On Thursday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris visited Tanzania as part of a tour of Africa to enhance ties with a region where China and Russia are gaining influence. While there, she announced intentions to increase commerce with and investment in Tanzania.
Harris began her journey in Ghana on Sunday before traveling late on Wednesday to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s business hub, where she met President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday.
Before engaging in a lengthy round of private conversations, the two women made brief statements to the media.
“Working together, it is our shared goal to increase economic investment in Tanzania and strengthen our economic ties,” Harris said, listing a number of initiatives.
These included an updated Memorandum of Understanding between the Tanzanian government and the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM).
This will make it possible for American businesses to export goods and services to Tanzania in a variety of industries, including infrastructure, transportation, digital technology, climate and energy security, and power production, for up to $500 million in finance.
Harris also noted a new relationship in cybersecurity and 5G technologies, as well as LifeZone Metals’ plans to build a new processing facility in Tanzania for the minerals used in EV batteries.
“This project is an important and pioneering model, using innovative and low-emission standards. Importantly, raw minerals will soon be processed in Tanzania, by Tanzanians,” she said, adding that the plant would deliver battery-grade nickel to the United States and the global market from 2026.
China has made significant investments in Africa over the past two decades, and the Tanzanian president visited President Xi Jinping of China in November when on a formal visit to Beijing.
The leaders agreed to “elevate two-way commerce and significantly boost the trade volume,” and China said it will consider opening its market to additional Tanzanian products. Trade and investment occupied a significant portion of their agenda.
President Hassan stated on Thursday that her “most important desire” was to streamline the visa procedure between Tanzania and the United States since both nations would gain from a “long duration visa” that would boost trade and tourism.
After a period of isolationism imposed by her predecessor John Magufuli, who canceled all of his ministers’ overseas trips and discouraged travel, Tanzania has resumed its international involvement under Hassan.
After Magufuli, who passed away in power in 2021, had suspended political rights, she has received appreciation from all around the world.
“Madam President, under your leadership Tanzania has taken important and meaningful steps and President Joe Biden and I applaud you,” Harris said, standing alongside Hassan.
Magufuli had imposed restrictions on Tanzania’s LGBT population, outlawed political rallies by anybody other than elected officials, and detained numerous sympathizers of the opposition. Also, he disapproved of COVID-19 vaccines and exhorted Tanzanians to trust in prayer and alternative therapies like steam inhalation.
Upon becoming office, Hassan changed the laws, and earlier this month Tanzania reached the landmark of having fully immunized 50% of its people against the coronavirus.
Human rights organizations, however, claim that violations persist, including government targeting of internet media sites. A number of children’s books were also removed from classrooms last month by Hassan’s minister of education due to allegations that they encouraged homosexuality.
Harris will stay in Tanzania until Friday, when she will leave for Zambia, the last leg on her journey. Harris is the most prominent American official to visit an African nation recently.
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