by Mark Gillies

In January, the Sixth Tanzania Economic Update was published by the World Bank. The tourism industry in Tanzania generated $1.9 billion by the end of November 2014, 22% of the value of all exports in that period. Although this is impressive, the number of tourists who visited Tanzania is just 11% of those that visited South Africa in 2013.

Considering the abundant natural resources in Tanzania, the World Bank believes that expansion of the tourism sector beyond northern Tanzania and Zanzibar to include southern destinations like Pangani, Ruaha and Katavi; plus stimulation of a domestic tourism market, could increase revenue to $16 billion a year in the next decade.

Echoing this need for expansion and investment, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, met representatives from the World Bank, the United States and Germany to explore ways to generate the $300 million that the Ministry have identified as being required to improve the infrastructure and tourism facilities in the Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha and Katavi National Parks. (The Guardian 27 January)

The US and German Ambassadors, plus Minister Nyalandu, had previously visited the Selous Game Reserve. This visit heralded the transfer of a significant amount of field equipment to the Reserve, improvement of infrastructure and the provision of training for rangers, all designed to assist in the fight against the poaching that currently affects the Selous. It can only be hoped that this continued international focus on combatting poaching of all kinds also affects the criminal figures con­trolling the trade in Tanzania who have so far avoided prosecution. (The Citizen 24 January)

Sustainable conservation of Tanzania’s natural resource is dependent upon the tourism industry. But Tanzania is not South Africa and so it is to be hoped that policy makers will develop a Tanzanian strategy for growth that draws upon international examples, but does not seek to copy them in their entirety.


by Mark Gillies

China and Tanzania’s Elephants
“The current situation for Tanzania’s elephant population is dire in the extreme. The country has lost half of its elephants in the past five years and two-thirds since 2006. Available evidence indicates it has since lost more elephants to poaching than any other country in Africa and is the biggest source of illegal ivory seized around the world. Its once mighty herds are being devastated by remorseless criminal organisations.”

So begins the chapter on Tanzania in the recently published report, ‘Vanishing Point’ by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) in which the country is described as the source for the vast majority of the illegal ivory currently being traded between Africa and Asia. The EIA is an independent campaigning organisation whose carefully researched report (available to download in full at http://eia-international. org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-Vanishing-Point-lo-res1.pdf) has laid bare the extent of the threat to the natural resources of Tanzania.

The publication of the report created headlines, many of which focused on the link with China and the peak in the price of ivory in Mwenge Market, Dar es Salaam, when ships from the Chinese Navy were docked in harbour and when official delegations flew in.

‘Vanishing Point’ makes for sad, but impressive reading. As a report, it clearly documents, in great detail, the ‘epidemiology’ of the current poaching epidemic going back to its resurgence in the early years of the last decade following a period of recovering from the slaughter of the 1980’s. This in itself is a positive thing because, as any doctor will tell you, understanding a disease is the first step to curing the patient and, let there be no mistake, Tanzania is sick.

The current poaching crisis is linked to pervasive corruption through all levels of society, starting with the park ranger who divulges the details of a patrol for a few dollars, right up to the powerful individuals with connections to the highest levels of government who benefit the most from the trade in illegal ivory. Archaic and ineffective executive structures in the Ministry for Natural Resources & Tourism and other government bodies contribute to making law enforcement very difficult to achieve.

While this report deserved the extensive coverage it received, many of the articles it prompted did not clearly describe the context in which the report should be read. Much of what ‘Vanishing Point’ describes happened over the past 5 to 7 years. The authors make the point that since the end of 2013 (and the waves caused by Operation Tokomeza), life is not as easy for the poachers in Tanzania as it once was. President Kikwete and his government have stopped lobbying CITES to down-list the elephants of Tanzania and so legalise the trade in their ivory; the current Minister for Natural Resources & Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, has successfully secured $50 million worth of international anti-poaching assistance; and the revenue protection scheme has been re-instated for the Selous Game Reserve, a first step in providing adequate funding for sustained and effective anti-poaching operations.

