by Ben Taylor

New education policy to start imminently, but gradually
The government has announced that it will begin implementing the new Education and Training Policy (2023 edition) in January 2024. The policy, which has been in the making for nearly four years, will intro­duce some major changes in the country’s education sector. Developed after extensive consultations with stakeholders, it restructures the school system and emphasises 21st-century skills such as communica­tion, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking.

The new policy includes a stronger emphasis on practical education, including technical and vocational training, starting with form one. It also aims to harmonize higher education with national priorities and labour market demands.

According to Educational Circular No 5 of 2023, issued late in the year, the initial phase will start with immediate implementation of the new policy for pre-primary, grade one, and grade three in primary schools, right after the opening of the school year in January 2024. The imple­mentation of the vocational training option for Form One students in select secondary schools that meet the necessary requirements will also commence in January.

Curriculum changes for upper secondary schools (forms five and six) are scheduled to begin in July 2024, the circular further indicates. “Students [already] in primary and secondary schools this year [2023] will complete their studies using the current curriculum. However, those joining Form One in 2024 will experience a dual curriculum sce­nario, with practical students following the improved curriculum while general education students continue with the existing one,” the circular noted.

One of the most significant changes is a new education structure, denoted as 1+6+4+2/3+3+. In this system, pre-primary education spans one year and primary education takes six years. Lower secondary education (forms one to four) extends for four years. Upper second­ary school takes two years for students undertaking general education subjects and three years for students in the vocational training stream. Higher education remains at three years or more, according to the type of course.

Enrolment age adjustments accompany the structural changes, with the pre-primary class admitting five-year-olds and the standard-one class admitting six-year-olds. Primary and lower secondary education, total­ling ten years, will be compulsory and free.

The lower secondary education phase introduces two streams: general education and vocational or practical education. At the end of the sixth grade in primary schools – typically around age 12-13 – students will take a national test and decide between general and practical secondary education when entering form one.

General education students will cover six compulsory subjects, while vocational stream students will study one business field and four com­pulsory subjects. Graduates from the vocational option will be awarded certificates from both the National Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training (NACTVET) and the National Examinations Council of Tanzania (NECTA).

The improved curriculum introduces new subjects aligned with cur­rent needs, according to the circular. Tanzanian history, morals and ethics subjects will be taught in Kiswahili, “so as to foster patriotic and responsible citizens”.

Religion subjects have been given prominence and are to be taught based on age and national values. Additional primary education sub­jects include geography and environment, arts and sports, and science. For lower secondary education, computer science and business stud­ies have been introduced, with business becoming compulsory for all streams. Higher secondary education sees the inclusion of academic communication in Forms V and VI to enhance graduates’ academic communication skills.

Two new studies point to problems in primary schooling, and offer solutions
Two recently published studies by the KiuFunza initiative [full disclo­sure: the TA editor works for the same organisation, Twaweza, that runs KiuFunza, albeit in a different department] have laid bare some of the challenges facing primary education in Tanzania, as well as identifying a potential solution.

First, in a 2023 survey of 285 schools in ten regions found that only four out of ten pupils aged 10-14 years could read and understand a simple sentence written in Swahili, and that more than half could not yet read individual words. Further, the survey found that teachers do not rec­ognise these deficits: on average, teachers in grade 2 estimate that 53% of their students can read at grade 2 level, against a pass rate of 20% percent on the independent assessment. And the same study found that one third of primary school classrooms observed by researchers had pupils present but no teacher.

In the second study, conducted between 2015 and 2021, the KiuFunza team found that providing small financial incentives (up to 3.5% of the average teacher’s annual salary) to teachers was a cost-effective way to improve performance. The result was an increase in pupils’ learn­ing equivalent to an extra four months of schooling. They also found evidence that fewer pupils were dropping out and that teachers were demonstrating more frequent positive behaviours towards pupils, and that there was no negative effect on performance either in subjects that lacked teacher incentives and or on the performance of either high- or low-performing pupils who were not closely to the test-score threshold and therefore unlikely to impact on the incentive.

Based on results from 2015-16, the Tanzanian Ministry for Local Government asked Twaweza to test a performance pay programme that can work at larger scale. This follow-up programme focused on practi­cal innovations to reduce unit costs while maintaining quality and trust, and was implemented in 2019-2021. The KiuFunza team found that the learning impact in this version was higher and had lower implementa­tion costs, such that the cost-effectiveness of the incentive program had increased substantially.

Maths and English highlighted as problem subjects in primary schools
Primary school examination results released in November showed that only 34% percent of candidates achieved grade C or higher in the English exam, while 49% achieved a similar grade in mathematics. In contrast, the pass rate for Kiswahili was 88% and the overall pass rate across all subjects was 81%.

“The shortage of competent English teachers is so acute that teach­ers with limited proficiency are being compelled to teach the subject, especially in public schools. This not only adversely affects the quality of education, but also hinders pupils’ ability to learn and master the language,” Tanzania Education Network (TEN) national coordinator Ochola Wayoga said.
Deputy Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Omary Kipanga, admitted that there was a “deficiency”, which was posing a significant challenge as far as English language skills among pupils were con­cerned.

“The ability to communicate effectively in English is a valuable skill that opens up opportunities in higher education, employment and interna­tional relations,” he said.
He noted, however, that the Education ministry was committed to addressing the issue by implementing strategies meant to attract and retain qualified and competent English teachers. “This includes invest­ing in teacher training programmes, providing professional develop­ment opportunities and offering competitive salaries and benefits to incentivise educators with the right skills and competencies to take up and stay in the teaching profession,” he said.

When it comes to maths, Dr Amos Chacha from the Saint Augustine University of Tanzania said a multiplicity of factors was behind the consistently high levels of failure.
“Pupils, teachers, the learning environment, curriculum and schools are all factors in this long-standing issue,” he said, while noting that the trend raises questions as to whether the existing education system can supply graduates who possess the essential skills to enable them to cope with the ever-evolving technological society.

An education stakeholder, Mr Mwakumba Mwemezi, said the major reason behind poor performance in mathematics is the poor teaching methods that teachers use.
“Teachers teach like they are teaching university pupils, they don’t teach children based on their age. That makes the children miss the foundations for learning mathematics and makes them get bad results in their exams,” he said.

“We should not expect a quick change in the performance of pupils in that subject. We need enough and very smart teachers to change the trend,” he added.
Mr Mwemezi hoped, however, that forthcoming curricular changes – see earlier article in this section – will also help in improving the teach­ing environment for teachers and learning for students.


by Ben Taylor

Universal Health Insurance Bill enacted
On November 1, 2023, the Tanzanian Parliament enacted the Universal Health Insurance Bill, a highly significant piece of legislation that aims to ensure access to healthcare services for all citizens through a compre­hensive health insurance system.

The new law makes it mandatory for every citizen of mainland Tanzania to have health insurance. To achieve this, citizens may either join a recognised private health insurance scheme or the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) as a public scheme.

The Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (TIRA) will oversee and manage the health insurance system. TIRA’s responsibilities include registering and regulating health insurance schemes, ensuring compli­ance with a standardised benefit package, and providing guidelines to optimise the efficiency of health insurance schemes nationwide.

The law mandates a standardised benefits package. Members also have the option to acquire additional benefits beyond the standard package. The Minister is granted the authority to modify the standard benefits package based on various evaluations and the sustainability of funds.

Similarly, the legislation empowers the Minister to enhance the public health insurance scheme based on findings from studies and evalua­tions.

Finally, a specific provision caters to financing healthcare for the poor­est households, constituting 27% of Tanzania’s population. Special funds, sourced from electronic transaction revenues, excise duty on select products, taxes on gaming, motor vehicle insurance, parliamen­tary allocations, returns from fund investments, and contributions from stakeholders, including development partners, will support health insurance for this demographic.

In tabling the bill before Parliament, health minister Ummy Mwalimu said the government will establish an equity fund which will be used to pay the insurance premium for poor Tanzanians and finance the cost of treating chronic diseases such as cancer, kidney and heart problems, and emergency services like accident treatment.

“We are going to revoke the exemption system which has not benefited people,” she added, referring to the system that has theoretically existed up to now whereby children under five, those aged over 60 and preg­nant women were entitled to receive free treatment. “The system is there on paper,” she explained, “but in most cases, exempted people do not get medicines and other services”.

The government made various changes to the Bill that had been pro­posed by the parliamentarians and other members of the public. The minister said the government repealed a section which restricted some public services for people who had not subscribed to the government’s health insurance schemes.

Previously, the Bill restricted access to services such as driving licence, motor vehicle insurance, tax identification number (TIN), Sim card registration, business licence, passport or visa, registration of students, and national ID. This section had drawn widespread public criticism.

