Samia Suluhu mocks East African country 'without forex reserve to last a week'

Presidents Samia Suluhu (Tanzania), Salva Kiir (South Sudan), Yoweri Museveni Museveni (Uganda), Felix Tshisekedi  (DRC) William Ruto (Kenya) and Paul Kagame (Rwanda). PHOTO | FILE | NMG

What you need to know:

  • The Kenyan shilling has also depreciated compared to the Uganda and Tanzania shillings, which have traditionally been weaker currencies.

Tanzania President Samia Suluhu has said her country has the best-performing economy in East Africa.

Speaking on International Women’s Day, Ms Suluhu told Tanzanians to appreciate the state of their economy which was better compared to her neighbouring countries.

She cited an example of an unnamed country that she said does not have forex reserves to last a week.

She said the unnamed country has been seeking the help of Tanzania with the dollar to import petroleum products.

“Let no one lie to you (Tanzanians),” she said.

“We are at a better place compared to our neighbours. Their dollar reserves cannot last a week, our reserves can push us for four months. They are here begging us for guarantees so that they can buy fuel.”

The head of state said she, however, did not help the needy country because she feigned a dollar problem in Tanzania.

Ms Suluhu’s comments come weeks after Kenya’s Treasury Cabinet Secretary Prof. Njuguna Ndun’gu urged Kenyans to brace themselves for tougher times in 2023.

Her comments come days after The Citizen reported that commercial banks in Kenya had run out of dollars and had resorted to borrowing from Tanzania.

The report added that the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has directed commercial banks to ration dollars following a shortage of the currency and the race to protect reserves.

Scavenging for dollars

“We are now scavenging for dollars. Only half of every six banks we call daily for dollars will have something for us. Three of the banks will ask us to check later,” a top executive of a manufacturing firm who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), was quoted by the paper saying.

“What is available at banks is between $5,000 and $10,000. One will be fortunate to get $20,000 and extremely lucky to get $50,000 from a single bank. This is crazy for a business that requires $1 million monthly for supplies and we are getting each dollar at KSh137,” the executive added.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan shilling has considerably depreciated in recent times.

Although it remains among the strongest currencies in the region, the shilling has depreciated by almost 10 percent to the dollar in the past month and is currently trading at KSh130.

The Kenyan shilling has also depreciated compared to the Uganda and Tanzania shillings, which have traditionally been weaker currencies.

This comes as President Ruto struggles to tame the surging cost of living with prices of maize flour and fuel at an all-time high amid pressure from the opposition. President Ruto has blamed the opposition for the poor economy.