27 Sep 2011

Tanzania and the Open Government Partnership: What does it all mean?

Photo from the US State Department
Over in the US last week, Rakesh Rajani, the Head of one of Daraja's main partner organisations, Twaweza, shared a platform with someone who you might possibly have heard of, a certain Barack Obama. The Brazillian president, Dilma Rousseff, was also there, as were the Presidents of Mexico and South Africa, Felipe Calderon and Jacob Zuma. The Tanzanian government was also represented, though not in this picture. In case you don't know him, Rakesh is on the far right.

23 Sep 2011

Mchuchuma-Liganga: huge Chinese investment in Ludewa on the horizon

Parliamentarians at the Liganga site. Picture from Zitto Kabwe
Wednesday this week saw the signing of a major agreement for Tanzania between the National Development Corporation (NDC) and the Chinese company Sichuan Hongda. The agreement sets up a new company, Tanzania China International Mineral Resources Limited (TCIMR), to build a coal mine, iron ore mine, coal-fired power plant and steel works at the Liganga (iron ore) and nearby Mchuhuma (coal) in Ludewa district, just to the south of Njombe. The MPs Zitto Kabwe (the Parastatal Organisation Accounts Committee chair) and Deo Filikunjombe (the PAOC vice-chair and Ludewa MP) were present at the signing.

The CitizenThe GuardianDaily News and Mwananchi, all made this their front page lead on Thursday. Twitter also had some information, (mostly from @ZittoKabwe), though not all of it matches the newspaper articles, and Jamii Forums predictably also injected a note of scepticism.

21 Sep 2011

Corruption in literature - some great reads

The great MG Vassanji, author of many of the best East African novels, was in Tanzania recently, and has shared his thoughts on Tanzania in a fascinating piece published in the Canadian magazine Macleans - "Tanzania: land of constant complaints."

I'm not sure he has it quite right with the headline, since apathy, low expectations and just getting on with things are more my experience. An SNV study, for example, elicited a very different thought from a respondent: "What do we expect from our government? It is like the rain: if it does not rain we try to survive, when it rains we are grateful."

Otherwise, as Pernille argues, Vassanji has captured a changing Tanzania very well. And I can't argue with his litany of challenges facing Tanzania or his simply stated analysis "the problem is governance and corruption."

But this post is not supposed to be about Vassanji's article. It's supposed to be about great fiction on the theme of corruption, inspired in part by Transparency International's recent blogpost on the best movies featuring corruption.

19 Sep 2011

The Tanzanian media has had a bad crisis

It seems I wasn't entirely fair when I recently complained about the inaccuracy of a couple of photos circulating around Tanzania's social media scene following the tragic MV Spice Islander disaster. The mainstream media has done no better.

15 Sep 2011

Are our children learning?


Let's start with the good news. If you are a final year (St 7) Primary School student in Bukoba Urban, with parents who completed secondary education and who are not very poor, you went to pre-school and your family speaks Swahili at home, then you have a 95% chance of being able to completed Standard 2 level tests in Numeracy, Swahili and English.

And the bad news: If you are a St 7 student in Kibondo District, with parents who didn't themselves attend school and are poor, the chance of you being able to complete the same tests is only 9%.

11 Sep 2011

#ZanzibarBoatAccident and the Tanzanian media - failure all round?

The tragic events taking place in Zanzibar in the early hours of Saturday morning are a national disaster, and three days of mourning have rightly been declared. Our thoughts are with those who lost lives or lost loved ones. May their souls rest in peace.

The disaster raises questions about regulation of maritime transport and accountability, though it is too soon to reach firm conclusions on what went wrong and too soon to see whether people will be held to account.

But we can begin assessing how the media handled the 24 hours after the crisis broke.

6 Sep 2011

Suits, diplomatic ignorance and HakiElimu: More US cables on Tanzania released by Wikileaks

After my post last week on Wikileaks release of US Embassy Cables, it seems that the rather chaotic internal politics of Wikileaks led to a release of the final batch of cables over the weekend. So a brief update is in order.

Around 230 more cables relating to Tanzania were released over the weekend, bringing the total to over 700. And just to make things complicated, the most recent batch are not separated from the previously released cables, so looking through the new ones requires that you also look through all the old ones.

But let's get to the point. And there are three more points of particular interest that I have found in the new releases, as follows.