There is no problem assuming that US President and most of those on his delegation who jeted into Tanzania today are aware that they are landing into a country blessed with a wide array of natural resources and proverbial tourist attractions.
Anything between one-fifth and 40 per cent of Tanzania’s land area is under wildlife sanctuaries in the form of well over a dozen national parks, some 30 game reserves, over 40 wildlife management and game controlled areas, and several marine parks.
Perhaps most importantly is the fact that Tanzania is also home to the famous Roof of Africa – that is, Africa’s highest mountain, the snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro.
With Tanzania easily among the tourist destinations of choice for US nationals, it is also to be expected that few Americans have yet to hear the news that the attractions the Land of Mount Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar Spice Islands Unguja and Pemba boasts include “wonders of the world” like Serengeti, Mikumi, Manyara, Gombe (chimpanzee) national parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Crater, as well as the historical Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Kilwa/Mikindani “stone towns”.
So, the VIP delegation may wish to find time to know more about – and admire – extensive tracts of wilderness stocked with near infinite wealth of wildlife comprising rare fauna and flora and rich diversity of scenery Tanzania is endowed with, some of which are officially recognised by agencies like UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
As a developing African country whose record as a land of generous and peace-loving people and as a champion of human dignity and freedom, Tanzania has little parallel.
The US is rich in coal, copper, lead, molybdenum, phosphates, rare earth elements, uranium, bauxite, gold, iron, mercury, nickel, potash, silver, tungsten, zinc, petroleum, natural gas, timber, etc. In fact, it boasts the world’s largest coal reserves, accounting for some 27 per cent of the world’s total.
Tanzania is blessed with natural resources such as hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas and nickel. The recent natural gas discoveries have been quoted, by most observers, as the reason for Obama’s visit to Tanzania.
Obama’s visit will surely put a spotlight on Tanzania, but that is as far as it may go. Obama is the world’s most powerful human-being and has the backing of 51.1% of the American voters. But powerful human-beings do not transform economies, which is what Tanzania needs – a broad based economic transformation.
And renaming roads after Obama (the road to the state house in Tanzania will from today be know as Obama Drive) will not get porridge on anyone’s table or bring about the improvement in science facilities which is needed in most public secondary schools in Tanzania. Surely the Power Africa Project, that will provide electricity to about 22million homes will help – but only time will tell how it manifests.
Tanzania needs to be strategic in its foreign relations. Tanzania is bordered by 8 countries mostly land locked. Infrastructural development can transform Tanzania. Tanzania can, and needs to be the economic and trade hub for its neighboring countries that are land locked. The rail-road to Uganda from Northern Tanzania is welcomed, but more is needed.
Obama is welcomed to Tanzania as is anyone else, but I hope his visit does not slow or impede local ingenuity substituting it with unfounded hope and promise.
Africa needs to trade with Africa, and Africa can trade itself out of poverty.
Tanzania, as for the rest of the continent, have all it takes to spur their economies. The inspiration should be from the eager and energetic youth, or a two day visit by Obama.
In the words of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere:
Man can only liberate himself or develop himself. He cannot be liberated or developed by another. For Man makes himself. It is his ability to act deliberately, for a self-determined purpose, which distinguishes him from the other animals. The expansion of his own consciousness, and therefore of his power over himself, his environment, and his society, must therefore ultimately be what we mean by development.
Insipred by Tanzania Press – IPPMEDIA