As reported previously, 2013 was the first year in which more contraband ivory was seized inside Tanzania, rather than outside of the country. On 2 November, the Tanzania Daily News reported how Tanzania had been congratulated for the fact that 4 months had passed in the Selous without an elephant being poached ( Local sources are not keen to endorse this fact, but all agree that the numbers being lost have slowed.

On 24 October, the Daily News also reported the creation of a Rapid Response Team to combat poaching in the area of Ruaha National Park under the SPANEST Programme, Strengthening the Protected Areas Network in Southern Tanzania, a UNDP-funded project being operated by TANAPA, the Tanzania National Parks Authority.

With committed and concentrated action, and assistance from the international community, it should be within the capability of the Tanzanian Government to combat the disease of wildlife poaching once again, but they have to want to. Even if the land mass to protect is vast; ports and roads are few; the masterminds are even fewer in number. And it should be remembered, that if they fail, it is all Tanzanians that will suffer, not just the elephants. But the fight is a tough one that sadly has human casualties, such as those who lost their lives when a recently donated anti-poaching helicopter crashed in Dar es Salaam, as documented by Wolfgang T Home.

Those who deserve the blame in this sad story are not the Chinese masses who buy the ivory, hopefully they can be educated; nor the poor people at the bottom of the production pyramid, who risk all for a handful of dollars. Those who deserve blame – and punishment – are the few individuals who have used power and influence to pervert the course of justice, to gain (further) immense wealth, to destroy a shared birth right and to undermine the name of a nation.

Those who must be remembered and supported are the brave men and women who will not be corrupted and who risk their lives to protect the natural resources of Tanzania.

Tanzanian Government spokesman Assah Mwambene termed the EIA report ‘questionable’. The government accused the West of trying to spoil the good relationship between Tanzania and China and said that EIA had no proof.


by Mark Gillies

This dry season, tourist tales are of long day drives spent looking for elephant. Some find large groups clustered tightly; others are unlucky and return home without seeing one. It never used to be this way. Tanzania’s poaching epidemic is now much more than statistics: it is arguably a national disaster.

At the end of April, Tanzania was named in the Born Free USA/C4ADS ‘List of Shame’ as one of the top countries in Africa with the worst poaching records and the least effective government action to control the worst threat to natural resources in living memory.

Perhaps partly in response the growing international criticism of perceived governmental inaction to combat international poaching syndicates, the Tanzanian government hosted a Summit Conference to Stop Wildlife Crime and Advance Wildlife Conservation in May and signed a joint initiative with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish a new body for wildlife conservation. On 10 May, The Daily News reported the creation of the Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA), to increase the revenue derived from Tanzania’s natural resource and to intensify conservation. Let us hope the two are not mutually exclusive.

The creation of TAWA was announced by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, who assured delegates to the conference that there would be zero tolerance towards the corrupt and inefficient elements involved in the protection of the country’s wildlife. In particular, 500 extra game rangers are to be hired and three helicopters await pilots currently training in South Africa.

Operation Tokomeza, the Tanzanian government’s attempt to combat poaching (see an article in TA108), continues to create headlines. In May, President Kikwete established an investigation into the Operation. Retired Justice Hamisi Msumi will head efforts to address the complaints of all those negatively affected by the Operation whilst also investigating claims that the Operation was sabotaged. Meanwhile, Tokomeza II continues, but without the early successes, or alleged excesses, of the original Operation.

Putting to one side where the individual culpability lies for the dramatic loss of natural resources through poaching, The Citizen on 7 July draws on the international media to provide a clear explanation for the driving force behind the trade. It outlined how the price of African ivory in China has tripled over the past three years, so that the cost of ivory in China is now ten times the cost in Africa, a profit margin that is driving corruption, crime and conflict across Africa.

