With Samia Suluhu Hassan at the helm, Tanzania regains foothold on economic growth ladder

Tanzanians started the year 2021 with a somber note following the death of President John Magufuli on March 17. Magufuli, 61, who died from a heart condition, was reelected in October 2020 to lead the east African nation for the second and final five-year term.

On March 19, Samia Suluhu Hassan, who was Magufuli’s deputy, was sworn in as the country’s president. In accordance with Tanzania’s Constitution, the Vice President shall be sworn in and become the president for the unexpired period of the term of five years in case the incumbent president dies.

The 61-year-old Hassan became the country’s first woman president and she hit the ground running when she pledged to oversee the implementation and completion of flagship projects initiated by Magufuli.

The flagship projects included construction of the Dar es Salaam-Mwanza standard gauge railway (SGR), construction of the Julius Nyerere hydropower project with a designed installed capacity of 2,115 megawatts and strengthening of Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL), Tanzania’s flag carrier airline.

The construction of the SGR covering 1,637 kilometers from the major coastal port of Dar es Salaam to Mwanza in northern Tanzania, which will connect to landlocked countries of Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo on completion, will facilitate transportation of cargo to these countries and at reasonable costs.

Currently, Tanzania only has a total grid installed capacity of 1,605.86MW. The Julius Nyerere hydropower project now under construction, which is scheduled for completion next year, will boost the country’s industrialization drive.

Until now, the government of Tanzania has bought 11 brand new aircraft in a move aimed at reviving its national carrier ATCL which was on the brink of collapse.

The east African nation believes that the revival of the national airline will boost the tourism sector, the country’s biggest foreign exchange earner.

One of her monumental tasks when she took over the presidency was a pledge she made on April 22 to restore investors’ confidence in Tanzania by overhauling outdated investment laws and offering incentive packages.

“We should offer incentives to strategic investors and dismantle hurdles that discourage investors from doing business in the country,” Samia Suluhu said in her maiden address to the National Assembly in the national capital of Dodoma.

She observed that Tanzania had reached a stage where investors feel that the country’s investment policies are unpredictable, saying the country’s efforts to develop the economy could not be achieved if it sidelines investors.

The president ordered authorities to simplify the issuance of work permits for foreign investors, which previously took a minimum of 90 days but now needs 24 hours at most following completion of an improved online application system.

She also ordered red tape to be cut when it came to land allocation to prospective investors, both domestic and foreign.

Following the President’s pledge to restore investors’ confidence, the country registered a total of 182 investment projects worth 3.5 billion U.S. dollars between April 2021 and October 2021.

Geoffrey Mwambe, the minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office responsible for Investment, said on Nov 3 that 164 of the 182 investment projects were registered by the Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) and 18 projects were registered by the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA).

He said most of the registered investment projects covered agriculture, construction, manufacturing, industry and mining.

Mwambe attributed the impressive flow of investment projects to measures aimed at improving the investment environment being undertaken by President Hassan’s administration.

Tanzania has not been spared from adverse economic effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic despite the policy decision against a full lockdown of economic activities. The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to the collapse of not only the tourism sector but also other sectors, including health, education, agriculture.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September approved 567.25 million U.S. dollars in emergency support to Tanzania to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Abel Makubi, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, said by Dec 18, Tanzania had received 4,797,860 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and 1.27 million people in the country had been vaccinated.

Makubi said by Dec 18, a total of 28,214 people tested positive for COVID-19 and 737 people died from the virus that was first reported in the country on March 16, 2020.

Tanzania intends to vaccinate at least 60 percent of its 60 million people.

Florens Luoga, governor of the Bank of Tanzania, the central bank, announced that the country’s economy was projected to grow at 5 percent in 2021.

“Looking forward, Tanzania economy is poised to grow steadily, reaching more than 8 percent in the next five years,” Luoga told the 20th Conference of Financial Institutions held in Dodoma in November.

The conference, a biennial event created in 1980 under the auspices of the Bank of Tanzania for exchanging views and experiences on issues pertaining to the financial sector and economy in general, lasted for two days, with attendance of more than 300 local and foreign experts to rethink about how to facilitate fast recovery of the economy and ensure sustained growth in the post-COVID-19 era.

The central bank governor said this projection hinged on increased utilization of resources and growth in productivity.

Growth of the economy slowed to 4.8 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, from a five-year average of 6.8 percent, according to Luoga.

During the year in review, Samia Suluhu administration recognized that gender equality, equity and women’s empowerment are among the important pillars in bringing about meaningful, inclusive and sustainable development in any society.

She appointed several women to take up senior leadership positions, including Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the country’s first woman defense minister, and Liberata Mulamula, the first woman foreign affairs minister, several women ministers, high court judges and regional commissioners.

Tanzania celebrated its 60 years of independence on Dec 9 when President Samia Suluhu reminded her countrymen and women to continue nurturing the prevailing peace, unity and tranquility.


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