Reflections on trends in India, Tanzania ties

Today (June 15, 2019) I would leave Tanzania after fulfilling indelible experiences of close to four years in this wonderful and unforgettable land.

This gratifying feeling flows from a healthy progress in India-Tanzania friendship and multi-dimensional cooperation, fulsome acceptance and support from the friendly government, kindness and affection of the hospitable people, and my sense of association and affinity developed over these years with this country bestowed with exceptional natural bounty.

My four years of work here touched upon almost all dimensions of diplomacy and bilateral cooperation rooted in the immense depth and strength of India-Tanzania friendship.

A strong and sustained mutual understanding and appreciation between the two governments drawn from the path of development and progress from humble beginnings right from the time of Mwalimu Nyerere provide an unshakable foundation for development of India-Tanzania relations.

The visit of Prime Minister, H.E. Mr Narendra Modi in July 2016 to engage with the President, H.E. Dr John Pombe Magufuli was followed through with the Joint Commission session co-chaired by the two Foreign Ministers in October 2018 and Joint Trade Committee co-chaired by the two Industry & Trade Ministers in August 2017 and innumerable official engagements in healthcare, education, water, agriculture, minerals & energy sectors.

These were demonstrative of continued effort to engage, collaborate and advance India-Tanzania partnership by the two governments. The breadth of our economic and business linkages is not always apparent.

Year after year, India has been receiving upward of 20 per cent of all Tanzanian exports utilising a unilateral extension of duty free tariff preference scheme by India to Tanzania over the last 10 years.

TRA data for 2018 placed India once again as the largest trading partner of Tanzania with about $2 billion of bilateral trade turnover.

Figuring among the top five investment sources for Tanzania is creditable for India which itself attracts foreign direct investments of the order of $40 billion annually.

Scores of Indian companies are exploring new ventures in Tanzania in areas as diverse as pharmaceuticals, vehicles, agriculture, infrastructure, manufacturing and service industries.

Only the pace, not the trend, could be a matter of forecast for future economic engagement between India, as the fastest growing large economy, and Tanzania, as one of the most promising growth economies in Africa.

Development partnership is an exciting and fast–developing element of our bilateral relations covering water, healthcare, education, agriculture and skill development.

India’s participation in the water sector in Tanzania with a total soft financing of about 2.4tri/- is unparalleled for India.

Contribution of about 26 per cent of all water supply by Dawasco to Dar es Salaam from the first Indian water project of about 320bn/- is servicing up to 1 million people in the city.

The second mega-project to supply water to Tabora, Nzega, Igunga and 89 villages en route costing over 600bn/- is about 70 per cent complete and should be handed over around February next year.

Further, committed water projects under design right now will cover 28 towns, including Zanzibar, and will ensure India’s strong contribution to the water sector in Tanzania for several years to come.

Hundreds of water engineers in Tanzania have been trained in India under fully sponsored programmes over the last few decades that provide sustainability to water assets being created.

India has engaged in creating facilities and capacities for healthcare, education, agriculture and skill development in different sectors such as ICT, energy, rural development, entrepreneurship, finance, geology and so on.

With about 500 Tanzanian officials and specialists travelling to India annually for India-sponsored training courses, development cooperation is bound to deepen long-term association and partnership between the two countries.

Bilateral cooperation touches sectors such as counter-narcotics, hydrography, defence training, including UN peacekeeping, societal applications of radiation technology and innumerable technical areas of common interest.

Our governments are constantly discussing and identifying areas of promise and interest to Tanzania to advance our cooperation.

Solar power and other applications such as solar pumps and lights utilising the creation of International Solar Alliance by India in collaboration with France, with Tanzania as a member, offers huge opportunities in the coming years.

One of the strongest factors in India-Tanzania friendship is the affinity, comfort and natural inclination of our peoples to reach out to and engage with each other.

It may be flowing from the similarities of the developmental journeys of the two countries, friendliness as part of the character of our peoples, aspirations of our societies for development and prosperity, or the deep historical connections between our people and their engagement with each other.

The Tanzanian community of Indian origin reflects the historical nature of linkages between us. What is clear is that people in India and Tanzania connect with each other like no other.

Cultural exchanges and mutual travel between us are self-evident manifestation of these affinities. Air Tanzania’s direct flights from Dar es Salaam to Mumbai next month as the first destination outside Africa will nurture and support these bilateral connections.

I feel a deep sense of gratitude to the government and people of Tanzania for their kindness and support to me over the last almost four years. This provided unfailing energy and encouragement for me to work to advance India-Tanzania relations in several sectors.

I am convinced that these ties have a sound future ahead based on the excellent foundation and natural synergies between us.

I will treasure and cherish deeply the memories of this unique “unforgettable” country, its simple and hospitable people, their affection and positivity towards India and my close association with the government and people here.

• The author has been Indian High Commissioner to Tanzania and Representative of India to the East African Community from August 2015-June 2019)

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