News / Africa

US-China Competition Plays Out in Tanzania

US-China Competition Plays Out in Tanzaniai
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June 30, 2013 6:41 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Tanzania as the last stop of his African tour, underscores a silent competition with China to tap the country’s growing economic potential. VOA East Africa correspondent Gabe Joselow has more from Dar es Salaam.
US-China Competition Plays Out in Tanzania
Gabe Joselow
U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Tanzania as the last stop of his African tour, underscores a silent competition with China to tap the country’s growing economic potential.

It’s always a hard day’s work at the Kivukoni fish market in Dar es Salaam.  This place was once the center of business and trade in the city by the sea.  But that has all changed.  Tanzania’s economy has a 7% growth rate and the country is quickly developing.  Competition to get into the market is heating up.

Chinese companies are already at the forefront, leading construction of buildings and infrastructure.

The most frequently used words and phrases in President Obama's speech in Cape Town on June 30, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.netThe most frequently used words and phrases in President Obama's speech in Cape Town on June 30, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
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The most frequently used words and phrases in President Obama's speech in Cape Town on June 30, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
The most frequently used words and phrases in President Obama's speech in Cape Town on June 30, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
But the United States is also looking for a stronger foothold, a priority emphasized by U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the country.

Lead economist for the World Bank in Tanzania Jacques Moriset says the competition can be a good thing. “In my view, it’s a benefit, it’s a huge opportunity for Tanzania, I mean I strongly believe in the basic principle of economy: competition is good.  Of course competition has to go with transparency which is the main challenge now," he said.

The most frequently used words and phrases in Chinese President Xi Jinping's is from a speech he gave in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 25, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.netThe most frequently used words and phrases in Chinese President Xi Jinping's is from a speech he gave in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 25, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
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The most frequently used words and phrases in Chinese President Xi Jinping's is from a speech he gave in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 25, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
The most frequently used words and phrases in Chinese President Xi Jinping's is from a speech he gave in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on March 25, 2013. Courtesy of wordle.net
China and the United States have a very different approach to aid and investment.  When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Tanzania in March he emphasized his country would always offer assistance with no political strings attached.

American public investment however, is often tied to economic and political reforms.

Rehema Twalib, head of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) office in Tanzania, says what is really important is that any reform helps the population. "Good governance is a good ingredient for development, we’ve just seen it. If you have transparent policies, you make your citizens participate in programs they feel like they own them, it’s good. If you have predictable policies, it’s good for investors," he said.

China and the U.S. both have an eye on Tanzania’s natural resources, with U.S. companies in particular showing an interest in natural gas and oil exploration.

But growth in that sector rarely translates into jobs or any great improvement in the lives of citizens.

It is the hope of businesses here that new investment will bring with it a transfer of skills and knowledge.

Bhakti Shah is the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Tanzania. “When you look at the U.S. government, it is the engine of the private sector so all the intellectual knowledge that the U.S. government has we hope that Tanzania will benefit from, that is how to have a booming private sector," he said.

The United States has downplayed any competition with China for access to African markets, but it is falling behind in the numbers.

China says it is trading nearly $200 billion a year with Africa, which is about twice as much as the United States.

As African economies become among the fastest growing in the world, we will see if the U.S. can get itself a stronger foothold.

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by: joezhifu from: Singapore
July 01, 2013 2:55 AM
My estimate is that the future of growth between Africa and China will grow four times faster than Africa and USA. Just my feeling.

by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 30, 2013 8:05 PM
Yes, I believe, in a long term perspective, the most important and probably the most effective ways of investmment for supplyers to get benefits are to offer skills and knowledges to receivers to be able to stand on their own feet in future.

by: janet2312 from: Arizona
June 30, 2013 7:59 PM
"The hand of who gives is always on top," it is said. This is one reason, why Africa should shun aid and pursue business and investment partnerships.

Business ventures and partnerships clearly specify upfront that it is a business relationship, and partners agree to participate based on their satisfaction with the estimated returns to each party involved. Aid on the other hand gives you assistance either as charity or concessional loans on one hand, and takes it back many times over, directly and indirectly.

First, aid benefactors blatantly ask you to adopt their ways of life in other to benefit from their funding. That I must wear different clothes, change my religion, tell me who to marry or not to marry, before you give me help is blatantly disrespectful and undemocratic. That is definitely, a slave-master mentality and should not resisted with all the might of the people. Aid therefore leaves you humiliated and must be shunned.

Secondly, aid surreptitiously leaves you less well off and perpetually dependent on aid by design. One, aid programs incorporate technical experts whose salaries and benefits take a large chunk of the aid funds, and these monies are paid into their accounts in their home countries from the aid account. This means that a large proportion of the aid does not benefit the recipients economy. Two, when aid programs and projects end, they often fail ( among other things, because of inadequate local involvement in planning and implementation, including poor training of local counterpart personnel by technical assistance experts) and these make new cases for another round of aid. In addition, aid is used to finance machinery and equipment from manufacturers in the aid givers' home or their global suppliers. Then, aid recipients have to draw on their foreign reserves for many years after the projects are completed to meet operational supplies. These are issues with aid that are well documented.

In summary, aid breeds humiliation and dependence, and Africa should seek investment and business partnerships.
In Response

by: joezhifu from: Singapore
July 01, 2013 2:56 AM
man I agree. It is so sad to have to beg and be told how to beg.

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