Tanzania Energy and Security

Tanzania Energy and Security

Economy and energy

The Tanzanian economy is largely based on agriculture, which still contributes around 30% of the total GDP and employs more than two thirds of the workforce. The services sector is growing, thanks above all to the contribution of tourism and telecommunications. In addition to the traditional sectors, the annual growth of the GDP – equal to 7% in 2014 – could also be driven by the development of the mining sector and the export of hydrocarbons. The mining sector is growing strongly, also thanks to the huge quantities of gold – the fourth largest African producer after South Africa, Ghana and Mali -, diamonds, uranium, nickel and platinum. In recent years, important discoveries of offshore fields have been made of natural gas, the reserves of which would be around 60 billion cubic meters: their exploitation feeds expectations about a possible driving role of the gas industry in the national economic future.

Despite the good levels of economic growth, with average rates between 6 and 7% of GDP, Tanzania remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with a low level of redistribution of wealth. About half of the government budget depends on foreign aid. 36% of the population lives below the poverty line. It is therefore not surprising that Tanzania only ranks 159 out of a total of 187 countries in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) human development index ranking.

According to indexdotcom, Tanzania is gradually opening up to foreign markets, but the flow of direct investments still remains insignificant, also due to the difficult climatic conditions and, in particular, drought. In addition to constantly putting crops at risk, especially in the north, drought imposes periodic drops in yields for hydroelectric plants. This makes constant generation of energy difficult, which also harms the still underdeveloped industry sector. Trade relations develop above all with Asian countries such as India, China and Japan, even if the African neighbors themselves, especially Kenya and South Africa, remain important export destination markets.

In recent years, Tanzania and the entire East African region are experiencing a boom in foreign direct investments (FDI) – Chinese and US in particular – which are concentrated above all in the energy sector, mining and in the development of strategic infrastructures (ports, railways and pipelines). Proof of this is the strengthening of the Tazara railway (Tanzania-Zambia Railway) and the construction of a port in Bagamoyo, one of the largest infrastructural investments in the entire region, in direct contrast to the expansion works in Lamu, Kenya. Infrastructures therefore pose themselves as a new terrain of challenge among East African governments, as well as a yardstick for prestige and economic power.

Defense and security

Between 1978 and 1979 Tanzania was at war with Uganda. The conflict resulted in the deaths of over 100,000 people. However, relations between the two countries have significantly improved in the last twenty years also thanks to the establishment of the EAC, which promotes regional cooperation. A possible source of internal instability is the emergence of a terrorist phenomenon, in particular on the island of Zanzibar and in the Lamu region, on the border with Kenya.

On the international front, Tanzania has developed strong ties with the United States in recent years, especially following the bloody attack in Dar es Salaam on 7 August 1998, claimed by al-Qaeda. On that occasion, the US embassies in Tanzania and the one in Nairobi were hit simultaneously: the victims were hundreds. From that moment on, relations with the United States have intensified: today the two countries cooperate not only in the field of anti-terrorism, but also in economic and social development programs.

Tanzania is active in numerous peacekeeping actions. According to the data of the Military Bilance report of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the Tanzanian contribution consists of over 2000 peacekeepers distributed between Darfur (Unamid), Lebanon (Unfil) and, above all, the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monusco), mission of the Nations United in support of the Congolese army against the M23 Banyarwanda rebellion.

The terrorist threat in Tanzania

Compared to neighboring East African countries where the phenomenon is more widespread, terrorism in Tanzania is less entrenched but nevertheless remains a credible threat. If in the past the violence seemed confined only to the island of Zanzibar and the independence claims connected to it, the recent terrorist attacks that hit the country also concern the continental part, namely Tanganyika. The attacks are partly affected by the difficult climate of regional tension, evidently linked to the threat from al-Shabaab. Indeed, in 2013, two distinct explosions hit the northern city of Arusha. In 2014, two other attacks hit Zanzibar and the Tanzanian coastal strip on the border with Kenya, killing three people and injuring a few dozen. Although not claimed, the Tanzanian security apparatuses hold the Somali group of al-Shabaab responsible. The growing involvement of the Somali Islamist sect in the fate of Tanzania and the East African region was already evident in 2010 during the attack on Kampala, in which 74 people perished. Responsible for the attack was in fact an al-Shabaab cell operating in Tanzania and led by the Kenyan Mohamed Mohamed.

Tanzania Energy