by Ben Taylor

UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge is welcomed to State House by President Samia Suluhu Hassan

The UK Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, met and held talks with President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Foreign Minister Liberata Mulamula on a visit to Tanzania at the start of June. The Minister also travelled to Zanzibar to meet with President Hussein Mwinyi and First Vice-President Othman Masoud Sharif, to discuss the Government of National Unity and the progress being made on political reconciliation.

In a meeting with the Minister for Industry and Trade, Kitila Mkumbo, and Minister for Investment, Geoffrey Mwambe, Mr Duddridge discussed the potential for increased UK investment in Tanzania and sought reassurances that improvements to Tanzania’s business environment would be implemented.

Mr Duddridge also visited sites where UK aid has delivered improvements to schools and hospitals.

Speaking at the end of the visit, Duddridge said he was “pleased that my first visit to Tanzania since the inauguration of President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been productive and mutually beneficial. I welcomed the President’s commitments on international cooperation, working with the business sector and seeking advice from Tanzanian experts on COVID-19 and I encouraged decisive action to tackle the effects of the pandemic in Tanzania. I look forward to engaging further as these areas progress.”

British High Commissioner to Tanzania, David Concar said “the visit of a UK Minister to Zanzibar after many years to assess progress in the unity government is an important reminder of the rich historic relationship between the UK and the islands, and demonstrates the UK’s desire to see sustained progress towards an inclusive, representative Zanzibar governed for all.”


by Ben Taylor

President Samia Auluhu Hassan receives the Johnson & Johnson Coronavirus vaccine in Dodoma on July 28th, while urging others to do the same.

Turning a tanker around?
President Samia Suluhu Hassan has continued her efforts to reshape Tanzania’s national response to the Coronavirus, including a number of changes President Magufuli had warned against.

In mid-May, three months after taking office, the scientific advisory committee she formed reported back. The body recommended that the virus’s presence in Tanzania should be publicly acknowledged, that Covid data should be made public, and that Tanzania should join the international effort to supply Covid-19 vaccines to developing countries, Covax.

Most prominently, in June, the President acted on the third of these recommendations and reversed her predecessor’s stance on vaccines. She first allowed international organisations and diplomatic missions to import vaccines for their employees, and shortly after this the country applied to join Covax.

On July 24, the country received a batch of one million Johnson and Johnson single-dose vaccines, donated by the US government. Zanzibar has received doses of the Sinovac vaccine from China. Both vaccines have been approved for use by the World Health Organisation (WHO). Tanzania is also believed to be participating in the African Union’s joint vaccine purchasing programme.

A few days after the US-donated vaccines arrived, the President herself was publicly given one of the first doses. She used the occasion to encourage the public to get vaccinated, pointing out that the country was “not an island” in dealing with the pandemic.

President Hassan wore a mask when receiving her vaccine, as she has done on most public appearances in the past few months. She did not do so right at the start of her Presidency, following the lead of President Magufuli who had shunned both masks and vaccines. And while, under her predecessor, mask wearing was uncommon, it has become much more normal to see leaders and public officials wearing them of late.

The President has also begun allowing some data on case numbers, hospitalisations and fatalities to be released. Specifically, in late June, the Ministry of Health published the first such data in over a year, stating that the “third wave” had thus far led to 100 cases in the country, of which 70 had required oxygen. Four weeks later, the Ministry released more figures, confirming 29 deaths with 176 new coronavirus cases recorded the previous day, and mentioning that the new cases brought the total number of cases in the third wave to 858.

The release of data has been piecemeal, however, with inconsistent figures and formats used. The low official numbers also stand in stark contrast to the hundreds or thousands of new daily cases being identified in neighbouring Kenya and Uganda. Few analysts take the figures seriously, arguing either that the government is still not being honest with the public, or that 12 months of denying the situation has eroded the capacity of public health institutions to deliver a reliable testing regime and to collate accurate statistics.

These data releases provided part fulfilment of a commitment to do so, made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to access emergency financial support to enable Tanzania to cope with the pandemic. At the start of September, the IMF board approved USD $567m in emergency support to Tanzania to help finance a vaccination campaign and meet the health and social costs of the pandemic.

