Interview: Federal Ministers Westerwelle and Niebel in the Tanzanian newspaper “The Citizen”

08.04.2010 - Interview

What will be the main issues that you will raise with the Tanzanian Government during your talks?

First of all the state of our bilateral relations: The relations between Germany and Tanzania are excellent. We have a long common history - with difficult moments like the colonial past but mainly periods of trustful and intense cooperation at all levels. Germany has been one of the first countries to start diplomatic relations with Tanganyika only months after independence. The United Republic of Tanzania has entertained good relations with both German states when we were divided and these strong ties have been further developed since German unification 20 years ago.
So I hope to discuss with H.E. President Jakaya Kikwete and the Foreign Minister, Hon. Bernard Membe, how we can further strengthen and deepen the ties between our two countries. One important element are the cultural relations, that we have intensified with the reopening of the German cultural centre, the Goethe Institute, almost two years ago. We will have the pleasure to inaugurate the new premises of the institute in Dar Es-Salaam.
But we will also exchange views on issues of common interest, as there are the challenges we face in the region - in particular the fight against piracy; on global challenges - like climate change; and of course the fight against poverty and the achievement of Tanzania's development goals in which we are supporting the country with our development cooperation.

Being a longstanding development partner I am going to review our development cooperation and discuss results we have achieved so far. We are seeing encouraging social development and progress e.g. in achieving overall education and a number of health sector targets. In addition, we will discuss opportunities to support and deepen ongoing reform process, e.g. reforms to create an enabling environment for the private sector and to facilitate Public-Private-Partnership initiatives.

Is Tanzania doing enough to properly use the donor assistance, especially from Germany? We are asking this in the background of a number of reports high indicate increasing level of corruption at high offices in the country. And: If you have closely followed Tanzanian’s crusade against corruption, what is your take on efforts taken by the government to deal with the vice?

While Tanzania is one of the better performing countries in the East African region, there is concern over a number of corruption cases. We Development Partners are addressing the issue of accountability and corruption and had several discussions with your Government on this very issue. We appreciate the introduction of the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau in 2007 as an independent public body and its effort to implement the Anti Corruption Strategy and Action Plan. The combination of investigation, preparation for prosecution with training of civil service, the private sector and public awareness building for the general public is to be commended. A strong, independent central auditor general, such as is under way in Tanzania, and his recommendations being implemented, is certainly crucial for fostering transparency.

What can Tanzania learn from Germany in the war against corruption?

Fighting corruption is a big challenge for all of us and on a global scale more important than ever before. What we really have learned in Germany during the last decades is firstly that anti-corruption is a long-term task and secondly that the participation of civil society and the media is a key element in detecting and preventing corruption. I strongly believe that Tanzania is on the right way and that we can also learn from each other.

In which way German is assisting Tanzania in her economic struggles?

First of all we have seen with relief that the Tanzanian economy - and in general most economies in Africa - have not been as badly affected by the world financial crisis has we had feared. Tanzania has recorded moderate growth in 2009. This is indeed good news.
As for our help, we are supporting Tanzania with approximately 50 Mio. EUR every year through our development cooperation. In addition we have been supporting the regional integration efforts in East Africa since it's very beginning in 1998. We believe, from our own experience in Europe, that regional integration is an appropriate way to help economies develop and thereby create prosperity for the people.

Of late there have been efforts to have East Africa region sign Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with Europe but some people, including former President Benjamin Mkapa have sounded warning that EPA is another form of Scramble for Africa. What is your take on that?

To be frank: I clearly do not share this view. I believe that the EPA is a opportunity for the EAC: it guarantees duty- and quota-free market access for all EAC products to the vast EU single market. The EPA are there to provide legal security for investors and businesses in the region and create a level playing field for all developing nations worldwide. This means: They will help increase foreign investment in the region. What the EU has been trying in its negotiations with our partners, including EAC countries, is to find a compromise between our intention to help African economies develop through preferential market access to Europe, and the requirements of an orderly world trade. You must also not forget that EPA also comes with substantial support packages, the so called “Aid for Trade” arrangements, that will help increase the competitiveness of EAC economies /through infrastructure investment – with Germany being the biggest donor. Between 2001 and 2008 EAC countries have received 13,4 bn EUR in aid from the EU.

I know that EPAs are much discussed and disputed. But they have to be considered to be an opportunity. EPAs shall build on and support regional integration efforts in the region. I believe we found solutions for critical problems such as sequencing and time frames for market opening or issues like infant industry protection. We succeeded in designing agreements that can initiate economic growth. The EU is granting completely free market access - after transition periods for sugar and rice. I am convinced that the East African Economy is able to grasp the opportunities that come up. However, the greatest potential lies in true regional and comprehensive agreements.

On Lake Tanganyika we have the MV Liemba, formerly known as Graf von Goetzen, an old German ship that needs reparation. Is the German government planning to support Tanzania in this?

Indeed, the MV Liemba was constructed in 1913 by the Shipbuilding Company Meyer Werft and transported in 5000 boxes to the Lake Tanganyika has been playing a crucial role over the last almost 100 years, e.g. by evacuating 75.000 refugees during the wars in DRC in 1997. The German public has been following closely the impressive story the MV Liemba, still by far the biggest ship on the Lake Tanganyika, has to tell. We are currently examining possible options of support, in close cooperation with the private sector.

Tanzania is struggling to revamp its central railway which was built by Germans during the colonial era. In which ways German can assist Tanzania in this endeavour?

Germany has invested 133 Million Euros in the railway sector in the past. This includes construction, rehabilitation and maintenance. Currently, the German Development Cooperation is not active any more in this sector. In line with the agreed Division of Labour among Development Partners Germany focuses on the three areas of Water, Health and Decentralization. Additionally Germany is contributing to General Budget Support. Currently Germany does not plan to engage in the infrastructure sector.

Is it true that some Germans who left Tanganyika in hurry after World War II left some treasures in the country and there are missions (individually) by some German to come and retrieve them?

I am actually not aware of these stories. Legends of hidden treasures exist all over the world and you will always find people who believe in them. Anyway: It is a nice example, that our common history is still alive!

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