Ms Mwalimu said the section was scrapped in response to public demand, but that the government had instead introduced a different “sanction” to make it necessary for people to join the insurance cover­age.

“We will invest in public awareness programmes and convincing peo­ple to join,” she said. “And there will be a penalty of 10% of the annual contribution for a person who do not join any insurance scheme after three years since the law starts,” she added.

“This is a basic step towards ensuring Tanzanians live in good health by accessing the health services timely,” said Stanslaus Nyongo, the chair of the Parliamentary Health and HIV/Aids Committee.

Zanzibar on track to eliminate cholera
Epidemics of the deadly disease have been absent on the Zanzibar isles for the last five years, even as cholera incidence has risen globally, and researchers say the current approach to controlling cholera looks set to eliminate the disease on the islands by 2027.

Scientists from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ministries of Health for Tanzania and Zanzibar, and UNICEF, conducted the research, which was published this year in The Pan-African Medical Journal.

Zanzibar’s cholera plan rests on three pillars – an enabling environment, prevention and response – and encompasses a diverse set of actions, from training food workers on cholera prevention, to major investments in water and sanitation in hot-spot zones, to preventive vaccination, to stockpiling life-saving IV fluids and oral rehydration solutions where they might be needed, and more.

The model has proven “very effective”, write the researchers. Zanzibar’s high-level leadership commitment ought to be taken as “exemplary”, they add. “The improvement of water and sanitation infrastructures, coupled with a comprehensive plan to eliminate cholera, has set Zanzibar on the path towards a future free from this disease,” said Ghirmay Andemichael Redae, Liaison Officer for WHO Zanzibar.

The entire population of Zanzibar has been targeted for cholera elimi­nation through the approach, which included providing preventive cholera vaccination to 322,483 people in cholera hotspot areas of Unguja and Pemba Islands. However, the researchers noted that when COVID­19 vaccines were introduced concurrently, the coverage for cholera vaccination declined.

Cholera, a bacterial disease transmitted in contaminated food and water, spreads fast, sometimes killing patients in as little as a few hours after exposure.

Zanzibar residents remember the last major outbreak of cholera to hit the island. It began in September 2015, and rolled on for ten months, affecting 4,330 people, and killing 68. Zanzibar has experienced no fewer than 17 cholera outbreaks since the 1970s.


by Ben Taylor

Progress with Standard Guage Railway
The Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRC) has embarked on testing of its electric train along the country’s recently constructed Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line. Beginning in early December, the tests are running initially between Pugu in Dar es Salaam and Soga in Coast Region.

The South Korean-made train, coupled with the Turkish/Chinese-built railway line, is expected to be capable of reaching speeds of up to 160km per hour. This enhanced speed will significantly reduce travel times and facilitate the efficient movement of goods and people throughout Tanzania.

Later in December TRC took delivery of three new electric locomotives and 27 new passenger cars. This latest batch brings the total locomotives received to four and passenger cars to 56, paving the way for a smooth rollout of the modern railway service. “We’re steadily equipping ourselves for SGR operations,” affirmed TRC Acting Director-General Michibia Shiwa. He explained that TRC plans include 17 locomotives and 59 passenger cars already purchased for the project.

Shiwa emphasised that rigorous testing procedures were underway to ensure perfect compatibility between the trains and the newly built infrastructure, guaranteeing a safe and seamless journey.

The President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has previously pledged that the new line will be operational no later than July 2024. Chief Government Spokesperson Mobhare Matinyi has reaffirmed that this deadline will be met: “There will be no other directive. No changes should be expected after the recent directive of the Head of State,” Matinyi declared, emphasising the government’s commitment to the President’s deadline.

He explained that the extensive trials required for each engine (10,000km) and coach (5,000km) before operation.

The introduction of the electric train and the expansion of the SGR network represent a major step forward in Tanzania’s transportation modernisation efforts.

These advancements are expected to stimulate economic growth, enhance trade connectivity, and improve the overall transportation experience for Tanzanians and their neighbouring counterparts.

Tanzania’s SGR is being built with Turkish and Chinese construction firms at an estimated cost of TSh 26 trillion (approx. GBP £8 billion).

Zanzibar also looks to (re)develop rail infrastructure
The President of Zanzibar, Hussein Mwinyi, is looking to follow the mainland example and steer Zanzibar towards transportation development.

He has ordered the immediate implementation of the long-dormant “Zanzibar Urban Public Transport Master Plan,” aiming to revamp the island’s public transport system with efficiency, sustainability, and economic growth in mind.

“The Zanzibar Social Security Fund (ZSSF) will partner with transport authorities to select a company that can bring modern buses to our city,” he declared. “Small cars can continue serving rural areas, but Zanzibar City deserves a modern fleet.”

He further called for a vision beyond roads, stating “We must rely on a modern, integrated, and efficient transportation network, and we must invest in it carefully. We should also plan for a railway network.”

Evoking Zanzibar’s historical connection to railways, President Mwinyi recalled the Stone Town-Bububu line from the 1870s. “It’s high time we restore this railway,” he asserted. “The need for a modern transport network is not just our own; it’s a global imperative for a sustainable future.”

There had indeed been a rail line in Zanzibar built in 1879, but it ran not to Bububu to the north but to the palace of Sultan Bargash bin Said in Chukwani, to the south of Stone Town. Initially the two Pullman cars were hauled by mules but in 1881 the Sultan ordered small steam locomotive from the UK. The railway saw service until the Sultan died in 1888 when the track and locomotive were scrapped. Later, between 1905 and 1930, a seven-mile rail route linked Stone Town and Bububu. The service was extremely popular and largely used by the native population.

UK inquest opened into death of UK national in Bukoba air crash
An inquest has opened in the UK into the death of a British citizen who died during the plane crash in which Precision Air flight PW-494 crashed at Lake Victoria in Bukoba in November 2022. Jonathan Rose, a resident of Suffolk, England, was one of 39 people (38 adults and one infant) on board when the crash occurred.

On November 14, 2023, a pre-inquest review hearing was held at Ipswich Coroner’s Court. Also present in court were legal representatives for Mr Rose’s family. The court heard that a final report from the Tanzanian authorities was being written but that this was expected “soon,” the publication reported.

Mr Stewart said that he believed it would not be necessary for a jury to be called to sit on Mr Rose’s inquest. However, expert witnesses may be called to help explain the technical difficulties the plane encountered.

Another pre-inquest review hearing will take place in six months when it is hoped the report from the Tanzanian authorities will be complete.

In November 2022, the Air Accident Investigation Branch of the then-Ministry of Works and Transport released a report that blamed the deaths of the passengers aboard the flight on the failure of the first responders to act with sufficient urgency upon being informed of the crash.


by Philip Richards

Tanzania to co-host African Cup of Nations (AfCON) 2027
Alongside Kenya and Uganda, Tanzania has been selected by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to co-host the 2027 edition of the African Cup of Nations (AfCON), Africa’s premier international football tournament.

This will be the first time that three countries will co-host the tournament, the first time that any of these three countries have hosted it, and the first time since Ethiopia in 1976 that it has been held in East Africa. “There’s a minimum guarantee of nine completely sold-out home games – a record that has never been achieved before since a single host can only guarantee three home games,” said Rogers Byamukama, a board member of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA).

CAF will not be dealing with the host countries individually but as an entity, and soon the three nations are expected to name a joint organising committee. “Even as things stand right now, we have enough stadiums available to host the tournament,” said Byamukama. “Renovating these facilities is a simpler approach than starting from scratch.” He added, however, that all three countries’ government had committed to funding the construction of new stadiums for the tournament.

CAF requires AfCON hosts to have a minimum of six stadiums, two of which must be 40,000-seater and above. Tanzania appears well-prepared in this regard, with Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) president Wallace Karia confirming the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam as their main venue.

The 60,000-seater would be ready to host if the Nations Cup kicked off today, and the stadium was sold out when it hosted the opening match of the inaugural African Football League between Simba and Al Ahly in October, 2023.

In addition, the Uhuru (Kinondoni Municipal) Stadium and Major General Isamuhyo Stadium (“JKT”) – both in Dar es Salaam – are currently undergoing renovations and are expected to be ready next year. Mr Karia also announced the construction of new stadiums in the capital Dodoma and Arusha, presenting already-approved designs, with work scheduled to start in 2024.

It is expected that Zanzibar will be included in the list of host venues, with Zanzibar’s sports minister Tabia Maulid Mwita announcing the Amaan Stadium as a potential host ground. “The stadium has already received a positive nod from CAF but we need to increase its current capacity to 20,000 seats,” he said. “This work is already under way.”

