NORWEGIAN government has pledged 56 million US dollar (about 127bn/-) financial support to development projects in Tanzania, President John Magufuli revealed yesterday.
Dr Magufuli disclosed the good news in Dar es Salaam at the end of his closed-door meeting with Norway’s Minister for International Development Nikolai Astrup at the State House.
Mr Astrup is in the country on a four-day official visit.
Norway is one of Tanzania’s major development partners, having supported many projects in energy sector through the Rural Energy Agency (REA), infrastructure and agriculture as well as strengthening revenue collection systems at the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA).
The Scandinavian nation has as well provided funds to improve capacity building for graduate women engineers to enable them acquire the mandatory practical training to qualify for registration with the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) of Tanzania.
“Norway has been a close partner of Tanzania even before independence; we have assured each other of continued bi-lateral relations between the two countries. I have extended my gratitude to his government for the support they have been granting us,” the president said.
And, given Tanzania’s strategic geographical position in the East African region coupled with political stability, Dr Magufuli encouraged the visiting Norwegian Minister to inspire more investors from Oslo to Dar es Salaam.
President Magufuli specifically cited existing investment potentials, citing the proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project in Lindi in which a Norwegian gas and oil multinational Equinor, formerly Statoil, is among partners in the mega project.
The Tanzanian leader was highly optimistic that the Norwegian fertiliser manufacturing giant, Yara, will continue with its investments in Tanzania to produce quality and affordable fertilisers for the country’s 70 per cent population which depend on agriculture.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Astrup praised the government for the purge on corruption and enhanced revenue collections, which have played a critical role in uplifting the economy.
The visiting minister assured President Magufuli that his government will continue to support the government of Tanzania to realise the envisaged industrialised middle-income economy by 2025.
Earlier, President Magufuli met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki at the State House. Mr Mbeki currently chairs the African Union’s (AU) High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa. The Mbeki led panel is charged with addressing illicit financial flows from Africa through money laundering, corruption, looting and illegal trade in the continent.
The former leader of Africa’s economic powerhouse, speaking after his meeting with President Magufuli, said the panel had obtained crucial details on efforts by the Tanzanian government in tackling illicit financial flows through mining contracts and corruption, which remain a daunting challenge in many African countries.
“It is of no doubt that efforts undertaken in Tanzania ought to be emulated by other countries in Africa…President Magufuli has spoken well on how African countries are losing trillions through illicit flow. We Africans need to come together to tackle illegal flows of finances from our countries,” Mr Mbeki, one of the highly respected former African leaders, commented.
President Magufuli congratulated Mr Mbeki for chairing the panel, pledging Tanzania’s maximum support to eradicate illicit financial flows from Africa and stop plundering of natural resources from the continent.
“I hereby advise that your team should spend ample time in Tanzania so that it can receive more details from government leaders and experts in institutions against illicit financial flows,” Dr Magufuli urged Mr Mbeki.
The Global Financial Integrity’s (GFI) report of 2014 indicated that African countries lose an estimated 1.4 trillion US dollars annually through illicit financial transactions, translating to a staggering 95 trillion dollars during the past 50 years.
According to the international report, Tanzania alone was estimated to have been duped of 19 billion dollars during the past 40 years.
The illegal funds are lost through dubious contracts entered between governments and fraudulent investors, under declaration of profits aimed at evading taxes, tax avoidance practices and inflating investment and operation costs to avoid payment of requisite taxes.
The meetings at the State House yesterday were also attended by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation Dr Damas Ndumbaro, Deputy Minister for Agriculture Omary Mgumba and Norwegian Ambassador in Tanzania Elisabeth Jacobsen.