THE visit of Dr Augustine Mahiga, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation of the United Republic of Tanzania to Tehran is very important in several areas and has a great impact.
Tanzania and Zanzibar are known in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is due to the long history of the existence of the Shirazi people in this country and in East Africa as a whole. Along with the Shirazi, the Baluchi also migrated to Tanzania more than 150 years ago and the Iranian culture is still found in East Africa.
The Shirazi left behind their cultural history in Zan zibar, Bagamoyo, Kilwa and in many other coastal areas where there is the presence of more than 200 Persian words in Kiswahili. This shows the good interaction between the Shirazi and Tanzanians.
Relations between Iran and Tanzania were established after the Islamic Republic of Iran opened its embassy in Dar es Salaam in 1984. During this period the political relations between Dar es Salaam and Tehran have continued to grow to greater heights.
Tanzania was among the first countries to congratulate the Islamic Revolution of Iran and condemn Iraq’s aggression in Iran.
The cooperation between the two countries entered a new phase when Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (President of Iran at that time) visited Tanzania in 1985, holding of the Joint Permanent Commission, establishment of the Jihade Sazandegii Office in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.
During these years, there has been several delegations at different levels like the visit of former Tanzanian President Ali Hassan Mwinyi to Iran, the visit of Speakers of Parliaments of Tanzania and Zanzibar to Tehran and the visit of the Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Javad Zarif to Tanzania, the visit of the Iranian Deputy Minister of Cultural and Islamic Heritage to Dar es Salaam, and many other delegations.
Similarly, there was the visit of the Iranian navy to Tanzania, Iran strengthen existing relations Dar es Salaam port to bring a message of peace, friendship and maintenance of security in shipping lines, the holding of the Shirazi Cultural Week, and the presence of Iranian companies in some project in Tanzania– all show the mutual interest of cooperation.
Both countries have been active in regional and international organizations for maintaining mutual interest. Tanzania and Iran have so many areas of cooperation as the former is the most secure and peaceful country in Africa. Tanzania has embarked on the road to choosing flexible economic policies to encourage foreign investors and got the 9th rank among Africa countries.
Six years ago, Tanzania’s economy grew at 7 percent. Although Tanzania, like other African countries, depends on agriculture, President John Magufuli introduced the policy of industrialisation as per Vision 2025.
Within a short period, the government has taken bold measures to fight corruption, determination of free trade areas, developing the 1,200-km central railway line and the 1,400-km Hoima-Tanga oil pipeline as a way of promoting foreign investments.
Because of the good faith of Tanzanians towards Iranians, the government of Tanzania has been inviting Iranian companies to come and invest in various fields such as agriculture, fishing, irrigation, livestock development, engineering and vocational training, construction, small industries and health services.
Research shows that Iranian companies are responding well in these fields as they are competing with Turkey, China and other Western countries. Companies like Caspian, Mihan, Serengeti, and Moshavere have put up projects in Tanzania.
Good political relations, economic opportunities, and the activation of shipping lines between Bandar Abbas and Dar es Salaam are within the policy of developing export-oriented resilience.
•Mohammad Dehghani is the First Secretary of Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Dar es Salaam.