumi first saw the injustice around her as a 13-year-old, when some of her schoolmates dropped out of school because of pregnancy and were married off.

A few years later, while studying law at University, she learned about the Law of Marriage Act of 1971 and saw the potential in trying to mount a legal challenge against it. “It bothered me that the age for boys to be married was 18 but for girls it was 14,” she said.

In 2016, with just a couple of years’ experience as a lawyer, Gyumi and her colleagues started work on a legal case to petition against the Marriage Act, compiling reports to prove that child marriage for girls was an serious issue nationwide and why it needed to be stopped.

They won their case; the High Court ruled that sections 13 and 17 of the Marriage Act were unconstitutional and that the age for girls to legally marry should be raised to 18.

“I was so happy that day for the fact that a girl child had won. I was overwhelmed with joy,” she says. “I felt duty bound to fight for the girls I had interacted with. They didn’t have enough information to know how to challenge what was happening to them.”

Though her success was celebrated by many around the country, not everyone was happy. She was attacked for promoting a “Western culture”, and the government launched an appeal against the ruling in 2017, arguing that child marriage can actually protect girls who get pregnant out of wedlock.

The case is currently in Tanzania’s high court with a verdict due soon.

“For me I feel like we are at the moment where our country really needs to defend girls’ rights,” said Rebeca. “This appeal does not send a good message of our country’s intention to protect girls generally. It will look really bad on the government if they win. There is no victory in winning a case that allows girls to get married younger. It’s not a victory a country can be proud of.”

Winning the 2018 Human Rights Prize puts Gyumi on the international stage alongside other activists such as Malala Yousafzai, Denis Mukwege and Nelson Mandela, and it’s not something she takes lightly.

“It’s not just a personal honour but my country’s honour, putting our country on the map. It’s a proud moment for me and for the girls I stood up for and for the ongoing global progress that is happening around girls’ and women’s rights.”

Asked by CNN what her message is to other young girls out there, her answer was simple: “I encourage you today to be brave and stand up for your truth.”

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TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

New ship purchased for Lake Victoria
President John Magufuli attended the signing of a contract to build a new ship, which will ply Lake Victoria between Mwanza and Bukoba, Musoma and ports in Kenya and Uganda. The signing took place two weeks before the tragic sinking of the MV Nyerere (see earlier article in this section.)

The new ship, which will be built at the cost of TSh 88.76 bn, will be 90 metres long, 17 metres wide and 10 metres high, and will have a capacity of carrying 1,200 passengers and 400 tonnes of cargo including 20 cars.

The project is to be implemented by two South Korean companies in collaboration with the National Service-economic wing, Suma JKT.

The construction of a new ship comes four and seven years after MV Victoria and MV Butiama respectively suspended operations because of technical issues, which greatly increased transport costs and times around the Lake Zone. It also comes 22 years since the MV Bukoba sank causing close to 1,000 deaths.

Speaking after witnessing the signing of the contract, President Magufuli said the projects were funded domestically. “There is not a single shilling from South Korea. Their ambassador is here to ensure that we get the value of money from the projects,” the President said. He added that citizens’ participation in the projects – through Suma-JKT – “would ensure that part of the money remains in the country.”

The project is scheduled to be completed within a year.

Welcoming the Head of State, the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isack Kamwelwe, said they now have a challenge of increasing cargo to neighbouring countries.

“Together with the minister for Finance and Planning Dr Phillip Mpango and Industries, Trade and Investment minister Charles Mwijage, we will meet Kariakoo traders to understand their challenges in realising this endeavour,” he said.

FastJet and ATCL
The revived national airline, Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), has been reinstated in the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Clearing House (ICH) after meeting its obligations. This allows ATCL to resume use of the IATA ticket platform and opens the possibility of flights to Mumbai, India.

The national carrier lost its IATA membership in 2008 due to non­payment of debts, a development that saw the ATCL banned from all international aviation transactions.

