I arrived in Dar es Salaam on March 16, 2015, to take up my new assignment as the Chief Representative of JICA Tanzania Office, succeeding my predecessor Mr. Yasunori Onishi.
Before coming to Tanzania, I have been assigned to JICA Vietnam Office twice. The first assignment was between 1995 and 1998. This was the period when foreign assistance to Vietnam had just resumed. Many of the donors including Japan were focused on reconstruction of the infrastructure which had been severely damaged by the Vietnam War.
My second term of assignment in Vietnam was from 2009 to 2013. This time the economy was flourishing with a strong inflow of foreign direct investment and the status of a middle income country was just around the corner.
On arrival in Dar es Salaam, I was amazed by the abundant goods and commodities evident everywhere not only in small shops but also in supermarkets. South African and Kenyan conglomerates had invested in the country and were vigorously doing business alongside their Tanzanian counterparts. I was also surprised that prices of some goods in those supermarkets were higher than those in Japan. Intuition told me that despite the bustling economy, Tanzania still faces many challenges.
Tanzania has grown about 7% annually since 2000 while keeping its inflation to a single digit. The population of Tanzania currently stands at about 45 million, with an annual increase of 2.7%. Assuming that this population will have adequate purchasing power in the future, Tanzania will soon become an attractive market not to be missed. Moreover Tanzania is among those African countries which are relatively safe and politically stable. In this context, I strongly encourage Japanese companies in search of investment opportunities to come forward. There is no time to be lost.
On the other hand, Tanzania is a large country, 2.5 times the size of Japan and only 50% of the roads are paved. The supply of power can hardly cover its demand and health care service delivery has a lot that can be done better.
Based on the foregoing, what can JICA do for Tanzania and for Africa and for Japan? Although this is my first assignment to Tanzania and to the African continent, I will do my best to find solutions to these questions, utilizing my knowledge and experience I gained in Vietnam effectively.
April 27, 2015
JICA Tanzania Office