Tanzanian president sees bright future for relations with Turkey 2010-02-18 http://pambazuka.org/en/category/africa_china/62356 Speaking to Turkish journalists ahead of a four-day official visit to Turkey, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete has highlighted hopes that his trip will result in increased commercial and cultural ties. Kikwete will travel to Ankara and İstanbul this week upon the invitation of President Abdullah Gül. Ahead of the visit, Kikwete received Turkish journalists at the presidential palace in Dar es Salaam, where the Tanzanian president noted that bilateral relations with Turkey had developed significantly since Gül visited the African nation last year. He expressed hope that his own trip would give further impetus to this process. Inviting the Turkish business community to invest in Tanzania, Kikwete said: Well be waiting in Tanzania for businessmen who want to benefit from the quota and customs-free trade opportunities my country offers with both the United States and the European Union. Looking ahead to his planned visit, the president commented on the agenda for the trip. Were going to meet with both the president and the prime minister, and were going to sign around four or five agreements. I think that during my visit our relations will see some serious development. And Im very much looking forward to seeing İstanbul, he said. I think we have done all that is required to be done to increase this momentum [following Güls visit]. After the presidents visit, the Turkish Embassy was opened, and the ambassador came -- thats the biggest thing you can do to give momentum to the growth of the relationship between two countries. At the same time, there were many exchanges and visits by ministers and officials both from Turkey and Tanzania. I think the next biggest step will be my visit to Turkey. Again this will add momentum to the development of our relationship, Kikwete said. Speaking about the aims of the trip, the president said boosting bilateral relations was the primary goal. And thats why we expect to sign some agreements that are going to strengthen these relations. As Tanzania and Turkey, first of all we are trying to develop our political relations. Our relations are good, but the visit will make them better. Discussing areas of cooperation and where we can support each other in the international arena will be another topic. One of the other areas is, of course, economic relations. We want to see more investment from Turkey and Turkish businessmen. We want them to come, visit and invest in Tanzania, and we also want to increase trade, he said. Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete will pay an official visit to Turkey on Thursday. Kikwete described the trade volume between the two nations, which stands at an annual $60 million, as too little, saying: We can do more and much better than that. Tanzania has things to sell Turkey, and Turkey has things to sell Tanzania. So I think this is an area which wed like to see discussed seriously to come to an understanding to promote investment between our countries. ECONOMIC CRISIS CAN LEAD TURKISH BUSINESSPEOPLE TO TANZANIA Asked what potential Tanzania had to offer Turkish businesspeople looking for new opportunities in the wake of the global economic crisis, Kikwete emphasized the myriad options available in his country, highlighting in particular its natural resources. Tanzania is strong in the mining sector. We have gold, cobalt, iron... We have every mineral that exists on earth. Tanzania has every kind of mine, and there are plenty of them. Uranium, gold, diamond, coal, nickel... Everything is here. Mining is an area in which there really is great opportunity, he said, noting that raw materials abound in Tanzania. I know Turkey is strong in the textile industry. We produce a lot of cotton, for example, but it needs to be processed. Turkish businesspeople can come and invest in the textile sector here, producing all sorts of textiles. All they need to do is come and prepare products for sale, he said, indicating that the manufacturing and processing sectors were ripe with opportunity. We have plenty of raw materials, agricultural raw materials, he said. These are among the other areas Turks may be interested in investing in. You can conduct any kind of agriculture in Tanzania. We have the asset of 46 million of hectares of agricultural area, but only 5 million hectares are being utilized now. If we could get at least another 5 million hectares in use, [this would be a major opportunity]. Kikwete highlighted Tanzanias advantageous position with regard to trade agreements, saying: Due to quota-free agreements, the US and EU markets, Japan, China, Australia -- all the biggest markets of the world are open to us. At the same time, Tanzania is a member of the Eastern African Community [EAC -- Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi]. With a population of 140 million, this in itself is a great opportunity, he said. We have the ability to export to the EU and the US without quotas or duties. The EU and the US are waiting for products to arrive from us. At the same time, we, the five nations of the East African Community, signed an agreement to ensure the customs-free circulation of products among ourselves. That is to say, someone investing in