More broadly, and of particular significance when it comes to the vaccination campaign, the situation is complicated by the continued denialism of some of President Magufuli’s supporters. Most notably, the prominent evangelical preacher and Member of Parliament, Bishop Josephat Gwajima, has claimed without evidence that vaccines can interfere with human DNA.

“Are we that brainless? Doctors, professors: have you decided to put your brains in your pockets?” he asked his congregation. “People taking the vaccines risk becoming mentally challenged or monitored by computers from the West,” he added.

In a sign both that the previous President’s views no longer hold sway and that his methods may be harder to shake off, the government in response ordered the police and anti-corruption authorities to arrest and interrogate Bishop Gwajima to substantiate his statements against Covid-19 vaccines.

Doctors, however, have cautiously welcomed President Hassan’s changes. It has allowed them to work more freely, diagnose patients and treat them without fear of repercussions from the authorities, said Shadrack Mwaibambe, Head of the Tanzanian Medical Association. He did note, however, that the government continued to support – though no longer to encourage – the use of “remedies” with no scientific support, including steam inhalation. He argued that the authorities should not be talking of such things now they have decided to follow the science.

While critics of President Magufuli’s approach to the pandemic remain frustrated that the new President has not gone as far as they would like, other commentators are more understanding of her position.

“Misinformation [about COVID-19 vaccines] is widespread,” said one doctor, who asked to remain anonymous, “and unfortunately it came from official sources.”

“Things changed so suddenly. I know many people who are still trying to reconcile themselves to the government’s new COVID approach,” says Herrieth Makwetta, a health reporter for Mwananchi newspaper.

Another medic, Dr. Shindo Kilawa, of Muhimbili National Hospital, says the government faces a tough task ahead in promoting the vaccines. “To break away from the past, psychologically, I see the need for a massive awareness campaign, mainly targeting the general public. Otherwise we could end up with many unused stocks of vaccines,” he said.

Government figures are personally trying to navigate a tricky change of direction. In February, Health Minister Dr Dorothy Gwajima had been publicly and vocally sceptical of masks and vaccines, preferring instead to promote various herbal concoctions. She now wears a mask in public, and is urging the public to come forward for vaccinations. Similarly, Hamisi Kigwangala, a medical doctor and prominent MP, publicly spoke against Covid-19 vaccines in February but has lately made a U-turn. He was filmed in July receiving a Covid-19 vaccine and has started a social media awareness campaign to encourage greater take-up. “The vaccine is the only sure way we have for now to remain safe, so if one gets a chance, they should take it without wasting time,’’ he told a reporter for the US broadcaster, NPR.

While such course corrections may be awkward and embarrassing for individual politicians, they are emblematic of the challenge the President faces. A widely-beloved President told the country one thing, in emphatic terms. The new President now has the task of telling them this was wrong, ideally without appearing to criticise the source of the falsehoods. This is made even harder by the fact that confidence in science has always been low in Tanzania.

Convincing a sceptical nation to wear masks, maintain good hygiene and distancing practices, and to seek medical help when needed will be difficult. Convincing people to get vaccinated will be even more so.


by Paul Harrison

Rising hope for the tourism sector as Tanzania receives COVID-19 vaccines
In July 2021, mainland Tanzania received its first consignment of over one million doses of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines from the United States as part of the COVAX arrangement. Unlike her predeces­sor, Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has received a COVID­19 vaccine in public, kicking off a nationwide inoculation campaign in the fight against the disease, with Zanzibari citizens receiving the Russian Sputnik vaccination amongst others. A significant step toward protecting Tanzanian citizens, the vaccination programme also repre­sents a major confidence builder to tourists who are currently visiting the country and indeed those who are planning to visit in the future. The greater the rollout, the more likely that Tanzania will be removed from amber and red lists of EU countries, the UK and the USA.

Tanzania’s tourism sector is gradually recovering from the effects of the pandemic. Signs of growth are emerging in many parts of the country as hotel visits, game viewing and other tourist activities are starting to pick up. Traditionally, Tanzania has received the bulk of tourist arrivals from the USA, UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Canada, Australia, Ireland and the Netherlands, but recently Russia is emerging as a new market, amongst others. Notably, Tanzania was expected to receive over 650 tourists from Israel during August 2021, according to the Citizen.