Further, in mid-December, ATCL took delivery of another new aircraft, the first of two Airbus A220 aircraft. A sister aircraft is expected in January 2019.

With a range just over 5,000km, the A220 will bring many points in Central and West Africa within range of Dar es Salaam, while giving the carrier a low-risk option to venture into the Middle East or grow frequency on existing domestic and international routes.

This will bring Tanzania’s active fleet to seven aircraft, comprising four propeller-driven Bombardier Q400s, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner and now the two A220s. A further Bombardier Q400 is also expected in 2019.

Meanwhile, the continued re-emergence of ATCL has taken place alongside growing difficulties faced by low-cost rival airline, FastJet.

FastJet Tanzania, which as recently as August had been planning to lease several new aircraft for routes within Tanzania, has since met with regulatory and financial difficulties. In September, Fastjet PLC – then the majority shareholder of FastJet Tanzania – disclosed in filings with the London Stock Exchange (LSE) that it was considering closing down its operations in Tanzania, on account of the “continued losses generated in the country.” The statement showed a $14.6 million net loss on $30.1 million in revenues for the six-month period to June 30, 2018.

Laurence Masha, a former Minister of Home Affairs who was on November 6, 2018 appointed as the first executive chairman of the FastJet Tanzania, told The Citizen newspaper in early December that had he bought 47% of the company shares owned by locals and other 17 owned by FastJet PLC, making him the new majority shareholder.

However, the new owners immediately ran into difficulties with the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA), which seized one of the airline’s two aircraft, citing unpaid debts. As the other aircraft was undergoing repairs, the company was forced to cancel all scheduled flights in December and January while it sought a new aircraft. At the time of writing, there are conflicting reports as to whether TCAA will allow this newly leased aircraft to enter the country and to operate flights.

“Fastjet Tanzania has paid some debts and others were paid by Fastjet PLC. We spent the remaining money to lease the plane and pay regulatory charges. They should now allow me to resume operations to get money for paying the remaining debts,” said Mr Masha.

“We really need the wisdom of the regulators and supportive cooperation from the government because we cannot manage to pay the debts while we are not doing business. I have talked to TCAA and the minister and I’m looking forward to getting their support after the festive season,” he added.

“Fastjet PLC thought the company would get cooperation from the government when it had a local investor but I don’t see it happening. There was a time I did not sleep for five days when I was busy looking for strategic investors to put their money into the company. They always ask if we have this supportive cooperation with the government,” he said.

However, TCAA Director General Hamza Johari told reporters that it was not true that they denied the airline the permit but that the applications were submitted late and were yet to be processed because of Christmas holidays.

He said that the authority received three letters from Fastjet Tanzania on December 24th, including one in which the company requested to bring in the Boeing 737-500 plane from South Africa and another on its business and financial plans.

“We will respond to all the letters in accordance with the law,” he said, adding that “if they really want to invest in the aviation sector, they must be more serious.”

The TCAA boss also denied allegations that it was favouring Air Tanzania Limited Company (ATCL) in order to give the state-owned airline a monopoly over the local market. He said such claims were unfounded as the sector was already competitive.

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ENERGY & MINERALS

by Roger Nellist

Ministry split, new Ministers appointed
In October 2017 following the mineral sands export saga, enactment of the controversial new mining and petroleum legislation and the dismissal of the former Minister for Energy and Minerals, President Magufuli divided the Ministry of Energy and Minerals into two portfo­lios and appointed new top teams.

Tanzania’s new Minister for Energy is Dr Medard Kalemani, supported by Ms Subira Mgalu as Deputy Minister and by Mr Khamis Mwinyi Mvua as Permanent Secretary. Tanzania’s new Minister for Mining is Ms Angellah Kairuki, supported by Deputy Minister Stanislaus Nyongo and by Mr Simon Samuel Msanjika as Permanent Secretary.

