Perspectives from Africa,
engagement from Finland

Understanding Africa

Representing Africans


Fireworks at Kansalaistori Square, Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

Fireworks in Helsinki, to celebrate a century of Finnish independence (Photo: Finland 100)

East African ties to technology and trade in Tanzania

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen recently led a business delegation of 27 companies to Tanzania. The companies involved operate internationally in the fields of energy, infrastructure construction, logistics, the information society, extractive industry, education, health, and agriculture and forestry. Premier Katainen travelled to Tanzania to strengthen bilateral relations and trade as well as development links between the two governments.

Premier Katainen promotes collaboration and commerce in East AfricaThe Premier also sought to promote trade and business partnerships between Finnish and Tanzanian companies. The delegation included Finnish Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto, who conducted negotiations on cooperation for bilateral development with the Government of Tanzania.

The Premier made a short official visit to Zanzibar Island, but one of the most significant areas he visited was Dar es Salaam port, which is a trade link between East African countries and Europe.

As a keystone of the Tanzanian and East African economic development, the visit to Dar es Salaam Port was a priority. The port is currently serving various countries including Burundi, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, and Zambia.

In recognition of the economic importance of Dar es Salaam port, the government of Tanzania has included in the Big Results Now (BRN) initiative, which aims to speed development and bring impact within an agreed period.

Visiting a more modern port

Speaking during his visit at port, the Finnish premier said the port was a link between Finland and other countries in the region, which are landlocked countries. The Finnish Premier said he was happy with port modernisation initiatives and that his government was ready to give more support and expertise.

“Dar es Salaam port is important to Finland in many ways. It links trade between our country and the East African region and therefore the more reliable the port the more reliable the Finnish companies working here. I am also happy to find Finnish investments in the companies working here in the port,” said Mr Katainen, who was touring Dar es Salaam port alongside the European Union head of delegation in Tanzania, Ambassador Filiberto Sebregondi, as part of a two-day visit to the country to strengthen bilateral relations and trade and development links.

Finland supports Tanzanian ports development and operations - and partly finances Trade Mark East Africa, which also finances some expansion projects at the ports. In a bid to attract more business, the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) plans to improve performance of its main port, Dar es Salaam, and increase annual cargo traffic from 13.5 million tonnes in 2013 to 18 million tonnes by 2015. TPA port manager for Dar es Salaam, Awadh Massawe told Premier Katainen that the state-run firm will reach the target by modernising infrastructure and enhancing operational efficiency. Other measures include maximising spatial efficiency and strengthening institutional administration.

The delegation included Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto“We welcome investments from the private sector to develop our infrastructure and enhance the port operations. We are strengthening and deepening berths 1-7 as well as modernising bulk cargo handling,” Mr Massawe said. However, the port manager also appealed for financial assistance totalling to US$213.572 million for modernising berths 1 to 7. Other financial assistance requested includes: US$170 million for access channel and turning circle dredging; US$360 million for entrance channel dredging; US$1.5 million for a feasibility study for a proposed new port in the Mbwamaji area, and US$3 million for a feasibility study for an entrance channel and also for a geotechnical survey.

Ambassador Sebregondi said the EU was committed to being an active partner in dialogue and for support to the port of Dar es Salaam’s modernisation process.

On integration

Uongozi, which is an Institute of African Leadership for Sustainable Development organised a round table discussion, 'Bridging Africa’s Transformation Gap: What Africa and Europe need from each other'. At this point, the Finnish Premier said Africa and Europe were closer at recent years compared to past years. Elaborating the importance of  EU and how it has been facing challenges and successes, the Premier urged African countries to maintain integration and make the idea a way of living.

“In my opinion, Africa has already benefitted from integration. For example, political integration has given more credibility to African countries in international for a. Political integration brings stability and political integration boost growth and raise nations from poverty,” he said.

Commenting on economic growth, Premier Katainen observed that growth figures in Africa have been higher than in Europe, and that in the few past years it has recorded growth rates of around five per cent. The adoption of new technology, increasing stability and the growth of consumer markets are believed to be factors in the economic dynamism in the continent. The Premier elaborated that Africa was excelling well in the global trade flows and volume of trade between countries and regions in Africa.

“Industrialised countries have integrated their economies through trade and investment between themselves, allowing them to compete and to adjust to the opportunities and demand of global economy,” he said.

Finland's facilitation of trade in Africa

Finland is one of strongest supporters of trade with African countries. Its government and commercial institutions have built systems to facilitate business and economic connections between African and European countries. Prime Minister Katainen said, “Facilitating trade systems and helping developing countries form international and regional trade are long term aims of Finnish support.”

Pekka Haavisto talks trade in TanzaniaAccording to Premier Katainen, Finland has experienced significant benefits from integration in Africa, and hence it supports the East Africa community in its attempt to continue rapid economic growth. He added that Tanzania, with its geographical position, has the potential to benefit further from integration.
The Tanzanian Minister of State in the President’s Office (Special Duties), Prof Mark Mwandosya, who was representing Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda for this visit, at the end of January 2014, said both Africa and Europe are gaining equally from their relationship.

Prof Mwandosya remarked that there was good sign that Africa could become a middle income continent in the coming two decades, adding, “It is, therefore, the responsibility of African leaders to create strong strategies and stability to allow such prosperity.”

Giving a keynote address, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Mandela Institute for Development Studies (MINDS), Dr Nkosana Moyo, said it was high time for African countries to manage their resources and enable citizens to move forward. According to Dr Moyo, Western countries must give opportunity to African countries to move on their own. He said Africans should be given time to think and work on their ideas.

“It is time for Africans to stand on their own and act strongly, Western countries should give space to Africans, let them do mistakes in the process of bringing their own development,” said Dr Moyo.

Contributing to the topic, the Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Lu Youging, urged the international community to invest more in Africa, open international markets and create more jobs. And the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) Chairman, Mr Felix Mosha said Western countries should promote and support for equal trade ground so that it could be easy for African companies to open up and excel in Western markets.

Supporting innovation and education

Areas in which Finland has been supporting Tanzania include innovation and technology. Visiting at the University of Dar es Salaam and COSTECH, Finnish Minister for International Development, Mr Haavisto said Finland will continue working closely with Tanzania in these areas. He added that many Finnish companies were opening up in Tanzania for business and for technological collaboration.

Due to increases in the global population, there is increased use of technologies for environmental sustainability to meet demands for food production and marketing. Mr Haavisto noted that Finland is supporting the introduction of mobile agricultural technology that enables farmers to improve productivity in the country. This statement followed the Finnish Premier's participation in the signing of two Memorandums of Understanding in the Forestry and Mineral sectors during the visit to Tanzania.

“Today, we are talking about mobile agriculture where farmers can access information on food price and other agriculture related information through mobile phones, this will eventually boost both cash crop and food crops production in the country,” Mr Haavisto said.

Earlier, Tanzanian Minister for Education and Vocation Training Dr Shukuru Kawambwa had acknowledged Finland's support for the country’s education sector, including supporting innovation centres . Moreover, Tanzania Minister for Science and Technology, Professor Makame Mnyaa Mbarawa acknowledged that Finland has tirelessly supported innovation initiatives in the country and that, through Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), with support from Finland, many young innovators have managed to establish and run big and successful firms - including the innovators behind the development of the government's new revenue collection system.


Florence Mugarula