Samia Suluhu, Tanzania’s Head of State, is embarking on a diplomatic challenge, less than two months after her accession to power, replacing the late John Magufuli. This regional and international bet is explained by the multiplication of meetings and the signing of agreements.
Samia Suluhu brings a new breath to Tanzanian diplomacy. Less than two months after taking office, the head of state is making a name for herself with meetings with diplomats. This strategy announces the colour of Tanzanian diplomacy after the reign of the late John Magufuli.
A World Bank loan
In March this year, two days after taking office, Tanzania secured a loan of more than US$247 million to finance the implementation of phases 3 and 4 of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project in the city of Dar es Salaam, in the central-eastern part of the country. This third phase is expected to support the procurement of several buses and the implementation of phase 3, which will involve the construction of 23.6 km of road, while phase 4 will involve the paving of a total of 16.1 km. Separately, this first victory for Samia Suluhu was one of the harbingers of a new diplomatic era after the late Magufuli’s reign.
Signing of an oil agreement with Uganda
A month later, the 61-year-old President paid a working visit to Uganda during which she signed agreements with her counterpart Yoweri Museveni paving the way for the construction of the pipeline that will carry future Ugandan crude to a Tanzanian port on the Indian Ocean.
According to official sources, the project involves the exploitation of deposits discovered in 2006 in Uganda, in the Lake Albert region, and the transport of the oil through this pipeline at an estimated cost of 3.5 billion. In 2006, these large deposits were discovered in Uganda but not exploited due to commercial disputes between Entebbe and Dar-es-Salaam. After signing the agreements, Museveni and Suluhu « amicably resolved all outstanding issues related to the Eacop project », they said in a joint statement, adding that « each state will take all necessary measures for the implementation of the Eacop project ». The signing of the agreements between the heads of state has raised hopes of a new rapprochement between Tanzania and Uganda.
Rapprochement with Kenya
This week she signed a new agreement with Uhuru Kenyata to build a pipeline to bring Tanzanian gas to Kenya. « We have agreed on how to promote trade and investment between us. Our countries have a lot of potential in agriculture, industrialisation, fisheries, livestock and tourism. As we also aim to promote trade and investment, we agreed to act on some of the customs barriers between our borders. We have agreed to remove them, » said the Tanzanian President, during her visit to Nairobi.
For several decades, relations between Tanzania and Kenya had been cold. In 2016, the late John Magufuli refused to take part in the project to build a railway linking different countries in the Great Lakes region. This rapprochement with Kenya is one of the signs that Samia Suhulu wants to make her mark after the reign of her predecessor.