How TZ, India ties evolved

  • Samia state visit to elevate relations to greater height
  • Bilateral trade stands at 15tri/-

INDIA: AS President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan starts her four-day state visit in India today, Tanzania and India boast of strong historic and diplomatic foundations which are instrumental in bringing about economic benefits to both countries.

The Tanzania-India bilateral relations brief prepared by the High Commission of India in Tanzania indicates that the ties between the two countries have evolved into a modern and pragmatic relationship with sound political understanding, diversified economic engagement, people to people contact in the field of education and healthcare and development partnership in capacity building training, concessional credit lines and grant projects.

In this regard, Dr Samia’s state visit aims to elevate the existing ties as well as increase trade and investment between Tanzania and India.

Ahead of the trip, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Mr January Makamba told an Indian news agency that Tanzania envisions to elevate the relationships to a comprehensive strategic partnership with four pillars.

The four pillars are development cooperation, maritime security, defence cooperation and trade investment.

He pointed that in defence, Tanzania has been working with the Indian defence sector for a while now in terms of training and exchange of knowledge.

“We see India as an important partner for us. India and Africa worked together for a long time. And particularly in Tanzania, we are linked by the Indian Ocean. You have huge Tanzanians of Indian descent in Tanzania, who are contributing to our economy, to our politics and to the society.

“So, India is more than a country, which is part of the global power competition for us. India is a strategic ally, is a partner and we are joined by history and cultural ties,” he said.

The Tanzania-India bilateral brief further notes that the two countries share a vibrant economic, commercial and business tie.

“India is the third largest trading partner of Tanzania with bilateral trade of USD 6.4 billion (around 15tri/-) in 2022-23, as per the India’s Directorate General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics data.

“India is also among the top five investment sources in Tanzania and as per Tanzania Investment Centre, Indian investments in Tanzania add up to USD 3.74 billion (around 9tri/-),”  the brief reads in part.

The brief has also categorised the beneficial diplomatic and historic ties in the various aspects ranging from political to culture.

Political Relations

Periodic high-level visits of leaders between the two countries have been an important feature of sound political ties, understanding and appreciation over the last fifty years.

Commercial and Economic Relations

At present major Indian companies in Tanzania are Airtel (telecom); Tata Africa Holdings Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra (tractors), Kamal Group (Steel), Kalpataru (power transmission), Tanzindia (insurance with significant share of Indian PSEs), Larsen and Toubro, Afcons, Hester Biosciences (animal vaccines), Mahashree Agro, Purandare Industries (sugar factory) etc.

Hester Biosciences Africa Limited has constructed an 18 million US dollars veterinary vaccines manufacturing factory in Kibaha, Coast Region. Purandare Industries (Tanzania) Limited, on its part,  is setting up a sugar factory in Chamwino District of Tanzania in Dodoma while  Mahashree Agro has invested in Tanzania for pulses processing.

Three Indian banks that are operating in Tanzania are Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, and Canara Bank.

Two Indian companies – M/s Pacco Gems Limited and M/s Nazareth Investment Company Limited have obtained licences for Graphite extraction in Tanzania.

India’s major exports to Tanzania include petroleum products, pharmaceuticals and chemicals, motor vehicles, electrical goods, articles of iron and steel, sugar, machinery, etc. Tanzania’s major exports to India include gold dore, cashew nuts, pulses, timber, spices (mainly cloves), ores and metal scrap, gemstones, etc.

Development Partnership

Under the grant arrangement, India has executed a number of projects under government grants in Tanzania since early years. Among recent ones, three IT/Communication projects have been completed: A Centre of Excellence in ICT at the Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology in 2011; ICT Centre at Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology in 2016 and the Pan African e- Network Project at University of Dar es Salaam in 2010.

The first tranche of essential medicines and vaccines worth 1 million US dollars was announced during the visit of PM Narendra Modi to Tanzania in July 2016 and was handed to the Ministry of Health of Tanzania in September 2018. The second tranche of essential medicines (nearly USD 1 million) was handed on 10 September 2020. Essential medicines were handed to Zanzibar in April 2022.

Under “India for Humanity” programme, an artificial limbs (Jaipur Foot) Fitment Camp was organised by Shree Bhagwan Mahavir Viklang Sahayata Samiti, Jaipur under a GOI grant at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Dar es Salaam from June 6, 2019 to July 13, 2019 during which 551 limbs to 520 Tanzanian beneficiaries were provided free of cost.

In August 2017, NCERT Science and Mathematics text books for secondary public schools in Tanzania from India were handed over to the Minister of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training.

