Tanzanians in the diaspora meet in Sweden to discuss various key issues
- They discussed ways to promote Tanzanian culture, tourism, ecology, and cuisine as well as critical concerns affecting the diaspora
Gothenburg. Hundreds of Tanzanians in the diaspora in Sweden, under their umbrella organisation which goes by the name Tanriks, convened in Gothenburg, Sweden, on March 11, 2023, to discuss key diaspora affairs as well as display Tanzanian culture, tourism, environment and cuisine.
Diasporas in other countries, such as Australia, Denmark, France, Finland, Ghana, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Somalia, Uganda, and the United Kingdom, attended as well.
The occasion was one of its kind and the guests of honour were Grace Olotu, the ambassador of Tanzania to Nordic, Baltic, and Scandinavian countries and Ukraine, together with ambassador James Bwana, who serves as director of diaspora affairs in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation. In attendance, there were over 350 diasporas.
While there has been a lot to deal with as proposed by the Tanzanian diasporas all over the world, ambassador James Bwana had some news laden with hope. The serving chairperson of the global Tanzanian Diaspora body, the Tanzanian Global Diaspora Council (TDC Global), Ms Bupe Kyelu, who is based in Darwin, Australia, was present as well.
Tanzanian diasporas in Sweden
Here in Sweden, Tanzanian diasporas have worked hard to be recognised by the Swedish authorities, and there is active collaboration between the diaspora body and the Swedish government, which has had a positive impact on the undertakings of the diasporas in both countries, Sweden and Tanzania.
In her remarks, Ms Bupe Kyelu said she felt positive about the effort that is being invested by Tanriks in Sweden.
“Having a strong diaspora association helps mobilize efforts to bring positive transformation home. As diasporas, we work hard, and we need to focus to place our priorities right”, she added.
In the same regard, Ms Kyelu used the opportunity to sensitize the diaspora about our culture and the shared obligation we all have to safeguard it.
“As diasporas, we must teach our children our culture, language, religious faiths, and way of life. We should not forget home. Diaspora associations should be aware of the need to guide young people who share Tanzanian roots with us so that they don’t drown in western values that we do not cherish,” she admonished.
Way forward: Special status is underway
Ambassador James Bwana instilled that the government works to see that peace, unity, and brotherhood remain parts of Tanzania’s most cherished values.
As regards the diaspora, he relayed that the president, her excellency Samia Suluhu Hassan, appreciates their contribution to the nation’s development and has invested in setting up a structure that allows for an effective working relationship between the government of Tanzania and Tanzanian diasporas abroad and overseas.
This structure will help to make both the potentiality and the contribution of diasporas accurately quantifiable and the services they render highly effective. Among the key issues whose solutions have been sought are money transfers via bank, given that Tanzanian diasporas have bank accounts at home; the possibility of entering Tanzania without a visa or for a limited number of days; the right to inheritance; the possibility of people in Tanzania inheriting their property; and simplified requirements for child adoption.
Others are tax waivers on goods that are for public service, membership in social security fund schemes in Tanzania, favourable investment laws for diasporas, and the possibility of having health insurance cover for dependents in Tanzania. All these were enumerated among the suggestions that diasporas themselves put forward through the surveys.
After thorough consideration, the government has come to a consensus that special status will be a great help in boosting the working relationship between the Tanzanian government and Tanzanian diasporas.
As such, the special status package, which is still underway, will make clear the way forward in all necessary areas, including the aforementioned considerations.
According to Ambassador James Bwana, who oversees the directorate for diaspora affairs, the records are impressive. Tanzanian diasporas, in the year 2021 alone, sent home remittances that amounted to $569.3 million.
From January to December 2022, diasporas remitted home the sum of $598 million, which is more than 1.4 trillion Tanzanian shillings. From January to December 2021, diasporas bought houses worth Sh2.3 billion. In the year 2022, diasporas purchased houses and plots worth Sh6.4 billion. This is a massive contribution to the economy of the country.
Alongside all the progress in strengthening the working relationship between the government and diasporas, the government has taken notice of the policy gap that exists in the current socio-economic policies, where there is hardly a functional mention of diaspora affairs.
Beginning in the coming financial year, the Diaspora Policy is going to be definitive of the rights of diasporas and how they can maximize the opportunities that are available in their home country.
Diaspora Digital Hub
Maximising the utility of technology, the ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Relations, which has been tasked with overseeing the diaspora’s affairs, is soon going to launch a digital hub through which all Tanzanian diasporas will be able to register themselves.
This will replace the tedious process whereby diasporas had to go and register at the respective embassies. Diasporas need not fear registering, as it is an easier way to get help when a need arises. They will only be required to provide basic details: name, gender, and country of residence.
The Diaspora Digital Hub will also be linked to NIDA, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), Migration, and many other social, financial, and investment bodies and development stakeholders. This began last year, and NMB, CRDB, and NSSF have helped raise funds that are used to put it in place.
The Digital Hub will also have a portal that will help Tanzanian experts, professionals and Tanzanian diasporas get jobs at home and abroad, as such jobs will be advertised there.
Where needed, the government will utilize the hub to give endorsements for certain applications for jobs, especially where there is high international competition.
Diasporas in promoting tourism
Towards the end of the environment, tourism, and cultural festival in Gothenburg, Sweden, those present were privileged to watch the tourism film “Royal Tour” which features Her Excellency, Samia Suluhu Hassan. It was unanimously received with accolades.
We also had a chance to revisit all the key tourist sites in Tanzania under the guidance of the Tanzania Tourist Bureau (TTB), who gave a succinct presentation.
The TTB massively promotes tourism in Tanzania, especially through the newly launched Destination Tanzania program.
Diasporas in Investment
Tanzanian banks have already started opening bank accounts for diasporas. In the presentation by CRDB Bank, friendly policies have been put in place, which make it easy to both open an account and maintain it.
With their Tanzanite account, diasporas will be able to access all necessary services such as internet banking, money transfer networks, 24-hour customer care service, loans, embedded insurance coverage that is offered for free, and facilitation in making property purchases within Tanzania, among other things.
At the moment, diasporas can open an account in USD, GBP, Euro, and Tshs currencies. The following documents will be accepted: Tanzanian passport, foreign passport, Nida card, living permit, utility bills, or foreign driving licence
Other stakeholders who participated in the festival were Nida, MTI Investments, and Fumba Town Real Estate Investment Corporation, based in Zanzibar.
Ms Agnes Polepole, who attended the event from Copenhagen, Denmark, sees the Diaspora body as a promising body for national progress.
“We can achieve a lot in diaspora bodies if we are unified and adhere to one diaspora leadership. As diasporas, we are grateful to see that our government thinks about us and seeks to make us active and recognised contributors to our home country’s progress”, she said.
In giving her remarks, the leader of the Tanzanian Global Diaspora Council (TDC Global) Ms Bupe Kyelu stressed the need for Diasporas to remain unified in purpose and to work together. “By staying together we make it easy for us to be heard and respected,” she said.
She also emphasised various diaspora communities to evaluate the positive change they bring back home by their being together every year.
Ambassador James Bwana promised ongoing cooperation with diasporas to infuse progress and development at home.
He urged diasporas to pull their efforts together and bring their innovativeness home.
“Tanzanians are known to be good people wherever we are, let us not allow that to change in our hands. Wherever we are we should abide by their laws, speak well of our country, motivate investors and tourists, and most importantly stand by the morals and values of our culture,” he urged.