Statoil renamed as Equinor
Meanwhile in May the large Norwegian State oil and gas company Statoil – which has discovered large gas reserves offshore Tanzania and is a key partner in the potential liquefied natural gas (LNG) project – announced it had formally changed its name to Equinor. The new name reflects the company’s values (of equality and equity) as well as its continuing Norwegian presence. The move comes at a time when it is increasing its efforts to develop new and renewable forms of energy.

LNG project in the doldrums
In recent years, large gas discoveries (estimated at about 57 tcf) have been made offshore southern Tanzania and during the last two or three years the government and the Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) have been in discussions with the principal discov­erers – Shell, Exxon Mobil, Ophir Energy and Equinor (Statoil) – with a view to building a large LNG export terminal onshore at Lindi. It will be a huge investment, costing an estimated US$30 billion. However, progress on realising the project has slowed recently and various factors are being cited for this.

The investors are blaming government for the bureaucratic procedures they face in acquiring land to build the plant on as well as the uncer­tainty introduced into the overall energy regulatory environment by the tough new legislative provisions. (See articles in earlier TA bulle­tins). Crucially, the Host Government Agreement terms have yet to be agreed, without which the LNG project cannot proceed. Further uncer­tainty arose this summer when Exxon Mobil indicated it was seeking a buyer for its 35% interest in the big gas reserves in Tanzania’s offshore deep water Block 2 (where Equinor, the operator, holds 65%). There have also been worries about the substantial fall (by about one third) in world gas prices since 2015.

Observers suggest that relations between the gas developers and the government are strained and that a final investment decision on the Tanzanian LNG project seems unlikely before the early 2020s. To help move matters along, in April TPDC announced it was recruiting inter­national advisers to assist it to formulate an appropriate commercial framework for the project.

Three critical parliamentary committee reports
In Dodoma in May the Parliamentary Energy and Minerals Committee criticised the Ministry of Energy for its slow progress in implementing the LNG project, and called on the government to fast-track its negotia­tions with the investors – so as not to lose crucial overseas gas markets to competition from other major gas producers. They pointed to neigh­bouring Mozambique, which has gas reserves three times larger than those so far discovered in Tanzania and is also more advanced with its gas commercialisation plans.

In response, Minister Kalemani told Parliament that government was still in discussions with the multinational investors and that conceptual design work and initial project evaluation had been completed. He said government had already budgeted TSh 6 billion to fund pre-front end engineering design of the LNG plant as well as to compensate people affected by the project.

Then on 25 June Dr Kalemani told Parliament that “everything is pro­gressing well” and that actual construction of the LNG plant would start in 2022. He said the multinational investors were currently com­peting among themselves to determine which of them will lead the project execution.

On a related gas matter the same Committee also criticised his Ministry for the slow speed at which it was connecting homes in Dar to the gas supply. Minister Kalemani responded saying that 70 homes were already connected, another 1,000 would be served in the near future and that TPDC would be spending about TSh 21 billion next year putting in place the necessary infrastructure to supply a further 2,000 homes.

Also in June the Parliamentary Budget Committee asked government for an analysis of the reasons for the fall in exploration activity in Tanzania in the last year. No new wells have been drilled and con­cerns were heightened by the unsettling reports in June that Exxon Mobil was seeking to leave Tanzania in favour of a bigger LNG project in Mozambique. Minister Kalemani told Parliament: “It is true that Mozambique is doing well but Tanzanians should also understand that we are not very far from that stage”. TPDC sought to reassure stake­holders and the public about the Exxon Mobil sell-out too, commenting that such a move was normal business practise for the big multination­als, adding: “when it comes to energy investment never be in a hurry. This might just be a change of strategy or change of management”. An Equinor (Statoil) spokesman confirmed that they were proceeding with business as usual, having already invested a very large sum of money in Tanzania drilling 15 wells (and making nine discoveries).

