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How polls, pandemic and growth shaped Tanzania in 2020

DAR ES SALAAM, (The Southern African Times) – As the 2020 curtain falls down, Tanzania marked a milestone in its political and economic landscape. The east African nation also experienced disasters like the COVID-19 pandemic and heavy rains that claimed the lives of people.

The year 2020 saw Tanzania holding general elections in October in which incumbent President John Magufuli of the ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi won a landslide victory by 84.4 percent of the votes cast.

After he was sworn in on Nov. 5 to serve the second and final five-year term, Magufuli hit the ground running when he pledged to work together with all Tanzanians regardless of their tribal, religious, political and racial beliefs towards making Tanzania an economically independent country.

“The elections are over. Let’s now join hands in completing flagship projects and launching new ones, accelerating the fight against corruption and embezzlement of public funds, fighting poverty and creating jobs,” he said.

Magufuli also pledged to protect the country’s natural resources, including minerals, marine resources, forests, wildlife and livestock for the benefit of Tanzanians.

He also promised to continue bolstering relations with foreign countries and international organizations.

ELIMINATION OF INVESTMENT HURDLES

On Nov. 13, President Magufuli inaugurated the 12th parliament and pledged to remove hurdles that faced investors wishing to do business in the east African nation.

Magufuli announced he was moving the Tanzania Investment Center from the Prime Minister’s Office to his office to make it more vibrant.

“All officials that are implicated in frustrating investors will face the music,” said Magufuli, adding that the private sector was an engine of the economy and he intended to make Tanzania a friendly investment destination.

He invited the private sector, both domestic and foreign, to invest in the country’s agriculture, tourism, fisheries and mining sectors.

COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND HEAVY RAINS

Like other countries across the world, Tanzania was not spared from the COVID-19 pandemic and the country experienced hard times.

However, the government took several measures to combat the disease, including the release of fund for procurement of preventive and curative equipment.

Other measures included the granting of tax exemptions to 15 types of medical supplies for fighting COVID-19, educating the citizens on personal protection from infection and allocating specific quarantine facilities for all travelers arriving from outside the country.

The Bank of Tanzania took various actions to intensify accommodative monetary policy measures in order to cushion the economy from the impact of COVID-19.

The central bank said the country’s economy continued to perform satisfactorily despite spillover effects from the global economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank said in a statement that its monetary policy committee assessment of the performance and outlook of the economy showed that the economy grew at the projected 5.5 percent in 2020.

In 2020, Tanzania experienced above average rainfall which caused floods in different areas, killing scores of people. The floods destroyed crops, properties and infrastructure including roads, railways and bridges.

A LOWER-MIDDLE INCOME COUNTRY

On July 1, the World Bank categorized Tanzania as a lower-middle income country after the country made economic reforms, including making consistent plans and taking hard decisions aimed at improving its economic development.

“Discipline in financial expenditure and the prevailing peace and tranquility also helped the country to earn the lower middle income status from the World Bank,” said Hassan Abbasi, the chief government spokesperson.

Tanzania had planned to gain the middle income status in 2025.

Abbasi said other values that made the east African nation to earn the lower middle income status included the reinforcement of the leadership ethics, the implementation of flagship projects and investment in human development.

Responding to the World Bank’s announcement, President Magufuli tweeted and commended his fellow Tanzanians for the achievement.

“We had envisaged achieving this status by 2025 but with strong determination this has been possible in 2020,” Magufuli wrote in the tweet.

Tanzania on 2019 recorded an economic growth of seven percent, making the country one of the fastest growing economies in Africa.

Tanzania is the second largest economy in East Africa and became the second East African Community member state to achieve the lower middle-income status after Kenya.

In 2020, the government continued to undertake implementation of flagship projects, including the standard gauge railway, the Julius Nyerere 2,115 megawatts hydropower station, revival of Air Tanzania Company Limited, construction and rehabilitation of ports and airports, building of roads and bridges and relocation of government headquarters from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.

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