In addition, in September 2024 the same three countries and Zanzibar will all provide one stadium to host the African Nations Championship (CHAN) – a lower-profile tournament involving only players based in their home countries.


by Donovan McGrath

Statesman and saint
(The Tablet – UK) In this section of the publication, readers share their thoughts and stories. The following was submitted by Joy Elder: I was thrilled to read that the Church in Tanzania is calling for the canonisation of Julius Nyerere … I was in Tanzania as a young White Sister just after independence and beyond. Julius Nyerere was, I think, educated partly by White Fathers … His visits to my mission of Sumbawanga were always memorable and delightful and he was my hero. Among all the leaders of the world he was distinguished for his genius in running the country successfully and for being a man of great kindness, talent, humour, integrity and humility. He has always been a saint for me! (16 December 2023) – Thanks to Roger Bowen for this item – Editor

The Tanzanians searching for their grandfathers’ skulls in Germany
(BBC News online – UK) Isaria Anael Meli has been looking for his grandfather’s remains for more than six decades. Extract continues: He believes the skull ended up in a Berlin museum after his grandfather, Mangi Meli, along with 18 other chiefs and advisers, was hanged by a German colonial force 123 years ago. After all this time, a German minister has told the BBC the country is prepared to apologise for the executions in what is now northern Tanzania. Other descendants have also been searching for the remains and recently, in an unprecedented use of DNA research, two of the skulls of those killed have been identified among a museum collection of thousands… [It was] on 2 March 1900 [in a one-time market area for the villagers of Tsudunyi, in a part of what is now called Old Moshi] that, as the descendants tell it, one-by-one the 19 men were hanged. They had been hastily tried the day before, accused of plotting to attack the German colonial forces… Mangi Meli, the most prominent mangi, or chief, among those who were killed, had in 1882 successfully defeated the German forces. That success was later reversed and by the end of the 19th Century, the Europeans were keen to stamp their authority on this part of what was known as German East Africa. They wanted to make an example of Mangi Meli and other local leaders who may have been planning an uprising… While most of the torsos are believed to be buried in a mass grave somewhere near the tree, their heads were at some point removed, packed up and sent 6,600km (4,100 miles) to the German capital. In some cases the complete skeletons were shipped… The lively 92-year-old [grandson] was told about the killing of Mangi Meli by his grandmother, who he says was forced to watch the execution … Since at least the 1960s, Mr Meli had been writing to the German and Tanzanian authorities urging them to look for the remains of his grandfather. He says officials tried to put him off by telling him that relevant records had been destroyed during World War Two. But Mr Meli was not deterred. “… [T]his skull is needed by the whole country – not me, myself, only.” There is a sense of profound loss that goes beyond the idea that this was a historical injustice. Mangi Meli was a chief from the Chagga ethnic group – one of the most prominent in modern-day Tanzania. For the Chagga people, as well as others in the region, the idea that the head was separated from the body and then taken away from the land is deeply disturbing. In Chagga culture the dead are supposed to be buried in the homestead so they can continue to watch over the living. It is believed that the failure to do that could have consequences down the generations… Simulango Molelia, the grandson of another victim of the executions – Mangi Molelia – believes his family is being haunted by the chief’s spirit… Museums and other institutions in 19th and early 20th Century Europe and North America amassed large collections of skulls and other human remains. This was partly driven by huge interest in the now-discredited science of phrenology. It was based on the idea that someone’s fundamental characteristics were reflected in the shape of their skull. In some cases it took on a racist element, with researchers trying to establish a racial hierarchy… As a consequence people began collecting skulls from across the world. Zablon Ndesamburo Kiwelu followed in his late brother’s footsteps and took up the search for the skulls “What the Germans did was not a good thing,” says Zablon Ndesamburo Kiwelu, whose grandfather, Mchili Sindato Kutesha Kiwelu, served as an adviser, or akida, to Mangi Meli and was also hanged… Mr Molelia wants the skull of his ancestor to be brought to Tanzania and “buried in our Chagga tradition”… (29 October 2023)

Joshua Mollel: Tanzania says student killed in Israel by Hamas
(BBC News online – UK) A Tanzanian student initially reported to have been taken hostage by Hamas in Israel is confirmed to have been killed, Tanzanian government says. Extract continues: Joshua Mollel was working as an agricultural intern at a kibbutz which was attacked by Hamas gunmen on 7 October. Tanzania’s Foreign Minister January Makamba says Mr Mollel was killed immediately after he was taken hostage. Fellow student Clemence Felix Mtenga was also killed in the attack… The two Tanzanian students had travelled to Israel just a month before the 7 October attack. It was initially reported that they were among the 240 people taken hostage by Hamas. According to Tanzania officials, around 350 Tanzanians live in Israel, mostly students pursuing agricultural-related studies… (14 December 2023)

Philip Mpango death rumours: Tanzania orders crackdown over VP speculation
(BBC News online – UK) Tanzanian authorities are investigating social media users accused of spreading false information about Vice-President Philip Mpango’s health. Extract continues: Mr Mpango resurfaced … after being absent from public view for over a month, sparking relief and ending widespread rumours he had died. Information Minister Nape Nnauye has ordered investigations into those who spread the speculation. Mr Mpango says he was hurt by the false rumours circulating on social media… There have been mixed reactions regarding the vice­president’s return and the rumours that surrounded his absence. Some argue the matter was mishandled by the government’s failure to provide clear information about his whereabouts. His absence had sparked widespread concern, with Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa previously warning citizens against the speculation… [T]he vice-president appeared unannounced at a Sunday service in the capital, Dodoma, saying he was healthy and had not lost any weight. “There have been photos circulating alongside a candle, and claims that I have passed away…”, Mr Mpango said… In 2018, Tanzania enacted tough laws against the spread of “fake news”, which critics see as a way of curbing freedom of expression. This is not the first time there have been rumours about the state of Mr Mpango’s health… (11 December 2023)

DP World in Tanzania: The UAE firm taking over Africa’s ports
(BBC News online – UK) A multimillion-dollar deal signed between Emirati maritime giant DP World and Tanzania … looks set to further entrench the dominance of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in Africa’s freight industry. Extract continues: Reports of the $250m (£205m) deal first emerged in July, sparking criticism by the opposition that it “violated Tanzania’s constitution and endangers national sovereignty”. Activists petitioned a court to halt the deal and were briefly detained for planning anti­government protests. The high court in Tanzania’s south-western town of Mbeya dismissed the petition, paving the way for DP World to manage two-thirds of the Dar es Salaam port for the next 30 years. Transport Minister Makame Mbarawa … said there would be no job losses and that Tanzania would retain 60% of earnings. DP World says it expects to triple revenue within a decade and speed up the clearance of vessels from the current average of 12 hours to 60 minutes. Chronic inefficiency, corruption allegations and competition in freight management by neighbouring Kenya are some of the underlying reasons why Tanzania President Samia Suluhu signed off on the agreement… Part of the contention over DP World’s presence in Tanzania is the perception that its operations are undermining local rights and management. DP World Group boss Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem said while in Dodoma that the Dar es Salaam port would become a “world-class facility”… DP World remains an anchor for the UAE to extend its geopolitical ambitions across Africa. (23 October 2023)

Investigations launched into killings and evictions on World Bank tourism project
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: … The World Bank is investigating allegations of killings, rape and forced evictions made by villagers living near the site of a proposed tourism project it is funding in Tanzania. The bank has been accused of “enabling” alleged violence by the Tanzanian government to make way for a $150m (£123m) project ministers say will protect the environment and attract more tourists to Ruaha national park. The “resilient natural resource management for tourism and growth” (Regrow) project will almost double the size of the park, which is 130km (80 miles) from the city of Iringa. Villagers living near Ruaha told researchers at the Oakland Institute thinktank that rangers had killed and beaten cattle herders and fishers, had raped women and confiscated thousands of head of cattle, under the premise that they had encroached on the national park. In April 2021, rangers reportedly shot and killed William Nundu, a fisher, and allegedly killed two herders, Sandu Masanja, and Ngusa Salawa, who was only 14 years old. The regional police commander claimed that they were killed by wild animals while illegally entering the park, according to a report published by the institute … More than 21,000 people from dozens of villages around Ruaha are also facing eviction by the government, it claimed. Anuradha Mittal, the executive director of the Oakland Institute, said: “[The] Regrow project is not about protecting wildlife or conservation. Instead, the bank is financing an oppressive and violent economic growth model based on boosting tourism revenues.” Mittal said the World Bank should have scrutinised the Tanzanian government’s record on human rights before financing it. The government authorised evictions close to the same area in 2006 and has been criticised for its handling of forced evictions in northern Tanzania, which “should have triggered internal alarm before the bank decided to finance the project”, added Mittal. “Instead, it looked the other way and continues to do so. It should be held accountable.” The institute said villagers were told in October 2022 they would have to leave their land despite holding title deeds, which the government has cancelled, claiming the property fell within the boundaries of the national park. More than 850 villagers have challenged the evictions in Tanzania’s high court… [Roland Ebole, An Amnesty International researcher focusing on Tanzania and Uganda] said tourism, much of it linked to trophy hunting, has driven a need for the government to take land, even at the expense of the people living there and often without their consent… (28 September 2023)

