Strengthening Media and Civil Society in Tanzania

SOURCE: Voice of America

The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID, launched a civil society and media strengthening project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in mid-January. It is called Boresha Habari, or “Better News”.

Implemented in coordination with non-profit organizations Internews and FHI 360, the Boresha Habari project will collaborate with Tanzanian partners, including: the Media Council of Tanzania, Tanzania Bora Initiative, and Jamii Media; to improve professional capacity among journalists and support an open media environment.

Over the next five years, the Boresha Habari project aims to work with media houses and radio stations in Dar es Salaam, Zanzibar, Iringa, Mbeya, Morogoro, Arusha, Manyara, Dodoma, Tanga, Mtwara, Mwanza, and Kigoma to improve their professional capacities.

Specifically, Boresha Habari will provide media outlets with training and technical assistance, help them adopt new digital technologies, and strengthen their management and financial viability. The project will also train civil society organizations to effectively partner with the media.

“The U.S. Government is committed to supporting the professionalization of the Tanzanian media and civil society – particularly empowering women and youth – to raise their voices and concerns effectively as both producers and consumers of information,” remarked USAID Mission Director Andy Karas during the launch event.

The United States is proud to work with its partner Tanzania help build a strong and vibrant civil society supported by a free and independent media.

Escaping China’s Shadow

Finding America’s Competitive Edge in Africa

SOURCE: Atlantic Council Africa Center

Over the past decade, Africa has been cast as a new battleground for influence between the United States and China.

China’s economy has experienced meteoric growth since the 1980s, and China has looked to Africa’s natural resources to help fuel this rise. In the process, China has rapidly increased its trade and commercial relationships with African nations.

Chinese business people and migrants have swept across the continent as part of China’s broader “going out” strategy and its new Belt and Road Initiative.



Leveraging a Large Capital Investment to Develop Local Value Chains

‘Local Content’ in the Construc on of Tanzania’s LNG Facility

SOURCE: World Bank Group

The discovery of large, deep-sea, natural gas reserves in Southern Tanzania and plans for their development have sparked a national discussion about how “local content” can be maximized in a way that benefits the economy as a whole.

Energy production is not foreign to the country. Gas has been  owing from the on-shore and shallow water reserves of Songo Songo and Mnazi Bay since the mid-2000s, but the scale of those fields is limited.

In contrast, the off-shore reserves discovered in 2012 by a consortium of international oil companies (IOCs)3 are major  finds that raised projections of total reserves to over 57 tcf4 and carry with them the potential to transform the country into an emerging, global, energy hot-spot.

So it is in keeping with that good news that government and business leaders now want to know how those assets can be fully leveraged to strengthen and diversify Tanzania’s domestic economy and generate local employment.publications.

Free and open debate is not only vital for Tanzania’s faltering democracy, it’s also indispensable for good macroeconomic governance.

READ MORE HERE: 122053-WP-p147012-PUBLIC-LeveragingaLargeCapitalInvestmenttoDevelopLocalValueChains

Annual General Meeting 2018

Dear Member,

You are invited to our forthcoming Annual General Meeting, on Thursday 18 January, 5.30pm – 7.30pm, at the Kaskazi Room, Sea Cliff Hotel, Dar es Salaam.

We do hope that you will be able to join us as we reflect over our activities of the last year. We are sure it will be a very informative and enjoyable evening.  Following the presentation, we will be holding our annual board member elections. This year members will vote in 5 new board members.

We encourage your attendance and to use your right to help vote for the board member, as your role in selecting a board member is essential.  This year’s candidates are:

The candidate’s LOIs can be viewed by clicking on the candidate’s name. We look forward to seeing you there.

Yours sincerely,

Dan Holodnik, Chairman AmCham Tanzania

Lions (still) on the move: Growth in Africa’s consumer sector.

SOURCE: McKinsey&Company

SOURCE: McKinsey & Company, By Damian Hattingh, Acha Leke, and Bill Russo

Africa remains a high-potential region, but growth is concentrated in a few markets and income segments. To win, companies need a tailored, data-driven approach. Consumer spending across the continent amounted to $1.4 trillion in 2015, with three countries—South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt—contributing more than half of that total. Food and beverages still constitute the largest consumption category, accounting for as much as one-third of Africa’s household spending in 2015 (and close to 40 percent of household spending in lower-income countries such as Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria), but discretionary categories already make up a substantial share of consumption. Spending on nonfood consumer goods—including clothing, motor vehicles, and household goods—accounts for a further 15 percent of consumption. READ MORE HERE

Scientists are using drones to fight malaria in Zanzibar

The Millennium Development Goals prompted a number of large scale campaigns across sub-Saharan Africa to combat malaria. Millions of bed nets were distributed. Insecticide was supplied to spray in homes across communities. The aim was to stop people getting bitten, interrupting the transmission cycle.

It’s been a real success story, leading to a notable decrease in the disease’s prevalence. Some areas of Zanzibar have seen prevalence levels drop from 40% of the population having malaria to less than 1%.

Now epidemiologists and public health managers are looking to complement indoor-based nets and spraying with outdoor based solutions. In effect, they’re taking the battle to mosquitoes. And drones are a crucial part of their armory. One of the main challenges to disease managers is finding small water bodies that mosquitoes use to breed. This is where drones come in – for the first time, drone imagery can be captured over large areas which can be used to create precise and accurate maps of potential habitats.


