17 February 2014

Tanzania: Israel Plans to Open Embassy in Dar es Salaam

Dar es Salaam — Israel will soon open a fully-fledged embassy in Dar es Salaam to make it easier for visa processing and boosting trade between the two nations.

The resumption of the diplomatic relations will mean the development of political and economic ties. Tanzania was among the first nations to establish diplomatic ties with Israel after it won its independence in 1963.

But it was also among the many African nations that broke off ties with Israel in the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

A survey carried out by East African Business Week revealed that tourists and business communities have been complaining that they incur extra costs to travel to Nairobi for visa processing.

They said this is the main reason why trade between Tanzania and Israel deteriorated. "There is a need to open a full-fledged embassy here in Tanzania so as to ease visa processing," said one of the travelers, Edwin Kibanda.

Israel's Ambassador to Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Malawi, Gil Haskel told East African Business Week the two nations are now working on establishing an embassy in Tanzania.

"We are planning to open a full-fledged embassy in Dar es Salaam. The only hindrance for the time being is the global economic challenges, but once things are settled, we will open it," Haskel said.

When asked why it has taken this long to open an embassy while tourism and trade are still being polarized between the two nations, he noted that the delay is not an ideological but rather an economic challenge.

He also confirmed that it is true, for the time being, that Tanzania has no embassy in Tel Aviv. He added that Israel use Nairobi as a regional embassy to serve Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi.

He said about 20 Israeli companies have invested in Tanzania. The firms are involved in agriculture, agro-technology, irrigation, water management, IT and tourism.

In 1995, Israel and Tanzania finally decided to resume diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level.

However since then, there have been no further developments until now. This is despite a tourism boom which has influenced El Al (Israel's flagbearer airline) to launch flights between the two countries.

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