In June too a special Parliamentary Committee that was established at the end of last year to investigate the 11 Production Sharing Agreements so far signed with government reported that gas is being produced under only three of them. Naming the five former Energy Ministers who signed all the agreements with TPDC and various international oil companies, the Committee asserted that what it viewed as shortcomings and loopholes in the terms were resulting in financial losses to govern­ment amounting to hundreds of billions of shillings. In particular, the Committee pointed to the supposed lopsided nature of the provisions in the various agreements with Songas and advised government not to renew the power production and gas drilling contracts with Songas when they expire in 2024. It highlighted the various assets of TANESCO and TPDC that were effectively given free to Songas in return for which the Committee believes those two parastatals were not awarded adequate shareholdings in the project.

The Attorney General responded, telling Parliament that government was now reviewing all the contracts with Songas. But Pan Africa Energy Tanzania – the developer and operator of the producing Songo Songo gas field and Songas – expressed concern at the “inaccurate findings and allegations” made by the special Committee, stating it had com­plied with the terms of its agreements with government and pointed to its impeccable operational record and the significant economic benefit its operations had already brought to Tanzania.

Other petroleum and mining sector problems
In April, Swala Oil and Gas declared ‘force majeure’ under the terms of its Kilosa-Kilombero Production Sharing Agreement with government and TPDC, saying it was “disappointed and frustrated” by the demand for it to undertake a special environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the likely implications for the proposed Stiegler’s Gorge hydropower dam of the company’s use of water during the drilling of its first explo­ration well (Kito-1) next year. The government has already approved an EIA that Swala undertook in 2017 and the amount of water to be con­sumed in the drilling of the well will be a tiny fraction of that pertaining to the dam. Swala has so far spent more than $20 million exploring for oil and gas in Tanzania.

Given the continuing ban on the export of gold and copper concentrates, Acacia Mining Tanzania announced in April that during 2018 it will be producing 40% less gold than it did in 2016 and, with no end then in sight to the ongoing discussions between its parent – Barrick Gold – and the government, the company was being forced to cut costs and unfor­tunately would have to lay off an unspecified number of workers at its Tanzanian mines. Acacia employs about 2,800 workers in the country, 96% of whom are Tanzanian.

In June the Minister for Constitution and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, told Parliament during the debate on the Ministry of Minerals’ budget that the ongoing discussions between government and Barrick “are in the final stages and things are in good order”; however, the US$300 million good faith payment to Tanzania promised earlier by Barrick/Acacia will only be paid once the discussions are concluded.

In a Canadian (Fraser Institute) global mining survey of 2,700 mining companies operating around the world, Tanzania’s perceived ‘mining investment attractiveness’ dropped 19 places on the world listing, fall­ing from 59th position in 2016 to 78th position last year. The substantial deterioration is blamed on the adverse legislative changes in 2017 (especially their retrospective application) and on what some inves­tors in Tanzania see as excessive and random taxation of their mineral operations. Of the 91 countries surveyed 15 were African and Tanzania ranked only 12th out of the 15 – behind Ghana, Mali, Botswana, South Africa, DRC, Namibia, Zambia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast, and only a little ahead of Ethiopia, Mozambique and Kenya (the worst).

Some good news: Miombo Hewani Wind Farm
In June, Windlab Limited announced that its Tanzanian subsidiary will be constructing a large wind turbine farm with associated electri­cal infrastructure at a location in Southern Central Tanzania close to Makambako (where it will connect with the national grid). The Miombo Hewani wind project will be built in phases and now has approval for a total generating capacity of 300 MW. The first phase (costing US$300 million) will involve the construction of 34 wind turbines that will deliver about 100 MW of electricity, also creating jobs and extra income in Njombe Region. This wind project will therefore add significantly to Tanzania’s current power generation capacity of just over 1,300 MW (comprising 560 MW of hydropower and 750 MW of thermal gas and diesel), importantly also diversifying the generating source.