Selous ecosystem seems set to maintain UNESCO World Heritage status
Over the last five years, the Selous Game Reserve (now split between Nyerere national park and the reserve) was under increasing threat of being delisted as a UNESCO world heritage site. The threat of removal came from the decision made under the previous administration to construct a hydropower dam on the Rufiji river, which also led to sub­stantial logging to clear the site.

However, due to an on-going dialogue with UNESCO and conservation efforts within the Selous ecosystem, Tanzania has been allowed, in principle, to maintain the status of the Selous as a UNESCO world heritage site, subject to proof of conservation efforts.

According to The Citizen, during the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee meeting, held online from Fuzhou, China from 16-31 July 2021, Tanzania has been directed to address the concerns raised and report by December 1st 2021. This is a promising indication that the Selous ecosystem may maintain its current label as a prestigious World Heritage site and continue to benefit from tourism opportuni­ties there. This assumes Tanzania can continue to protect cultural and environmental treasures of the Selous as well as mitigating issues of degradation around the dam and to tackle human wildlife conflict in the wider landscape.

In Zanzibar, new investment is sought into high-end tourism
According to The East African, in late August the Zanzibar government, through the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA), issued an invitation to investors to bid for high-end tourism investments in key small islands. This is intended to boost revenues, part of the wider blue economy drive. Would be-investors were given until 16th September 2021 to submit proposals. Several small islands were offered for pre­mium environmentally and culturally sensitive development projects, including Changuu, Bawe, Pamunda and Kwale islands off Unguja and Njao, Misali and Matumbini islands off Pemba.

In the same period, the BBC reported plans by the government of Zanzibar to build sub-Saharan Africa’s highest skyscraper, with a linked marina development, at a cost of likely upwards of £950 million, assuming investment can be found.

Generally, mainstream tourism numbers have been rising steadily in Zanzibar over the northern hemisphere summer months, though yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. A flood of Russian tourists earlier in the year now appears to have subsided though the trends suggest a shift towards countries like Russia away from traditional beach tourism mar­kets, though that trend may settle back in time. Italian tourists, typically the mainstay of the Zanzibari beach tourism industry, have yet to return in any significant numbers.


by Ben Taylor

Controversial mobile money tax introduced, partially retracted
The most controversial and headline-grabbing move in the 2021-22 budget was a new tax on sending and withdrawing money on mobile phones. A levy of between TSh 10 and TSh 10,000 was introduced on mobile money transactions.

The effect varies according to the particular network being used and the amounts of money involved, but for example, the cost of a transfer of TSh 15,000 on Airtel Money would rise from TSh 350 to TSh 960, while the cost of a TSh 600,000 transfer on the same network would rise from TSh 1,000 to TSh 7,400.

The government hoped the move would raise a total of TSh 1,254 bn over the course of the year. Framing it as a “Patriotism Levy”, Finance and Planning minister Mwigulu Nchemba said it was important that every Tanzanian took part in it.

Given that 2019 saw mobile money transfers in Tanzania worth approximately $40 billion, representing over 60% of the country’s GDP, this new tax could potentially have a major impact on the circulation of money, on poverty reduction efforts, and on the economy as a whole.

The change prompted a major outcry from economists and citizen groups across the country. Richard E. Ms homba, Professor of Economics at La Salle University, Philadelphia, USA, wrote that “the end does not justify the means”. He added that though this type of levy “may be a convenient tax window, it may also lead to a slowdown in economic activities and exacerbate inequality in the country.”

In previous research, the global association of mobile phone network operators, GSMA, found that taxes of this kind are generally “regressive in nature, undermining the fundamental concept of tax equity.”

The Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) filed a court case challenging the new levies.

A few days after the levy came into effect on July 15, the Tanzania Mobile Network Operators Association (TAMNOA) said the business has dropped drastically, therefore asking government to amend the new charges.

The government responded to these complaints by first announcing in late July that possible changes to the levy were under discussion, and President Samia Suluhu Hassan directed the Minister of Finance and Planning, Dr Mwigulu Nchemba and his Communications and Information Technology counterpart Dr Faustine Ndugulile to review mobile money transaction charges.

Then, at the end of August, the Ministry of Finance and Planning released a statement saying Dr Nchemba had signed the amendments of the Regulations for Electronic Transactions Levy for 2021 with a view to reduce the rates by 30%.