The poaching epidemic in Tanzania must be confronted and stopped for the sake of the species targeted. Once they are gone, they will be extremely difficult to reintroduce. The continued existence of elephant and rhino has an existential value, but it also has an immense economic value – a fact should also be remembered by the Tanzanian government when considering other areas of legislation that affects the tourism industry.

Tax and Tourism
In June, in the run up to the release of the national budgets in East Africa, intense lobbying was carried out by the Tanzanian tourism industry with government officials to prevent, or adjust the timeline for, the repeal of certain VAT exemptions covering tourism goods and services that would have resulted in an increase to the average Tanzanian holiday package of about 10%.

Whilst the impact of such a rise on the numbers of tourists visiting Tanzania in the medium to long term is debatable, the issue was that the change was due to come into effect on 1 July 2014, days after the deci­sion and at the start of the peak travel season. The potential increased costs would have to be passed on to clients, risking widespread cancellations and Tanzania’s good reputation in the African tourism market.

The Tanzanian government of course has the right to determine its monetary policy as it wishes, but tourism operators were left pleading for some forewarning and an understanding of the realities of the ultra- competitive market that is African tourism.

In the event, the decision was delayed until October, leaving the operators waiting.

Serengeti Road
On 23 June eTN Global Travel Industry News reported that the East African Court of Justice had ruled against the Tanzanian government’s plans to construct a bitumen road across the Serengeti National Park, declaring it to be ‘unlawful’. Although celebrations broke out in court and across the internet, it should be noted that the ruling only specified a ‘bitumen road’, leaving open the prospect of a gravel road following the same route. So the battle goes on for the future of the Great Migration, the integrity of the Serengeti National Park and the reputation of Tanzania as a leader in the field of African conservation.


by Mark Gillies

In April President Kikwete addressed a meeting at Chatham House, London, on Tanzania’s Transformation and Vision 2025. Despite the recent coverage of poaching, the threat to Lake Natron and explosions on Zanzibar, the President made no mention of tourism; he did, however, stress the need to improve infrastructure, develop industry and increase the local processing of natural resources.

Widespread poaching continues to drain the life from Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves. According to Martin Fletcher (Mail on Sunday 22 March), the Ministry of Natural Resources warehouse in Dar now holds 34,000 tusks – 17,000 dead elephants. That is still just a fraction of the animals lost, as confirmed by the recent Frankfurt Zoological Society aerial survey of the Selous Game Reserve and Kilombero Valley [see article on Operation Tokomeza]. On 25 March the new Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, sacked the Chief Executive of the Tanzania Tourist Board Dr. Aloyce Nzuki, accusing him of poor performance and saying his position had become ‘untenable’. The sacking may have been due in part to Tanzania not making the top three at the prestigious ITB Travel Fair. However, it may also have to do with the fact that the Mail on Sunday article came from a fact-finding trip paid for by the Tanzanian government.

Controversy continues over the proposed road through the Serengeti and the plans for a soda ash extraction plant at Lake Natron, both of which will, it is alleged, cause permanent damage to the charismatic wildlife that attracts so many visitors and the landscapes in which they live (see the website The East African Court of Justice in Arusha has heard final submissions from both the Tanzanian government and the plaintiffs, headed by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare, who are seeking a permanent injunction against the road in its present proposed form.

Sadly, violent attacks have occurred on Zanzibar once more. On 24 February, home-made explosive devices were detonated at the Anglican Cathedral and the popular Mercury’s Restaurant in Stone Town. Police recorded no casualties, although Reuters mentioned local reports of injuries. Although the event was picked up quickly by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and published on its travel advisory, it did not generate much media coverage.


by Mark Gillies

In November the Bank of Tanzania released data for October 2012 to September 2013, which shows an increase in tourism earnings from US $ 1.61 billion to US $ 1.82 billion. Tourism is now the strongest performing economic sector in Tanzania, outstripping all other sectors including gold mining, which had claimed top spot a year ago at a time of record high gold prices.

