Tanzania in 2050: There is every reason for optimism

Friday August 10 2018

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji

Professor Zulfiqarali Premji 

In conversations with my age mates, we discussed how Tanzania will be in 2050 knowing that none of us will be there to witness it. In all likelihood, Tanzania will be a very different country based on current trends of economic growth, investment in education, health, infrastructure etc.

The current development of industries, infrastructure and energy production will form the basis of how Tanzania will be in 2050. In addition the new motors of growth will more or less depend on features like the quality, organisation, motivation and self-discipline of the people.

If we as individuals will take sensible and humane decisions now in the way we live our lives, Tanzania will be a prosperous country, but if we choose to be corrupt, greedy and trivialise development through internal disharmony we will either maintain the status quo or lag behind.

Observing the current trends of development, I can say confidently that there are some very good reasons to be optimistic about what is awaiting the next generation of Tanzanians.

According to recent reports, the population of Tanzania in 2050 will cross 100 million mark and there will be more young people. Importantly, are we prepared for this youth bulge? Perhaps the most encouraging trend is the growing role of women and girls in economic and social development. It is important that something more should be done to increase female entrepreneurial activity.

To prepare for the future, there is need to seriously focus on entrepreneurship. There should be a push to prepare young people to become the employers of tomorrow

As the population grows, it will have an immense impact on cities. There will be more people in urban centers. As urbanisation growth rate will increase this will be a key dynamic to economic transformation, more densely populated consumer markets will appear, driving more business to the cities and increasing economic activity.

With time the digital divide will shrink, connectivity will increase and information will be available more than our capacity to analyse it. Those who will be in a position to analyse information will be powerful.

With the current investment in the education sector, very likely this will create a well-trained workforce, for the industries and participation in the information age, which will ensure a long-term economic growth. In the immediate future the lack of literacy does not necessarily eliminate economic growth, as people do not necessarily need to be literate to purchase.

On the health front, non-communicable diseases will be more prevalent and there will be a shift to, or rise in, chronic diseases like diabetes, heart, and cancer. By 2025, the number of deaths from chronic diseases should exceed that of communicable diseases, particularly as the population ages. This is one area where there is a window of opportunity to intervene now or else face the challenges of obesity and NCDs. Very likely there will be some sort of universal health coverage.

If the economic growth rate is maintained at 6 per cent or above there will be economic transformation and the GDP will triple by 2050 and poverty will be less than 10 per cent of the population.

Tanzania’s productivity in agriculture has not made much progress in the last few decades. The hoe is still the main tool. Production has risen but as a result of more land being used for cultivation rather than higher yields and this trend needs to be reversed. There is hope of a better agribusiness environment if about 10 per cent of the budget is invested in agriculture. There will be food security and the agro-industry will export food.

On the infrastructure side, this has been lacking and has hindered growth. There is need to invest, modernize and increase the energy capacity. The current trend appears fairly optimistic. The present digital divide will become a history.

The need for good governance, market economy, rule of law, functional democracy and most important a listening leadership are all prerequisites for prosperity. Tanzania holds the greatest hope of achieving rapid growth and to be the country of Shabaan Robert if it can overcome problems of education, democracy and corruption.