The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on April 20, 2024. Register Here

Close this search box.

Tanga: A Sleeping Giant Off the Coast of East Africa?

Authorities can improve Tanga’s business viability by reducing red tape and incentivising businesses to invest in the region.

subscribe to our newsletter!

Writing about Tanga is a subject close to my heart. I trace my ancestry back to the mountains of Usambara seven generations back.

Growing up, I would hear stories from my grandfather about how Tanga was a thriving and bustling region, with Tanga town at the centre of economic activities off the coast. Tanga was the second largest city after Dar es Salaam during Tanganyika’s independence.

Tanga is a port city in Tanzania with over 300,000 people. It is located on the Indian Ocean coast, about 400 kilometres north of Dar es Salaam. The name Tanga means sail in Swahili. It is a major economic hub for the region and is home to several businesses and industries.

The city has for centuries been an influential economic powerhouse for the coastal region of East Africa. The Portuguese established a trading post in Tanga for their East African territory and controlled the area for 200 years between 1500 and 1700.

The Sultanate of Oman then took control of Tanga from the Portuguese by the mid-1700s and consolidated it with Mombasa, Pemba Island and Kilwa. Tanga was a trading port for ivory and the slave trade under the sultan.

READ MORE: Clash Between Farmers, Pastoralists Leave Two Injured in Tanga

In 1891, the Germans took the coastal strip of Mainland Tanzania from the Sultanate of Zanzibar. Tanga was then designated a township and was the first establishment in German East Africa and was the centre of German colonial administration before the establishment of Dar es Salaam.

All of the above serve to highlight the strategic importance of Tanga and how developing it can be a boost not only to the region’s economy but to Tanzania at large. Tanga was the epicentre of the country’s industrial push during the early years of Tanganyika, then Tanzania.

The region was host to numerous public corporations totalling 177. Tanga has many business opportunities that stakeholders can exploit to develop Tanzania further. I will highlight some of these opportunities in this article.


Tanga has fertile land and a climate that is favourable for agriculture. The main crops grown in Tanga include maize, rice, and sugarcane. There are also opportunities for livestock farming and aquaculture.

Crop farming: Tanga’s climate is suitable for growing various crops. Consider cultivating crops such as maize, rice, beans, bananas, cassava, coffee, tea, and different fruits and vegetables.

Horticulture: Tanga’s moderate climate and fertile soil make it conducive to horticultural activities. Establish a greenhouse or open-field cultivation to grow high-value crops like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and other vegetables.

Floriculture: With its favourable climate and access to reliable water sources, Tanga presents opportunities for flower farming. Consider cultivating flowers such as roses, lilies, and carnations. These can be sold domestically or exported to countries with a high demand for cut flowers, especially Europe.

READ MORE: Preparations Underway for Tanzania Mining and Investment Forum 2023

Livestock farming: Tanga has potential for livestock farming, including dairy farming, poultry farming, and goat and sheep rearing. An investor can assess the local market demand for dairy products, eggs, and meat and establish a farm accordingly. Additionally, consider value-added activities such as processing dairy products or manufacturing animal feed.

Aquaculture: The coastal location of Tanga provides opportunities for aquaculture ventures. Establish fish farms for species like tilapia or catfish.

Agroforestry: Tanga’s fertile soil and suitable climate favour agroforestry practices. Consider growing timber and fruit trees, which can provide both economic and environmental benefits. Investors can grow tree species like eucalyptus and acacia for wood, while mangoes, avocados, and citrus fruits are famous for commercial fruit production.

Agribusiness and processing: Identify opportunities to add value to agricultural products. Establish food processing units for maize, rice, fruits, and vegetables, involving milling, drying, canning, or juicing.


Tanga has several tourist attractions, including beaches, forests, and historical sites. The tourism industry in Tanga is growing, and businesses have opportunities to provide tourism-related services such as accommodation, transportation, sightseeing and several other activities.

Beaches and coastal beauty: Tanga has stunning beaches along the Indian Ocean coastline. Pangani and Ushongo Beach are popular destinations to relax, swim, snorkel, and enjoy water sports. The pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life make these beaches a paradise for beach lovers.

READ MORE: Tanzania Is Back In Investment Attraction. Or Are We?

Amboni Caves: The Amboni Caves, located near Tanga, are one of the most extensive cave systems in East Africa. These limestone caves are a geological wonder, with fascinating rock formations, stalagmites, and stalactites. Exploring the caves offers a unique adventure and an opportunity to learn about the history and cultural significance of the area.

Amani Nature Reserve: Amani Nature Reserve is a lush tropical forest in the Usambara Mountains near Muheza. The reserve is known for its rich biodiversity, including rare plant species and birds. Visitors can enjoy hiking trails, birdwatching, and guided tours to explore the diverse flora and fauna of the area.

Historical sites: Tanga has a rich historical past, and several areas are worth visiting. The Old Boma, a former German administrative building, is now a museum showcasing the region’s history. The Tongoni Ruins, an archaeological site, offers insights into the ancient Swahili civilisation and features the remains of a 15th-century mosque and tombs.

Culture and local life: Tanga allows you to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience Swahili traditions. You can visit local markets, interact with the friendly locals, taste traditional Swahili cuisine, and witness traditional dances and music performances.

Other opportunities

Besides the above opportunities, Tanga also is home to mineral deposits, including gold, diamonds, and coal. There are opportunities for businesses to invest in mining and mineral processing. The different types of gemstones and minerals found in Tanga include gold, zircon, corundum, sapphire, garnet, ruby and others.

READ MORE: Crop Insurance in Tanzania: A Complicated Story

The region has several manufacturing industries, including food processing, textiles, and construction. There are opportunities for businesses to invest in new manufacturing industries or expand existing ones.

Likewise, Tanga is a significant port city well-connected to other parts of Tanzania and East Africa by road, rail, and air. There are opportunities for businesses to invest in logistics services such as warehousing, shipping, and freight forwarding.

The government, therefore, should be committed to developing Tanga and the surrounding region. The government should work to improve the business viability of Tanga by reducing red tape and providing incentives for businesses to invest in the region, including designating it as a special economic zone.

Thomas Joel Kibwana is an international relations and business development expert with ten years of experience. He is available at or on Twitter as @tkibwana. These are the writer’s own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of The Chanzo. Do you want to publish in this space? Contact our editors at for further inquiries.

Digital Freedom and Innovation Day
The Chanzo is hosting Digital Freedom and Innovation Day on Saturday April 20, 2024 at Makumbusho ya Taifa.

Register to secure your spot

2 Responses

  1. Indeed, Tanga is one among the sleeping giants in Tanzania. Because;
    It has a lot of potentials that need to be explored which could improve the living standard of individuals, as well as raise county’s economy. As you said there are potentials like arable land, second largest port in Tanzania, improved infrastructure, mountain and other potential in which now days are left uncovered.
    I really liked your document, it even shows intervations to be taken.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *