Tag Archives: data

Has Zitto revealed fake news on Tz economic growth?

The Citizen, 2/11/2017

Zitto Kabwe was arrested last week. He must be getting used to this by now, as he’s been held and questioned by the police on several occasions over the past couple of years.

What’s new this time, however, is that along with the by-now commonplace charge of “sedition”, he has been charged under the Statistics Act – the first such charges brought since the Act became law in 2015. Specifically, he and his party, ACT Wazalendo, published their own analysis of official economic data from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT), suggesting that the official GDP growth figures had been manipulated, and that actual growth was 0.1% rather than the BoT figure of 5.7%. And somebody decided that these are sufficient grounds to have him arrested.

I am not an economist and cannot either confirm or reject Zitto’s claim. I hope others will try to do so. But I can put forward some related data on the state of Tanzania’s economy that might help shed some light on the situation.

Let’s start with Zitto’s figures, however. His argument is essentially that up to now, GDP growth in Tanzania has stuck fairly close to the rate calculated using inflation and money supply figures. The most recent data, however, show a marked diversion, led by a sharp drop in money supply. In other words, the two blue lines on this graph stayed fairly close until this year. So something must be wrong with the latest figures, in his view.

Whether or not this argument holds water, however, we can also examine other data that can tell us something about the state of the economy. I have four more charts for you, starting with the money supply (the amount of money held in Tanzania, either in cash or in bank accounts):

It’s up and down a bit, but it shows one thing pretty clear: that growth in money supply in Tanzania has dropped considerably since early 2016. Before that, the amount of money circulating in Tanzania had been growing at around 15% each year. But that has now dropped to around 5% this year.

Next up, let’s look at another important proxy for a nation’s economic health: imports and exports. If the economy is doing well, demand for imported goods and services and production of exports should be on the increase.

When it comes to exports, the figures are up and down, showing no clear trend. But imports of goods and services into Tanzania are down considerable since January 2015: down by roughly 35% in just over two years.

We can also look at credit to the private sector. Again, this can be a good measure of economic health: if the economy is strong, banks will be happy to lend money.

As with imports, so there has been a decline here: prior to 2016, lending to the private sector had grown at a rate of around 20% a year. This has now dropped to just 1% in the latest available figures, for July 2017.

Finally, an indicator that perhaps affects most Tanzanians lives more immediately than any of those presented above: food prices. This is a complex area, as higher prices can be good for producers just as they are bad for consumers. But price increases would suggest demand is outstripping supply. And if prices go very high, it would suggest there might be a serious food shortage.

It’s good to see that prices have come down considerably since the start of the year – when reports and evidence of food shortages were widespread, despite initial government denials. But it’s noticeable that prices are still well above where they were at this time in the season in 2015 and 2016.

I want to end with two questions:

First: Bank of Tanzania figures tell us that money supply growth is down, imports are down, credit to the private sector is sharply down, and food prices remain high. What does this tell us about the state of the Tanzanian economy?

And second: an opposition politician is arrested and charged for pointing to what he describes as significant anomalies in official data. What does this tell us about the state of Tanzanian democracy?


This post originally appeared on mtega.com.

Two opportunities for data journalists in Tanzania: a prize and funding

Data journalism is a growing field in Tanzania, but one that hasn’t yet taken off very strongly. But here are two opportunities for data journalists in Tanzania that could help get things moving. Both look very interesting.

ejatData journalism prize in EJAT

For the first time, a data journalism category has been included in the Excellence in Journalism Awards Tanzania (EJAT), run by the Media Council of Tanzania (MCT)*. The MCT website seems to be a little behind on the announcement, but it was issued a few days ago and the site does at least have the entry forms available.

So if you are a  journalist or blogger who has done interesting work with data (on any topic) in the Tanzanian media during 2016, now is your chance.

The deadline for entries is January 31st, 2017.

innovateAFRICA: potential funding

innovate Africa logoAnd if you’re looking for more than just recognition, there’s up to USD $100,000 available for media projects working with data. The innovateAfrica initiative, run by Code for Africa, is looking for “disruptive digital ideas to improve the way that news is collected and disseminated:”

“By digital ideas, we mean tools or strategies that use the Internet, mobile platforms, data-driven journalism, computer-assisted reporting, digitally augmented reality or virtual reality, camera drones or the Internet of Things (sensors), and other electronic means to improve the relevance and impact of news media.”