‘Oldest wooden structure’ discovered on border of Zambia and Tanzania

Prof Larry Barham uncovering the structure (University of Liverpool)

(Guardian online – UK) Extract: … Researchers have discovered remnants of what is thought to be the world’s oldest known wooden structure, an arrangement of logs on the bank of a river bordering Zambia and Tanzania that predates the rise of modern humans. The simple structure, made by shaping two logs with sharp stone tools, may have formed part of a walkway or platform for human ancestors who lived along the Kalambo River nearly 500,000 years ago. Marks on the logs show they were cut, chopped and scraped with an array of stone tools found at the site. One log, a type of bushwillow, overlies the other and is held in place by a large inverted U-shaped notch in its underside. “When I first saw it, I thought this can’t be real. The wood and the stone suggest a high level of ingenuity, technological skill and planning,” said Prof Larry Barham, an archaeologist at the University of Liverpool who led the work. “It could be part of a walkway or part of a foundation for a platform,” he said. “A platform could be used as a place to store things, to keep firewood or food dry, or it might have been a place to sit and make things. You could put a little shelter on top and sleep there.” Scientists at the University of Aberystwyth dated the structure to at least 476,000 years old, from long before Homo sapiens are thought to have emerged about 300,000 years ago. The structure may be the work of Homo heidelbergensis, a predecessor of modern humans that lived in the region… The findings, published in Nature, are remarkable because wood so rarely survives for long periods. The material at Kalambo Falls was preserved by waterlogged sediments that are starved of oxygen…
(20 September 2023)

The new ‘scramble for Africa’: how a UAE sheikh quietly made carbon deals for forests bigger than UK
(Guardian online – UK) Extract: … The rights over vast tracts of African forest are being sold off in a series of huge carbon offsetting deals that cover an area of land larger than the UK. The deals, made by a little-known member of Dubai’s ruling royal family, encompass up to 20% of the countries concerned – and have raised concerns about a new “scramble for Africa” and the continent’s carbon resources. Such deals can deny the rights of people living on the land to make use of it for their own purposes while providing unclear benefits to the environment. As chairman of the company Blue Carbon, which is barely a year old, Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook al-Maktoum has announced several exploratory deals with African states that are home to crucial wildlife havens and biodiversity hotspots, for land that represents billions of dollars in potential offsetting revenue. The sheikh has no previous experience in nature conservation projects. So far, the deals cover a fifth of Zimbabwe, 10% of Liberia, 10% of Zambia and 8% of Tanzania, amounting to a total area the size of the UK…” … The deals would give the UAE firm the exclusive rights to sell the credits for 30 years, taking 70% of the sale of the credits. Under the rules of the Paris agreement, countries that sold the credits would not be able to use them for their own commitments. Some of those involved in these deals highlighted that carbon markets provide much-needed financial support to African countries where other sources of climate finance were not delivering. However, others raised concerns, saying the size of the land deals amount to “a new scramble for Africa”… (30 November 2023)

Who is Nestory Irankunda? Meet the Bayern Munich wonderkid who suffered life threatening injury on the pitch after leaving a Tanzanian refugee camp for Australia
(Daily Mail online – Australia) Extract: Nestory Irankunda is the wonderkid every Australian football fan is talking about after he landed a huge move to European Powerhouse Bayern Munich. Irankunda, 17, will join the German giants next July after Adelaide United agreed to part ways with the prodigious talent for an A-League record fee of $5.5million. The youngster has made waves in Australia’s domestic scene but his arrival in Germany will certainly raise eyebrows, with very few players making the step up from football’s backwaters to the big stage. But Irankunda’s journey is a unique one that has consisted of challenges from very early on… Born on February 9, 2006 to his father Gideon, a rideshare driver, and his mother Dafroza in Kigoma, Tanzania. The fourth child of seven, Irankunda spent the first three months of his life in a refugee camp, with his family desperate to flee Burundi’s civil war. The Irankundas moved to Perth, West Australia before relocating to Adelaide in South Australia, where Nestory soon discovered his love for football. He played for the Northern Wolves and Parafield Gardens as a junior and his talent was quickly recognised by scouts. Irankunda was snapped up by National Premier League club Adelaide Croaia Raiders, where his performances attracted attention from Airton Andrioli, head of youth at Adelaide United. Irankunda was invited for a trial with the A-League club in 2020 and was offered a place in the club’s academy within a couple of weeks. ‘When you see a boy like Nestory, some players have that naturally,’ Andrioli said. ‘That gift of understanding and reading the game. Being street smart. You don’t see that [in] a lot of Australian players… Irankunda had long been linked to Bayern … ‘We’ve had Nestory on our radar for some time and we’re pleased we’ve reached an agreement with him and Adelaide United on a move to Munich for next summer,’ said Jochen Sauer, Bayern’s director of youth development… (14 November 2023)


by Martin Walsh
THE CITY ELECTRIC: INFRASTRUCTURE AND INGENUITY IN POSTSOCIALIST TANZANIA. Michael Degani. Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, 2022. xii + 254 pp. ISBN: 9781478023777 (ebook free to download from ; also available for purchase as a hardback and paperback).

The City Electric

It’s difficult to overstate the importance of electricity and its presence and absence in a developing economy like Tanzania’s. Stories about its generation and supply and the controversies surrounding them feature regularly in the national and international media, including the ‘Energy and Minerals’ pages of Tanzanian Affairs. Whether or not they are aware of all the shenanigans that are alleged, ordinary citizens experience their consequences viscerally, not least where electricity is yet to be supplied by TANESCO (the Tanzania Electricity Supply Company), or when that supply is cut. Many readers of this review will not need to be reminded what it is like sweating in the humidity of a fan-less night or pretending to ignore the throbbing of the generator that is keeping their lights on and food refrigerated. Some will be all too familiar with the hustling and haggling required to secure or restore a connection; others will have suffered the anxiety that comes from having to complain again and again about inflated bills, a recurring nightmare for householders without prepaid meters and often for tenants sharing one.

And yet, somehow or other, everything kind of works, notwithstanding the pace of economic and demographic growth and the constant demand for more electricity. Mike Degani’s well-crafted anthropological study, The City Electric, goes a long way towards explaining why and how all things TANESCO don’t completely fall apart, both at national level and from the perspective of the parastatal provider and its everyday consumers in Dar es Salaam. As its subtitle suggests, it also takes its place alongside other recent studies that tell us what has happened more generally in the often-troubled transition of Tanzania from state socialism to its present condition, however that might be characterised. It’s not the neat development trajectory that modernisers and then neoliberal reformers envisaged, but an at times messy bricolage that has incorporated some of those old Nyererean values and come out of the mixer looking more like an unbaked BRIC country. Among the many concepts that Degani deploys in his analysis is that of a dynamic equilibrium: at national scale it is perhaps easier to see that the dynamism has produced some forward motion, though its direction may not always be to everyone’s taste.

Sandwiched between an introduction that sets the scene and a conclusion that provides an update and pulls its main themes together, The City Electric comprises four main chapters, each focusing on a different locus on the infrastructural circuit of current and currency: generation, transmission, consumption, and maintenance/extension. The first chapter, “Emergency Power: A Brief History of the Tanzanian Energy Sector”, outlines the political and economic context and “upstream conditions” that led to the high costs and periodic shortages of electricity in Dar during the presidencies of Benjamin Mkapa (1995-2005) and Jakaya Kikwete (2005-15). Recurrent droughts and other failures of the hydropower network have, in Degani’s words, “prompted dubious government tenders to well-connected private companies for emergency infusions of oil-generated electricity. These public bailouts are quickly converted to private rents that in turn feed the patronage network and fund electoral campaigns.” Much of the chapter focuses on two notorious examples of this: the 1996 contract with the Malaysian-Tanzanian company Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL), and the 2006 contract with Richmond Development, “an ostensibly American company with direct ties to the prime minister at the time, Edward Lowassa.” While these arrangements severely damaged TANESCO’s operations, further privatisation of the sector and unbridled rent-seeking by the political elite were held in check by a lingering attachment to socialist values and periodic anticorruption sweeps, producing a hybrid practice and one of the dynamic equilibria that Degani describes.

