From Rwanda News : As a region we should all be celebrating the 'new' Tanzania - Wazalendo 25 Blog


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22 May 2016

From Rwanda News : As a region we should all be celebrating the 'new' Tanzania

By: Allan Brian Ssenyonga
These are very interesting times for those who enjoy following events concerning the East African region.
Although the region has five countries with South Sudan slowly making its way as the sixth, a lot of focus remains around Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Rwanda always has a good story, while in Tanzania everything President Magufuli does is news. Kenya and Uganda have enough political drama to last decades so news stories from there are never in short supply. Burundi seems to have gone off the radar with the solving of its political crisis taking on a snail speed.
What I found more interesting is the sudden panic that some Kenyans are expressing after learning that Uganda has decided to work with Tanzania regarding the issue of an oil pipeline from Hoima to the coast and that Rwanda is now looking at the Standard Gauge Railway that will connect them to the Tanzanian coast as opposed to the one going all the way to Kenya.
According to the voices online that I have seen, some Kenyans are interpreting this as the rise of Tanzania and the fall of Kenya as far as dominance of East Africa as a region is concerned. They argue that Tanzania has woken up and gotten its act together while Kenya is being held back by massive corruption and complacency from being the dominant economic power for ages.
This is obviously an interesting turn of events but I do not see why anyone should be very worried about it. Starting from a historical perspective, we need to remember that the economic gap between Kenya and Tanzania is essentially what led to the collapse of the original East African Community and so any kind of balance between the two countries should be treated as good news.
Uganda added fuel to the collapse when Idi Amin overthrew Nyerere’s buddy, Milton Obote. Tanzania quickly became a base for anti-Amin groups and therefore there was no way the community could hold for long under such a situation. However the economic imbalance is what made it most unstable.
Now that Tanzania seems to be getting its act together, I fail to understand why some Kenyans would be worried since this means the community as a whole will now be stronger. I know my Kenyan brothers and sisters enjoy their dominance in the region are never shy about it. We shop from their supermarkets, use their Kenya Airways (rather painfully) and even use their buses for cross border trips.
Also geographically, Rwanda and Burundi ought to be relying on Tanzania’s ports. Their use of Kenyan ports should only be seen as a desperate situation that needs to be corrected. Therefore a shift towards Tanzania is a natural one for a country like Rwanda. Kenya will still be dominant and do business with Rwanda and Uganda.
At this moment we should all be focusing on how to fix our economies and grow them big enough to take on neighbours like Ethiopia, SADC countries and DRC. Instead of worrying about the fate of the Kenyan Standard Gauge Railway we should all be thinking of what more we can produce to ensure that the railway from Kenya and the one from Tanzania are all kept busy.
This growth should happen in many other sectors that Kenya has dominated for ages. Tourism is a good example. When the sector improves in other East African communities then we are in a better position to market the whole region as a single destination. Let us all put in our fair share of work to see a more prosperous East African Community.
Ironically, the same people who are always complaining that Tanzania is slow are the ones now expressing worry over developments in Tanzania. I often prefer to be optimistic. With a pipeline from Uganda to Tanga in Tanzania and a Standard Gauge Railway connecting Rwanda, Burundi and DRC, Tanzania will certainly have more reason to dedicate more time and resources to the EAC project as opposed to focusing on the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
This is not the time for sibling rivalry but a time for all of us to fold our sleeves and get to work. As an East African I am very sure that a better Tanzania is good news for every other East African. So Kenyans should stop whining and get back to making East African great again, if I can borrow a phrase from an infamous person right now.

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