HARRIS VISIT TO TZ: US unlocks 3.5tri/- financing

UNITED States (US) Vice-President Kamala Harris historic visit to Tanzania has concretely advanced the two countries shared goals by unlocking over 1.5 billion US dollars (about 3.5tri/-) aimed at supporting various sectors, moving the aspirations of Tanzania to realise set goals for its people.

The partnership comprises commercial engagement, digital connectivity, women and youth empowerment, food security, marine conservation and health among other areas.

US Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Michael Battle disclosed this during a press conference held in Dar es Salaam, yesterday to wrap up the visit of the second person-in-command in the Oval office.

“The visit of VP Harris to Tanzania not only symbolically showed the strength of US-Tanzania relations, it concretely advanced shared goals by unlocking 1.5 billion US dollars in support across different sectors,” said Mr Battle.

According to him, during the visit, the two leaders vowed to boost two-way trade and investment, noting that the initiative has bored fruits a few days after VP left, Tanzania received a business delegation from Illinois.

The mission led to over 40 business to business meetings between Illinois firms and Tanzania business community.

Outlining other agreements, he noted that of US Exim Bank and the government valued at 500 million US dollars to look at infrastructure projects and other projects in the country.

Also, 1.1 billion US dollars for over the next five years in development and 5G partnership agreement with Tanzania which is extremely significant in multiple complexions facing in the cyberspace.

Similarly, the arrangements which have existed over a long period of time with Tanzania over the next two years will be spending almost 900 million US dollars through the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) programme, maintaining that it’s not the only health programme that US will be addressing.

Commenting on the extension for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) a request by President Samia Suluhu Hassan to VP Harris, the Ambassador noted that the question of re-authorisation will be decided by the Congress.

He added that “We are hopeful that AGOA will be authorised in a way which will give a broader opportunity of investment and trade.

On other hand, Senior Commercial Officer at the US Embassy, Mr Ken Walsh identified some of the areas which have attracted the attention of US investors as including trade and investment in key sectors such as agriculture, Information and Communication Technology, air space, health care, and mining.

Mr Walsh said a grant of 1 million US dollars to develop studies for increasing broad band access, which will help start up communities’ access internet at fast speed at lower cost has been extended.

Another, 1.4 billion US dollars funding will go to expand fiber optic across the East African Region, unlocking development funding from multilateral funds from development banks and international development institutions.

“Digital economy as one of the pillars in commercial dialogue, negotiation in the area of investment and trade initiative among other areas…we are very excited for that and we think that the digital economy here has a bright future,” he said.

He observed that the leadership of President Samia has witnessed a real uptake in American investor interest in Tanzania.

“We are getting more knocks on the door from companies looking to invest here,” he said, adding that there has been recognition of America’s private sector that Tanzania is open for business as a more a secure place to invest, affirming to stand ready to help facilitate this.

On extension of US Visa for Tanzanian citizens, Ambassador Battle welcomed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Corporation to tender their request for a full five-year US visa, stressing that process is a two-way traffic and they are more than ready to respond affirmatively.

Regarding women empowerment, the two powerful women leaders, USAID Tanzania Mission Director Kate Somvongsiri said 8.4 million US dollars has been extended for the Heshimu Bahari project mainly to address climate change, food insecurity, blue economy, conservation, and importantly women empowerment.

Given the important role of agriculture due to constituting 60 per cent of the population, she said 38 million US dollars will unlock the agriculture potential particularly the horticulture sector with a focus of women and youth farmers this aligns clearly well with Tanzania’s focus of a Building a Better tomorrow project and an additional 1 million US dollars in advancing civil and political participation for women and girls.

Regarding democracy, Mr Battle keenly viewed that there was no single definition but there are components to reflect upon including issues of freedom of press, free to report, freedom to religion, freedom of assembly, to vote and have elections that are free and fair.

He said these are the things that VP Harris sees that that they are developing in Tanzania due to the bold and courageous leadership of the Tanzania government and support of the people of the country.

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