Loliondo land issue
One piece of good news for the Maasai population of Loliondo, if not for the directors of the Ortelo Business Corporation (OCB), was reported by David Smith in the (UK) Guardian on 7 October, when civil society groups claimed that the Tanzanian government has dropped its plans to annex 1,500 sq km in the Loliondo Concession for a ‘wildlife corridor’. Although it should be noticed that no statement has been made by the Tanzanian government on the issue, Samwel Nangiria, coordinator of the local Ngonett civil society group, described how Prime Minister Pinda spent two and half days in Loliondo in September with the Maasai, who reiterated that the land in question must not be annexed. The Maasai leaders are now in discussions with lands ministry to update the legal status of their land holdings.

If this report does turn out to be correct, the successful model of internet-based, international protest, combined with well-organised and politically engaged local opposition, may be followed by other groups threatened by large scale land appropriation.

Lake Natron
Another Tanzanian government large scale development plan received bad news in November when the National Development Corporation (NDC) published the results of the eight-month scientific study into the environmental impact of the construction of the Lake Natron soda ash extraction plant.

Their dramatic conclusion was that President Kikwete’s directive to proceed with the construction of the plant would ‘almost certainly wipe out East Africa’s lesser flamingo population’. The study demonstrates how the mud flats of Lake Natron are the only place in East Africa where the lesser flamingo can breed. The construction of the soda ash extraction plant would disrupt the movement and feeding patterns of the birds so severely that a secure future would not be possible.

By linking the project to the destruction of a species that has great significance for both Tanzania and Kenya, the NDC has placed a for­midable obstacle in the path of the Tanzanian government, who have dismissed previous opposition as “the work of the mzungu”.

The poaching of elephant and rhino for their tusks and horn continues to be a tragic issue across Africa. Tanzania is suffering its sad share of the losses, although the extent is uncertain. In November alone, two large seizures of ivory were made in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar. The Dar seizure weighed over 1.9 tonnes and was estimated to comprise ivory from 200 elephant. Submerged in a strong smelling concoction designed to prevent detection, it was found in the residence compound of three Chinese living in Dar.

The recent wide-scale anti-poaching operation using Ministry of Natural Resources personnel, police and members of the TDF, code named ‘Tokomeza’ has been criticized as badly managed. Individuals were given the chance to settle personal scores and human rights abuses were committed. It was asked why so much activity occurred in northern Tanzania, in the vicinity of the Serengeti National Park, when the majority of the poaching occurs in the remote areas of the Selous Game Reserve. There are unverified reports that Tokomeza has been active in the Selous with a similar ruthless efficiency, but, as ever, stories from that area are difficult to corroborate.

Perhaps, in the not too distant future, human anti-poaching efforts will be assisted by drone technology. Following President Obama’s offer of assistance to the Tanzanian government during his recent visit to Tanzania, conservation groups in the US subsequently contacted the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington DC, which are apparently being considered. (Daily News)


by Mark Gillies

The Loliondo Land Issue
In April the ongoing issue of land use in the Loliondo Division on the borders of the Serengeti National Park came to the fore once more as headlines declared ‘The End of the Maasai’ (Survival International 28 March 2013). This is an emotive issue that combines the themes of the rights of indigenous people, environmental conservation, histori­cal grievances, a perceived uncaring central government (with worse implied), and foreign hunters [see also TA 95,97,105].

The current issue dates back to 1992, when an Emirati hunting com­pany, the Ortello Business Corporation (OBC), owned by the business­man and member of the Dubai royal family Mohammed Abdulrahim Al-Ali, secured the rights to a hunting concession in Loliondo Division of Ngorongoro. However the problem can only be understood in the general context of land use and the displacement of peoples.