Chapter 2, “The Flickering Torch: Power and Loss after Socialism”, turns the spotlight on the supply of electricity in Dar and the history of public responses to its rationing. It is based on a wide reading of documentary sources, including newspaper reports, blog posts and social media, as well as observations of the “annus horribilis” of shortages that Degani experienced himself in 2011. The resulting “ethnography of power loss” describes the narratives that circulate around the city, highlighting the explanatory voids that frustrated consumers are only too ready to fill with their own conspiratorial texts. Again, Degani skilfully weaves this account into an understanding of its political and historical context. Here he is, for example, describing what happened after 2011: “From 2012 onwards, irregular or unexplained cuts frazzled the public, giving rise to rumors and suspicions about covert and illegitimate rationing, and resonating with a wider “communication breakdown” marked by the forceful silencing of political opposition. Enduring these shifting patterns of power outages and their effects on the public nervous system, residents articulated an important and key postsocialist distinction: if it is one thing to endure absence, it is another to endure it in the absence of explanation.” While perhaps more Kafkaesque than postsocialist, the general point is well made.

In the next chapter, “Of Meters and Modals: Patrolling the Grid”, Degani and his research assistant come into their own as ethnographers of institutional practice, working in TANESCO offices and joining its patrol teams as they tramp the streets and alleyways in search of customers who haven’t paid their debts or otherwise conspired to tamper with the flows of current and currency that are the legitimate purpose of the grid. Here we learn about the compromises forged between TANESCO employees and customers in both the poorer “Swahili” neighbourhoods of Dar and their wealthier counterparts: “Faced with the evasions, protests, and obstructions of those who do not wish to be disconnected for debt or theft, some inspectors rail against customers who want it “easy” with stolen power or unpaid bills, echoing a socialist discourse of discipline and hard work. However, patrols are also well aware that the same liberalizing forces that created this indiscipline press upon them as well, in the form of diminishing pay, equipment, and job security. Some inspectors incorporate extortionist or protectionist arrangements with customers, while others maintain an ethical outlook steeped in the “socially thick” Fordist labor regime that Tanesco could still resemble even in the 1980s and 1990s”. The outcome is another of those dynamic equilibria: “Somewhere between rejecting and exploiting the putatively “Swahili” mentality of easy money, Tanesco patrol teams and customers collaboratively exercised a kind of modal reasoning about what kinds of diversions of payment are tolerable and which ones are insensible.”

In the fourth chapter, “Becoming Infrastructure: Vishoka and Self-Realization”, we find ourselves looking at all this from the perspective of the vishoka or “fixers” who work as intermediaries and mediators between TANESCO and its customers, becoming essential parts of the system and the daily struggle to maintain and extend supply. Working as unlicensed agents, they “facilitate access, expedite customer applications, provide emergency repairs, tamper with meters, or divert materials and supplies to residents in parallel markets, often by collaborating with Tanesco employees “inside” […] the institution.” As they build up the trust required to make themselves indispensable, Degani concludes that as “[b]oth parasite and channel, they are the densest expression of Tanzania’s postsocialist condition as a living circuit, a give and take of mutual adjustment and responsiveness that threatens to fall out of form; but, at least in the first decades of the twenty-first century, managed to keep spinning.” Readers will recognise the script by now, and while some might take issue with this characterisation of Tanzania’s “condition”, based as it is on selected insights into the workings of just one sector in its largest city, the challenge is to provide alternative accounts.

This summary, based largely on Degani’s own, barely does justice to the wealth of reference and conceptual sophistication that make this book such a rewarding and sometimes difficult read. With its many asides and theoretical digressions, it betrays obvious signs of its origin in the author’s doctoral dissertation (2015), though this is not directly referenced. I spotted several typos and other mistakes in the text, especially in Swahili words and phrases that will have been missed by English proofing tools (note also the mistranslation of vibatari as “matches” rather than small oil lamps). These, however, are mere quibbles. My personal recommendation would have been to streamline the argument of the thesis and provide richer ethnographic documentation, with less reliance on the relatively few anecdotes that bear its theoretical load, providing instead more case material on relationships and interactions in particular places, for example in sample neighbourhoods and the roadsides where “fixers” and others congregate. But urban anthropology and the ethnography of complex institutions are easier said than done, and Mike Degani deserves praise for his own ingenuity and the way in which he has negotiated this difficult terrain and produced such an illuminating study. General readers as well as fellow academics and anthropologists will find much in his first book to stimulate reflection and debate and, like me, will no doubt look forward to reading more.

Martin Walsh Martin Walsh is the Book Reviews Editor of Tanzanian Affairs.

ZAMANI: A HAUNTED MEMOIR OF TANZANIA. Jane Bryce. Cinnamon Press, Birmingham, 2023. 226 pp. ISBN: 9781788649865 (paperback). £13.99.
Zamani starts with a quick introduction to Jane Bryce’s childhood involvement in Tanzania as she flies over Kilimanjaro into the country for the first time since she left in 1968 at the age of 17. She briefly sketches the lives of her parents, their meeting and their subsequent marriage, and then she continues by describing how her father joined the Colonial Office and was posted to the Forest Department in Tanganyika, to the Rondo Plateau in the Southern Province (present Lindi Region), with a view to introducing sound forest management. His first job was to map the 32,000 acres of the forest, on foot. Jane’s mother was not one to sit at home waiting for her husband to return, but accompanied him on these journeys through the forest, perhaps covering 80 miles in six days, carrying on with this until late in her pregnancy with Jane. Referring to her mother’s diaries, she describes the life at this time, the isolation, the hardships, the lack of food, the wild animals.

Jane then jumps to the present and gives an account of her travels to Lindi, to explore the place of her birth, which she hadn’t visited since she left at the age of three. She meets people who knew her father, all old men by now, but delighted to encounter her and to spend time telling tales of the past. This becomes a theme which threads through the book since there are many more old colleagues in Moshi – meeting old-school government forest officers, now in their 70s, who remember her father. There are photographs of kindly faces, seamed with experience, throughout the text. One cries out, “The daughter of Bwana Bryce!” and she immediately feels part of the story of Tanzania, not merely an outsider wandering the country like a tourist. This fits in with another of her themes, that of identity and belonging.

At the end of their time on Rondo, the family moved first to Morogoro and then north to Moshi. Their time in Moshi is the central part of the book, since this is the place Jane remembers as a child, and where she grew up. She compares the Moshi of today with the one she remembers and is pleased to find much is similar – “I could walk with confidence in any direction and know without asking where I was going”, she tells us. She recounts her daily life as a child, her friends, the social gatherings with other colonials, their holidays on the coast via the old steam trains, the primary school she went to. Once she turned 13, she then left her comfortable home and made the long and difficult journey to the boarding school in Lushoto, filled with the usual horrors of boarding schools – matrons, food, inflexible rules – during that period. After that, she was sent to England, to study at Cheltenham Ladies’ College, a foreign country in many ways for her, which she hated as much as the Lushoto school. In 1968 her father is suddenly told he must leave Tanzania. The sisters are informed by letter, their mother telling them, “We have been so lucky with our happy life in dear old Moshi all these years it has been home to us. Sorry to have to send you news which will distress you so much.” It throws Jane’s life out of kilter, and it takes another 36 years for her to return to Tanzania.

The title, Zamani, meaning ‘long ago’, is contrasted with sasa, meaning ‘now’, and Jane explores how on her return, the two seem to co-exist for her, as she sees the present as a sort of overlay of the past. She weaves her narrative almost seamlessly, jumping from the past to the present, with brief digressions into history, politics, mythology. The history snippets are not long enough to slow down the narrative but are painted in as a necessary and helpful backdrop to what she is discussing, and this was one of the aspects of the book which I liked the most. She explains the history of the area she lived in, looks into the origins of the peoples who originally lived here and their languages and local leaders, describes the forest policies and their effects, the colonial times and then the transition to independence in the 1960s, as well as the country under the Germans before the British took over.