In making the announcement the CEO of Windlab Limited, said: “We are very pleased to receive the first Environmental and Social Impact Assessment certificate for a wind farm in Tanzania. In developing Miombo Hewani, Windlab has applied the industry best practices and experience it has gained from developing more than 50 wind energy projects across North America, Australia and Southern Africa”. He added that Miombo Hewani enjoys an excellent wind resource, one of the best in the world. Moreover, the wind pattern there is biased towards night time generation and generation during Tanzania’s dry season, making it an ideal addition to Tanzania’s current and planned electricity generation mix. Windlab Tanzania said that the wind farm is expected to operate for at least 25 years and should generate enough power to supply nearly 1 million average Tanzanian homes.

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FOREIGN AFFAIRS

by Ben Taylor

Controversy over new Tanzania Embassy in Israel
On May 9, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Dr Augustine Mahiga, commissioned Tanzania’s new Embassy in Israel. The event took place in Tel Aviv, attended by various dignitaries includ­ing Israel’s Minister for Justice, Ms Ayelet Shaked, ambassadors and Tanzanians living in Israel.

In his speech, Dr Mahiga named Israel as a role model country, which, he said, despite facing multiple challenges with some of its neighbour­ing countries, has made major development strides in various sectors. He also urged the government of Israel to follow Tanzania’s lead by opening its embassy in Tanzania.

Dr Mahiga thanked Israel for its two ministers paying recent state visits to Tanzania, namely Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman, who visited Tanzania in March, and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who visited in April.

For her part, Ms Shaked reassured Tanzania that her country was ready to cooperate with Tanzania in various sectors particularly in agriculture, technology and health.

However, the commissioning of the embassy did attract some critical commentary, with some analysts arguing that the move did not fit well with Tanzania’s long-standing support for the Palestinian cause.
Prof Bakari Mohamed of the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said he strongly opposes the government’s move. “I totally disagree with the decision because I believe in the need for Tanzania to uphold principles of human dignity and self-determination. I don’t see any reason to sup­port diplomatic relations with a country violating the two,” he told The Citizen in an interview. He said he was disappointed with the country’s decision to re-establish diplomatic relationship with Israel because the country’s behaviour has changed since the last time Tanzania broke the relations in 1972.

Prof Gaudens Mpangala of Ruaha Catholic University (RUCU) con­curred, suggesting that Tanzania should continue upholding foreign policy sympathizing with the weak and the oppressed. He said Tanzania, under the first president Mwalimu Julius Nyerere was right to break relations with Israel because of its treatment of Palestinians. “It is difficult to see why the government should make a U-turn and re-establish relations not only with Israel but also with Morocco before the issues that led to the break up in relations were addressed,” he said.

The government, however, argues that its solidarity with Palestine will not be affected by closer ties with Israel. President John Magufuli has said previously that Tanzania did a good job in supporting liberation movements in Africa and elsewhere and that it was time to focus on the country’s economic development

New Centre for Chinese Studies opened in Dar
Dr Mahiga also spoke at the launch of a new Centre for Chinese Studies (CCS) at the University of Dar es Salaam, describing the centre as an opportunity “for Tanzanians to learn how China advanced from a poor country to an economic powerhouse.”

The Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, Wang Ke, said the centre will play an important role in introducing Tanzanians to the Chinese way of life,” she said. “To better understand China, you need to be objective and independent in thinking. Only in this way you can present the real China to the people of Tanzania and other African countries.”
Wang further explained that the centre will enable Tanzanians to con­duct in-depth research on the relevance of China’s development experi­ence to Tanzania and Africa in general. “Development is the biggest challenge facing the world, and China’s experience in development may be helpful to African countries,” she said.

The CCS in Tanzania is the third such institute in Africa specialising in Chinese studies.

Dr Mahiga used the event to re-state Tanzania’s stance of “non-align­ment” in foreign affairs and “non-interference” in domestic affairs, explaining that this meant Tanzania “shall not forget the Palestinians,” and “shall not drop the issue of the Saharawians,” even while strength­ening ties with both Israel (see previous article) and Morocco (see earlier editions of TA).