Tanzania doesnt just have access to our population of 43 million, but also has the opportunity to sell products without paying customs to five countries and a total 140 million people, he said. Kikwete also noted the advantageous position of the Port of Dar es Salaam, pointing to its status as a regional transit hub for import and export activity. TURKS ARE GOOD TOURISTS AND EDUCATORS Kikwete praised Turkey, calling it a nation advanced in education, science and research. He said both countries stand to gain much from improved bilateral relations. The Tanzanian head of state noted the importance of the work of Turkish companies, especially Turkish-run schools, in the development of ties, describing the Feza Schools groups work in particular as exemplary. I think Feza Schools are amongst the best schools in Tanzania. On past exams, 31 of their students scored very well, and none of their graduates fail the examinations. Next year they are planning to open a university, which is very much welcomed, he said, noting that the group is currently searching for a suitable location. If we can have more and more of these schools, our children will receive a better education. Kikwete also said cultural and educational exchange had enhanced Turkish-Tanzanian relations. We have a number of people who have studied in Turkey. Ministers, parliamentarians... They are adding good value to the two countries relations. Inviting the Turkish public to travel to his country, Kikwete said: We have many tourist attractions in Tanzania. The people of Turkey are good tourists. So I would like to see the Turkish people making Tanzania one of their important tourism destinations. There is so much to see and enjoy in Tanzania, something very different from what the Turkish people are used to seeing. There are big opportunities in the tourism sector. We have great parks and beaches here -- what is required is more hotels and more operating businesses, he said, encouraging investment in the Tanzanian tourism industry. Speaking about the activities of Turkish firms, the president described Turkish Airlines (THY) plans to begin flights to Dar es Salaam as a positive development. That means more tourism, which means improved relations, he said. TANZANIA: AN ISLAND OF DEMOCRACY IN AFRICA African countries are mostly known to Turkish audiences for conflicts or frequent coups. Located in East Africa and on the coast of the Indian Ocean, Tanzania is not like other African countries in many respects. With its long experience of stable democracy and respect for diversity, Tanzania stands out in its region. Dozens of ethnic groups and practitioners of different religions live in peace and harmony in Tanzania. Although Muslims and Christians account for roughly one-third of the population each, there is no all-Christian or all-Muslim political party. All political parties have members from different religions or tribes. Tanzanias President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, who is Muslim, will pay an official visit to Turkey on Thursday. Five bilateral agreements are expected to be signed during his visit, which comes after President Abdullah Güls trip to Tanzania last year. Kikwete is scheduled to meet with both Gül and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan during his stay. Accompanying Kikwete on his trip are 55 businessmen who will meet with 300 Turkish businessmen at a Turkey-Tanzania Business Forum to be organized by the Turkish Confederation of Businessmen and Industrialists (TUSKON) on Saturday in an effort to seek opportunities to boost the annual trade volume between the two countries, which currently stands at around $60 million. Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, Minister of Industry, Trade and Marketing Mary Nagu and Zanzibar Tourism, Trade and Investment Minister Samia Suluhu will attend the forum. The Tanzanian delegation will perform Friday prayer in Sultanahmet (at the Blue Mosque) and visit the Eyüp Sultan Mosque in İstanbul. Kikwete will be accompanied by his wife and will be presented with an honorary doctorate by Fatih University for his contributions to the development of bilateral relations. Kikwete has high hopes for the potential of Turkish investment in his resource-rich country, including in the agricultural, mining and textile sectors. Tanzania is currently constructing production centers in free trade zones near its ports, a sign of increased investment in the country as both China and India have thrown their hats into the ring, eager to take advantage of Tanzanias relative stability and abundance of resources. Kikwete is aware of the achievements of students attending the countrys four Turkish schools and has an active interest in plans for a Turkish university to open. Turkish-Tanzanian relations have recently been solidifying: Turkish Ambassador to Tanzania Şander Gürbüz has started work in the newly opened embassy, and with Turkish Airlines (THY) recently launching direct flights to Dar es-Salaam, Tanzania has the potential to become a cornerstone of Turkeys African initiative. By Emrah Ülker BROUGHT TO YOU BY PAMBAZUKA NEWS * Emrah Ülker is Mananging editor of Today's Zaman. This article was first published on Feburary 18, 2010. * Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or comment online at Pambazuka News.