Tanzania has invested heavily in transport infrastructure over the past 60 years with a view to easing the cost of doing business and transforming the nation into a competitive investment destination.
Official government data shows that since independence the country has built 11,000 kilometres of roads, from 1,300km in 1961.
President Samia Suluhu Hassan told the country that her ambition is to complete a railway line that will link the East African Community.
“We have managed to connect our country through infrastructure projects and communication that include a road network, streamlined air travel, water and railway transport,” President Samia said.
On the eve of Tanzania’s independence celebrations where Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta was the chief guest, President Samia underscored her country’s ambition to be a leading infrastructure giant in the region.
“There is a huge difference if you compare our road network in 1961 with today’s, as you can travel to any part of Tanzania within 24 hours,” she said. “At independence, the colonial masters left us with less than 1,360km of tarmacked roads, but today we have more than 11,186km and still progressing.”
She announced plans to construct tarmac roads to link all major cities, towns and municipalities.
“In the 1960s, Tanganyika had a railway network of 2,500km plus another 200km. We have managed to construct the Tazara (Tanzania-Zambia Railway) network and the standard gauge railway (SGR). We have improved Tazara and now the construction of the SGR is on course to be linked with our neighbouring countries.”
The country has an installed energy capacity of 1,909MW, compared with 17.5MW of 60 years ago, and the Samia administration aims to add at least 2,000MW after the completion of the Julius Nyerere Hydropower Dam.
The government is also expanding the Singida Wind Power Project and the proposed Kikonge Multipurpose Dam, plus a transmission line and an irrigation project expected to produce 200MW.
Dodoma is also buying more aircraft to be deployed on local and international routes.
“Due to the growth of our economy, air travel is no longer a luxury,” President Samia said on Wednesday.
“The revival of our Air Tanzania Company Ltd (ATCL) is now more than urgent. ATCL has a fleet of 12 aircraft, and we have ordered five more.”
On water transport, the country has deployed 14 ships on Lakes, Nyasa, Tanganyika and Victoria. In 1961, there were six ships.
President Samia has been aggressively seeking funding and partnerships for more than 80 projects she is undertaking nine months after taking over from President John Magufuli, who died in March. She says this is informed by $2.98 billion worth of investments and the huge potential of the country in attracting foreign direct investment.
The Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) has invited investors in agriculture, construction, trade, energy, infrastructure, finance, transport, tourism and services sectors.
The government is seeking $7.3 billion for the exploration of gas in Tanga, which also includes the creation of regional industrial and chemical processing centres on the Tanga Development Corridor.
President Samia underscored the country’s need to improve security, maintain peace within Tanzanian borders and build relations with it neighbours.
“Sixty years after Tanzania attained its independence from the British, the country’s borders are safe and not a single centimetre has been lost,” President Samia said as she congratulated the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) for discharging its duties diligently.
Tanganyika’s independence attained on December 9, 1961, paved the way for the Union of the Mainland and Zanzibar, forming Tanzania.
She acknowledged peace, tranquillity and unity championed by forefathers led by founding president Julius Nyerere as the pillar for the current achievements.
“We have not reached where we want to be but where we are is better than where we were at Independence.”
The president said the country has, over the years, strengthened its international cooperation building up foreign missions to 44 across the globe from two in 1961.
The relations with EAC neighbours, which has sometimes been rocky, have since improved, with President Samia making deliberate efforts to build them in the half year she has been president.