The business sector is dominated by the agricultural sector. Since then, Tanzania’s economy has been characterized by lower than planned growth rates, balance of payments problems and reduced foreign exchange reserves. In the years 1967-74, a village training program (the Uyama program) was implemented, which from a general welfare point of view is considered to have contributed to improved conditions for the population but due to inefficient management, lack of input goods and low agricultural productivity was not successful from an economic point of view. By the early 1980s, the financial problems had reached such a level that new development projects were stopped.
In 1982, a three-year structural adjustment program was introduced, which was followed by further adjustment programs in 1986 and 1990. The objectives of these have not been fully met, but the growth in the economy has improved. During the 1990s, the rate of privatization increased; for example, railways, ports, airlines and electricity companies were privatized. Despite some financial success since the mid-1990s, problems remain with inadequate infrastructure and severe corruption.
In real terms, GDP is estimated to have increased by an average of 0.3 percent per year from 1980 to 2000. During the 1990s, growth accelerated and averaged over 7 percent throughout the decade.
Although only 10 percent of the country’s area is cultivated, about 80 percent of the economically active population derives its agricultural income. Less than half of agricultural production is estimated to come from agricultural sales. The main barley crops are coffee, cotton, cloves (from Zanzibar), tobacco, tea, cashew nuts, sisa and seagrass.
Coffee is the most important export crop and is mainly produced by small farmers in the Kilimanjaro region. Cotton and tea production increased during the 1980s, and in the 1990s large investments were made in tea production to increase productivity and increase the area cultivated. Due to increased competition, the introduction of replacement products, fluctuating world market prices and inefficient government procurement and transport organizations, production development has been negative for some of the country’s other export crops.
The main food crops are maize, cassava, millet, rice, wheat and bananas. Due to rainfall fluctuations, food production during the late 1980s dropped sharply from the good growing seasons 1985–87. Similarly, the country was hit hard by dry periods and floods during the 1990s, when the country received extensive food assistance. After some good harvest years in the early 00s, the country is not expected to have any food shortages since 2002.
About 38 percent of the country’s area is covered by forest. With the exception of some planted forest areas in northeastern Tanzania, the existing forests have limited economic potential. About 20 million m 3 are harvested annually, and of this volume, firewood makes up about 90 percent. Felling of forests without efficient replanting has in some areas resulted in increasing soil degradation. The state is therefore trying to encourage replanting through various development and soil conservation projects. In recent decades, large forest plantations have also been made at Sao Hill in the Southern Highlands.
Despite great potential, sea fishing in Tanzania is limited. Most of the fishing is freshwater fishing and is conducted in the Victoria, Tanganyika and Malawi lakes as well as in rivers and ponds. Fishing is an important complement to the diet, but limited storage and transport facilities hamper consumption.
Mining of diamonds, gold, salt, semi-precious stones, nickel, iron, phosphorus, coal, plaster, kaolin and tin occurs. With the help of foreign investment, the mining industry grew by about 16 percent in 1997-2001. Since then, the mining industry has grown the fastest of all industries. Gold mining accounts for nearly half of the country’s commodity exports. By contrast, the previously so significant diamond mining has diminished in importance. Furthermore, one of the world’s largest ruby mines is located in Longido, and in 1967 the Arusha region discovered a blue semi-precious stone, tanzanite, which has since been extracted to a greater extent. Coal is mined at the Songwe-Kiwira mine in the southwestern part of the country. However, due to its low quality, there have been problems with deposition for the broken coal.
The majority of the population uses firewood and charcoal for their energy needs. The energy sector is otherwise mainly focused on generating electricity. More than 70 percent of the electricity generated in the country comes from hydropower plants. Significant ones are found at the Kidatu and Mtera ponds in the Ruaha River as well as in the Kihansi and Pangani rivers
Tanzania’s industrial sector is largely focused on the processing of domestic raw materials and import subsidies. The sector has been characterized by very low capacity utilization since the 1970s. The reasons are cited for increased energy prices and lack of foreign currency for raw materials, machinery and spare parts. The industry has also been affected by frequent interruptions in the water and electricity supply. The main industries are the food, textile, brewery and tobacco industries. There are also assembly plants for vehicles in the country, such as Scania trucks.