India extended support of 250,000 US dollars for Kagera earthquake relief in September 2016 and set up a radiation therapy machine ‘Bhabhatron-II’ for cancer patients at Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza under government of India grant support in July 2016. Currently over 100 cancer patients are receiving radiation therapy daily.

Power back-up system for the ICT Centre was issued to Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology on August 19, 2023.

However, on the lines of credit India has committed over 1.1 billion US dollars to Tanzania for various water projects. Also, 36.56 million US dollars for supply of trucks and other vehicles to the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) in 2013-14 was committed.

Other funds issued include 40 million US dollars that was dished out for supply of tractors and agricultural equipment in 2013 and a total of 178.125 million US dollars that was extended for the development of water supply projects in Dar es Salaam and coastal Chalinze Region.

The water supply project packages from Upper Ruvu River to Dar es Salaam was completed and inaugurated by former President the late Dr John Magufuli on June 21, 2017. Work for the Chalinze package of water distribution was completed in April 2023.

Another 268.35 million US dollars was granted for extension of the water pipeline from Lake Victoria to towns of Tabora, Igunga and Nzega in western Tanzania. The project was completed and inaugurated by late President Dr John Magufuli on January 30, 2021. A balance of funds that remained from this project was utilised for water supply projects in Tinde and Shelui villages.

Other financial packages include 92.18 million US dollars for rehabilitation and improvement of the water supply system in Zanzibar. The project is under implementation and expected to be complete soon.

Equally, 500 million US dollars for water infrastructure projects in several towns in Tanzania was signed on May 10, 2018. Four Indian companies LandT, Afcons-Vijeta JV, Megha Engineering and Jindal Water Infrastructure were selected to implement the water project. Contract signing ceremony between the Indian contractors and the Ministry of Water of Tanzania was held on 6 June 2022 in Dodoma. The project is under implementation.

Capacity building

Tanzania is a major beneficiary of training courses allocated under India’s Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation Programme (ITEC) and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships. India offers over 600 ITEC seats and 85 ICCR scholarships annually to Tanzania. ITEC scholarships were first extended to Tanzania in 1972, since then over 5,000 Tanzanians have benefited from the programme.

The first offshore campus of IIT Madras is being set up in Zanzibar. The MoU to establish the campus was signed on July 5, 2023 during the visit of India’s External Affairs Minister in Tanzania. Selection for the 1st batch of students for Bachelors and Masters in Data Science and Artificial Intelligence is complete and the classes are scheduled to begin from October 2023.

Defence and Security Cooperation

India and Tanzania signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on defence co-operation in October 2003. The MoU provides for an overarching frame-work for progressing various defence cooperation initiatives between the two countries.

In recent years, India and Tanzania have been cooperating in the field of defence training in Indian institutions. About 600 Tanzanian defence personnel have been trained in India. An Indian Military Training Team (IMTT) has been deployed at Command and Staff College, Arusha since Dec 2017.

The first India-Tanzania Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) meeting was held in New Delhi on 15 January 2021 while the 2nd JDCC was held on 28-29 June 2023 in Arusha, Tanzania during which a 5- year road map for defence cooperation was signed.

Hydrography is another advancing area of cooperation between the two countries. Indian naval survey ships have conducted hydrographic surveys of Tanzanian ports and prepared navigational charts. A total of 100 copies of six navigational charts and seven ENCs prepared by India were handed over to Tanzanian officials during the state visit of PM Modi in July 2016.

The High Commission of India organised a DefExpo on May 30, 2022 in Dar es Salaam in association with the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence and Society of Indian Defence Manufacturers (SIDM).  A total of 16 companies (7 Defence Public Sector Undertaking and 9 private companies) participated.  The second Defexpo was held in Dar es Salaam on 2nd October 2023 with participation of 19 Indian defence companies.


Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC), Dar es Salaam under the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), has been coordinating cultural outreach since its establishment in December 2010. SVCC offers classes in Yoga, vocal music, tabla and Hindi language by Indian teachers. There is regular cultural outreach through performances by Indian art groups in various towns of Tanzania, Yoga and AYUSH interactions, exhibitions and cooperation with educational institutions.

Indian Diaspora

Tanzania is home to about 40,000 people of Indian origin who live in the major urban centres of Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Dodoma, Morogoro, Zanzibar and Mbeya. The vast majority are from Gujarat. There are about 15,000-20,000 Indian nationals [expatriates] mostly professionals, who live and work in Tanzania, mainly in industry and services.

There are about twenty Indian/Asian community organisations active in Tanzania. The groups regularly organise Indian festivals and social events mostly with local participation and occasionally by inviting performing artists from India.

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