According to the house blog of Just Conservation, an online forum for academics and activists interested in equitable conservation, the 1992 allocation was done with a lack of procedural clarity and without consulting the relevant community representatives. As the 1990s pro­gressed, there were accusations of dubious hunting practices, including the export of live animals, although these have not been verified or recently investigated. (­conservation-in-loliondo,-tanzania)

In 2009, the severe drought experienced in northern Tanzania led to conflict between OBC and the local Maasai communities as the herd­ers endeavoured to water their livestock in an area where access was prohibited by OBC. In the ensuing conflict, a Police Field Force unit restored order with a level of force that resulted in the burning of sev­eral homesteads and accusations of physical and sexual abuse. OBC defended their position by stating that herders are only denied access to the water sources during the hunting season. This runs from July to September, which unfortunately coincides with the dry season.
So, when in March this year it was announced by the government that a 1,500 square kilometre ‘wildlife corridor’ would be created in the Loliondo that would displace an estimated 30,000 people and affect
Tourism & Environmental Conservation thousands more who use the grasslands for seasonal grazing, the local communities engaged in vociferous protest.

The story has interesting local – and national – political implications. In addition to the 2012 threat to blockade the Ngorongoro Crater (The East African 8 December 2012), one protest took the form of a mass burning of CCM membership cards by Maasai women. This move caught the atten­tion of local CCM officials who, according a BBC report, made the long drive to Loliondo from Arusha to denounce the proposed corridor.

The affected communities plan to lodge a legal challenge, but as a previ­ous action from 2009 remains unheard, they are not hopeful. However, on 29 June, Prime Minister Pinda told the National Assembly that the Government had “received complaints from various stakeholders and the people of Loliondo” and would therefore review its most recent decisions regarding the Loliondo land concessions and OBC. (Daily News and

Serengeti Highway proposal remains live

Map of the possible Serengeti Highway routes (courtesy Nature)

Map of the possible Serengeti Highway routes (courtesy Nature)

On 27 June word emerged that the proposed Serengeti Highway, which has provoked international condemnation [see TA 97/99], may nevertheless still be a viable project in the eyes of the Tanzanian government. The proposed budget for the financial year 2013/14 appears to contain an allocation of funds to advance the planning and design of the high­way. This is despite the reported offer by the German government and the World Bank to finance the construction of an alternate southern route that will protect the Serengeti ecosystem and arguably reach more people than the original proposed northern route. The southern route would, however, not suit the interests of mining and soda ash extraction interests operating in the northern areas. (27 June Wolfganghthome’s Blog)

Tourism taxation
On 1 July the new Tourism Development Levy came into force. The levy imposes a 2% bed night charge on all tourist accommodation. Of even more concern was the proposal to make tourism products and services liable to VAT at 18%. This move had been adopted by Uganda but rejected by Kenya. Fortunately, on 28 June the Tanzanian Assembly also rejected the imposition of the tax, which in one move would have made Tanzania a far more expensive destination (in general) than Kenya – a dangerous move.

Edward VIII: The Lion King
And finally, on 28 May in the UK, a documentary aired on Channel Four entitled ‘Edward VIII: The Lion King’. The programme was a fas­cinating account of the transition of Edward VIII, in his time as Prince of Wales, from hunter to one of the earliest advocates of African conserva­tion. Working with the famous Denys Finch Hatton, after developing an understanding of the bloody reality of the growing hunting trend, the Prince used his celebrity to draw attention to the increasing threat to the wildlife and integrity of what we now call the Serengeti ecosystem. Which just goes to show that some issues have an enduring importance beyond their local significance.


by Mark Gillies:

Murder of Father Mushi
Resuming my report after a gap of two issues, it is with regret that I lead with the sad story of the murder of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Evarist Mushi, shot dead at the entrance to his church on Unguja in February (see article on Religious Tensions for more details). In addition to the personal tragedy that is the death of Father Mushi, the incident contributes to a growing discourse on the alleged growing radicalisation of East African Islam and the increase in religious tension between Islam and Christianity. Such discourse, whether accurate or not, is to the detriment of Tanzania in general and Zanzibari tourism in particular.

