As national interests turn to the marketplace, Tanzania's diplomacy has shifted toward establishing strong commercial and diplomatic ties with strategic economic partners.

Beginning in 1995, “economic diplomacy" transformed the engine driving Tanzania's politics. This new approach reflected a growing consensus that economics plays a critical role in the international balance of power. Whereas the first decades following Tanzania's independence were marked by international liberation movements that fought against colonialism and settler-colonialism under former President Julius Nyerere, Dar Es Salaam is now a center for international organizations and financial institutions, rather than a de facto headquarters for exiled socialist governments and revolutionary groups. After breaking ties with Israel following the 1973 October War, Tanzania became the second African country to establish a direct connection with El Al, Israel's national airline, in 2014. With tourism accounting for around 25% of Tanzania's foreign-exchange earnings, image is everything and diplomacy is at the forefront of the country's international projection.

Economic diplomacy deals with the nexus of power and wealth in international and domestic affairs. For Tanzania, this nexus is the marketplace, and power is derived from economic growth and FDI. Where ideological or security concerns used to form diplomatic agendas, access to markets and investments now concern Tanzania's diplomats. In this context, financial allocation generates real political outcomes as politicians maneuver to accommodate capital flows.

However, this pragmatic prioritization of national interests does not indicate that Tanzania has abandoned its idealist roots. To the contrary, the country's economic diplomacy is built around seven core values that transcend financial interests and prioritize universal rights and norms. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MOFAIC), diplomacy prioritizes the “sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of the United Republic of Tanzania." And while this principle upholds the centrality of the nation state, the statement of purpose adds that Tanzania's foreign policy must uphold universal human rights as well. These are outlined as the defense of freedom, human rights, justice, and democracy. More concretely, the MOFAIC promotes African unity, economic cooperation, non-alignment, and support for the UN. By 2020, Tanzania also plans to increase its number of embassies abroad from 32 in 2011 to 50.


Tanzania's liberal transformation of international relations mirrors the path of many states in the post-Washington Consensus era; however, its internal politics warrant a closer look as well. Tanzania is governed as a universal presidential republic, with HE Jakaya Kikwete currently serving as its fourth president since independence. The president of Tanzania functions as the head of state, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the head of the government. The government is broken down into a multi-party system where legislative authority is vested in the National Assembly of Tanzania. Currently, both the presidency and the majority of the seats in the national assembly are held by members of the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM). The CCM—and its predecessor, TANU—has been in power since the country's independence in 1961. Along with the main opposition party, the Civic United Front (CUF), the CCM has presided over a period of remarkable stability.

One nuance of this arrangement is a unique power-sharing agreement with Zanzibar. As of a 2010 referendum, Tanzania has two vice-presidential seats, which reduces political tensions between Zanzibar's rival parties. In addition, Zanzibar has its own 81-member House of Representatives, which controls local legislation.

Up next are the 2015 general elections where Tanzanians will chose the fifth president, members of parliament, and local government. President Kikwete has served the maximum two terms, and the race is on to succeed him. Also in the pipeline for 2015, the country will vote on a new constitution that bolsters women's legal status within society through land rights, the ability to bestow citizenship to their children, equal employment rights, and maternity leave. In terms of the political representation of women, some 75 seats in the 324-member national parliament are reserved for women, with these seats being allocated by the political parties according to their share of the national vote, the president, and by the Zanzibar House of Representatives.


The country's diplomatic goals are strategically pursued in a number of ways. Tanzania commits itself to forging international partnerships, redefining bilateral diplomacy, strengthening multilateral diplomacy, and enhancing regional peace and security. These goals are economically pursued through participation and leadership in important regional economic and non-economic groups such as, the African Union, the UN, the East African Community (EAC), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC), and numerous NGOs.

A cursory overview of the country's diplomatic efforts over the last year shows just how internalized this ethos has become. In 2015-2016, the country plans to raise up to $1 billion through the issuance of Eurobonds, signaling integration into the global market place. By issuing such units, Tanzania binds itself to sound macro-economic policies and, essentially, monetizes its decades of stability. Turning to statecraft, Tanzania emerged as the mediator during the 2014 escalation of violence between South Sudan's warring factions. In October 2014, rival factions from the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) agreed to talks mediated by the Tanzanian government to help resolve a nearly yearlong conflict. Now with two decades of multi-party democracy, and consistent growth—5.9% average GDP growth between 2000 and 2010—Tanzania is doing everything that it can to make sure that international business is on board. One area that requires foreign financing is Tanzania's untapped natural gas reserves—reaching a potential 44 billion m3. In late 2014, a team led by Dr. Adelhelm Meru, the Director General of Tanzania's Export Processing Zones Authority, met with a coterie of US officials and businessmen where they promoted the investment opportunities that Tanzania has to offer. A largely agrarian country, Tanzania requires significant investments in offshore exploration, pipelines, and other development ventures before it will be able to capitalize on its natural resources. To seal the deal, economic free zones and slashed bureaucracy zones send a clear message to international investors that betting on Tanzania is a smart decision. The pitch seems to be working. According to the Wall Street Journal, Coca-Cola plans to invest $5 billion over six years, and other investments include $2 billion from General Electric, and around $300 million from Proctor & Gamble.

And should US investors snooze, others might seize the window of opportunity for example, Chinese investors who have been making economic inroads for decades. Relations between Tanzania and China reach back to the Cold War, when both countries were bastions of socialism. Even though both states have now embraced market capitalism, the precedent for cooperation has stood. In 2013, bilateral trade reached $3.7 billion, an increase of 49% over 2012. As of 2014, over 500 Chinese companies are operation in Tanzania, and when Chinese President Xi Jinping visited African in 2013, Tanzania was his first stop. According to the MOFAIC, Chinese business interests in the country are responsible for over 150,00 local jobs. With these statistics, it is no wonder that Tanzanian diplomats are seeking to emulate this success with other international partners. According to the Tanzania National Road Agency, over the past 10 years, 14 Chinese companies have undertaken 58 road construction projects totaling 3,140 kilometers at a cost of $1.75 billion. During the month of March 2013, Dodoma and Beijing signed 17 deals worth $13.35 billion, which will cover many strategic economic areas. Sustained economic growth, in addition to enhancing the lives of Tanzania's citizens, will also empower the country's nascent business class. This bodes well for the future, because it signals a continuation of polices and tactics that are enhancing the status of Tanzania.