The Tanzanian economy continues to perform impressively. GDP growth fell only slightly during the 2003-04 financial year, to 5.6%, down from an average of 6% since the turn of the millennium. While oil-rich countries are able to register double digit growth, these figures may not be particularly impressive, but in a more broadly based African economy, such results are certainly welcome.
Economists agree that growth in excess of 5% a year is required if real improvements are to be made in living standards, particularly as many parts of Africa continue to experience population growth of 2-3%.
More importantly, Tanzanian growth is based on a wide range of sectors, from tourism to mining. The 2003-04 figure is even more remarkable given the impact that a severe drought had upon agricultural output and electricity generation.
Growth is not based on a rapid increase in the price of a single commodity, so the current rates of growth are unlikely to be followed by a period of deep-seated recession. Relentless growth of 5-6% a year over five to 10 years will go a long way towards improving the living standards of many Tanzanians.
The government of President Benjamin Mkapa is thankful that the benefits of the long years of reform are finally beginning to trickle through. Following over 20 years of the African Socialism of founding father Julius …