Zimbabwe President Emerson Mnangagwa visits Tanzania
The new President of Zimbabwe, Emerson Mnangagwa visited Tanzania in June, his first such visit since taking over from President Mugabe late in 2017.

He was welcomed at the airport by President Magufuli, accompa­nied by other senior government officials including the Minister of Constitutional and Legal Affairs, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Suzan Kolimba, and the heads of defence and security forces.

The two heads of state also discussed further cooperation in health, security, tradition, education, and sports.

According to President Magufuli, boosting ties especially in trade between the two countries would be a good way of encouraging and stimulating more development pacts. “Last year, trade between our two countries was at TSh 21.1 billion, up from TSh 18.3 bn in 2016. This is not enough… we need to make more efforts on this front,” said President Magufuli.

President Mnangagwa acknowledged the role that Tanzania played in his country’s independence struggle, including by visiting the Kaole Arts College in Bagamoyo, Coast region. The college had previously been a training college for liberation fighters from the southern part of Africa which Mnangagwa himself once attended.

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HEALTH

by Ben Taylor

Ebola border alert
The government has established health screening of travellers entering the country from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), as the spread of Ebola continues through parts of the DRC. By late August, a total of 90 people in the DRC had been diagnosed with Ebola with 50 people pronounced dead since the outbreak began earlier this year.

Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Children and Elders Ummy Mwalimu, told a press conference in Dar es Salaam that although the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recently in its report placed Tanzania at a higher risk, there was not even a single case reported in the country.

The minister added that the government has deployed 35 medics along with thermal body scanners to key entry points. “Thermal Scanners are devices meant to detect high body temperature as a clue for Ebola dis­ease,” explained the Minister. Ms Mwalimu noted that the government has enhanced its integrated disease surveillance and response system in the country’s border posts that are frequently used by DRC nationals to cross into the country.

Ms Mwalimu noted further that the government will closely work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international organi­sations responsible for health as per the law to prevent the Ebola preva­lence. “We have also convened an emergence meeting for our National Task Force responsible for the disease,” she said.

Ms Mwalimu assured the public that there was so far no any case of person with Ebola in the country, urging the people to remain watchful against the disease. (Daily News)

New HIV/AIDS Strategy launched
The Minister also launched the fourth national multi-sectoral strategic framework for HIV and AIDS plan, saying the new plan aims to reach out to the entire population in the country.

We want everyone to understand their HIV status. This is the only option that will help end the fight against AIDs,” she said.

The global target set for 2030 is to end HIV and AIDs, while the UN aims by 2020 to have 90% of people living with HIV diagnosed, 90% of diagnosed people on antiretroviral treatment and 90% of people in treatment with fully suppressed viral load. However, Tanzania remains some distance off these targets. The minister said 48% of the population of people living with HIV and AIDs do not know their status.

A key element of the new strategy is to reach out to every place where people gather in large numbers, including football matches and popular music concerts. “We will not force people to test for HIV, but we will make sure there are facilities everywhere for people to understand their status,” said the Minister.

“We’re also looking at the possibility that the law should allow indi­viduals to get HIV test kits and test on their own,” she said, explaining that this will encourage a lot more to seek medical help after knowing their status.

The plan will increase the number of health centres providing Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) services to 2,800. It will also focus on cultural barriers that hinder the fight against Aids, including ending stigma and discrimination which experts say kills and discourages peo­ple especially men seeking medical help.

United Nations agency for HIV and AIDs (UNAIDs) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) representatives praised the government initiatives for fighting HIV/AIDS but called for action to be stepped up in order to meet the global targets. (Daily News)

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GOVERNMENT DEFENDS STIEGLER’S GORGE DAM PROJECT

by Ben Taylor

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

The government remain undeterred in its plans to construct a large dam in the Rufiji River, at Stiegler’s Gorge in the Selous Game Reserve, [see also TA 120] despite concerns expressed by conservationists and MPs.