Africa Economic Outlook 2017

SOURCE: African Development Bank Group

In 2017 and 2018, Africa will benefit from commodity prices which started to rise in the latter part of 2016, increasing private demand including in domestic markets, sound macroeconomic policy management now entrenched in many countries, a generally improving and favourable business environment, and a more diversified economic structure, particularly towards the services sector and light manufacturing. Although current account deficits are expected to persist in 2017, they will be narrower compared to 2016, if the recent rise in commodity prices continues. The index of commodity prices was more than a quarter higher at the end of 2016 relative to the same period in 2015. Countries with more predictable policies and buffers should therefore be able to weather the storm in the wake of destabilising external imbalances.

This report analyses recent trends in external financial flows to Africa and domestic revenue collection. It explores how foreign direct investment, portfolio investment, remittances and official development assistance have evolved in 2015 and 2016, and their outlook for 2017. It highlights the growing importance of private flows in comparison to public ones.


Tanzania’s Macroeconomic Outlook: Less Growth, More Repression


As economic indicators deteriorate, the Tanzanian government has jailed an opposition leader for questioning the Bank of Tanzania’s growth statistics. It’s time for the World Bank and the IMF to speak up. If it’s illegal to question a government’s statistics, why should anyone trust them?

Last week Zitto Kabwe, an opposition member of Tanzania’s parliament and former chair of the parliamentary accounts committee, posted on Facebook:

I am free, to report to police next week. Comrades, as you have been properly updated by the party, I was arrested by police at home around 6 in the morning. Charged with sedition at Chang’ombe police station based on the speech I gave at Mbagala. And charged with cybercrime and statistics offences based on the economic analysis I presented to the party central committee and later made public. Statistics act is being used for the first time since enacted. Let us test it in court.

One of the crimes Zitto allegedly committed was to question the GDP growth numbers published in the Bank of Tanzania’s quarterly report. The central bank says the Tanzanian economy grew at an annual rate of 5.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017. Zitto argues that this is implausible given the Bank of Tanzania’s own reports about the collapse of money supply growth since 2016, and calculates—with some bold assumptions we’ll revisit below—that the true GDP growth rate may be closer to 0.1 percent.

The government’s interpretation of the 2015 statistics act turns skeptics into criminals—myself included

As a former advisor to Tanzania’s National Bureau of Statistics, and someone who has conducted polling and RCTs in Tanzania as an independent researcher, I wrote back in 2015 when the new statistics law was proposed that it appeared to criminalize a broad swath of academia and civil society.

I asked Aidan Eyakuze, executive director of the Tanzanian civil society organization Twaweza, about this, and he noted that after the bill passed the National Bureau of Statistics clarified that the act “does not prohibit any agency or person from conducting their own research”—which Twaweza does frequently. Indeed, the final text of the act limits the criminal offense to anyone who “publishes or communicates official statistical information which may result in the distortion of facts” (p. 25, para. 5, emphasis added). That’s good news, but that last phrase is a little vague.

Unfortunately, the charges against Zitto Kabwe show that the government interprets that phrase to prohibit not just lying about, but even merely disagreeing with the Bank of Tanzania’s statistical findings.

If that’s the bar for breaking the law, count me guilty. I’ve previously questioned official statistics quite openly, noting that for years the National Bureau of Statistics’ official inflation rates appear to have been significantly underestimated. For that matter, note the massive, unexplained revisions to GDP growth figures from one quarter to the next in the Bank of Tanzania’s own reports (see graphs below). Maybe the Bank of Tanzania is guilty too.

Any application of the law premised on the infallibility of official statistics in Tanzania is a recipe for selective, politically motivated enforcement, which we’re now seeing.

Even if the official growth figures aren’t wrong, the opposition’s main critique still applies

So what did Zitto actually say? And is he right? His main critique is that government policy is leading to a decline in investment and slower growth. His narrower technical claim is that the GDP data is wrong. That claim is based on something called the quantity theory of money. It stipulates that the growth rate of real GDP should be equal to the growth of the money supply minus the inflation rate.

y = m – p

He notes that this relationship used to hold for Tanzania, but recently broke down. The growth of the money supply collapsed in 2016, while inflation and growth were fairly steady. It literally doesn’t add up. So either the theory is wrong or the data is wrong.


Building the grid of the future, today.

SOURCE: Gabriel Davies,

The Brookings Institution

Every evening, the sun drops behind the horizon and darkness falls. And, every evening, although 6 billion people reach out and switch on the lights, over 1.2 billion remain off-grid. 

For over 100 years, since Thomas Edison’s coal-fired power station first lit up homes and offices in downtown Manhattan, the power for that light has—for the vast majority—been delivered by the electricity grid. 

But the grid as it is today cannot meet the challenge of delivering power to the 1 billion people who remain without it. 

Delivering power to the final billion will require the grid of the future—combining governments, the private sector, and the technological innovations that are revolutionizing the energy industry as we know it.

The challenge is best illustrated by the 650 million Africans who don’t have access to electricity, and living mainly in remote, rural areas. At the moment, the economics of electrifying those communities are non-viable for three main reasons.