Tanzania and the European Union have enjoyed partnership and friendship for years, and signed a set of grants two days ago that would endow Tanzania with a 126 Million Euro aid package. Tanzania has been supported by the European Union since 1975, when the EU first granted Tanzania 1.8 Billion Euros in aid.
President of the European Commission, Mr. Jose Manuel Barroso is on a three-day visit to Tanzania where he is spending his time meeting with Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete and inspecting the various development projects that have been financed by the EU.
The agreements signed between Tanzania and the EU require that the aid will go to rehabilitate more than 200 kilometres of roads, provide drinking water for 500,000 people, improve sanitation infrastructure and services for about 140,000 inhabitants, and strengthen democratization and good governance. The EU is also supporting Tanzania’s Northern Corridor Agriculture Development, which is an effort to improve food security. One main goal of the improved agricultural development and rural infrastructure is to suppor the idea of decentralization and improve connectivity among rural areas and market acess to those rural towns.
The first financial agreement will go to the improvement of road transport network in the country. The second is for water programs in Lindi Sumbawanga and Kigoma towns. The third financing agreement will support the improvement of rural roads. The fourth will be for programs to support Non-State Actors in Zanzibar with objective to strengthen democratization, good governance, and support civil society initiatives on accountability, participatory development and policy advocacy. The fifth agreement is meant to support the National Authorizing Office for managing the EU portfolio in teh country. The last agreement is directed to technical cooperation facitility aimed at providing flexible instruments for capacity development and policy and expert advice.
President Kikwete was hopeful at the strenghtening of ties between Tanzania and the European Union once again, and said that he hoped the visit from the EU President woudl reinforce the political dialogue and economic cooperation between the two countries.
I firmly believe that the most important thing about this aid package is that it supplements Tanzania’s national development strategies and plans, and does not attempt to create new strategies. Many aid packaes come with strings attached and directives, and fail to truly make a difference. The idea of an aid package simply donating help to current, operating, country-wide strategies is an important one, and something President Kikwete recognized as well.
President Barroso was also pleased with the agreements, and said that Tanzania has become one of the EU’s main partners in Africa. President Barroso mentioned that he would like to continue working with Tanzania on issues of energy, anti-piracy, counter terrorism, and migration issues, as resolving each of these issues is a common goal for both the EU and Tanzania.
Overall, I believe that the partnership between Tanzania and the EU is a strong one. Tanzania is a thriving African country, and with aid in the right places (such as aid that will flow smoothly into an already operating development strategy), development in Tanzania has potential to increase. The aid that is going into increased interconnectivity of rural areas and providing better market access to rural communities is also important, as lack of market access is an often seen obstacle towards development and globalization in many rural developing countries. It prevents farmers from moving up to specializing in one crop and selling it in markets, but instead keeps them reliant on subsistence farming with no way to increase their fortune. Hopefully this aid package will help some rural towns grow beyond this plight.
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