Sunday, 24 March 2013

The rise and rise of Tanzania as a regional economic hegemon

Tanzania has historically played a second fiddle in the East African region behind Kenya. Tanzania's foreign policy over the years has been based on its strong cooperation with the East and the Non-Aligned Movement. Tanzania's ideology has been that of a socialist democracy dictated by the ideals of humanity, equality, brotherliness and good neighborliness. Under the founding father Julius Nyerere, Tanzania practiced the Ujamaa ideology, a brand of Socialism which Nyerere termed as "Tanzania's unique socialism". The Ujamaa ideology was aimed at fostering national cohesion, self reliance and independence through the virtues of humanity. With this brand, Tanzania's close allies were Cuba, China and the now defunct USSR and currently Russia. Tanzania worked in close partnership with these nations whilst playing a non-aligned pragmatic foreign policy. Nyerere was good at this. 

With the triumph of capitalist liberal democracy that saw 'the end of history' as elucidated by Francis Fukuyama, Tanzania adopted open market liberal economic approaches. With this, Tanzania opened up for global investments and direct trade with financial institutions which Nyerere had once rebuffed as neo-imperilist tools. Whilst this happened, Tanzania carried out its foreign relations in a very pragmatic and strategic manner. Tanzania's foreign policy was anchored on African liberation during the 1960s and 1970s. Tanzania played a leadership role in the fight for African liberation not only political liberation but also economic. Tanzania criticized the Apartheid regime in South Africa and played a leading role in fronting for peaceful coexistence and settlement of disputes in Africa and beyond.

Tanzania is now at a critical juncture in mapping out its future. With the drafting of a new constitution, Tanzania is joining the league of African nations that are rethinking their future through the drafting of a new legal regime. I trust that the Constitutional body is doing a good job. Tanzania is also experiencing a resource boom. With plenty of natural gas, uranium, coal, oil and other energy resources, Tanzania is been seen as rising economic giant within the region. There is no doubt that Tanzania is at the behest of greatness. With investors wooing Tanzania, right-left and center, it is a manifestation of good times ahead. The new Chinese President Xi Jinping is visiting the country in what political pundits see as expanding of China-Tanzania relations. The Chinese government brings investment opportunities and trade to Tanzania. They enter into partnerships with the Tanzanian government in areas of infrastructure, health, education, trade etc. This is good for Tanzania. Chinese investments are 'unconditional' and due to historical ties, will benefit both countries. Western countries are also competing for a stake in Tanzania's riches. This is great news. With disciplined and shrewed leadership, Tanzania stands to greatly benefit. I have no doubt that US President will visit Tanzania just like his two predecessors, George Bush and Bill Clinton. This is the rise of Tanzania.