Why Tanzania ambassadors must change after conference
GLOBALIZATION and economic interdependence alter diplomacy and therefore changes the skill-set needed for diplomats. In this new globalized political-economic environment, the only way to conduct successful diplomacy is to adjust to the new game, writes a researcher, Ms Judit Trunkos from the University of South Carolina.
She argues that economic interdependence pushes countries to work together, and that the interlocking economic systems of the individual nations force cooperation on all participants and dictate that the foreign representative considers economic goals as priorities while representing the interest of the nation.
In general perspective, the traditional primary duties of ambassadors are to maintain diplomatic relations with the receiving state and promote foreign policy strategies through international organizations, but due to the changing world, they need to alter themselves to operate in the ‘new world.’
According to the Tanzania foreign policy, an ambassador’s role is to promote and protect Tanzania’s economic, social, political and cultural interests through active diplomacy; strengthen bilateral cooperation with states; promote cooperation in regional and international organizations through participation in multilateral forums; respect for national sovereignty and promotion and protection of Human Rights.
An ambassador is the president’s highest-ranking representative to a specific nation or international organization abroad. An effective ambassador has to be a strong leader—a good manager, a resilient negotiator, and a respected representative of his/her country.
It is because of the ongoing development in world diplomacy that President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Hussein Ali Mwinyi of Zanzibar are pushing ambassadors, as top political representatives in other countries, to adjust themselves to the fast-changing world.
Mama Samia emphasized that the country’s foreign policy needs to be reviewed in order to keep pace with the ongoing political social and economic changes in the world. She said that the country needs to take a new direction in strengthening economic diplomacy which will reflect and adapt the changes taking place in the country and the world at large.
The Head of State spoke on the need to review the document last Saturday when she met all the 45 Tanzanian ambassadors serving abroad who met in Zanzibar since November 14-20 this year attending a meeting, which among other things, aimed at sharing their experience, challenges they are facing as well as discussing the way forward in tackling the setbacks.
“The world economy has changed rapidly in the last decade …our foreign policy was launched 20 years ago while the last meeting for diplomats was held in 2019, we need this kind of meeting to see how we can accommodate the changes in our national foreign policy,” President Samia said.
“This session gives us time to reflect on various issues, including new security threats and well-being of our country, health and industrial revolution among others,” she explained, adding that other issues discussed include global politics and emerging conflicts of interest between giant nations which have negatively affected the prices of energy, food and currency around the world.
The President further noted that the world is also witnessing changes in the direction of the global economy, where major economic activities, including production, investment, trade, creativity and innovation have moved to Asia, which currently produces about 40 percent of the world’s output.
“It is good for us to discuss how we can compete and how we can benefit” she said as she directed the ambassadors to deliberate on integration in the African continent, including expansion of the East African Community by increasing its members from five to seven after South Sudan and DRC joined the regional bloc.
She also tasked them to look at the Blue Economy agenda and how they can contribute to its success, and also the promotion of Kiswahili language in the world by collaborating with Tanzanians living abroad.
“You will agree with me that these changes taking place in the world are huge and in order to adopt them we have to reorganize ourselves and, if necessary, make strategic decisions on our policies and development plans based on the broad interests of our nation,” she said.
The Head of State also directed ambassadors to improve their performance and make sure that they collaborate with all important government and non-government stakeholders to ensure diplomacy goes with time and yields more positive results.
“Reforms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation remain important to achieve what we want. This is also worth discussing,” President Samia said as she commended the docket for submitting a foreign policy draft with the aim of discussing it.
She said what pleased her most is that the draft also aimed at safeguarding the basis of the foreign policy that has nurtured the nation for a long time.
President Samia explained that in a period of one and a half years since she assumed office, she has appointed about 61 ambassadors, a number that includes those who have extended contracts, among them 16 are employees from within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who are now serving in the diplomatic offices abroad.
Elaborating on those she appointed to serve in diplomatic offices, President Samia said 13 are women while young people under the age of 45 are four, stressing that she is committed to ensuring gender balance in the country’s foreign diplomacy.
The Head of State said she is also focused on giving new life to diplomacy by focusing on ‘new blood’ and preparing the next generation of talented Tanzanian diplomats. She said apart from filling the vacant positions, the government has also expanded the representation abroad by adding Indonesian embassy and the consulates of Lubumbashi DR Congo and Ghounzu in China.
“Please share your thoughts on the strategies that will allow Tanzania to participate in such a forum and profit greatly from what will be offered to our country. However, our strategy should also be in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” she said.
The president, on the other hand, noted how Swahili is thriving and rapidly growing and that it was both foreign policy and ambassadors’ duty to work for the country’s benefits. Media reports have it that Swahili is among the ten most widely spoken languages in the world, with more than 200 million speakers.
With the language’s origins in East Africa, Swahili speakers have spread into more than 14 countries.
“Another thing that I would like to have your input on is the Tanzania Diaspora issue. We are supposed to create a conducive environment for their engagement, thus effectively contributing to the country’s political, socio-economic and cultural development, as well as their welfare in their respective countries of domicile,” she said.
Zanzibar President Hussein Mwinyi also shared a similar message to Tanzanian envoys abroad, tasking them to aggressively market the country’s business and investment opportunities in their respective duty stations.
“The country relies on you to spearhead economic diplomacy and accelerate economic transformation,” Dr Mwinyi told ambassadors, consular generals and ambassadorial representatives in a tourist hotel conference here.
He challenged them to reset their work priorities to coincide with the Union and Revolutionary governments, “You have the responsibility to represent the national interest; work closely with both governments to get markets, attract investors, capitals and tourists.”