Business leaders welcome 2021-22 budget
Finance and Economic Planning minister Mwigulu Nchemba in June tabled the TSh 36.3 trillion budget before Parliament, with a bundle of fiscal measures that business associations say contain promising prospects. A slightly-revised budget was approved by parliament two weeks later, with a value of TSh 36.6 trillion.

Headline measures in the budget include a cut in PAYE from 9% to 8% for the lowest taxable band, cuts on various import tariffs and abolition of VAT on imported metals and raw materials.

Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) policy specialist Frank Dafa said the budget generally brought relief to the manufacturing sector and the move could boost investment and increase job opportunities.

“There are significant improvements in the taxes and levies of employers and manufacturers. So the relief provided will stimulate industrial growth,” said Mr Dafa, adding that the abolition of the 15% additional import duty on industrial sugar was commendable. The local manufacturers have been complaining about the requirement which left their billions of shillings in the hands of the government due to delayed refunds.

Tanzania Bankers Association (TBA) chairman Abdulmajid Nsekela echoed the sentiments, saying that it was a relief budget. He said if the budget would be implemented accordingly it would create conducive environment for business, translating into more opportunities for banks to provide finance.

Nevertheless, CEO Roundtable chairman Sanjay Rughani said “a deeper look on the impact from the newly introduced taxes on mobile money transactions plus daily levy on SIM card is necessary as it can constrain the financial inclusion agenda and can have other implications.”


by Ben Taylor

Electric trains for standard-gauge railway to be supply by Hyundai
Hyundai Rotem of South Korea has won a TSh 335.4 bn (USD $296m) contract to supply 80 electric multiple units (EMUs) and 17 electric locomotives to the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC). The vehicles will be supplied by 2024.

The electric vehicles will be used on the 546km railway running from Dar es Salaam to Makutupora, recently reconstructed during the first two phases of the Tanzania standard gauge railway project.

The deal follows the Tanzanian government’s plan to modernise its rail network, investing $6.9 billion to do so. Tanzania’s rails were narrower than standard gauge, and trains had to be driven at a slow speed of 30 to 40 km per hour.

With the new rails, electric locomotives and EMUs supplied by Hyundai Rotem will run at a maximum speed of 160 km per hour.

The Minister for Works and Transport, Dr Leonard Chamuriho, added that TRC will receive 42 locomotives by November 2021, part of a previous contract related to the Dar-Morogoro section of the new line.

“Earlier, we procured 42 electric locomotives from Germany and South Korea. Once they arrive in November, the testing of the SGR section from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro will commence,” he said.

Speaking at the event, TRC Director General, Masanja Kadogosa, said the contracts would also involve training local engineers on how to operate the SGR.

“In every contract that we have signed so far, there is a component that compels the teaching of local experts on maintenance, signals and driving. We want more local engineers to be competent in all the aspects just like the way we have our own experts operating Air Tanzania,” he said. Two hundred engineers and ten drivers will go Korea to learn how to operate electric trains, he explained.

New European flights to Tanzania
Two European airlines, Air France and Edelweiss have announced plans to launch new flights to Tanzania. This brings the number of European airlines flying direct passenger flights to Tanzania to three, joining KLM. A fourth airline, Swiss Air, only operates cargo flights to Tanzania.

The Air France flight, set for launch in October 2021, will connect direct from Paris to Zanzibar, with a possible loop to Nairobi. This will take place twice a week.

Edelweiss also plans to launch in October, with twice-weekly flights from Zurich to Kilimanjaro International Airport. One of these weekly flights will also connect to Dar es Salaam, and the other to Zanzibar.

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambulo, said the tourism industry welcomes Edelweiss Air with open hands.

The global Covid-19 pandemic precipitated a dramatic decline in air travel worldwide, including Tanzania. The latest Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA) report shows that passenger traffic to/ from the country suffered a 50% drop in 2020 compared to 2019. An estimated 2.8 million passengers took flights in 2020, the lowest number since 2011. Cargo flights were not affected so significantly. According to the regulator, last year’s cargo volume decreased by 18% to 21,907 tonnes. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the industry will fully recover by 2024.

World Bank support for rural roads
In the Roads to Inclusion and Socioeconomic Opportunities (RISE) project, will spend $300m to give Tanzanians in rural areas better access to roads in good condition to enable them to access services and economic opportunities.