I was concerned through the first chapters of the book that Jane would sustain the colonial attitudes inherited from her parents, imbued as a child, but she uses her later trips to Tanzania to question her assumptions at the time, the rigid, rule­bound ways of her parents’ generation. She discusses the house staff in their Moshi home, whom she accepted were always there, always ready to help, and realises she knows little about them, even their surnames, apart from their daily lives with the family. The colonial set-up comes in for critiques too, and the fact that they never knew any African people, apart from their house staff, and perhaps once a year took tea with a well-to-do Indian family but never invited them back. However, her father clearly got on with his African colleagues, and in meeting some of them almost 40 years later, Jane experiences a different view of the country she loved so much.
Kate Forrester
Kate lived in Tanzania for 15 years, working as a freelance consultant chiefly in social development, and carrying out research assignments throughout the country. She now lives in Dorchester, where she is active in community and environmental work.

MUSLIM CULTURES OF THE INDIAN OCEAN: DIVERSITY AND PLURALISM, PAST AND PRESENT. Stéphane Pradines and Farouk Topan (eds.). Edinburgh University Press in association with The Aga Khan University, Edinburgh, 2023. 356 pp. ISBN: 9781474486514. (ebook free to download from; also available for purchase as a hardback).

There has been a boom in Indian Ocean studies in recent years, with a plethora of edited collections now on the market. This book is the latest addition to a series on “Exploring Muslim Contexts” overseen by the distinguished scholar of Swahili literature and culture Farouk Topan, who has edited this volume in collaboration with the archaeologist Stéphane Pradines. As their blurb declares, it “examines the role of Muslim communities in the emergence of connections and mobilities across the Indian Ocean World from a longue durée perspective. Spanning the 7th century through the medieval period until the present day, this book aims to move beyond the usual focus on geographical sub-regions to highlight different aspects of interconnectivity in relation to Islam. Analysing textual and material evidence, contributors examine identities and diasporas, manuscripts and literature, as well as vernacular and religious architecture. It aims to explore networks and circulations of peoples, ideas and ideologies, as well as art, culture, religion and heritage. It focuses on global interactions as well as local agencies in context.”

Students of the history and practice of Islam around the Indian Ocean will find much of interest here, beginning with the editors’ handy introduction to the historiography of the region and its Muslim cultures and heritage. The main text is split into two parts, “Muslim Identities, Literature and Diasporas” and “Monuments and Heritage in Muslim Contexts”, with eight chapters under the first heading and seven under the second. Three consecutive chapters in Part I are of direct relevance to the history of Zanzibar and its wider sphere of influence: Beatrice Nicolini’s analysis of Omani rule (“Muslim Identities of the Indian Ocean: The Ibadi Al Bu Sa’id of Oman during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries”), Valerie Hoffman’s deep dive into social and cultural relationships as revealed in contemporary manuscripts (“Religion, Ethnicity and Identity in the Zanzibar Sultanate”), and Farouk Toupan’s study of the changing roles of Swahili women (“Transcending Boundaries: Sayyida Salme/ Emily Ruete and Siti binti Saad”), which homes in on the lives of two of the archipelago’s most famous daughters, both of whom challenged the status quo, albeit in very different ways.

Part II opens with Eric Falt’s discussion of “The Indian Ocean as a Maritime Cultural Landscape and Heritage Route”, which makes a case for its study and promotion in just such terms. This short presentation is followed by two longer chapters about the history and archaeology of the Swahili coast and islands: Stephen Battle and Pierre Blanchard’s introduction to heritage and conservation (“Indian Ocean Heritage and Sustainable Conservation, from Zanzibar to Kilwa”), and Stéphane Pradines’ illustrated account of the role of trade in the spread of Islam and associated mosque architecture (“Early Swahili Mosques: The Role of Ibadi and Ismaili Communities, Ninth to Twelfth Centuries”). As he has done elsewhere, Pradines highlights the part played in the early development of Islam by what are now considered to be religious minorities within the faith, before the widespread adoption of Sunni Islam in Africa and this region. He concludes by referring to “the permeability between Sufism and Shi.a spirituality”, and it would be interesting to know more about this and how it is reflected in modern language and practice.

Readers will find topics worth exploring in other chapters too. Fortunately, this informative and well-produced volume, which is the first publication of the Indian Ocean programme in the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, has been made open access and can be downloaded for free by those of us who can’t spare £85 for the hardback.
Martin Walsh


by Ben Taylor
Activist, academic and writer, John Saul, died of cancer at his home in Toronto, Canada, in September 2023 at the age of 85.

John Saul

Described by his friend and colleague, Peter Lawrence, as “the complete revolutionary socialist”, Saul was a tireless academic-activist and writer, and a lover of books, film, music and sport.

Having been educated at the Universities of Toronto, Princeton, and London, he went on to teach at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), Tanzania, as well as the University of Eduardo Mondlane in Maputo, Mozambique, the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and York University in Toronto, Canada.

In his 20s, he joined the brilliant group of global intellectuals attracted to Tanzania by Julius Nyerere. At the University of Dar es Salaam, he taught political science and was involved in attempts to transform the curriculum to support Tanzania’s socialist ambitions and begin what we would now call the decolonisation of university courses related to the development of the Global South and the interpretation of its history. With Lionel Cliffe, he co-authored a two-volume teaching guide for African students preparing to govern their countries. He engaged in lively debate with fellow academics such as Italy’s Giovanni Arrighi and Guyana’s Walter Rodney on how Nyerere’s socialism could be adapted for the continent.

Saul’s already well-established radical reputation saw him blamed for instigating a student revolt against the administration, and eventually found that his contract was not renewed. He left the country in 1972.

His close association with liberation struggles and socialist politics across southern Africa continued, however, including a close friendship with Samora Machel of Mozambique, forged in Dar es Salaam when Machel was living there in exile. In 1975 he was invited to watch Machel give his first speech from the balcony of the City Hall in Maputo where he had just been sworn-in minutes before as President of a newly independent Mozambique. Later he attended the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as President of South Africa after the country’s first democratic elections.

Reflecting on his career and life’s work in a 2015 interview, Saul was both dissatisfied and hopeful:

“The past 50 years have seen both successes and disappointments, the biggest success being, without question, the removal, by armed liberation movements and by dramatic popular mobilization, of the parasitic – ‘evil’ seems not too dramatic a word for it – grip of racist rule as defined by the dominance of whites in firmly institutionalized positions of power (apartheid and the like).”

“[T]he ‘failure’ of the region’s liberation struggles, once their leaders had come to power, to make any very dramatic difference, economically and in many other ways, to the lives of the vast mass of the population there constitutes the greatest single disappointment of recent years, both for residents of the region as well as for any committed outsider who would wish the peoples of southern Africa well.”

“We must take hope from the fact that the numbers (made up of the vast and swelling ranks of the exploited and the marginalised) are, potentially, on our side, the revolutionary side, in southern Africa – and more globally as well!”

Professor Colin Leys, another long-time collaborator, paid tribute. “It was very few foreign scholars who were accepted as full participants in the national discourse in an African country and John was, to the point where he could disagree sharply in print with very senior African politicians and that was acceptable because he’d paid his dues, fought the battles. […] His legacy is in hundreds of young Africans … who were inspired by him.”


by Ben Taylor

Port deal sparks heated controversy

Prof Makame Mbarawa (centre) at the container port area

A new agreement for the management of key port infrastructure in Tanzania has generated intense heat and controversy, threatening to undermine the improved democratic environment that had been emerging under President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

The deal – an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the Government of Tanzania and the Emirate of Dubai – would potentially see DP World, an Emirati multinational logistics company, take control of the operations of a large part of Dar es Salaam port. Though the agreement was agreed and signed back in 2022, it only came to public attention more recently when the documents were leaked on social media in May 2023.

What does the agreement say?
The controversy stems initially from the apparently highly favourable terms offered to DP World. Critics point to a part of the IGA that they claim offers DP World a 100-year contract to manage the port. They also highlight a lack of opportunities for scrutiny in the process through which the agreement was negotiated and signed, and claim the agreement is in breach of both Tanzanian and international law.

Dr Nshala, former President of the Tanganyika Law Society (TLS) and now Executive Director of the environmental group Lawyers’ Environmental Action Team (LEAT), described the controversial deal on social media as equivalent to “selling the country off to foreigners,” pointing out that the decision to sign such a deal constituted “betrayal and treason” against Tanzania.

Mdude Nyagali, of opposition party Chadema, asked “how could our government sign as bad a contract as this?” Mr Nyagali questioned. “It is either they were drunk or bribed.”

Concerns extended well beyond activists and opposition politicians, however. The Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC – the group comprising all Roman Catholic Bishops in Tanzania), rejected the port agreement. Rev. Charles Kitima, secretary general of TEC released a statement saying that the bishops see that most citizens do not want this agreement that gives the foreign investor the authority and right to own major economic infrastructure.

The government, however, defended the agreement. Works and transport minister, Makame Mbarawa, said that by working with DP World, the government expects to increase revenue collection through the port by over 200% in the next ten years, from the current TSh 7.8 trillion per year to TSh 26 trillion in the next decade.

