Tanzania: How Tanzania can fully benefit from economic diplomacy

Experts yesterday said Tanzania will significantly benefit from economic diplomacy provided that it transforms its economy, starting with stopping to export raw materials.

They also advised the government to strengthen its oversight institutions in order to prevent embezzlement of funds from donors and development partners for socioeconomic development projects.

The experts made the observations when reacting on President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s foreign trips in general, and their potential benefits.

Recently, the Head of State toured the European Union (EU) countries of France and Belgium to consolidate bilateral cooperation between them.

Speaking at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam on her return to the country, President Hassan revealed some of achievements of her travel as including €178 million (Sh464.1 billion) concessional loan secured for bus rapid transit (BRT) project.

Others are the signing of a contract to refurbish Terminal-2 at JNIA; securing opportunities for Tanzanians to study abroad; some foreign direct investments, and securing funds for construction of airport facilities in Kigoma, Shyinyanga and Pemba.

According to the President, Tanzania also secured funds for the implementation of environmental conservation projects, and €450 million in Covid-19 relief funds from the EU.

Commenting on all that, Prof. Watengere Kitojo from Centre for Foreign Relations (CFR) said that, as the country’s Number-1 Diplomat, the President’s trips abroad are bound to benefit the nation through economic diplomacy.

“Also, for the country to benefit, it should be able to trade in value-added products instead of exporting raw materials,”he said in a telephony interview.

“The diplomatic economic war starts at home. Those who have prepared their economies benefit as against unprepared countries,” Prof Kitojo said adding that the country cannot be proud for exporting raw products such as timber, cereals and vegetables while importing manufactured products like medicines from neighbouring countries.

“Therefore, these efforts should go along with the efforts to construct processing firms. For instance, instead of exporting raw cashew nuts, Tanzania should trade processed cashews,” he said, adding.

“But, Tanzania is exporting unprocessed cashews to India that earn 3.5 times more after processing ane exporting them to the EU market,” he said.

A political science lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam (Udsm), Dr Richard Mbunda, said the government should proper utilisation of funds to the realisation of the value for money.

He said President Hassan sent a strong message to embezzlers of public funds through the sacking of district executive directors over misuse of allocated funds for implementation of Covid-19 related projects.

“Oversight institutions such as the National Audit Office of Tanzania (NAOT) should be left to work independently by carrying out frequent specialised audits on utilisation of public funds,” he said.

He added, “Those implicated with funds misuse by the audits should face charges instead of ending at being sacked.”

Regarding such travels, Dr Mbunda said President Hassan believes in the philosophy of interaction in building the country’s economy and attraction of funds for implementation of different ongoing strategic development projects.

However, he observed that government leaders should be careful, warning that over-exposure would make foreign counterparts to benefit themselves.

For his part, Prof Ali Makame Ussi of the State University of Zanzibar (Suza) said any countries required economic and political relationships in order to develop.

He said through the trips opportunities to trade different products, natural resources, tourism attractions etc that require strong markets opens up.

“Trips provide understanding on available opportunities in areas of science and technology, industrial economy, manufacturing etc. It is difficult for the country to develop by locking itself,” he said.

According to him, since agreements are signed after bargaining, the country needs to improve negotiation powers in order to ensure the interests of the country are protected.

“The old approach of focusing on the 10 percent for the pockets of individuals should end. We should also be ready to work with developed countries that have strong business and trade foundations,” he said.

He said Tanzania’s systems should be automated and transparent to allow monitoring of different development stages, warning that failure to digitalise the systems would maintain poor control, corruption, etc.

However, Prof Makame said that “there were pending issues to be tackled in policies, laws, regulations and guidelines reforms – warning that Tanzanian’s poverty shouldn’t make their country lose focus!”

Original story on The Citizen

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