RISE will upgrade roads with climate resilient approaches in six rural districts across four regions – Geita, Tanga, Lindi and Iringa – promoting a sustainable model for routine maintenance, removing bottlenecks that inhibit the improvement of rural roads, and incorporating people-centered community engagement approaches.

RISE is projected to generate around 35,000 civil works jobs, including 19,000 community-based routine maintenance contracts involving rural communities, with at least 20 percent of these jobs held by women.

“Approval of the project reflects the World Bank’s strong support to Tanzania,” said Hafez Ghanem, Regional Vice President for the World Bank. “We want to continue and even strengthen our partnership with Tanzania in its efforts to fight poverty and ensure a better living standard for its people. [These] investments will help accelerate growth as they expand access to economic opportunities, especially for women and youth.”


by Ben Taylor

World Bank support for Higher Education
In May, the World Bank approved a combined financing of $875 million (about TSh 2 trillion) for three development projects, including $425 million on the Higher Education for Economic Transformation (HEET) project.

The finance from the International Development Association (IDA) also aims to help improve rural road access and employment opportunities and increased access to high quality broadband internet services.

“Approval of the three projects reflects the World Bank’s strong support to Tanzania,” said Mr Hafez Ghanem, the Regional Vice President for the World Bank.
“The experiences of successfully transitioning economies have shown that strong human capital is fundamental for long-term growth and the development of an economically secure middle class,” said Mara Warwick, World Bank country director. “These projects prioritize such investments, which will enable households at all income levels in Tanzania to benefit from growth.”

The HEET project aims to strengthen the learning environment, ensure greater alignment of priority degree programs to labour market needs, and improve the management of the higher education system.

This will be achieved by strengthening and building the capacity of 14 public higher education institutions in both Mainland and Zanzibar to become high quality centres of learning, focusing on areas with the greatest potential for growth over the coming decade; and enhancing the management of the higher education system through the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, and subsidiary agencies. Among the key results, participating universities will add or modernize over 260 academic programs within priority areas, with over 100,000 students benefiting from direct interventions to enhance learning.

Higher education loan charges cut
Students celebrated in May when the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Joyce Ndalichako confirmed in parliament that the government was implementing President Samia’s Suluhu Hassan’s directive to remove so-called nuisance charges on higher education loans.

Starting July 1, 2021, she said, the 6% charge in value retention to higher education loans beneficiaries will be scrapped, and the government is instructing the Higher Education Students Loans Board (HESLB) board of directors to scrap the 10% penalty charged on loan beneficiaries for delayed loan servicing.

The government, Prof Ndalichako said, was allocating TSh 500 billion during the coming financial year to finance university education of a total of 148,581 students. Of the beneficiaries, 50,250 will be first-years and 98,331 will be continuing students.

Students who spoke to The Citizen expressed support for the move. “I’m happy that the government seems to be creating an environment that will encourage one to repay the HESLB loan,” said Mr Samwel Ngulinzira, who is a beneficiary of the loans.

Luka Mkonongwa, a lecturer in the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) College of Education, commented that the government was now valuing children from poor families. “In the past, students ran away from loans and found it better to fund studies on their own because it charged interests like those charged by commercial banks,” he said.

Education reforms
In the same speech to parliament, Prof Ndalichako announced that the government will review the 2014 Education and Training Policy as well as the country’s Education Act of 1978 in order to ensure they meet the current demands.

“The government will also put emphasis in teaching technical education by strengthening practical skills in secondary and technical schools,” she said, adding that the government will also strengthen teaching of skills developing subjects in primary and secondary schools including agriculture, technical subjects, sports, art works and business.

She also stated that the government will conduct a comprehensive evaluation of curricula in order to ensure teaching and learning is delivered according to the qualities and conditions required, including the presence of teachers, textbooks and improved learning environment.

“The government will start reviewing curricula at all levels of education in order to ensure education and training are given the focus of building skills in relation to the present circumstances,” she said.

A-level results – no change in sky-high pass rate
The A-level pass rate has remained stable in 2020 and 2021, with government schools dominating in the top 10 list of best performing schools. The results of the exams, conducted in May this year and released by the National Examinations Council (Necta) in July in Zanzibar, show that the overall pass rate for school candidates was 99.62%, a slight increase from 99.51% in 2020.