Conservation groups including the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have raised concerns since the project was mooted in 2009 and have consistently called for the project to be abandoned. The IUCN called the project “fatally flawed.”

The Selous Game Reserve is one of the last major expanses of wilder­ness in Africa. It’s a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site the size of Switzerland. Since 2014, it has been on UNESCO’s List of World Heritage in Danger, primarily because of elephant poaching. In less than 40 years, the park lost 90% of its elephants.

However, the planned hydropower dam could have an even more devastating impact. At 130 meters (427 feet) in height and stretching 700 meters across the canyon, the dam will create a lake of 1,500 square kilometres and will generate up to 2,100 MW of power.

“The dam would destroy one of the most important habitats for wildlife and the heart of the game reserve, where most of the animals roam, especially in the dry season. It would open up that whole area for indus­trialization, infrastructure and settlements,” said Johannes Kirchgatter of the Africa Program for WWF Germany. “If you’re standing in the middle of Selous now, it’s a fantastic wilderness, there is wildlife all over, and all of that would be gone… It would be a great loss for us and the generations to come.”

The dam would also have a significant impact on livelihoods further downstream. A WWF report found the dam would trap most of an estimated 16 million tons of sediment and nutrients carried by the river every year, leading to soil erosion and cutting off lakes and farmland downstream. The Rufiji delta, home to fish, shrimp and prawn fisher­ies, as well as the largest mangrove forest in East Africa, would also be starved of water. In all, the construction of the dam could damage the livelihoods of over 200,000 farmers and fishermen, according to the WWF.

The IUCN said that the project is ‘fatally flawed’ because of its ecologi­cal impact. It called on Tanzania to ‘permanently abandon’ it.

The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, wrote a letter in January expressing her concern about the irreversible damage the pro­ject could have on the Selous. The World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO, which lists the Selous as a World Heritage Site, expressed its “utmost concern,” saying the dam project has a “high likelihood of [causing] serious and irreversible damage.” The WHC added the Stiegler’s Gorge project as a new factor that endangers the Selous eco­system.

The government rejects this criticism. When WWF published its report in 2017, tourism minister Jumanne Maghembe insisted the hydropower was needed to transform Tanzania’s economy.

President John Magufuli has said the dam and resulting reservoir would cover only 3% of the Reserve, adding that he would not listen to detractors who spoke “without facts.”

The government is pushing ahead to fell more than 2.6 million trees from the area that would be flooded by the dam.

Now Tanzania has taken its defence of the project to UNESCO. At the 42nd meeting of the World Heritage Committee, held in June in Bahrain, Tanzania cited sustainable development to push for the project.

Major General (rtd) Gaudence Milanzi, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said Tanzania has main­tained its position to continue with the project as stated during a meet­ing of the committee in Poland last year. He explained that the dam was primed to play a critical role in the vision of the government to industrialise the economy.

In a separate development, the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office for Union Matters and the Environment, January Makamba, stated on Twitter that a new Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has been completed, such that the previous EIA published in 2009 will no longer be used. The new EIA has been conducted by the Institute of Resource Assessment of the University of Dar es Salaam, he explained. “Its report was submitted last week by Tanesco,” he posted. “A team from [the National Environmental Management Committee] (NEMC) will visit the project this week to verify and talk to the community and stakeholders.”

MPs have also questioned the order of developments, asking why the decision to fell so many trees had been taken before the EIA had been completed. “I wonder why the government wants to move on with the project and yet we know well there will be an impact, especially due to felling of trees. Let us get the EIA n the project,” said Peter Msigwa (Chadema, Iringa Urban). Similar points were made by Zitto Kabwe (ACT Wazalendo, Kigoma Urban) and Nape Nnauye (CCM, Mtama).

Other MPs disagreed. “The tone here is as if all trees around the country will be cleared. Some people are just not patriotic; and I think patriotism should be taught starting from nursery school,” said Mr Omary Mgumba (CCM, Morogoro Rural). “The environment exists to serve human beings and not the opposite.” Dr Raphael Chegeni (CCM, Busega) asked MPs to reduce complaints as projects such as Stiegler’s Gorge were a result of their demand to ensure reliable power genera­tion.”