“The potential private sector investment could enhance the competitiveness of Dar es Salaam Port by improving service quality and increasing efficiency,” he said. “It is on those grounds that more business could be drawn to the port, thus boosting revenue and contributing to Tanzania’s overall economic development.”

On why the government chose DP World, Prof Mbarawa said the company was uniquely positioned to partner with the government as it is a global logistics company that able to deliver the required transformation across the entire logistics value chain. “The company has a proven track record of managing, operating and investing in trade infrastructure in Africa for over 20 years to the highest international standards,” he said. “With DP World, we expect to see improvement in the port’s performance. We expect to see the discharge period of vessels being cut to one day from the current four to five.”

President Samia Suluhu Hassan herself has described the deal as a “rare opportunity,” urging Tanzanians to stop “quarrelling” and support her administration’s efforts to transform the country.

Plasduce Mbossa, director general of the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) also defended the specifics of the IGA. He said there was misinformation being spread by those opposed to the plan. “It seems those who brought the 100 years aspect in the subject have their own interests. … It is a complete distortion of facts”. The agreement, he said, merely spells out the areas of cooperation between Tanzania and the emirate of Dubai, adding that this included training, information and communication technology and in the development and improvement of ports in general.

If the agreement is endorsed by Parliament, he explained, it will pave the way for more negotiations between TPA and DP World with regard to implementation of the plan. “No implementation agreements have yet been signed,” he said, adding that they had not even been negotiated.
What the IGA says is that the IGA will cease to operate as soon as any implementation agreement between the Tanzanian authorities and DP World ends. What this means is that actual time for the contract will be known from the agreements that will follow.”

Reactions and counter-reactions. And over-reactions?
It is likely that many on both sides of the public debate – including, frankly, this correspondent – are ill-qualified to reach a sound judgement on the details of the agreement itself. Nevertheless, the debate prompted by the leak of the IGA has stirred up reactions that have led some to question whether the apparent moves by President Samia to re-open democratic space in Tanzania are indeed genuine.

Several prominent critics of the deal have been summoned by the police and/or arrested. This includes the former President of the Tanganyika Law Society Dr. Rugemeleza Nshala, and opposition politician Mdude Nyagali. Another lawyer and critic of the deal, Peter Madeleka, was arrested after the High Court unexpectedly cancelled a previous plea-bargaining agreement relating to a case from 2020. Former Tanzanian Ambassador to Sweden, Dr Wilbroad Slaa, has been arrested and stripped of his title.

The attorney general, Eliezer Feleshi, filed an application to the Advocate’s Committee – Tanzania’s disciplinary institution for lawyers – alleging professional misconduct by another lawyer, Boniface Mwabukasi, because of remarks he made about the deal, seeking a declaration that he had committed “gross professional misconduct” and an order to bar him from practicing law.

The arrest of the critics came shortly after the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Camilius Wambura, warned that police would find and arrest people who have declared nationwide mass demonstrations against the deal (demonstrations that never materialised on any meaningful scale). He described their calls to “bring down the government” before 2025 as “treason,” which “cannot be tolerated.”

At least two dozen people have been arrested since June for opposing the deal, according to Human Rights Watch. Dr Slaa, Adv Mwabukusi, and Mr Nyagali remain in detention at the time of writing. They face various charges, including both sedition and treason. Treason carries a mandatory death penalty and is listed as an unbailable offence under section 148 of the country’s Criminal Procedures Act.

Party politics, democracy and freedom of expression
In early July, CCM’s top leadership discussed and endorsed the deal, resolving to intensify awareness about the importance of the agreement, emphasizing that the deal is as per the CCM’s manifesto. The party secretary general, Daniel Chongolo, has also called on all CCM members and leaders to defend the deal. “This is a CCM initiative, if you see any CCM member anywhere not defending this deal, be sure to doubt his commitment to the party,” he said at a rally in Mbeya.

The opposition, most particularly Chadema, has adopted the port deal as one of its key issues. In July, the party chair announced a new campaign (#OkoaBandariZetu #SaveOurPorts) to run alongside their existing ‘255’ campaign focusing on the new constitution. The party leadership has vowed that this will remain a big issue unless the contract is terminated, “This is a big political agenda for the next twenty years, not just for the 2025 election,” said CHADEMA Vice Chairperson, Tundu Lissu.

The spectre of the 2025 election clearly looms large over the debate, with both opposition parties and President Samia’s opponents within CCM trying to take advantage of the issue. Nevertheless, the heavy-handed actions of the government in general and the police in particular in response to public criticism has alarmed many who had previously thought President Samia’s administration was trying to open up democratic space. After all, what is freedom of expression if it does not include the right to criticise?

“The Tanzanian government’s suppression of its critics is a troubling sign of its low tolerance for dissenting views,” said Oryem Nyeko, Tanzania researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Instead of clamping down on critics, the government should respect the right to freedom of expression and assembly, and listen to them.”

Human rights organisations in Tanzania spoke out against authorities’ decision to detain several people who have been criticising the agreement, condemning the “arbitrary arrests” of the deal’s critics and calling for their “immediate and unconditional” release.

“We firmly believe that every person is entitled to freedom of speech and opinion on everything happening in the country, including on the port deal,” said Anna Henga, Executive Director of the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC), reading a joint statement on behalf of the organisations. “People do not deserve to be threatened for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, backed by regional and international instruments to which Tanzania is a signatory,” she added.

The government said that those who were condemning the arrest of the critics of the Tanzania-Dubai intergovernmental agreement had failed to differentiate between criticism of the deal and the rule of law.

Nape Nnauye, the Minister for Information, Communication and Information Technology, said that no one had been arrested for criticising the deal, but rather they had violated the country’s laws. They had made “specific public threats of a serious criminal nature, which include calling for the violent overthrow of the government of the day,” he said.

“The suspects, some of whom publicly sought to incite citizens to bear arms against the Tanzania Police Force, were apprehended to send a strong message to deter any offenders from committing criminal offences,” Mr Nnauye added. “The arrests do not, in any way, restrict freedom of expression in Tanzania, but are part of the law enforcement to prevent possible social unrest that may result from calls for a rebellion against a democratically-elected government,” he clarified.

Concerns for the state of democracy rose further, however, in early September, when opposition leader Tundu Lissu was himself briefly arrested, along with various aides and security guards, for holding an allegedly unlawful assembly. A party spokesperson said “police entered his [hotel] room by force and took him away without telling where they were going.”

Arusha regional police commander Justine Masejo later said they had detained Lissu and three others for questioning about accusations they were holding an unlawfully assembly and preventing police from doing their job. Lissu was released on bail a few hours later.

Since returning from exile in January (see previous issues of TA), Lissu has been holding political rallies across the country, at which he had voiced criticism of the port agreement. His return from exile followed several moves by President Samia to re-open democratic space, including the lifting a six-year ban on political rallies.

Seeking solutions
Former Controller and Auditor General (CAG) Mussa Assad has tentatively backed the controversial agreement, and had some suggestions for how the issue could be resolved. Prof Assad, currently the Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Muslim University of Morogoro (MUM), said Tanzania does not have the luxury to shirk foreign investments and lacks much of what it takes to build a prosperous economy. He said that much of the deal’s criticism is being informed by the lack of general understanding of investment issues and the misreading of the intergovernmental agreement itself.

On the issue of the 100-year time-frame, Prof Assad said agreements between two countries usually do not have a timeframe, adding that the issue would be considered in the project-specific contracts. However, he added, “because people have complained about it, the government can speak to its partners and agree to a specified duration with the IGA so that people can be happy about it,” he said.

He also backed a proposal shared by the leader of the opposition ACT-Wazalendo party, Zitto Kabwe, of forming a company that is jointly-owned by TPA, DP World and Tanzanians through the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange and which will be responsible for the port’s operations.

Prof Assad warned against leaving everything to investors, urging the government to sit down with DP World and agree on a specific period for reviewing each other based on the agreed responsibilities, which could be after every four or five years.

At the start of September, there were possible signs that even the government was looking for a way out. They withdrew proposed modifications to two laws controlling Tanzania’s natural resources that were up for debate in Parliament. Attorney General Eliezer Feleshi said the government had accepted “advice” from a house committee to drop proposed legislative amendments that would appear to remove a potential legal obstacle to the controversial IGA.

