When, on his first visit to Ireland nearly 40 years ago, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere spoke at a State dinner, he said that he was not surprised that he felt so at home. He recalled the many Irish people that had worked with Tanzanians and spoke of their strong human relationships across the barriers of race and culture.
People from our two countries, Ireland and Tanzania, began building strong personal relationships long before either of our countries gained independence. Relationships founded in a shared love of education, of the land, family, humour – and our respective journeys from colonial pasts to our sovereign presents. Our countries are bound closely together.
During my visit to Tanzania this week, I was reminded of our closeness and the strength of our bond.
I visited programmes supported by Ireland and by Irish people. I had valuable meetings with our partners in the Government of Tanzania, and also with representatives of the private sector, of civil society and of the media. Like Mwalimu, I too have felt very much at home.
What I saw and heard reminded me that notwithstanding the geographical distance between Dublin and Dar, we are interdependent in the face of global challenges, such as climate change. We are equally vulnerable to public health crises.
There are emerging external threats. And there are opportunities which working more effectively together we can ensure that the return to all our citizens is maximised. That is why close cooperation at the regional and multilateral level is the core of our relationship. Continued close cooperation remains an imperative if we are to build a more secure world.
In this context, I wish to highlight Tanzania’s valued contribution to peace and stability in the Great Lakes Region - as a mediator and peacekeeper. I saw for myself this week the welcome and generosity Tanzania extends to thousands of refugees fleeing crisis.
Works closely with Tanzania
Ireland works closely with Tanzania at the UN, arguing for UN reform, for a UN better prepared for the challenges this century brings. Ireland sees the obvious need for much stronger African representation on the UN Security Council, so that African countries have a greater say in decisions affecting the continent. Ireland is a candidate for a seat on the Security Council for the period 2021/2022. I hope together we can work to achieve the representation Africa deserves.
Tanzania has also been a valuable partner for Ireland in building a more just and fairer world. We worked together in negotiating the Sustainable Development Goals. If we can deliver on these goals, I believe we will transform our world. Supporting Tanzania in meeting these goals, particularly in health, nutrition, agriculture, and social inclusion, and in strengthening its democratic institutions, will remain an important part of our relationship. It is vital that as we advance this important agenda, women and girls are not left behind. This is why we have the rights of women and girls at the centre of our programmes.
Realising the promise of the Sustainable Development Goals is our promise to the next generation. We must find ways to encourage active participation of young people in shaping solutions to the challenges ahead. I was delighted to participate this week in the launch of Africa Code Week, a practical example of an emerging partnership between Ireland and Tanzania, and also a partnership intended to unleash the creativity and innovation of youth. This partnership is built, once again, on people to people links. Throughout my visit, I have consistently heard about Tanzania’s determination to industrialise its economy and create jobs for young people. Having transitioned from an agrarian economy to one of the most open economies in the world, we can testify to the transformational power of harnessing technology for development. Initiatives such as Africa Code Week equip new generations with the digital literacy skills they need to secure jobs and contribute to the growth of their economies. Closer partnerships between Ireland and Tanzania around innovation and entrepreneurship can help increase economic opportunities and prosperity in both our countries.
At the same time we must remember that development is not all about economic growth: it is about building the kind of open and inclusive society we want our children and grandchildren to live in, with a strong inter-generational social contract. I heard the same aspirations here in Tanzania that I hear at home in Ireland, that desire for a better future, for a better society. I can think of no better shared goal as the cornerstone of our ongoing close relationship.
Ciarán Cannon T.D is Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Ireland