As construction has increased in the country, cement production has become more important. Cement factories are located in Mbeya, Tanga and at Waso Hill, north of Dar es-Salaam. After a long period of cement shortage in the country, with Danish and Swedish assistance, cement production has been on its feet. In recent years, Tanzania’s industrial policy has aimed to support the manufacturing sector to increase export potential and reduce dependence on the agricultural sector.
Tanzania’s exports are dominated by raw materials, but industrial products have become increasingly important. The most important export goods are gold, coffee, cashew nuts, cotton, industrial goods, tobacco, cloves and tea. Imports are dominated by consumables, transport and transport equipment, industrial raw materials and crude oil.
According to Countryaah, the most important exporting countries are India, South Africa and Kenya, while India, China, South Africa and Kenya are the most important importing countries. Tanzania’s foreign trade is sensitive to variations in world market prices for the country’s main export goods. Despite rising gold prices during the 1990s, the country has a constant trade deficit.
Tourism and gastronomy
In Tanzania there are a number of outstanding national parks and game reserves. For example, the seasonal migrations of the huge antelope herds in the Serengeti area are a great experience. Another interesting conservation area in northern Tanzania is the Ngorongoro crater landscape (lions, elephants, rhinos). The ascent of Kilimanjaro can attract well-trained visitors. In these regions you can also see the caves where remains of man’s oldest predecessor were found (the Olduva Gorge); The finds can be found at the National Museum in Dar es-Salaam.
Tanzania also has a lot to offer for the culturally interested. Dar es-Salaam has preserved a small town charm, which is lacking in other African big cities. There are monumental buildings from the German and British times, a city center of two and three-story houses from the turn of the century and the interwar period with mosques, churches and small restaurants as well as an interesting fish market. Arts and crafts (wood carving, bone work – ivory is forbidden – textiles and braided sawn goods) can be purchased in several specialty markets. From Dar es-Salaam, boats depart for Zanzibar, where you ascend ashore in the so-called stone town with narrow winding alleys, houses with beautifully carved gates and stately buildings along the sea. Much of the old settlement dates from the decades after Zanzibar became the Arab sea kingdom of Oman’s capital in 1832. The old Sultan’s Palace is now a landmark museum. From the city you can make excursions to the spice plantations (cloves etc.), to East Africa’s oldest mosque in Kizimkazi in the south, to the sandy beach in the east or to the Jozani forest, where you can see the rare red colobus monkeys. In the countryside there are also picturesque ruins of the Sultan’s palace.
The food in Tanzania carries an unmistakable tropical touch: fruit (pineapple, papaya, banana and coconut) is widely used and the spices, especially cloves, are dominant. The influence of India and the Arabian Peninsula has provided a rich variety of recipes that are rare in Africa.
Rice is common, but ugali, corn porridge, is the basis of everyday food. It is often eaten with mchicha, a mango-like, hardy and inexpensive vegetable to be cooked into a pot of beef, bell pepper, chilli, garlic and onion: na nyama. Ndizi nyama is the term for meat stew with bananas and coconut. Mtori is soup on flour bananas and beef, supuya papai is papaya soup. Kabichi, a cabbage stew with cumin and cloves, is another typical dish. The many curries are often mild because they are cooked with coconut milk (eg samaki wa nazi, fish curry). Along the coast there are delicious fresh seafood, further into the country has duck, served with flour bananas or perhaps with maharaga ya nazi, beans cooked in coconut milk, become a paradise. Freshwater fish are also an important part of the nutritional supplement. It is preferably cooked with coconut milk. Tanzanian honey is excellent and is often confused with fresh fruit as dessert. An inheritance from the German colonial era is the excellent light beer. From Doloma in the highlands comes local wine (“Bowani wine”) which holds high class.