On a date like today’s – December 14 – Tanganyika joined the United Nations in 1961, five days after becoming ‘independent’ from British Trusteeship on December 9, 1961. It was also the UN that had entrusted administration of the territory to Britain in 1946. Before that, Tanganyika was administratively mandated to Britain by the UN’s precursor, the League of Nations, beginning on July 20, 1922.
Tanganyika then became a republic within the British Commonwealth of Nations on December 9, 1962 – and teamed up with Zanzibar in a historic move on April 26, 1964 to become the United Republic of Tanzania, and a UN member as a single nation-state. But, while the country’s political life has been relatively secure and stable, Tanzania is yet to make an indelible mark on the world map of all-inclusive, sustainable socioeconomic development – as is the case for upper middle or high-income countries of the world.
We have in mind here, for example, far-eastern countries dubbed the Asian (Economic) Tigers. These are (with their nominal GDP in 2019 shown in brackets) South Korea ($1.64 trillion); Taiwan ($635.5 billion); Hong Kong ($372.9 billion), and Singapore ($337.45 billion).
By comparison, Tanzania’s nominal GDP in 2019 was a relatively measly $62.2 billion. When one takes into consideration the fact that the incomes of these five nations were more-or-less at par in the early 1960s, then it becomes quite clear that Tanzania must be missing out on something or other in the socioeconomic development stakes.
But, we hastily add that this is not for lack of trying on Tanzania’s part. The country has over the years been regularly coming up with some admittedly visionary development programmes intended to bring about meaningful economic growth on the lines of the Asian Economic Tigers.
Development programmes and strategies
These have included short- and long-term development programmes and strategies that defy enumeration here. Then there is the mother of them all: the National Development Vision 2025 that envisages a semi-industrialised, middle-income Economy by 2025.
Indeed, Tanzania was declared a lower-middle income nation by the World Bank on July 1, 2020 – having passed the minimum annual threshold of $1,036 gross national income (GNI) per capita in 2019, rising to $1,080.
But, this is still a far cry from the likes of the Asian Economic Tigers – to say nothing of relatively phenomenal economic powerhouses the likes of the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the UK and India. We are nonetheless gratified by recent infrastructural and other socioeconomic developmental projects under the fifth-phase government of President John Magufuli, in power since November 5, 2015.
But, even grassroots-level projects that bolster and otherwise enhance general income generation and economic development are also most welcome.
One such recent example are the joint efforts by the Tanzania Trade Development Authority (TanTrade), the International Trade Centre and the University of Dar es Salaam’s Business School to improve the quality of domestic products to international standards so as to functionally tap the vast global/export market opportunities.
As we reported in yesterday’s edition, such a move would motivate and improve our entrepreneurs, both old and new – thereby putting the private sector at the frontline in the battle for all-inclusive socioeconomic development.