Whether this is indeed a sign of compromise, or merely a shift in tactics, remains to be seen.


by Ben Taylor

Equinor, Shell and Exxon agree major LNG project with Tanzanian authorities
The Government of Tanzania has agreed a deal with three companies – Equinor, Shell and Exxon Mobil – for the development of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal. The agreement is a milestone for the long-delayed project to unlock Tanzania’s vast but remote offshore gas resources, which the companies involved have said is expected to cost tens of billions of dollars. Experts put the likely cost at around US $42billon (£34bn).

The deal includes the main elements of a host government agreement to provide a regulatory framework and a production-sharing agreement and is subject to legal reviews and quality assurance before an expected signing in the coming weeks, Norway’s Equinor said.

“It paves the way for the series of milestones that need to follow to realise this fantastic LNG opportunity for the country and the world,” Equinor’s Tanzania country manager Unni Fjaer said in a statement.

“We are happy it is a big step towards the implementation of the project, although we have a lot to do,” said Tanzania’s chief negotiator Charles Sangweni. “If everything goes well as planned, I am confident that the final investment decision will be reached in 2025,” he told Reuters.

Equinor and Shell are joint operators of the development while Exxon, Pavilion Energy, Medco Energi and Tanzania’s national oil company TPDC are partners. Shell operates Tanzania’s Block 1 and Block 4, which hold 16 trillion cubic feet in estimated recoverable gas. Norwegian oil and gas producer Equinor operates Block 2, in which ExxonMobil holds a stake and which is estimated to hold more than 20 trillion cubic feet of gas.

Project-specific law in preparation
A few days after the deal was signed, Energy Minister, January Makamba, told Parliament that the government is preparing a project-specific law on the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). A project-specific law gives investors preferential legal protections, boosting their confidence to invest.

“Madam Speaker, this law will be brought to the parliament for the first reading anytime from now,” Mr Makamba said, who called the finalisation of talks with the energy companies on the project “a historic milestone.”

Mr Makamba said that on top of the special project law, the government also plans to establish a special office for the highly anticipated project that authorities expect to unlock Tanzania’s vast offshore gas resources.

Dastan Kweka, a prominent analyst and commentator on oil and gas issues, said that the development was expected considering Tanzania’s recent relations with investors. “During the previous administration, Tanzania enacted several laws described as unfriendly to investors. There are also risks emanating from the change of administrations because every administration comes with its philosophy and priorities,” Mr Kweka noted.

In 2017, Tanzania passed laws allowing it to force mining and energy companies to renegotiate their contracts, which observers predicted would complicate its gas exploration plans.

“Project-specific laws help investors avoid these risks,” added Mr Kweka. “It gives them more certainty and protection. They most likely demanded the legislation as part of the conditions to invest in the project.”
Whether or not Tanzania will benefit from it will depend on how authorities handle it, he said, urging caution while developing the legislation.

“It is a law that if we had options as a nation, we would not accept,” he explained. “But because we have no option, whether Tanzania benefits or not will depend on how our government negotiates the terms with the investors.”

However, an expert working with one of the companies involved told The Chanzo online newspaper that there is no cause for concern.

“No one would invest US$43 billion without protective measures that the Parliament supports,” said the expert, who preferred to remain anonymous. “Project law is a mechanism that protects the investment.”

IMF: the project’s potential is transformative
Earlier in the year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) published a paper on the macroeconomic implications of the project, concluding that “the project has the potential to transform the Tanzanian economy,” but that this will require “proper institutional and policy frameworks for the effective management of gas revenues”.

“In addition to the direct impacts of the LNG investment and gas production on economic activity,” said the paper, “the revenue generated from LNG exports could enable the Tanzanian government to invest on highly needed human capital and infrastructure, thereby raising the potential of the economy and lifting millions of Tanzanians out of poverty.”

“International experience shows that a balanced saving and investment approach that scales up public investment gradually, taking into account absorptive capacity, efficiency of public investment, volatility of revenues, and exhaustibility of gas reserves would serve Tanzania better than either saving or aggressively scaling up public investments.”

“While preparations towards project implementation progress, the Tanzanian authorities should start developing a policy framework for effective management of gas revenues. The first step would be having a comprehensive understanding of the macroeconomic implications of the project. … Meanwhile, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of public investments can help Tanzania prepare for a productive utilisation of upcoming gas revenues.”

LNG and the climate crisis
Despite being a fossil fuel, LNG is frequently cited as being compatible with the Paris Agreement. This is because some adoption of LNG (the ideal percentage is not agreed) would allegedly facilitate the Paris Agreement goal to limit global warming to 1.5°C above preindustrial levels. LNG would help countries reduce their emissions, as LNG emits less carbon than coal and oil, and could help bridge the period while advances and investments are made in the world of renewable energy. As a result, it is sometimes called a “transition fuel” or “bridge fuel.”

Further, Tanzania’s moral right to profit economically from her fossil fuel reserves is strong. The country’s contributions to global carbon dioxide emissions have always been tiny, and the argument is compelling that those who caused the problem should bear the cost of solving it. Furthermore, the benefits of LNG extraction for countries at lower levels of development, such as Tanzania, could include – as the IMF indicates – massive poverty reduction.

Nevertheless, LNG remains controversial, for various reasons. First, LNG emits large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, making it less preferrable from an emissions reduction perspective than originally thought. Second, LNG investment diverts finance not only from dirtier fossil fuels, but also from renewable energy. And third, new investments in LNG risk the entrenchment of further fossil fuel-based infrastructure, with stranded assets that will be rendered obsolete as decarbonisation proceeds worldwide, particularly as LNG facilities are extremely difficult to repurpose for cleaner fuels like hydrogen.

Alejandra Padín-Dujon, an analyst at Colombia University in New York, said the project was an “ecologically and politically risky bet”, given declining demand for LNG in Europe and global decarbonisation efforts.
“In a world that is rapidly moving toward decarbonisation,” she wrote on a blog for the London School of Economics (LSE), “investing in LNG may never pay off: by the time new facilities are up and running, global markets may not only have turned away from LNG (limiting demand and leading to stranded assets), but may actively penalise countries that rely on it.” (Reuters, The Chanzo, The Citizen, IMF, LSE)

Solar-power plants under construction on mainland and Zanzibar
Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar have each initiated groundbreaking solar-power plants. The projects respectively represent the first grid-linked solar power generation project on the mainland and a major step towards reducing dependence on under-sea power cables for Zanzibar.

On the mainland, Tanzania has awarded China’s Sinohydro Corporation as the construction contractor for the country’s first-ever solar photovoltaic power station to feed into the national electricity grid.

The Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO) signed the contract for the plant’s first phase of 50 MW capacity, in the presence of the Minister of Energy, January Makamba.

The project is part of a TSh 275 billion (£89m) 150 MW solar power initiative in Kishapu district, Shinyanga region. The power station will connect to the national grid through a 220 kV transmission line from Singida to Shinyanga.

TANESCO picked JV Artelia from France and Energiovida from Tanzania as consulting contractors. The estimated cost for the first phase is TSh 109 billion, the works are expected to start in mid-2023 and be completed within 12 months.

Mr. Makamba acknowledged at the signing ceremony that this marks the first introduction of solar electricity into the national grid of Tanzania. He commended the French Development Agency (AFD), which has provided a loan for the project’s implementation.

Tanzania is developing a new Renewable Energy Policy to further enhance investments in renewable energy, which will capitalise on the substantial financial resources, capital markets, and advancements in new technologies dedicated to renewable energy globally, Makamba said. He also announced ongoing efforts to identify areas with renewable energy resources and prioritise native investments in wind and solar projects. The Tanzanian government, Mr. Makamba said, will provide support in this regard and establish guidelines for project implementation.

Meanwhile, the government of semi-autonomous Zanzibar has signed an agreement with Mauritius-based Generation Capital Ltd and Tanzania’s Taifa Energy to build its first large-scale solar power plant, as it seeks to become energy independent. The plant will cost $140 million (£113m).

The Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between the state-owned Zanzibar Electricity Corporation (Zeco) and the two companies to develop the 180MW plant will be implemented in phases, according to Zanzibar’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals.

“The project will be built in phases and will commence with the expedited construction of a 30 MW solar PV power plant at Bambi, Central District in South Unguja Region, that will be completed in 2024,” Joseph Kilangi, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Energy and Minerals, said in a statement.

Zanzibar currently gets electricity through a 100 MW under-sea cable from mainland Tanzania, but now wants to generate its own energy as it pursues the development of its tourism sector. The province is betting on clean energy to help achieve that ambition.

In March this year, the government of Zanzibar committed to supply approximately 200 acres of land for the Zanzibar Clean and Renewable Energy Park Project, for instance. The project, to be developed by Astra Energy Inc, will generate 50MW of clean and renewable energy, largely driven by solar.