NEW DELHI: As I was watching the visuals featuring state visit of Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan, throughout her four-day state visit starting Sunday (October 9) to my capital New Delhi this week -transmitted across my array of screens, my thoughts were gently drawn to Swahili-speaking English author of Tanzanian origin, Abdulrazak Gurnah, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for the year 2021. He is the most prominent figure, whom I associate as a global Tanzanian, despite holding a British nationality.
Gurnah’s titles are widely read by the Indians especially the youths and debated cynically by the literarians like us across the nation of one and half billion.
The old yet golden ties between India and Tanzania are strengthened by a couple of key elements. Anti-colonialism, which is also the key element of Gunrah’s Nobel winning work, is certainly one of them. President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s state visit to India inscribed a new chapter in the annals of bilateral camaraderie and collaboration, elevating the level of ties into Strategic partnership. This strategic partnership may offer India an access to the landlocked neighbourhood of Tanzania.
A member of IORA, Tanzania’s involvement and interest in Indo-Pacific is not yet as it should be, opined an Africa observer friend, Dr. Abhishek Mishra, associate fellow of Delhi based think tank Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan is the first African head of state to be in India on a state visit, after the inclusion of the African Union in the G20. As President Samia Suluhu Hassan and Indian leadership under supremo PM Narendra Modi engaged in dialogue, the exchange of ideas became the catalyst for a partnership destined to elevate Tanzania and India to newer heights. Scale new horizons. During a tete-a-tete, visiting President Hassan and PM Modi established cooperation in maritime security, especially controlling piracy, drug trafficking and terrorism. With the announcement of startegic partnership, the leaders stood shoulder to shoulder, their words weaving a tapestry of progress, innovation, and progress, binding the destinies of their nations with a firm knot of amity.
Stability and a conducive environment for free flow of business are main reasons for Indian enterprises’ growing interest in the market of the East African nation. Several Indian brands, say for example telephony giant Airtel, have become a household name and behemoths like Mahindra or Tata have turned driver of transformation in respective fields in Tanzania. These entities of the Indian Inc have established their reputation through consistent delivery of high-quality products and services. And earned respect by generating employment of about 60,000 people.
This digit is bound to grow- if Indian businesses invest more here though FDI, as Tanzania expects. The bilateral trade between two nations crossed the mark of $6.4 billion in 2022-23, in which India’s exports were estimated to be $3.9 billion. India, which has pumped $3.7 billion in the emerging economy, is now placed to be the fifth largest investor in Tanzania.
During the President’s state visit this week, the two nations inked six agreements – ranging from a technical agreement between the Indian Navy and Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation on sharing white shipping information, one on digital public infrastructure, and a MoU setting up of an industrial park in Tanzania.
When de-dollarisation is trending to increase the weight of local currency, the two economies have already tested a transaction of about $50 million dollars in rupee and shilling. The authorities in India and Tanzania are engineering a mechanism to scale down dependency on a third currency. If that gets finalized, trade and transactions in rupee-shilling will be an inspiring and impact-making job.
The patients from Tanzania would take a circuitous route in order to get admitted at Indian hospitals- which incur enormous amounts of money. The new generation entrepreneurs from Tanzania should come forward to resolve such problems more effectively.
Needless to say, India’s health and community development work force like ASHA and ICDS have contributed immensely to bring a significant change in the fronts of healthcare, hygiene, women sanitation, nutrition, quality lifestyle and pregnancy.
All these issues are trembling a rising Tanzania. India has much wisdom to offer to get rid of such social challenges. During his recent visit in New Delhi, earlier this week Foreign Minister Makamba appreciated the setting up of IIT and sharing the platform for making excellence in the domain of technology and engineering with Tanzania.
At a time, the nation under Samia Suluhu Hassan is allocating funds and putting efforts to make universal healthcare accessible and affordable, Dar es Salaam should explore the opportunities of hosting Indian medical specialists and public health experts directly or via INGOs. The upscale medical schools in Tanzania should make an effort to engage with the faculties of Indian medical institutes to share knowledge and train the new generation of doctors.
Ayanangsha Maitra is an Indian journalist, specialized in geo-politics. He tweets at @Ayanangsha on X.