Although there have been other seemingly similar incidents on the mainland, it remains unclear whether the Zanzibar incident can be attributed to a local dispute over land ownership or to a wider issue of religious tension.

British Airways pull out of Tanzania
British Airways have decided to discontinue their direct flights to Dar es Salaam from London Heathrow, effective from 1 April 2013. Despite being the only direct flights from the UK into Dar, the route was deemed to be no longer commercially viable.

Kenya Airways look to be the immediate beneficiary as they now offer the best connections and, generally, good value fares. However, industry insiders are now asking whether Virgin will fill the breach. So far, nothing has been confirmed, but watch this space.

Swahili Tourism Fair
Though the Tanzanian Tourist Board must be disappointed by the BA announcement, they had their own good news; the completion in February of an agreement between the tourism boards of South Africa and Tanzania to initi­ate a Swahili Tourism Fair for the first week of October. Due to be hosted at Milimani City, Dar es Salaam, the Swahili Tourism Fair will be backed by the biggest South African tourism promoter, Witch & Wizard Creative (Pty) Ltd, organisers of the hugely successful tourism ‘Indaba’ held in Durban each year.

The managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, stated that the new initiative is projected to double the number of tourists visiting the country and lead to enormous investments over five years. “Until December, last year, tourism figures stood at 950,000 foreign visitors with net earnings of $1.4 billion (about TShs2.24trillion) annually,” said Dr Nzuki at the signing ceremony. He added “we expect to attract more tourists with the implementa­tion of the Swahili Fair during the first week of every October.”

Tanzania’s ability to increase visitor numbers and tourism-related revenue was endorsed by the success of Tanzanian destinations in the 2013 Safari Awards, when Nomad Lamai camp won ‘Best New Safari Property in Africa’ (Arusha Times). Set in the rocks of the Kogakuria Kopje in the Serengeti, the Lamai is one on the three properties constructed in the area after the government released new tenders in 2006.
The Serengeti National Park was itself recently chosen as the 2013 global win­ner of the International Award of the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Industry and, more significantly, was voted one of the seven wonders of the modern world. These awards and the consistently high visitor numbers testify to the popularity and importance of the Serengeti ecosystem for tourism and conservation. What impact this will have on the government’s development plans for the region remains unclear.

And finally…

Miss Indaya (kneeling extreme right) and other members of the expedition (wfp)

Miss Indaya (kneeling extreme right) and other members of the expedition (wfp)

Miss Anna Philipo Indaya has become the first Hadzabe woman to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As reported by Peter Temba in the 8 March Daily News, Miss Indaya, a teacher at Endamaghan Primary School, reached the summit at 07:00 on Tuesday 5 March, accompanied by fellow Tanzanian Ashura Kayupayupa and seven Nepalese women. The Hadzabe, one of Tanzania’s smallest ethic groups, traditionally practice a hunter-gatherer life­style in the area of Lake Eyasi, but their lifestyle is threatened by current land use pressures. The expedition was backed by the United Nations World Food Programme, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania National Parks Authority and Childreach International. Well done Miss Indaya!


by Mark Gillies

Just as in the natural world, when the months of April bring rain, growth and much activity in Tanzania, the three months since the last edition of TA have been full of incident in the fields of tourism and environmental conservation.

New Minister
On 4 May, the BBC reported that following the highly critical report by the Controller & Auditor General’s Office which described extensive misuse of funds, President Kikwete sacked the Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism. He was replaced by Ambassador Kagasheki, a man of whom much is expected, and who has reportedly taken to his new post with vigour. In his opening address to the civil servants of the Ministry, Ambassador Kagasheki was quoted as saying, “This is a sensitive ministry, which deals with foreigners, and there­fore there is an urgent need to cleanse its tarnished corporate image.” This was taken by many as a clear condemnation of his predecessor. Tourism generates more income than mining, agriculture, or any other sector of the economy. (Dr Wolfgang Thome, ETN Uganda).

