In commemorating today the French National Day, the Ambassador of France to Tanzania, H.E. Frédéric CLAVIER, gave an exclusive interview to The Citizen and reasserted France eagerness to boost bilateral economic relations.
Question: You’re Excellency, what does Bastille Day represent to the French people and the world?
F.C.: “Historically speaking, Bastille Day celebrates the victory of the people against injustice and an oppressive political system lead-ing to the sovereignty of the whole nation. Since then, Bastille Day has become an occasion to remind us the core values and motto of the French nation: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. In this sense, France and Tanzania share many values, thus enabling a mutual understanding and a trustful relationship since the independence of Tanganyika in December 1961.
This trust that we have built throughout the years allows us to enjoy a strong cooperation on various and important subjects, economic, political, cultural and soci-etal. The most recent example is our work together for the success of the Generation Equality Forum, held in Paris between June 30th to July 2nd, with the exceptional visit of the Vice-President, H.E. Dr. Philip Mpango, embodying Tanzania’s commitments to gender equality.”
Q: You’re Excellency, could you tell us what is the status of the France-Tanzania economic and business relations?
F.C.: “Bilateral trade between France and Tanzania is increasing but is not, in my opinion, represent-ative of the quality of our bilateral relations, even though we have witnessed a constant growth over the past few years.
In 2020, the total amount of trade between France and Tanzania rep-resented 150 million dollars. More than 90% of French exports are based on 4 major sectors: mechanical equipment, electrical, electronic and IT equipment; while imports from Tanzania are mainly from the agro-food sector, forestry, and fishing industry.
In order to pave way to deeper and stronger economic bilateral relations, the French-Tanzanian Chamber of Commerce (FTCC) was launched in January 2020 with the objective to promote partnerships between French and Tanzanian companies.
I am convinced that our bilateral exchanges will continue to increase in the coming years as we attest President Hassan’s efforts to put economy at the center of Tanzania’s foreign policy, her desire to improve the business climate in the country and to foster East African economic integration.”
Q: Which are the main sectors the French companies have heavily invested in recently in Tanzania?
F.C.: “Today, there are more than 40 French companies established in Tanzania, including 13 multinational firms. Over the past few years, French companies have mainly invested in the energy, transport and new technologies sectors.
I cannot quote all companies but, for instance everybody heard about the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), with the participation of TotalEnergies. This pipeline which will transport the Ugandan oil to Tanga for export to world markets is one of the most ambitious ongoing project in East Africa. It will run through 8 regions in Tanzania and create about 10 000 jobs for Tanzanians.
Let me also shed light on Maurel & Prom, which operates since 2006 one of the 3 gas fields in operation in Tanzania, or Engie Energy Access, created in 2020 to bring together under a single entity its off-grid electrification activities: construction of mini-grids and distribution of home solar kits.
In the transport sector, CMA CGM manages 12% of the carrier services in Tanzania, in the ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Mtwara and Zanzibar. Bolloré Transport & Logistics has structured its activities around the dry port of Dar es Salaam and freight transit by road to landlocked countries in the west. Last but not least, Airbus delivered 2 A220-300 planes to Air Tanzania in 2018 and 2019 and plans to deliver 2 additional aircrafts within the year.
Finally, let me mention the company Carwatt which transforms thermal cars into electric vehicles. Established in Tanzania via E. motion Africa, created in 2019, it aims at electrifying the bus network of Dar es Salaam and all the safari vehicles circulating in the National Parks.”
Q: Beside the economic support, what are the main projects France has implemented in terms of development?
F.C.: “The Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has been working with Tanzania for 25 years, mainly focusing on financing infrastructure in the energy, water and transport sectors. The financial commitments have more than doubled in 3 years, reaching $180 million every year. That shows France’s confidence in the development capacity of Tanzania.
For the next years, the strategy is to remain focused on these 3 sec-tors but also to diversify its financing towards biodiversity conservation and a climate resilient and sustain-able agriculture.”
Q: France has been very active to support developing countries, particularly in Africa, to cope with the impact of the COVID-19. How did France support Tanzania?
F.C.: “The French President Emmanuel Macron has hosted last May in Paris a Summit dedicated to the Financing of African Economies. This was the 1st international Summit attended by President Samia Suluhu Hassan (virtually). The objective was to decide on ways to help face up to the health and economic crisis of the pandemic in Africa. President Macron called for an “African New Deal”, proposing that rich countries reallocate part of their Special Drawing Rights (SDR) from the IMF to African economies to raise at least $100 billion for Africa.
Few days later, on behalf of the French government and in presence of the PS of the Ministry of Finance and Planning Mr. Emmanuel Tutuba, I signed a Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). The initiative, launched by President Macron, aims to delay debt repayment, freeing up cash that governments can use to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.
Finally, the theme of the 28th Africa-France Summit, taking place in France beginning of October, will be focused on “Better cities to better lives”. It will aim at developing new political collaboration and economic partnerships to share knowledges on sustainable cities and territories, but also in other fields, such as healthcare, education, urban planning and culture.”