The number of candidates who scored Divisions I, II, and III has increased by 0.19 percent from 97.74% in 2020 to 97.93% in 2021.

Only two of the top ten schools in 2021 were private schools (Kemebos and Feza Boys’). The other schools in the top 10 were Kisimiri (Arusha), Dareda (Manyara), Tabora Girls’ (Tabora), Tabora Boys’ (Tabora), Mwandeti (Arusha), Zakia Meghji (Geita), Kilosa (Morogoro) and Mzumbe (Morogoro).

Of the 89,802 candidates registered to take the exam, 88,273 candidates (98.30%) took the exam and 1,529 candidates (1.70%) did not, for various reasons including illness and absenteeism, said Necta’s executive Secretary, Charles Msonde.


by Ben Taylor

Drip irrigation system in Tanzania -favoured due to less wastage than traditional sprinkler systems – Food Ethics Council/ACE Africa

Survey report reveals obstacles to greater agricultural production
A new survey by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), has identified five key obstacles to agricultural productivity in Tanzania. The report, the National Sample Census of Agriculture 2019/20, named the issues as limited access to extension services, slow implementation of irrigation systems, low use of fertilizers, low use of improved seeds as well as underdeveloped mechanization.

It was revealed that only 5.2% of farmers practised irrigation farming in Tanzania, fertilisers were applied to 20% of cultivated land and 20% of land was cultivated with improved seeds. Hand tools (95%) and draft animals (26.5%) are used on much more cultivated land than tractors and power tillers (10.2%). And just 7% of crop-growing households received any advice from agricultural extension services, down from 67% a decade earlier.

Although use of irrigation has increased compared to a decade ago, the pace of growth remains slow. The report adds that investment in irrigation infrastructure is critically important for the agricultural trans­formation that will be required to adapt effectively to climate change.

Speaking at the report launch, agriculture minister Prof Adolf Mkenda acknowledged that productivity in the sector is still a major hurdle that limits farmers’ earnings and their contribution to the national economy.

He said the contribution of the crop sub-sector to the national’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is low at 15.4%, while in total the agriculture sector contribution is also not satisfactory at 26.9%. Livestock contributed 7.1%, fisheries 1.7% and forests 2.7% to GDP.

65.3% of households in Tanzania are involved in some form of agricultural production. It is the main source of income for approximately 36% of households.

In the twelve years since the previous such survey, the number of households engaged in agriculture rose by 34% to 7.8 million, while the overall national population rose by 40% over the same period.

Government priorities in agriculture
The ministry of Agriculture outlined seven areas the government will prioritise in the 2021/22 financial year to boost growth of the agriculture sector. These are research, seed development, extension services, increasing the amount of land under irrigation, strengthening markets for agricultural crops, improving access to inexpensive loans for financing agricultural investments, and improving preparedness against invasion of pests and crop diseases.

Agriculture minister Adolf Mkenda outlined the priorities in the Parliament in Dodoma when tabling his ministry’s budget for 2021/22. He said this was prepared based on the Five Year National Development Plan endorsed by Parliament in February and the CCM Election Manifesto 2020-2025, as well as the instructions issued by President Samia Suluhu Hassan issued in her maiden speech in Parliament.

In her speech, President Hassan said inefficiency was the main challenge facing the country’s agriculture, pledging that investment in the area will be made in the next five years to improve productivity.

The agriculture budget comes to TSh 294 bn, a 28% increase compared to the previous financial year. It includes TSh 3bn for increasing the country’s capacity to fight invasive pests and birds such as the desert locusts, including the purchase of new aircraft for this purpose. Extension services also see a major increase, from under TSh 1bn a year earlier to almost TSh 12bn this year.

While these increases did on balance attract praise from MP and commentators, an article in the (government-owned) Daily News, highlighted that the Kenyan government had allocated around five times as much to agriculture as Tanzania had done. For comparison, Kenya’s GDP and national budget are roughly 50% and 65% higher respectively than in Tanzania.

Avocados – the new green gold?
Close to 9,000 tonnes valued at $30 million were exported from Tanzania in 2020, up from almost zero seven years ago, driven in large part by increasing global demand.

Demand for Tanzanian avocados in particular is said to be higher due to the high quality of the product. The leading markets for avocados from Tanzania are the Netherlands and other European countries, South Africa, Dubai and other Gulf states. Recent years have also seen a big growth in demand from China and India.

