Why Obama is coming to Tanzania

Tanzania’s strategic position in the continent, its abundant natural resources and countering China’s advances to Africa have been cited as one of the reasons why President Barack Obama chose to visit Tanzania in his tour of Africa next month.

Mr Obama, who is the first African American US President, comes just about three months after the Chinese President Mr Xi Jinping visited the country.

Experts who spoke to The Citizen shortly after the tour was confirmed by both the US and Tanzanian governments yesterday argued that Mr Obama’s visit, coming hot on the heels of his Chinese counterpart, is not coincidental.

The visit, they add, is the continuation of scramble for resources between the two major economic superpowers.

The US President’s tour of Africa will start on June 26 and end on July 3. In addition to Tanzania he will also visit Senegal and South Africa.

Professor Issa Shivji, Mwl Nyerere Professorial Chair at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) told The Citizen that the shifting centres of global economic and political power, the growing economic muscles of the most of Asia and Tanzania’s strategic position and its natural resources abundance are some of the reasons why Mr Obama is visiting Tanzania, in particular, and the continent in general.

Prof Shivji noted that after Somalia, which has been destroyed, Tanzania has the longest shoreline on the Indian Ocean.

“Zanzibar is also a strategic island in the Indian Ocean and the mainland is the only land mass which connects the Indian Ocean with Central Africa, one of the richest regions in the world. Tanzania itself is rich in natural resources, including oil, uranium, gas and so forth,” Prof Shivji noted. Mr Obama becomes the third consecutive US President to visit to Tanzania after Bill Clinton in 2000, and George Bush in 2008.

Dr Amon Mbele from university of Dar es Salaam from the Economics Department of the UDSM noted that the visit of Mr Obama shows the huge potentiality of the country to the global political and economic spheres.

“The country could have that strategic important to global affairs beyond that we might not be aware of as citizen of the country,” Dr Mbelle noted.

The minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Bernard Membe said the purpose of Mr Obama’s visit is economic.

“He is coming here with a group of 500 businessmen and investors. All these are looking for investment opportunities in the country because it is stable and peaceful,” Mr Membe noted. Mr Obama will come with a delegation of more than 1200 people, according to Mr Membe.
Source: The Citizen, reported from Dar es Salaam
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