Tanzania: Africa’s Next Economic Titan?

Tanzania: Africa’s Next Economic Titan?


The historic ebb and flow of trade along the Indian Ocean has long cemented a robust connection between East Africa, Asia, and the Arabian Peninsula. In the recent decade, propelled by the booming economies of China and India and substantial investments from Middle Eastern giants like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, this trade route is poised for an unprecedented surge.

But an essential issue surfaces: Which African nation stands primed to spearhead this maritime trade frontier?

Enter Tanzania. Blessed with a strategically coveted coastline and the most neighbors along the Indian Ocean, Tanzania’s demographic and geographic edge positions it to expand its sphere of influence considerably. A glance at Tanzania’s trade dynamics reveals an interesting narrative: China, the UAE, India, and Saudi Arabia dominate Tanzania’s import charts. This, complemented with demographic projections, suggest a staggering jump to 135 million Tanzanians by 2050.

While surging populations typically sound alarm bells, this is not the case Tanzania. A commendable GDP per capita surge of over 40% in the past ten years underscores a robust rise in worker productivity. This is in stark contrast with nations like Nigeria, which despite booming populations, have grappled with a declining GDP per capita.

Enhanced by its political stability and economic vigor, Tanzania is not only set to emerge from the shadows of its better-known neighbors, Kenya and South Africa, but potentially overshadow them.

Roadmap to Pan-African Eminence

For Tanzania to ascend to its envisioned Pan-African peak, visionary strategies are essential. A promising starting point would be the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). Grasping the enormous trade potential with its eight neighbors, Tanzania should pioneer the AfCFTA’s advocacy and actualization.

But, drawing global investment remains pivotal. By aligning its business visit visa fee with that of an ordinary visa, Tanzania can be more investor-friendly. Such initiatives send powerful signals to global investors, amplifying the nation’s commitment to foster a conducive business ecosystem.

Dovetailing this is the African Union Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, ratified by Tanzania in 2018. Modeled along the lines of the European Union’s ethos, this protocol can reshape Africa’s labor market dynamics. Freedom of movement and work, as illustrated by the EU, can be transformative. The resulting talent osmosis can supercharge national economies, mirroring the European success stories of nations like Poland.

Tanzania, by championing this protocol, can become a magnet for Africa’s brightest, amplifying its domestic industry while expanding job avenues for its citizens.

Tapping the Diasporic Potential

An often-underestimated asset lies with Tanzanians abroad. Curiously, Tanzania stands among the handful of African nations not recognizing dual citizenship. By reconfiguring this stance, Tanzania could unlock billions in investments and beckon its accomplished diaspora home, fortifying its march towards Pan-African prominence.

In sum, Tanzania, at the crossroads of opportunity, has every tool to evolve into Africa’s economic lodestar. With its unique geographical advantage, growing population, stability, and impressive economic trajectory, it is ripe for ascendancy. Through initiatives like the AfCFTA, the African Union’s movement protocol, and a revised citizenship approach, Tanzania can magnetize global investments, fortify African unity, and reintegrate its diaspora’s prowess.

Leadership, often, is about foresight and audacity. For Tanzania, charting an ambitious course and cultivating an alluring environment for both domestic and global stakeholders will be crucial. In orchestrating these strategies, Tanzania doesn’t just promise a golden era for its populace, but positions itself as a transformative beacon for developing countries.

Nicola Taljaard

About Nicola Taljaard

Associate Designate at Primerio - LLB and LLM International Trade Law (cum laude) graduate from Stellenbosch University, focusing on areas of International Commercial Sales Law, Sustainable Development and Social Justice, International Law of Tax and Legal Aspects of World and Regional Trade. Nicola is currently employed as a candidate attorney at Primerio International, a pan-African law firm specialising in competition, trade and corporate law.

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