AFRICANGLOBE – President Obama said he has confidence in Tanzania’s future as its people work to strengthen their democracy and take advantage of new trade and development opportunities.
Speaking with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete in Dar es Salaam July 1, Obama said that, “with the right steps, Tanzania has the potential to unlock new economic growth not only in this country but all across East Africa.”
Tanzanians have begun a constitutional process and are continuing their work to strengthen their country’s democracy, he said.
“Parliament, opposition groups, civil society groups are all doing their part to advance the good governance and transparency upon which democracy and prosperity depend. And I want to commend President Kikwete on your reform efforts to strengthen institutions, improve the delivery of basic services and make government more responsive to the Tanzanian people,” Obama said.
He also congratulated Tanzania for nearing the completion of their $700 million Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, the largest in the world. That effort “has benefited millions of Tanzanians with new roads and improved access to water and electricity,” the president said.
The country’s infrastructure investments can help to lift its people out of poverty and unlock economic growth, he said.
Tanzania will be one of the first participants in Power Africa, a massive initiative to double access to electricity across Africa, with $7 billion in U.S. support over the next five years, as well as $9 billion from the private sector.
“There’s enormous potential here in Tanzania to start getting electricity out into villages and rural areas, more reliable service. That can then power manufacturing, power new businesses, which creates more jobs, creates more demand. And we can do it using clean energy and not just some of the traditional sources,” Obama said.
“Ultimately the goal here is for Africa to build Africa for Africans. And our job is to be a partner in that process, and Tanzania’s been one of our best partners,” he said.
For that reason, U.S. assistance is aimed at building capacity, not only building power plants but also working with African governments to “think about what are the laws and regulations that are required to sustain it and how do we leverage the private sector to put more money in.”
There is proof that U.S. assistance is making a difference in Tanzania, the president said.
“Because of our programs, you’ve reduced incidence of malaria. Because of our programs, you’ve reduced child and infant mortality. Because of our programs, there are roads that are being built here. Farmers are seeing crops with better yields and are better able to get them to market because of new roads,” he said.
But Tanzania and other African countries can improve their economic positions by encouraging more effective trade within the continent.
“Right now in Africa — this is true not just in Tanzania, but in Kenya and Uganda and other places — it’s easier to send flowers or coffee to Europe than it is to send it across the way,” and “that means that, you know, fewer businesses are getting started and fewer jobs are being created,” he said.
By: Stephen Kaufman