It is estimated that over 10,000 farmers across the country are involved in avocado production. They produce an estimated 39,000 tonnes of the fruit each year, but only a quarter of this amount is exported.

Growth in demand has also led to sharp price increases. Farm-gate prices reportedly rose from TSh 450 per kg in 2014 to TSh 1,500 last year.

Commercial production of avocado has until very recently been concentrated in the southern highland regions, specifically Njombe District blessed with adequate water and cool conditions. This led to the construction of a state-of-the-art facility in Njombe where farmers can store their fresh produce and is also a hub to connect with buyers.

More recently, efforts are underway to encourage greater production in the northern regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro. These regions have relatively easy access to global markets due to the proximity of Kilimanjaro International Airport, which specialises in exporting fresh agricultural products.

Despite the growth, exports from neighbouring Kenya are many times higher than Tanzania, with around 68,000 tonnes exported annually to the international markets.


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

New gold refineries in Mwanza and Geita
President Samia Suluhu Hassan officially inaugurated the Mwanza Precious Metal Refinery (MMPR) gold refinery on June 13, 2021.

The refinery, which cost TSh 12.2 billion, was built by the State Mining Corporation (Stamico) in partnership with Dubai’s Lozera Company. It has the capacity to process 480kg of minerals per day.

The inauguration ceremony of the factory was attended by residents of Mwanza city, government officials, political and religious leaders.

The Chief Executive of the factory, Anand Mohan thanked the government for the successful completion of construction of the factory and said it will contribute to the growth of the Tanzanian economy.

This followed the completion of Geita Gold Refinery, owned and built by Tanzanian investors, with the help of TSh 18.4bn financing facility from Tanzania’s Azania Bank. The modern gold refinery was built and designed to facilitate operations of all miners from the smallest artisanal one to the largest mining firms in the country.

Data released when the Minerals Minister Dotto Biteko visited the factory in May, shows that the refinery has the capacity of producing 440kg pure gold a day, purifying the minerals to the 99.99% purity.

“Currently, the mining sector contributes handsomely to Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but it’s been unfortunate that for a long time, gold from Tanzania faces a challenge of quality when it gets to the market and this is why we see the presence of this factory to be a step forward in the government’s initiatives to finding solutions to challenges facing the sector,” said the Minister.

He said the government placed a tender to look for a credible investor who would refine Tanzania’s gold in the year 2016. “34 companies came forward but none of them was able to meet the requirements. When we re-advertised the tender, 16 companies came forward and that was how we picked this investor and we went ahead and gave him the license,” he said.

The Julius Nyerere Hydropower project construction site on the occasion of a visit in August by Medard Kalemani, the Tanzanian Minister of Energy, accompanied by Assem Gazzer, his Egyptian counterpart.

Julius Nyerere Hydropower project
The government will spend TSh 1.4 trillion during the 2021-2022 financial year on the 2,115 Megawatts (MW) Julius Nyerere Hydroelectric Power Project at Stieglers’ Gorge, it was announced in Parliament in June. The money, requested by Energy Minister Medard Kalemani, is 59% of the entire amount that the ministry will spend in its budget for the 2021/2022 financial year.

Seeking MPs’ endorsement for the ministry’s TSh 2.4 trillion budget, Dr Kalemani said activities that will be implemented under the strategic project include; construction of diversion tunnels at the Rufiji River, building the main dam and spill-ways, construction of tunnels, power house and a switch yard. By May 2021, the project whose total cost is TSh 6.55 trillion, had already consumed TSh 2.49 trillion. According to the Minister, its completion was currently at around 52%.

During the coming financial year, the government will also continue with the implementation of a number of other power generation projects, including Ruhudji, Ramakali, Rusumo and extension of the 185MW Kinyerezi I among others. Other focus areas include the construction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) projects.

Dr Kalemani said the country’s power generation capacity has reached 1,605.85 MW, but is projected to reach 5,000MW by 2025, a surplus of 2,323MW over projected demand.

The plan was that the Julius Nyerere Dam would start being filled with water in November 2021 and start generating electricity by June 2022.