The deadline for initial applications is December 1st, so you will need to get a move on, but the first stage in the application process is very straightforward, with just 8 simple questions to be answered. Full details, terms and conditions, etc., and the online application form are available here.


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* Twaweza, for whom I work, has encouraged MCT to include this new award in EJAT.

UchaguziTz.co.tz for election-related data and resources

screenshot1I am delighted to be able to share with you a new site that I have developed for the elections in Tanzania next month: UchaguziTz.co.tz.

It is intended primarily to encourage people to think about issues and policies. At the moment, therefore, it is largely made up of charts, maps and analyses of some of the key election issues. Some of it will be familiar to regular readers of this blog, but most of the content is new, not least a series of interactive maps showing election results from 2005 and 2010 on mainland Tanzania. Continue reading

Public Debate on Statistics and Cybercrime Acts, University of Dar es Salaam, 18/4/15

A public debate on Tanzania’s Statistics and Cybercrime Acts will be held at the University of Dar es Salaam on Saturday April 18th. It will take place in Nkrumah Hall, starting from 2pm, in Swahili. The event flyer is posted below.

The bills have attracted considerable criticism, so it should be a lively debate. The criticism includes two previous posts on this blog (here and here), two articles in the Washington Post (here and here), an article in the Citizen today by Omar Mohammed, and much more. My colleagues and I at Twaweza have also put together a more detailed analysis of the Statistics Act.  Continue reading

Three (government) statistics that could be illegal under Tanzania’s new Statistics Act

Updated 11/4/15, with responses from the Big Results Now team and the Ministry of Water – see below.

Justin Sandefur of the Centre for Global Development (CGD), writing in the Washington Post, presented five charts that may soon be illegal in Tanzania. He was referring to the Statistics Act, recently passed by the Tanzanian parliament, which makes it a criminal offence to publish false statistics, or statistics “that may result in the distortion of facts.”. This is punishable by a minimum 10m/- ($6,000) fine and/or a minimum 3 year prison sentence.

Here, I have done something similar. But I only refer to statistics produced or cited by the Tanzanian government itself.

My purpose is not to accuse any particular part of the government of deliberately misleading people, but instead to point out some of the difficulties of making it an offence to publish false or distorting statistics. Continue reading

What do Tanzanians really think of the three governments idea?

From The Citizen 18/3/2014

From The Citizen 18/3/2014

Justice Warioba: “Of the almost 38,000 citizens who gave their views on the Union, 19,000 expressed an opinion on the form of the Union. The breakdown of these statistics show that on the mainland, 13% supported One Government, 24% supported Two Governments and 61% supported Three Governments. In Zanzibar, 34% supported Two Governments and 60% supported a contract-based Union, and 0.1% (25 people) supported One Government.”

President Kikwete: “There are those who claim the Commission’s statistics don’t show the truth. They say that the information of the Commission shows that 351,664 Tanzanian gave their views to the Commission. Of them, 47,820 citizens (13.6%) were unhappy with the form of the Union and raised the issue. 303,844 citizens (86.4%) didn’t see the form of the Union as a problem, which is why they didn’t raise the issue at all. So people are asking how today 13.6% of all Tanzanians who gave their views has become the majority of Tanzanians!”

They’re talking about the same data. How many people gave their views to the Constitutional Review Commission? How many people discussed the Union question? How many supported which form of the Union?

Continue reading

“Someone is shortchanging our children. We must refuse to put up with it.”

Tanzania Daima described it as “a national disaster“. Illiteracy haunts public school pupils,” was the Daily News headline. The Citizen wrote of “literacy shame” and “primary education in a mess“.

They are talking about the latest set of Uwezo results, which came out this week for Tanzania, and a week earlier for Uganda. For those who are unfamiliar, Uwezo is a large annual survey of primary school-age children in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, asking them to complete short tests in English, Swahili and numeracy, based on Standard 2 curriculum. The idea is to see whether children are actually learning in school, rather than simply whether they are attending school. The latest reports are for surveys carried out in 2012, and the results are not good. Continue reading