Tag Archives: development

Charts: Tanzania, democracy and open (/closed?) budgets

Is democracy on the decline in Tanzania? With newspapers being suspended (and suspending themselves?), TV stations fined, opposition politicians and other government critics arrested (or shot), and political rallies banned, there are some very clear grounds for concern.

And the 2017 Democracy Index – a global index published this week by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) – would seem to agree. Tanzania’s score on the index has dropped, driven by a sharp drop in one particular dimension: civil liberties.  Continue reading

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.

“Be careful, watch it!” – Translated excepts from speech of President Magufuli

Earlier today (March 24, 2017), President Magufuli spoke at a ceremony in to formally appoint new Ministers and Ambassadors. He referred directly to two significant events earlier this week, the visit of World Bank President Jim Kim (see also this sharp-eyed post by Aikande Kwayu) and yesterday’s events in the car park of St Peters Catholic Church in Dar es Salaam. Among other things, the President had some interesting things to say about the media in Tanzania.

I have translated some key excerpts below the video.

Continue reading

Dear Chambi: don’t stop blogging, your voice is needed

from Nipashe, Dec 1, 2016

Dear Chambi,

I hope you don’t mind me writing you a public letter like this. But it feels like the most appropriate way of saying what I want to say.

Because your decision to stop blogging has left me dejected. While I don’t always agree with what you say (I usually do), yours has been one of very few voices asking important but difficult questions. Those who find #UhuruWaKujieleza (freedom of speech) to be an annoyance (or, if we are charitable, an unaffordable luxury,) will be celebrating. We are all worse off as a result. Continue reading

People-powered maps to help girls escape FGM – how to get involved

Filling in the blank spaces …

Can you help girls in Tanzania escape Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) without ever leaving the comfort of your home? Well, there’s a project that some friends of mine are supporting that claims to do exactly that.

If you’re in London next Monday (January 16), there will be a seminar at 5pm at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where this and two related mapping projects in Tanzania will be the topic. But whether or not you can make it to the seminar, the beauty of this project is that you can contribute from almost anywhere.  Continue reading

Chart #39: Interactive – Gender in Tanzania, from Tanzania Human Development Report

As I mentioned last week, the Tanzania Human Development Report has a wealth of interesting data tables, many of which have data broken down by region for the first time. I plan to explore this data over the next few weeks. To start, I have prepared a dashboard showcasing the report’s data on gender.

Specifically, this includes two things:

1. Analysis by region:

  • A Gender Development Index (GDI) score for each region of mainland Tanzania, based on the health, time spent in education, and living standards of women and men in each region. Along with the GDI score, I have included charts on each of the indicators that is used to calculate the GDI.
  • Women in decision making positions, by region. This gives the percentage of each region’s MPs, councillors and key officials (RCs, RASs, DCs, DASs) who are female and male.
  • You can choose which region to look at by selecting from the drop-down menu.

2. Analysis by indicator:

  • This shows GDI and Human Development Index (HDI) scores for each region, by gender along with scores for the component indicators that make up the HDI, and representation of women in various decision making groups.
  • Again, you can choose which indicators to look at using the drop-down menus.

Continue reading

Four bills later: is blogging with statistics in Tanzania now only for adrenalin junkies?

Nipashe, 25/3/15 - "Media Bills" under tight security

Nipashe, 25/3/15 – “Media Bills” under tight security

By Aidan Eyakuze and Ben Taylor *

At first we were excited. Tanzanian media and freedom of information advocates had been waiting for years for the Access to Information (ATI) and Media Services Bill, and the timetable for the latest parliamentary session included both. Were things finally moving?

The timetable also had bills on Statistics and Cybercrime. Was President Kikwete trying to push through a series of new laws before his time in office comes to an end later this year? He has played a leading role on the global stage on these issues, particularly through the Open Government Partnership (OGP), so perhaps this was an attempt to enshrine open government as his legacy.

Then we were concerned. Why were the ATI and Media Bills not available on the bunge website? Why were they being rushed through under certificates of urgency, severely limiting opportunities for consultation and debate? Continue reading