In June, the circumstantial stories of an increase in the reported incidents of violent crime in Tanzania gained a human face when a Dutch tourist and a local camp manager were killed during a robbery on the borders of the Serengeti National Park. Conscious of the potential impact of such events, police searched the area in force and made a number of arrests. Three men have subsequently been charged and await trial for murder.

On the rebound
However, despite these negative news stories, and the western economic malaise that has hit the long-haul travel industry hard, the new Minister has asserted that Tanzania’s tourism industry is ‘on the rebound’, using the increase in international airlines flying into Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) as his example of vibrancy in the tourism market. (Marc Nkwame, Daily News) Speaking at the reception for the inaugural Qatar Airways service, the Minister said the increase in traffic would benefit both the Tanzanian tourism industry and the airlines.

Kenya Airways recently started a six times a week service into KIA, while Emirates and Turkish Airways have expressed an interest in using the airport. To handle the increase in traffic, KIA has embarked on major terminal renovation and expansion that will cost over 25 million Euros. The airport handles nearly 700,000 travellers per year, and with the introduction of more interna­tional flights the number may reach the one million figure this year.

Sculptures recently installed in down-town Dar es Salaam by Karakana ya Wonder (Wonder Workshop) – photo Michuzi

Controversial projects
Several large projects championed by the Tanzanian government continue to generate headlines and vociferous argument – both for and against.

The development of Lake Natron Soda Ash Extraction Plant remains dependent upon meeting environmental impact criteria. Although the validity of these crite­ria is doubted by crit­ics, recently released budget estimates of the Ministry of Industry & Trade for 2012/13 reveal that funding has been allocated for chemical, hydrological, ecological and hydrodynamic testing (Alvar Mwakyusa ­Daily News), so expect more on this story soon.

The Serengeti Road saga also continues. At the World Heritage Committee meeting in June 2011 the Tanzanian government confirmed that the 53km stretch of road through the Serengeti National Park would not be paved and would continue to be managed by the Tanzanian National Park Authority (TANAPA). It would be used mainly for tourism and administrative purposes, which should result in a low level of traffic. The Tanzanian government was also said to be seriously considering construction of an alternative road running south of the Serengeti. (Birdlife International, 22 June).

Down in the Selous a Memorandum of Understanding was signed on 5 July for the Stiegler’s Gorge Power Project between the Rufiji Basin Development Authority and Odebrecht International. At an anticipated cost of $2 billion, depending on the design chosen, the project is projected to generate a 2100 MW capacity and to provide Dar es Salaam with a stable, long-term water source. The project will be funded through a combination of the Tanzanian Government and Brazilian credit lines. (Daily News Online Edition).

While it is accepted that Tanzania needs a greatly improved electricity network and that the burgeoning metropolis of Dar es Salaam has outgrown its current clean water provision, opponents of the scheme are concerned by the environmental impact of the project, which will see a large area of the most photogenic section of the Selous Game Reserve flooded, the unlikelihood of completing the project to budget and the ongoing cost of maintenance.

Perhaps what all these large-scale projects boil down to when balancing need with impact is trust. Trust in knowledge, trust in capability, trust in capacity and trust in intention. But trust is what seems to be lacking. And now for the uranium processing project in the Selous….

And finally….
On 24 May Apolinari Tairo reported on ETN Tanzania that despite recent predictions that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers may disappear between 2018 and 2020, recent aerial surveys had in fact revealed an increase in snow accumulation on the mountain. Predictably this provoked an online storm, with global warming advocates lining up to shake their keyboards at the nay sayers. Kilimanjaro Area Governor Gama seemed to get it right when he warned that whatever the case with the white and cold stuff, it was still of the utmost importance to check environmental degradation, such as the illegal timber felling and extraction being inflicted on the lower slopes of the mountain.

Anyway, I’ll be balancing on the top of Uhuru come October, so I’ll let you know.