Information and stories on Tanzania

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Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff recently announced that her country would offer several African nations almost a billion dollars in foreign aid. According to Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman, most of the aid offered will be in the form of debt forgiveness:  Brazil will cancel almost $900 million in African debt accumulated in the past 40 years.

Over the last ten years, Brazil‘s trade with Africa has increased fivefold, though the country’s increasing investment in Africa has not always been positively received. Mining operations in Mozambique by Brazilian MNC Vale and Australian Rio Tinto were blocked in April when community members displaced by the companies staged protests.

The debt forgiveness offer shows Brazil‘s increasing ties with Africa, in no small part due to the continent’s rich supply of natural resources. “To maintain a special relationship with Africa is strategic for Brazil‘s foreign policy,” Ms. Rousseff’s spokesman told reporters.

Countries benefiting from this cancellation include Congo-Brazzaville, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia. These countries have rich resources of oil, coal, and natural gas, each reason for further economic development in Africa.

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: BBC
Photo: Photo

The Maasai Brand: Fighting for Cultural Heritage

For consumers in the Western world, buying unique jewelry or clothing with distinctly foreign influences may seem a natural part of the quest for personal style. For many communities in developing countries, however, these items or designs are a part of cultural heritage. A recent BBC spotlight on one such culture — the Maasai in Kenya and Tanzania — explores why some forward thinkers in Africa are partnering with intellectual property groups to protect their heritage.

Tourist practices have long been questioned as exploitation, such as taking photographs of natives without permission or in return for money, or disrupting natives’ daily lives by gawking. For the Maasai, these tourist practices also violate deeply ingrained cultural superstitions. In an interview with BBC, Maasai leader Isaac ole Tialolo shared that twenty years ago a tourist took a photo of him without permission. “We believed that if somebody takes your photograph, he has already taken your blood,” Isaac explained. Angered, Isaac destroyed the tourist’s camera.

More than exploitative tourist practices, what concerns Isaac is “use and abuse” of the Maasai culture. 80 companies worldwide use the name or the image of the Maasai, whether for Land Rover accessories, athletic and orthopedic shoes, or Louis Vuitton’s Masai line.

The fight against exploitation of cultural trademarks is not a new one. For example, in the mid-1970’s the Navajo Nation unsuccessfully tried to copyright the word “Navajo” to restrict who could apply the term to products; this resistance against outside use has continued, notably in a 2011 lawsuit the Navajo Nation brought against the clothing chain Urban Outfitters for using the term “Navajo.”

In some respects, the quality and representation of the items carrying cultural brands is a concern. “Tacky is a good word,” Navajo Times contributor Bill Donovan said of the Urban Outfitter items in an interview with NPR. “The Navajo Nation has been very sensitive about people using their name to promote tacky products.” For the Maasai name to be attached to orthopedic trainers or beach towels — items that do not even represent their namesake — is similar abuse.

Today, many Maasai leaders are attempting to stand for their cultural heritage. But Isaac ole Tialolo understands the entire Maasai nation must agree to this. He hopes they will be successful in uniting the Maasai for intellectual property rights. The NGO Light Years IP works alongside Maasai leaders — as it has in a number of developing countries — to educate the Maasai in what they are aiming to do.

The Maasai have a strong sense of ownership of their culture, says Isaac. As the Maasai become educated and the rest of the world becomes informed on the matter, branding consultant Bruce Webster says “they’ll win the PR battle absolutely.”

– Naomi Doraisamy

Source: BBC,Guardian,NPR
Photo: BBC

World Poverty Declines RapidlyOxford University’s poverty and human development initiative published a world poverty report.  As world poverty declines, the report notes that “never in history have the living conditions and prospects of so many people changed so dramatically and so fast.”  In fact, if some countries continue to improve at current rates, it is possible to eradicate acute poverty within 20 years.

The academic study measured new deprivations, such as nutrition, education, and health. By examining more than income deprivation, the study is able to convey the bigger picture.  The new methodology is entitled to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI).  Past studies identify income as the only indicator of poverty.  This is a misrepresentation because multiple aspects constitute poverty.