The Deputy Minister in the Vice President’s Office for Union Affairs and the Environment, Mr Kangi Lugola, told parliament the government would go on with implementation of the project “whether you like it or not.” He added that “those who are resisting the project will be jailed.” Mr Lugola has since been promoted to Home Affairs Minister.

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FAKE NEWS

by Ben Taylor

Who is Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt?
The Economist rarely pays much attention to Tanzania – once or twice a year at best. So when they published not just one but two articles on President Magufuli in a single issue earlier this year, heads turned. The headlines are striking – “Tanzania’s rogue president – Democracy under assault” and “How to save Tanzania” – and the contents even more so. Tanzania is undergoing “a sickening lurch to despotism,” the paper writes, where “opposition politicians are being shot; activists and journalists are disappearing.” This is happening under “an authoritar­ian and erratic” President Magufuli, who is “fast transforming Tanzania … into one of Africa’s more brutal dictatorships”.

Criticism of President Magufuli’s government has been growing in Tanzania, but nobody on the international stage has previously gone nearly so far as the Economist articles. Given the number of people who have been arrested and charged with sedition or various cybercrime offences for expressing criticism of the government, it’s hardly surpris­ing that people are growing more careful what they say. Twaweza’s lat­est Sauti za Wananchi poll found that while 80% say citizens should be allowed to criticise the President, only 36% feel free to do so in practice. So these articles ruffled some feathers.

Including, apparently, the feathers of a Belgian health expert / social worker living and working in Tanzania, by the name of Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt. He was so upset by the Economist’s writing that he published a response, the beautifully titled: “Facts The Economist Got Them Wrong on Magufuli”:

“Contrary to the fact deprived article, it is my candid observation that to objectively critique Magufuli’s presidency in the circumstances of the transformation he is doing for his people in Tanzania, requires the level of conscious that is unfortunately lacking in the current editorial team at the Economist.”

“In my stay here before and after his presidency, I have witnessed real transformation, his work is exemplary and fascinating one. Everybody here—may be just like what Theresa May is doing in London and what Trump is focusing in Washington, is aware that Tanzania is on the move towards pro-people development; something the Economist is unhappy for.”
It is possible that a Belgian social worker / health expert would feel support for Donald Trump, that his English would be so broken, and that he would express his support both for banning political rallies and preventing pregnant schoolgirls from returning to school after giving birth. But it seems unlikely.

It also seems unlikely that he would choose to do so on a blog that did not exist until that day, published by “a Senegalese journalist”, Sammi Addo, who has apparently no other online presence. Indeed, other that Dr Verhoftsadt’s article, everything else on the site has been copied and pasted from somewhere else – Bloomberg (US), Daily Nation (Kenya), ABC (Australia), etc.

It also seems very unlikely that Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt would have no previous online presence at all himself, either.

However, despite such strong reasons for doubt, the blogpost was widely promoted and cited, including by the government-owned Daily News and HabariLeo newspapers. The latter translated and published almost the entire blogpost. And the official government spokesperson posted his support for the blog on an official twitter account.

But then, who should appear, from nowhere, but Dr Herman Louise Verhoftstadt himself, with a series of tweets, the first of which made his point clear:

“Greetings @TheEconomist, please ignore this fake news. I have never been to Africa, let alone Tanzania. In my 37 years of medical practice, my work has been around Europe and South East Asia. You need to have a very poorly performing government to come up with a lie like this.”

But something here doesn’t seem quite right either. The new Dr Herman Louise Verhofstadt has no more online presence than the previous one. And more particularly, his profile pic on twitter is a stock image from Getty, freely available to anyone with access to Google. There is no more reason to believe this to be genuine than the original blogpost.

Fake news vs fake news is the new reality, it seems, even in Tanzania.

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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

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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.

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