THE European Union (EU) and Tanzania yesterday signed a set of grant agreements totalling 126m Euros (approx 250bn/-).
EU has been supporting Tanzania since 1975 in which a total of 1.8 billion euro (approx. 3.8trn/-) was granted. The agreements were signed at the State House in Dar es Salaam by the EU's Commissioner for Development, Mr Andris Piebalgs and the Minister for Finance, Dr William Mgimwa.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by President Jakaya Kikwete and the President of the European Commission, Mr Jose Manuel Barroso. The EU president, who is on a three-day visit to Tanzania, will also inspect various development projects financed by EU.
They include the CCBRT hospital in the city and other projects in Mbeya. Mr Barroso and his delegation are expected to travel to Mbeya tomorrow for similar exercise. Mr Barroso also expressed sorrow, on behalf of the EU, on the boat disaster that occurred on Wednesday in Zanzibar waters, claiming more than 68 lives. He described it a tragic event.
The six agreements will help rehabilitate more than 200 kilometres of roads and provide drinking water for 500,000 people, improve sanitation infrastructure and services for some 140,000 inhabitants; strengthen democratisation and good governance.
The EU has also confirmed to support the country's Northern Corridor Agriculture Development in efforts to support food security in the country. The first financing agreement totalling Euro 45 million will go to the improvement of road transport network in the country.
The second financing under MDG Initiative, worth Euro 51.51 million, is for water programmes in Lindi, Sumbawanga and Kigoma towns. The third financing agreement, amounting to Euro 22 million will support the improvement of rural roads.
The objective is to support the decentralization strategy in improving connectivity and accessibility to markets and service facilities. The fourth financing agreement amounting to Euro 3 million will be for programmes to support Non-State Actors in Zanzibar with objective to strengthen democratization, good governance and support civil society initiatives on accountability, participatory development and policy advocacy.
The fifth agreement worth Euro 2.5m is for programme to support National Authorising Office for managing EU portfolio in the country.While the last financing agreement of Euro 2.5 million is for technical cooperation facility aimed at providing flexible instrument for capacity development and policy and expert advice.
Speaking after the signing of the protocols, President Jakaya Kikwete praised the EU for its continued support to Tanzania. "We are committed to increase cooperation and dialogue between our two sides," he said.
He explained that the visit by the EU president was meant to reinforce the political dialogue and to strengthen economic cooperation between Tanzania and the European Union. President Kikwete said that the signature of the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with EU is also high on the agenda of discussions as Tanzania's commitment will be instrumental to reaching agreement soon.
He expressed his appreciation to the historical, socio-political and economic cooperation between EU and Tanzania. "The EU is one of our key development partners both in terms of magnitude of financial support and commitment to our development initiatives," said President Kikwete.
He showered praise on EU's decision to consider using the country's national development strategies and plans to develop future financing programmes rather than developing a separate strategy as it has been the case in the past.
He added that: "This is a commendable decision and would like to thank you for recognising that our development strategy documents are sound and could be relied upon." According to him, the country's biggest challenge was in addressing the supply side constraints which are inhibiting achievements of significant poverty reduction especially in rural areas where majority of population live.
He also requested during the programming of the 11th Economic Development Fund, that the European Commission consider road transport subsector, rural infrastructure and General Budget Support (GBS) as focal sectors in order to assist the government to address the challenges.
President Barroso praised the country's leadership saying Tanzania has become one of EU's main partners in Africa. "Tanzania is playing an increasingly important role in the stability, inclusive and sustainable economic growth of the whole region.
"President Kikwete also is most respected in the world, he brings to the international community new impetus of leadership from Africa." According to him, EU wants to deepen regular political dialogue with Tanzania and further increase our cooperation in areas like energy, anti-piracy, counter terrorism or migration-issues which are of great concern both for Africa and the EU.
"I am also pleased to further increase our development cooperation by launching new programmes that will encourage inclusive and sustainable growth and help us to make even more of a difference in the fight against poverty," he remarked.