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Jacques Morisset's blog

If I had three minutes with President Jakaya Kikwete…

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Imagine that you are in an elevator. It stops to pick up the next passenger going up.  It turns out to be H.E. Jayaka Mrisho Kikwete, yes, the President of Tanzania himself, accompanied by a group of high ranking officials.  The President turns and asks you what you think is the most important thing that he could do for his country. You have less than three minutes to convince him.  What would you tell him?

I know what I would say, loud and clear: “Your Excellency, that would have to be improving the performance of the port of Dar es Salaam.”

No doubt there are plenty of issues that matter for Tanzania’s prosperity: rural development, education, energy, water, food security, roads, you name it. They are all competing for urgent attention and effort; yet it is also true that each of them involves complex solutions that would take time to produce impact on the ground, and it is hard to know where to begin and to focus priority attention.

This is not the case for the Dar es Salaam port, as most experts know what to do.

So why the port of Dar es Salaam?

The port represents a wonderful opportunity for his country. The port handles about 90%  of Tanzania’s international trade and is the potential gateway of six landlocked countries. I would tell him that almost all citizen and firms operating in Tanzania are currently affected, directly and indirectly, by the performance of this port.

The power of commercial lending: Myth or reality?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.
Banks play a critical role in economic development, as success stories are difficult to find without a big increase in commercial lending over time. Countries like Korea, Malaysia and China saw their credit to GDP ratio surge by 40 percentage points during the 1990s. On the African continent, similar stories are emerging in Cape Verde, Senegal and Nigeria, though arguably at a lower rate than in Asia.

Tanzania’s financial sector has been growing rapidly over the past few years, almost doubling size between 2006 and 2012. As a result of the good performance of the national economy and the gradual liberalization of the financial sector, there are today 45 commercial banks, local- and foreign-owned, competing for costumers. This growth has translated into higher lending activities as reflected in the following statistics:

- Total banking credit surged from 11.3 per cent of GDP in 2006 to over 24 per cent in 2011. This last ratio is still below the regional average of approximately 45 per cent of GDP and far from the level achieved by Kenya (52 per cent).
- The recent increase in lending activities is partly the result of higher borrowing by the Government, which grew by 5.5 percent of GDP between 2006 and 2011, and now accounts for almost 20 percent of total credit in the economy.
- Private credit expanded from 12.9 per cent of GDP in 2006 to 20.3 per cent in 2011.

Can Tanzania achieve its Green Revolution?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

Agriculture is the mainstay of Tanzania’s rural economy and the livelihood of most of the country’s poor. As a result, rural incomes and poverty reduction are closely linked to agricultural productivity. Yet, according to FAO, yields for important staple crops in Tanzania remain very low:
- With a maize yield of 1.3 metric tons per hectare (mt/ha) in 2011, Tanzania ranks behind Kenya and Ghana (1.6 mt/ha); and way behind Vietnam (4.3 mt/ha) or China (5.7 mt/ha).
- A similar pattern holds for rice (paddy), with Tanzania’s yield of 2.0 mt/ha in 2011 being comparable to only about half of Kenya’s (4.0 mt/ha), and less than one third of China’s (6.7 mt/ha) in that year.
- It is noteworthy too that there has been no general upward trend in yields over the past two decades, though there is considerable annual variation due to rainfall patterns.

Is Tanzania’s economic growth an urban phenomenon?

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Tanzania has been growing steadily over the past ten years and 2012 was no different. The economy expanded by 6.9 percent, which is close to the historical average. A look at national accounts reveals that five sectors contributed to almost 60 per cent of Tanzania’s economic growth between 2008 and 2012:

- Communication GDP almost doubled in less than four years, growing on average by over 20 per cent per year.
- Banking and financial services have expanded by 11 per cent per year since 2008.
- Retail trade increased by almost 40 percent between 2008 and 2012.
- Construction surged by an average of 9 percent per year over the same period.
- Manufacturing grew annually by 8.4 percent during the last four years.

Is Tanzania strong enough to resist temptation?

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Speaking about the often unruly behavior of his talented young players, Arsene Wenger, the famous Arsenal coach, said: "Some are wrong because they are not strong enough to fight temptation and some are wrong because they don't know."

Youth in Tanzania: a growing uneducated labor force

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

"The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow", so the old adage goes. All countries, including Tanzania, need to invest in and build a strong, healthy, well educated, dynamic and innovative youth.  In Africa, the number of youths (aged 14 to 25 years) have grown significantly  over the past decades, contributing to the bulk of the labor force.

A well-kept secret: Tanzania’s export performance

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

Outward looking strategies have been used by most countries that have succeeded in their transition toward emergence. East Asian tigers and dragons have witnessed a tremendous and sustained boom in their exports, as have emerging countries like Chile, Tunisia, Botswana, and Mauritius. Even fast-growing ‘big’ countries such as Brazil and China have relied on world markets.

What might surprise some though is that Tanzania’s export performance in fact exceeded that of Brazil, Tunisia, Mauritius, Malaysia, Korea, and Thailand between 2000 and 2012. Among countries that did better were China and Uganda.

HIV/Aids: Still Claiming Too Many Lives

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

HIV/Aids remains one of the deadliest diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, causing misery and suffering to millions of affected people and their families. But there are also signs of hope, as new infections and the number of Aids-related deaths have come down significantly since the mid-2000s. Similar to the broader trend in the region, Tanzania has achieved some success in reducing HIV/Aids:

- HIV prevalence among adults declined from its peak in 1996 (8.4 per cent of those aged 15-49 years) to 5.8 per cent in 2007, though it has stagnated since then.
- The number of people dying from Aids has fallen by about one third, from 130,000 in 2001 to 84,000 in 2011.

Why Tanzanian farmers don’t sell what they produce?

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Let's think together: Every Sunday the World Bank in Tanzania in collaboration with The Citizen wants to stimulate your thinking by sharing data from recent official surveys in Tanzania and ask you a few questions.

About three out of four households report to have agriculture as their main activity. Even urban households are still involved in crop production.

Indeed, agriculture is an important sector for Tanzania contributing up to 26 per cent of GDP. Typically, farmers produce to feed their families but they also expect to gain revenues by selling their output. When farmers make more income from the sale of their produce this leads to more development in the rural areas which ultimately impacts positively on the overall economy. This is what has been surmised from the success stories of predominantly agricultural countries, such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

Promoting private sector development in Tanzania: Don’t ask the firms what they want!

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If you are raising your children by focusing on giving them what they want, don’t read this blog. Today most governments want to help the firms operating in their country. But because this task is a complex one, their strategy has been to ask businessmen directly.

In Tanzania, almost every week, there is a new survey reporting firms’ concerns or wishes. If this has proved useful to understand better the entrepreneurs' motivation, in my view it may have led to some misguided policy actions, at least in the formulation of priorities, by the authorities.

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