Why millions of Tanzanians are still living in poverty

Thursday April 20 2017

Clothes on sale at the Kariokor market in Dar

Clothes on sale at the Kariokor market in Dar es Salaam on May 14, 2011. There are 12 million Tanzanians living on less than $0.5 a day, according to the World Bank’s 9th Tanzania Economic Update. PHOTO| AFP  


In spite of an impressive record of reducing poverty from 60 per cent to 47 per cent over the past decade — based on the $1.90 a day global poverty line — there are today 12 million Tanzanians living on less than $0.5 a day.

The World Bank’s 9th Tanzania Economic Update says that overall, Tanzania’s economic position remains solid, but it has to work towards the government target of 10 per cent by 2020/21, as it seeks to industrialise.

According to Bella Bird, World Bank country director for Tanzania, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia, 800,000 young Tanzanians enter the job market annually, with only limited opportunities.

“Higher levels of growth are badly needed to create a greater number of productive jobs and to significantly reduce poverty,” Ms Bird said.

The 2015 Employment and Earning Survey found out that over 2.3 million Tanzanians were employed in the formal sector on the Mainland. Out of those, 1,568,165 were in the private sector.

Ms Bird said the government’s focus on industrialisation must create jobs and reduce poverty.

Potential of private sector
“Public investment projects need to be prioritised for growth and poverty reduction impact, and they need to be fully funded,” she added.

Dr Hawa Sinare, a senior consultant at Rex Consulting, noted that the country must unlock the potential of the private sector to speed up economic development leading to job creation.

“Credit is very expensive and it is killing us. Besides being a lawyer I also farm, and it is very difficult to get funding in this area. What we are seeing are more and more taxes on revenue,” she said.