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Cementing b ilateral relations b etween Finland and Tanzania

FINLAND is Tanzania’s longest- standing development cooperation partner. Our country is one of the largest recipients of the Finnish development assistance.

Since 1960s, Finland has funded a number of programs and projects geared to complement Tanzania’s Development Plans, with emphasis on poverty reduction and sustainable development.

Bilateral relations between Tanzania and Finland have a long history. Finland was among the very first countries to recognize Tanganyika after attaining independence in 1961.

Normal diplomatic relations between the two countries were established in 1965. Former Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, had a visit to Finland toward the end of last month and among other things the target was to cement the relations, upon invitation by Mr Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Finland.

Ambassador Mahiga says that the current development cooperation between the two countries is governed by the Country Strategy for Development Cooperation (2016- 2019).

The strategy focuses strengthening the country’s economic base; promoting job creation in the Innovation and forest sectors; and consolidating public finance management, taxation capacity and good governance.

This strategy has a total budget of approximately 52m Euros and builds on the targets outlined in the Tanzania Five Year Development Plan for 2016-2021.

As the existing Development Cooperation Strategy comes to an end in this year, 2019, the two governments are expected to start negotiations for the next strategy in the near future.

It is anticipated that areas such as forestry, revenue collection, gender, and vocational education will be covered in the next strategy.

Ambassador Mahiga says that for many years, Finland was among donors contributing to the Government’s Budget Fund through General Budget Support (GBS.

From the financial years 2001/2002 to 2015/2016, the Government of Finland made a total contribution of approximately 210m Euros to GBS. However, since the year 2016 GBS was phased out due to change in policies of the Finnish Government.

Dr Mahiga says that in the Energy Sector, the Government of Finland supported the rehabilitation and provision of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), system in the city of Dar es Salaam with the aim of enhancing reliability of electricity supply and reducing the losses that occur during distribution.

“The said system was officially launched in November 2016 with a total cost of 74.59 million USD, whereby Finland and Tanzania provided 63.56 Million USD and 11.03 million USD respectively.

Finland also supported capacity building to the staff of Tanzania Electricity Supply Company (TANESCO), so as to run the newly improved system,” says Dr Mahiga.

The Government of Finland has been supporting initiatives of Science, Technology, Innovation and ICT in Tanzania. In March, 2011, Finland and Tanzania entered into an agreement to collaborate in promoting the ICT sector for effective contribution of the sector in social economic development of the country.

Ambassador Mahiga notes that through the agreement, the Information Society and ICT Sector Development Project (TANZICT), was initiated and launched in August, 2011.

TANZICT had a donor grant of 5.8 million Euros from the Government of Finland and got yearly budget allocations from the Government of Tanzania. The Project ended in December 2016.

Some of the noted achievements of this project are preparations of a national ICT strategy; developing programs for entrepreneurs in Universities and creation of a community of start-ups in the field of technology in Dar es Salaam.

“For the next phase of cooperation after TANZICT, the Governments of Tanzania and Finland signed a programme document for Support to Tanzania Innovation System (TANZIS) in November, 2017.

The new program aims at enhancing the national Innovation System in Tanzania and through that contribute to improved competitiveness and access to new markets and to create new jobs.

Through TANZIS, Finland was to support Tanzania with a total of 8.9 million Euros for the period of 2017-2021,” he says. However, on 10th December last year, the Finnish Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Pekka Hukka met with Professor Joyce Ndalichako, the Minister for Education, Science and Technology to inform that the Government of Finland would no longer support the TANZIS Project.

The Ambassador mentioned that the Finnish Appraisal team that visited Tanzania early this year, in their appraisal document, mentioned too many risks involved in the implementation of the project and that they were of the opinion that the project as it is, would not create many jobs as expected.

On the other hand, the Ambassador informed that Finland is not back tracking from supporting the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and there is a sum of 9.4 million Euros available to support the said ministry on the areas of skills development and competence- based qualification.

The Government of Finland is going to design the special program with the ministry. Ambassador Mahiga who is now a Minister for Justice and Constitutional Affairs says there is a hand of Finland in the Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development (Uongozi Institute). In fact it is a product of the Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy launched in 2003 and jointly initiated and steered by Tanzania and Finland

. The Uongozi Institute was officially launched in March 2010. “The primary function of the Institute is to educate key government officials and organizational stakeholders in social - economic and sustainable development. Besides training activities, the institute promotes networking among regional actors. The Institute works in close cooperation with other East African Community member States,” he says.

The Government of Finland has supported the Institute since 2010. The Finnish contribution for the first phase (2010-2013), was 7 million Euros. For the second phase (2013-2017), was 12 million Euros.

An agreement for the third phase has already been signed whereby the Government of Finland will support the Institute with a total of 9.9 million Euros for four years (2017-2021).

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Author: DEUS NGOWI

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