The MPI measures poor health, lack of education, inadequate living standards, lack of income, disempowerment, poor quality of work, and threats from violence.  These factors provide a holistic look as world poverty declines.

Dr. Sabina Alkire and Dr. Maria Emma Santos developed the new system.   They named the system “multidimensional” because it is what people facing poverty describe.  “As poor people worldwide have said, poverty is more than money,” Alkire said.

This increased information and understanding better inform international donors and governments.  “Maybe we have been overlooking the power of the people themselves, women who are empowering each other, civil society pulling itself up,” Alkire said.  The new data could incentivize donors to provide assistance.  International and national aid contribute to declining rates.  Improvements to infrastructure, education, and healthcare help decrease poverty rates.  Trade has improved the economies of Ethiopia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone.

Rwanda, Nepal, and Bangladesh experienced the greatest decrease in poverty rates.  It is possible that “deprivation could disappear within the lifetime of present generations.”  Close behind in the ranks of poverty reduction were Ghana, Tanzania, Cambodia, and Bolivia.

The study is supported by the United Nations’ recent development report.  The UN report stated that poverty reduction was “exceeding all expectations.”

Check out the MPI interactive world map for more details.

– Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: The Guardian

Top Priorities for Africa in 2013The Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) at Brookings released a report of top priorities for Africa.  The AGI “brings together African scholars to provide policymakers with high-quality research, expertise, and innovative solutions that promote Africa’s economic development.”  The Foresight Africa report shows promising opportunities in Africa.  It outlines the top priorities for Africa in 2013.

Moving from “economic stagnation to above 5 percent GDP growth on average,” Africa is prospering.  Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique and Tanzania are some of the fastest-growing economies in the world, and African governments are embracing this growth by lowering transaction costs.  Africa’s economic growth is creating a new middle class.  This middle class means new markets for goods and services.  The Foresight Africa report notes that it is a prime time for investors.

Some African countries are mirroring Asian models and engaging their diasporas for economic and social development.  South Africa, for example, is using TalentCorp’s model.  TalentCorp is a partnership between the government, the private sector and the overseas diaspora.  The model aims to bring highly skilled Malaysians living abroad back to their home country.

Countries everywhere recognize the potential in harnessing Africa’s diaspora.  In 2011, the United States Congress proposed the African Investment and Diaspora Act.  The bill was designed to support African development.  Ghana and Kenya are on the cutting-edge and have already “established units within their respective governments to oversee diaspora affairs.”  AGI’s Foresight Africa report points to these examples as models for other countries.

Check out the full report for more information.

Whitney M. Wyszynski

Source: Brookings
Photo: Daily Maverick

The End of a 50-Year Debate: Lake Malawi Mediation Begins in MarchA border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania that has remained unresolved for almost fifty years should be resolved within the next three months, according to government officials of both countries. The dispute involves ownership of Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique.

Lake Malawi is located in the southeastern region of Africa between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is Africa’s third-largest and second-deepest lake and is the ninth-largest lake in the world.

The lake is an extremely valuable resource for the region’s inhabitants. Besides being home to thousands of types of fish and other plants and wildlife, Lake Malawi is the primary source of income, food, transportation, and other basic needs for about 1.5 million Malawians and 600,000 Tanzanians. Local residents report that they are unable to cross freely between the countries because of tension, and even mistreatment, at the border.

The dispute over Lake Malawi ownership began in 1963 with the reaffirmation of the Heligoland Agreement, which stated that the national border lay on the Tanzanian side of the lake. Since that time, the countries have, tried twice to resolve the problem, to no avail. Malawi claims ownership of the lake as a stipulation of the treaty, while Tanzania claims the treaty is flawed and that the boundary should be redrawn down the lake’s center.

The dispute has come to a head recently due to the Malawian government reports that Lake Malawi holds rich mineral and oil deposits beneath its floor. Over the last eight months, Malawi has awarded oil exploration licenses to oil companies based in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which has increased tensions between the countries. Officials are hopeful that with the help of an objective third party, the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government, the dispute will finally be resolved.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: All Africa
Photo: Real Malawi Travel