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How Tanzania can benefit from China-Africa cooperation

29th July 2013



   Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Jakaya Kikwete shake hands during the Chinese official visit to Tanzania in June this year.
The Commissioner for Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), mid-this month lauded China's role in ensuring peace and stability in Africa, underscoring that China has been playing a positive role in supporting the AU's effort in ensuring peace and security in African countries.

   Ramtane Lamamra, AU Commissioner was speaking to Xinhua news agency where he also emphasized that "China is committed to supporting the efforts in seeking Africa's solutions to Africa's problems."

   In the recent months, China's involvement in African quest for poverty reduction and economic transformation has gained a number of news headlines for both internal and international media.

   That is not to mention the recently registered historical visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping in Tanzania, South Africa and the Republic of Congo.

   While in Tanzania last March, President Xi Jinping talked about the dream of over 1.3 billion Chinese people for great national renewal and the dream of over 1 billion African people for gaining strength from unity and achieving development and rejuvenation.

   The Chinese and African people should enhance solidarity, cooperation, mutual support and assistance to realize the dreams; he said adding "we should also work with the rest of the world to realize the dream of a world of enduring peace and common prosperity."

   The remark by the Chinese president underscored the needed for strengthening social-economy and political relations between China and Africa.

   To put things into perspective, The University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) hosted a seminar on 'China Dream, Africa Dream' a conference themed by achieving development through a joint efforts.

   Lu Youqing Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania said China-Africa relations have become more important with greater common interests, instead of less and fewer common interests.

   He said while both China and Africa need each other, an increased investment among Chinese people in Africa along with its development has created important opportunities for Africa to develop.

   "The notion of Chinese Dream and African Dream linking each other means to achieve common development of china and Africa through comprehensive cooperation at all level.

   "The great achievements made by China over the past 3 decades proved that as long as we have a dream, forge ahead, we would fulfill the objective of national prosperity and people's well-being through making full use of our own comparative advantage."

   Dr Kitila Mkumbo, UDSM lecturer while contributing to the forum said the philosophy that some people use to brand Africa as 'a poorest region' should be discouraged.
   "I don't see the logic for China nocking our door…we need to be proactive by nocking each other's door."

   Another contributor said it will be hard for Tanzania to cooperate with China and other developed country given the fact that it had failed to mobilize neighbor countries to form a strong East African region.

   "If we failed to strengthen our relations with Zanzibar, Rwanda and Burundi…how about China and America," she said noting that we need to create strong unity within ourselves.

   However James Shikwati from the Kenyan Inter Regional Economic Network (IREN-Kenya) said African countries needs to lean a lot from developed countries and put the lessons into actions.

   He said for example, Chinese government decision to apportion loans to its people had grated helped the state to build a strong economy.

   He said also it was high time that Tanzania and other developing country to opt a value chain system rather than supply chain. The move will increase investment in processing industries and that increase/add values to local agro produces.

   Rita Ozoemena, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria - South Africa on her part said for effective trade and investment relations, "it is imperative that African countries understand the rules of engagement and make sustained effort to understand the language of its biggest trade partner as a platform to mutual respect and satisfaction.

   She said the inability to create the enabling environment for majority of small business people and policy makers tp engage with their biggest trade and investment partners does not promote growth and satisfaction.

   But the foreign Affairs Minister, Bernard Membe believes that Academicians and other experts have to conduct more research to advise the government on the most efficient way of utilising its natural resources.

   The Minister said endowment in natural resources that the country is blessed of still the government does not have economic muscle to finance their exploitation, calling for identification of the right investors who will ensure that Tanzanians also benefit fully from the resources.

   Membe said since the state visit of the, exports of Tanzanian products to China and Japan have shot up ten times, compared to those sold in other countries.

   He criticised the attitude of western media of discouraging investors to investing in African countries by highlighting diseases like Malaria, HIV/Aids, civil wars and those associated with terrorist groups like Al-qaeda, Al-shabab. He said the government should do business with countries such as China which was not discriminatory.

   "China has been with us for a long time especially in times of need. The most important thing China did for Tanzania was the construction of TAZARA Railway line that connects Tanzania to Zambia. It has played a great role in the decolonisation of Southern countries like Namibia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

   It has been a great economic stimulus not only for Tanzania but for neighbouring countries like Zambia," he said.

   He also encouraged the government to improve ties with China pointing out it engaged in activities that create employment in the country as well.

   The former Deputy Secretary General of The United Nations, Dr Asha-Rose Migiro advised intellectuals in the country and Africa as a whole to use their knowledge and expertise to ensure that these exchanges remain relevant, pragmatic and results-oriented.

   For his part, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Lu Youqing said in the 21st Century, Africa, Tanzania in particular has attained remarkable economic growth and poverty reduction. So the joining of hands between the two countries will not only boost economic growth but improve the livelihood of their people as well.

   The two day conference brought together scholars from China and other African countries, members of the diplomatic corps and members of the University of Dar es Salaam.


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