Tanzania woos DRC, Burundi for trade
Posted Thursday, October 31 2013 at 10:06
DODOMA- The Tanzanian government has initiated talks with neighbouring Burundi and Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) with a view of establishing economic and trade relations in the backdrop of weakening relations within the East Africa Community (EAC).
The Tanzanian minister for East Africa Cooperation, Mr Samuel Sitta, said in Dodoma yesterday Tanzania has not been sitting idle after three partners in the regional groupings started “sidelining the remaining two partners”.
Mr Sitta said economically, it is sensible to work with the DR Congo now because the country holds immense economic potential in the region.
That is why the government was concentrating on implementing a project of construction of a railway line from Uvinza in Kigoma Region to Msongati in order to connect the country with the DR Congo.
“Our problem now is that a road linking us to Goma in DRC goes through Rwanda. But we will construct the rail to Msongati from Uvinza,” he said.
He also said Tanzania looks at Burundi because it is cost effective for the country businessmen to use Dar es Salaam instead of Mombasa port.
He noted that a Bujumbura businessman who opts for Mombasa port travels 900km more compared o the one who uses Dar port.
Feeling left out
For some months now Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have opted to forge ahead with integration agenda in the absence of Tanzania and Burundi. The three partners have reached a point of debating a protocol to speed the formation of political federation.
However, Mr Sitta appeared to be cautious when reacting to the questions from Members of Parliament stressing that time was not yet ripe for Tanzania to take bold steps as reaction to what three EAC members were doing.
“It pains if our partners are acting behind our back. But on this issue I would like to advice you that we should heed a counsel by former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi who said that a best way of dealing with a liar is to give him space,” he said.
Mr Sitta noted that the government was now very cautious on its engagements in EAC activities. He noted that because the three countries have sometimes been inviting Tanzania to their activities, the government has been careful on where it sends its representatives.