Magazine article New African

Tanzania Riding High: Tanzania Is Not Only a Land of Spectacular Beauty, the Resilience of the Economy and the People Is Remarkable. Regina Jere-Malanda Has Been Looking at How the Government Is Building on Its Ambitious Development Vision Aimed at Turning Tanzania into a Middle Income Country by 2025

Magazine article New African

Tanzania Riding High: Tanzania Is Not Only a Land of Spectacular Beauty, the Resilience of the Economy and the People Is Remarkable. Regina Jere-Malanda Has Been Looking at How the Government Is Building on Its Ambitious Development Vision Aimed at Turning Tanzania into a Middle Income Country by 2025

Article excerpt

When the Tanzanian government launched its national development programme called Vision 2025 in 1997, critics slammed it as offering nothing new from what was covered in the 1967 Arusha Declaration by founding President Julius Nyerere, in which he outlined the principles of Ujamma, as a means to solving the country's economic problems, through African socialism and self-reliance. The Arusha Declaration policies lasted for 30 years, and some critics now claim it produced "nothing, or at best very little". As such, they say, Vision 2025 may similarly go the same way.

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However, at the launch of Vision 2025, the Tanzanian government insisted that it was offering a new era of hope.

"A Tanzanian who is been today will be fully grown up, will have joined the working population and will probably be a young parent by the year 2025," the government said. "Similarly, a Tanzanian who has just joined the labour force will be preparing to retire by the year 2025. What kind of society will have been created by such Tanzanians in the year 2025?

"What is envisioned is that the society these Tanzanians will be living in by then will be a substantially developed one with a high quality livelihood. Abject poverty will be a thing of the past.

"In other words, it is envisioned that Tanzanians will have graduated from a least developed country to a middle income country by the year 2025 with a high level of human development."

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The government went on: "The economy will have been transformed from a low productivity agricultural one to a semi-industrialised economy led by modernised and highly productive agricultural activities which are effectively integrated and buttressed by supportive industrial and service activities in the rural and urban areas. A solid foundation for a competitive and dynamic economy with high productivity will have been laid.

"Consistent with this vision, Tanzania of 2025 should be a nation imbued with five main attributes: High quality livelihood; peace, stability and unity; good governance; a well educated and learning society; and a competitive economy capable of producing sustainable growth and shared benefits."

To have a clearer understanding of the path Tanzania's political, social and economic sectors have taken since independence on 9 December 1961, it is worth reflecting on the words of President Nyerere on a visit to Washington DC, USA, in 1998.

"I was in Washington last year," he said. "At the World Bank, the first question they asked me was: 'How did you fail?' I responded that we took over a country with 85% of its adult population illiterate. The British ruled us for 43 years. When they left, there were only two trained engineers and 12 doctors. This is the country we inherited.

"When I stepped down, there was 91% literacy rate and nearly every child was in school. We trained thousands of engineers and doctors and teachers ... So when they asked me 'how did you fail?', I responded: 'in 1988, Tanzania's per capita income was $280. Now, in 1998, it is $140. Yet in those 10 years, Tanzania has done everything the IMF and the World Bank wanted. So I asked the World Bank people, 'what went wrong?'."

Since Nyerere spoke those insightful words, Tanzania has overcome many hurdles and moved on. Although a lot still needs to be done and achieved, it is now one of the most liberal countries in Africa.

Before the last devastating drought in 2006 ravaged the country, the annual growth rate averaged 5.8% for a consistent six years and was one of the best performers in sub-Saharan Africa. Not bad for a country with few exportable natural minerals and largely dependent on agriculture for export revenues.

Although the drought hit hard, the government did not take its adverse impact lying down. Wheels were put in motion to drive the economy into positive growth to the point where, this year, GDP growth is projected at 7% or more--thanks partly to increased investment (both local and foreign), which, in itself, is a reflection of investor confidence in the country as well as improved economic management by the government. …

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