Dr Mwinyi said Zanzibar is endowed with huge marine resources which support the blue economy—tourism, ports, fishing, marine transport, oil and natural gas as well as seaweed farming.
“Promote these opportunities to prospective investors and potential buyers of our processed goods,” Dr Mwinyi tasked the envoys, saying Zanzibar government is always improving business environment through elimination of unnecessary red tapes.
He said the government is investing heavily in investment supportive infrastructures, mentioning construction of trunk and feeder roads, airports and the envisaged Mangapwani integrated project.
“Please convince investors to come to Zanzibar,” he said, citing clove and seaweed as the country’s strategic crops whose production the government is determined to boost and process domestically.
President Mwinyi loathed the export of raw materials, saying: “The sale of raw materials is a serious problem to our economy; not only our produce get low prices, but also we give away our people’s rightful jobs.”
He tasked the envoys to scout for new and reliable markets which will offer good prices for the country’s processed farm produce as he expressed optimism over the recovering tourism sector, which remains the backbone of the country’s economy, saying Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (AAKIA) is currently the busiest with the highest number of arrivals in Tanzania.
According to Dr Mwinyi, Zanzibar received 61,388 tourists in August 2022, a sharp rise from 34,000 arrivals in the corresponding period last year. And for the past eight months—January to August 2022—the Spice Islands received 323,748 tourists, with over 70 per cent of them coming from European countries.
The country’s target to increase tourists from the historic peak of 538,000 in 2019 to 850,000 in 2025 remains intact, Dr Mwinyi said, reminding the envoys: “You have a critical role to play in the attainment of this goal.”
He tasked the ambassadors and consular generals to influence international conference organizers to relocate their events to Zanzibar.
Dr Stergomena Tax- Minister for Foreign Affair and East African Cooperation thanked the President for her ongoing efforts in building foreign relations, saying that the ambassadors’ meeting reflects her commitment in achieving the goals, which include focus on economic diplomacy.
Dr Tax said the contribution of the country’s diaspora to the country’s economy was immense, noting that their remittances were worth USD 569.3 million.
“The contribution of the country’s diaspora cannot be ignored; in fact, their contribution has increased from USD 400 million in 2020 to the current figure of USD 569.3 million this year. They have also invested Sh3.9 billion in the UTT schemes as well as procured property worth 2.3bn/-,” she said.
Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Joseph Sokoine said the meeting is the first to be held under the 6th phase government, noting that diplomats had enough time to discuss several issues aimed at improving their performance.
The Deputy PS, Ambassador Fatma Rajab also commended Mama Samia and Dr Mwinyi for the advice and guidance on reforms that will help push Tanzania forward and that all ambassadors will take the directives and advice serious.
A number of the ambassadors led by Dr Asha Rose Migiro gave their comments, saying that they were very “thankful for Samia’s kind and motivating words in regards to their duties abroad. Her enlightenment on policy reforms and use of ICT, we foresee progress of our country.”
Dr Juma Mahadhi Maalim of Qatar and Mr Pereira Silima of Comoro, described Dr Hussein Ali Mwinyi and Samia’s speech to them at separate occasions in Zanzibar as “encouraging to us. They direct us towards better direction.
Both Mama Samia and Mwinyi’s speeches put emphasis in four areas: changes that include policy reforms; find and improve access to market for goods from Tanzania, be innovative economy diplomacy to attract more investors and tourists; and commitment.”
Prof Mohamed Hafidh, economist and lecturer at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) said “The meeting was timely and I hope it will provide the necessary inputs into our current approach of economic diplomacy.”
“As said earlier loudly and clearly, our envoys should know that the country is investing immensely in the missions not to sell face but to reap the needed returns that would support our foreign policy, development visions including Vision 2050 and the Blue Economy Policy,” Prof Hafidh said.
He said further, “Tanzanians expect a lot from its envoys… expanded trade, beneficial FDI inflows especially in untapped areas of education and health.”
Permanent/Principal Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Blue Economy and Fisheries, Dr Aboud Jumbe said “President Samia’s new economic diplomacy plan ushers in a new era in Tanzanian principles of international relations that continue to strengthen our bonds of friendship with the international community while aggressively pursuing the new realms of international trade and investment dynamics that propel Tanzania further up in the fast-changing post Covid-19 global economic arena.”
He said that in this, we have a great opportunity to mobilize our Blue Economy agenda not only in leveraging more opportunities in Blue Economy and their contribution towards our national GDP, but will also put Tanzania in the new frontier of the friends of the ocean dedicated towards ocean governance and marine biodiversity protection.
“…under global and regional treaties, ocean-climate action, regional maritime safety and security, and the pursuit of the latest economic frontiers of Marine biotechnology, as well as our preparedness to engage the economics of Deep-Sea Mining.”
President Samia’s plan is also in line with her February 2022 call in Brest, France, for a new partnership in Ocean Governance based on our mutual interests and recognition of our sovereign obligations for a common heritage which is our ocean, he said.
The PS said that we are already beginning to enjoy the fruits of such partnerships, such as, for example, the recent bilateral agreements and understanding between Tanzania and European Union, France, Netherlands and China respectively, which include deepening cooperation in Blue Economy.
He said “We are already seeing an increasing depth of cooperation between Tanzania, the UN, World Bank, AfDB, AfCFTA, Korea, Japan, US and UK in Blue Economy, Climate, and Ocean conservation. This is the moment that will define Tanzania’s long-standing international principles of mutual respect, trade and investments.