Spotlight Tanzania

TANZANIA is home to several of Africa’s crowned jewels – the Serengeti, Lake Victoria, Ngorogoro Crater, Zanzibar Island, and the “roof of Africa” – Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain on the continent.  Tanzania is in East Africa and borders Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, and the Indian Ocean. The diversity in Tanzania is tremendous – from the wildlife and landscapes to the ethnic groups, languages, and religions of the people. There are multiple national parks and game reserves that protect the natural resources and give safari visitors a glimpse into the animal kingdom. Gombe National Park is where Dr. Jane Goodall famously studied the chimpanzees. The people of Tanzania descend from many different ethnic groups, including the Maasai and Chagga, and are known to be warm, friendly, and polite. The total population is divided evenly amongst followers of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous religions. Zanzibar Island was the center of the Arab slave trade in the 19th century and is now almost an entirely Muslim community, with distinct Arab-styled architecture, ornate doors, and pristine beaches.

Despite the ecological and cultural wealth that Tanzania boasts, it is one of the largest recipients of foreign aid and one of the most highly indebted poor countries in the world. International resources have increased from $ 1.1 billion in 2000 to $2.8 billion in 2008.

Country Overview: Politics and Economy

Tanzania, which was formally called Tanganyika, became independent in 1964 after centuries of colonial rule by Germany and Britain. Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged together to form the nation of Tanzania. Today Zanzibar retains its semi-autonomous status. Tanzania is a politically stable country with a constitution that was adopted in 1977. It has a relatively peaceful reputation, except for the al-Qaeda related bombing that occurred at the US Embassy in Dar-Es-Salaam in August 1998. Tanzanians head to the polls for their next national election at the end of October 2010.

Tanzania’s economy is in the bottom 10% of the world in terms of per capita income. The GDP in 2009 was $57.69 billion and the GDP per capita was $1,400. While tourism and gold mining are significant industries, the economy revolve around agriculture, which contributes to over 25% of the GDP, 85% of exports, and 80% of the labor force. Unfortunately the agricultural industry is very unstable in Tanzania, with only about 4% of the land being arable and dependent upon rainfall. The principal crops produced by this sector are coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum, cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava, and bananas.

Tanzania’s Vision for the Future

The poverty rate has decreased only marginally in the past decade and currently stands at around 36% of the population. Some experts believe the some elements of the international aid system have created donor dependence syndrome in Tanzania. Despite the global financial crisis, Tanzania is aiming to increase economic growth and poverty reduction in the coming years. A new policy called Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025 was drafted to guide the development process.  The goals of this policy are to have a population with a high quality of life, to be a stable and peaceful country, have intact governance machinery, a well-education population that craves for learning, and competitive economy capable of producing sustainable growth and shared benefits. Critical views of this policy fear that there is nothing truly different from Tanzania’s former development policies.  The Vision 2025 can be viewed in PDF format here:

Youth Unemployment

Tanzania shares the terrible phenomenon of youth unemployment that is rampant around most of Africa. At the UN General Assembly in September 2009 Tanzania’s president called for international assistance for the task of generating employment for the youth. He emphasized that Africa alone cannot solve the problem of youth unemployment.

The expansion of the labor market has not kept pace with the entry of the youth into the job market, leaving very few opportunities even for the educated. In Tanzania the youth comprise 21% of the total population. The unemployment amongst this group is one of the most serious issues facing this nation, especially in terms of the frail economy.

AFRILINK in Tanzania

AFRILINK’s goal is to provide the youth of Africa with the skills they need to overcome the obstacles that are presented by their economies. AFRILINK works to teach entrepreneurial skills and establish mentorships that will produce real sustainable change. When AFRILINK expands into Tanzania the innovative YOUTH BUSINESS CLUBS will serve as the conduit for the basic business curriculum and mentorship program. The youth participants will acquire the knowledge and training that will open doors for enterprise and opportunities to create their own businesses

AFRILINK will establish a board of directors to be based in Tanzania, which will allow the program to be molded according to the specific and unique needs of Tanzanians. AFRILINK encourages local ownership of the development process and acknowledges how important it is to have decisions made locally, right on the ground where the change is happening. The Tanzania-based board will work in partnership with the US-based board of directors.