[For history of the project see TA120 TA121 TA124]

Large-scale solar power plant in Shinyanga
In Kishapu District, Shinyanga Region, TANESCO will implement the first large scale photo-voltaic (PV) Solar Power Plant of Tanzania. This plant will have a capacity of 50 MW and produce annually 91,600 MWh, in the same time reducing the emissions of greenhouse gas by 22,400 tCO2 eq.

The project has support from the French official aid agency, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), worth €130m. According to an AFD press release, the project represents “an important milestone for Tanzania towards a cleaner and sustainable energy supply and contributes to the necessary fight against climate change.”

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), in Africa, solar PV is becoming the “new king” of electricity and is forecasted to be the fastest growing source of power generation in Africa by 2040.

Production based on solar has become one of the cheapest energy in the world with increasing performance. Modern PV plants are modular which makes them quick to install and easy to maintain. Operating costs are very low and environmental and social impacts are limited. The source of energy is of free and everlasting.

Solar plants can also contribute to the strategic independence and energy competitiveness of the country, mobilizing local resources and avoiding dependence on fluctuating hydrocarbon prices. Further, Solar PV power plants reconcile development and fight against climate change, producing far less emissions than coal or gas plants.

The challenge with solar power is managing intermittent supplies, with no producing capacity at night and reduced capacity in cloudy weather. The AFD support will include training for TANESCO teams in managing grids supplied by solar power.


by Philip Richards

Athletics at the Tokyo Olympics
Tanzania was represented at the Tokyo Olympic Games, held from July 23 to August 8 this year, by only three athletes, who unfortunately returned home without medals. It has been 40 years since the nation last stood on the podium (the Moscow 1980 Games when two silvers were won) and at that time Tanzania sent 41 athletes in total.

In Tokyo, all three athletes participated in the marathon. Alphonce Simbu was placed seventh in the men’s marathon (2:11:35) whilst Gabriel Gerald Geay did not finish the race, The third and only female Tanzanian athlete, Failuna Abdi Matanga (2:33:58) was placed 24th in the women’s race.

By contrast, other East African nations fared much better. Kenyan participants won four Gold, four Silver and two Bronze medals, while the Ugandans won two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze medal.

The obvious observation, echoed by the media (including The Citizen 17/8/21) is that this situation poses some “difficult questions”. Is there a coherent sports policy in the country and is it being implemented effectively, is there an effective funding mechanism for sports and do sports officials have the management capability to effectively identify and harness the talent in the country?

Clearly, short term expectations need to be managed, and hopes of success at the next Paris Games in three years’ time seem unlikely to be realised, but long term and focused investment in sport (other than football) is undoubtedly required.

Taifa Stars, the national men’s team, have climbed up six positions in the latest world rankings released by the Federation of International Football Association (reports Daily News 13/8/21)

The leap has been attributed to Taifa Stars recent victory over Malawi Flames. Under Danish coach Kim Poulsen, they emerged with a 2-0 victory. Though this was only an international friendly match, hopes are for further victories in official competitions.

The latest ranking places Taifa Stars 135th globally, 39th in Africa. As a comparison, Senegal are ranked number 1 in Africa and 21st globally. They now head to face Congo DR (ranked 65th) and Madagascar (97th) next month in the World Cup Qualifiers-Africa (WQA) on the road to the finals in Qatar in 2022.

Tanzania’s albinos set sights on Paralympics

People with albinism practice karate at a local club in Dar es Salaam – Xinhua/East Africa Today

Deogratias Ngonyani, a 33-year-old man with albinism, is a regular visitor to the karate training room at the Albinism Sports Club in the capital Dar es Salaam.

As well as keeping fit, he says his ambition is to participate in the Paralympic Games within the next five years, proving to the world that with determination, people with albinism could break through into international competition. The Club, which has 11 albino members, also provides opportunities to be coached and compete in football and athletics.

Mr Ngonyani was quoted as saying: “At the moment our chance of participating in international sports competition is very slim, and Tanzania’s albinos have never participated in such competitions”

Over the years, people in Tanzania with albinism have been subjected to discrimination and brutality, driven by the belief that their body parts possess and can transmit magical powers. However, the government has recently pledged to provide full protection of people with albinism by reinforcing their security; it was reported that Ummy Hamisi Nderiananga, the deputy minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for persons with disabilities, said people with albinism should feel safe because their protection remained the government’s priority agenda. (EA News)


by Rolf D. Baldus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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