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Ensuring Transparency in Tanzania’s Relations With the Outside World Is Key to Preventing Unnecessary Misunderstanding

While Tanzanians may perceive potential risks and benefits differently, transparency in agreements with other nations will ultimately bring peace of mind.

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Like many Tanzanians, I enjoy Korean dramas. My favourite actor is Lee Min Ho. City Hunter is my top K-drama. Although I haven’t been to Seoul yet, I like the city. I even know a few Korean words; I can at least say Komowo, which means thank you, in English, if they gift me the latest Samsung mobile phone!

My fondness for Korea piqued my interest in following all the details of President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s visit to the Republic of Korea, famously known as South Korea, which has brought significant benefits to Tanzania, including a favourable loan of US$2.5 billion, or Sh6.5 trillion, and the signing of key Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) for developing the mining sector, particularly focusing on strategic minerals.

However, following the announcement, VOA Swahili reported that Tanzania had received the loan from South Korea and suggested it involved giving away mineral resources and maritime territory to Korea. That sparked outrage among Tanzanians. 

Some accused the government of relinquishing national resources, while others criticised VOA Swahili for causing alarm. The government’s swift clarification compelled the American state broadcaster to amend its headline, omitting the statement that suggested Tanzania has given away its minerals to Korea.

Meanwhile, Korean media outlets like Arirang TV reported that the agreements assured South Korea of a stable supply of key minerals from Tanzania. Coming back home, Tanzania’s The Citizen newspaper further detailed that this cooperation would involve research, mining, and value addition for strategic minerals such as graphite, nickel, and lithium.

READ MORE: Inside President Samia’s One-Week Visit to South Korea

Amidst this, I, like many others, feel compelled to research the details, speaking from my perspective as a concerned citizen of the United Republic.


It’s crucial to recognise that all of Tanzania’s mineral wealth belongs to the public—not just the government but every Tanzanian. Given this, it’s impractical for everyone to have a direct say over every detail of mineral development. 

The president oversees these resources, acting as a trustee on behalf of the public. Therefore, any actions regarding these minerals must prioritise the collective interest of Tanzanians. The question then arises: how do the agreements to advance the mining sector safeguard Tanzanians’ interests? 

Ministerial assurances online suggest that Tanzania intends to leverage strategic mineral resources domestically, seeking investors to mine, refine, and ultimately produce goods like car batteries within the country’s borders. In essence, this clarifies that the government’s objective is to export raw minerals and add value through local processing.

But do these agreements with South Korea pave the way for Tanzania to become a producer of car batteries? While VOA Swahili’s assertions about Tanzania relinquishing its mineral rights to Korea have been refuted, Korean outlets such as Arirang TV assert that Tanzania has committed to providing a stable supply of key minerals to the East Asian nation.

READ MORE: Harnessing Domestic Resources for Climate Action: Insights from Tanzania’s Extractive Sector

Let’s shift momentarily from Luke to Jeremiah. When Jeremiah commenced his prophecy, God posed an expressive question: Jeremiah, what do you see? This question is expressive today. 

As Tanzanians, do we envision ourselves merely allowing foreign entities to extract and deplete our mineral resources, as has been the norm? Or do we see an opportunity to collaborate with Korea in extracting strategic minerals, refining them, and manufacturing high-value products, such as batteries, for global markets?

Diverse narratives

The narratives are diverse: the government has articulated its stance, American media has reported, albeit retracting their claims later, and Koreans have echoed their perspective. Amidst this, Tanzanians are left to unveil the truth. Jakaya Kikwete, the fifth president of Tanzania, once urged his people with a Swahili proverb, Akili za kuambiwa, changanya na zako.” 

We must maintain clarity amid confusion, so let us heed this call.

International collaborations are not inherently negative; the devil, as they say, is in the details of the agreements. While Tanzania and South Korea have inked preliminary agreements, ensuring transparency in their implementation remains imperative. 

READ MORE: Transforming Tanzania: A Call for Reform in Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanisms (ISDS)

This is underscored by Tanzania’s existing Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with South Korea, which, though not ratified by Tanzanian authorities, thus unenforceable, carries significant implications for investment protection.

So, how will Korean investment in Tanzania’s strategic minerals materialise? This question demands transparency and scrutiny, echoing God’s inquiry to Jeremiah: What do you see? Tanzanians must ask themselves this question regarding their mineral wealth.

Amidst differing perceptions and concerns among stakeholders, the story of Elisha and his besieged aides offers a lesson. While they initially saw only the threat of the Aramean army, Elisha’s spiritual vision revealed divine protection. Likewise, while Tanzanians may perceive potential risks and benefits differently, transparency in agreements with Korea will ultimately bring peace of mind.

Lessons from the Bible?

In the biblical tale of Elisha and his servants, we witness the servant’s initial fear as he saw only the imminent threat of the Aramean army. However, Elisha’s prayer opened his spiritual eyes to the heavenly armies surrounding them, revealing divine protection amidst adversity. This parable underscores the transformative power of transparency and how it brings about assurance in the face of uncertainty. 

Similarly, amidst debates over international agreements, Tanzanians may find themselves grappling with uncertainty and apprehension. Yet, like Elisha’s prayer, transparency in government actions can dispel confusion and instil confidence among citizens. 

The government, akin to Elisha in this analogy, can light up the path forward, ensuring transparency, sovereignty, and prosperity for the nation. Just as Elisha’s prayer unveiled unseen forces of protection, transparency in governance can reveal safeguards and opportunities, guiding Tanzania towards a future defined by assurance and progress.

Clay Mwaifwani is a Dar es Salaam-based lawyer and commentator. He can be reached at or on X as @clay_mwaifwani. The opinions expressed here are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of The Chanzo. If you are interested in publishing in this space, please contact our editors at

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2 Responses

  1. I think you should teach the Holy Bible than writing articles. I did not come out of this any knowledgeable better!

  2. Your emphasis on transparency is a good idea.

    I wonder if the executive arm of the government has been given full control of the natural resources of the nation for their sale or rent without consulting the people through their parliament and other social interest groups. Such surrender of strategic minerals as Lithium which is key to car batteries and other future gadgets whose vale is increasing cannot be left to the Ministry of finance alone.

    Where in the agreement is a commitment to train our own experts -chemists, engineers, managers, entrepreneurs -who will eventually take over the business of extraction and value addition to these resources? I don’t see this mentioned and the whole affair seems secretive.
    This is an election year. That the government can do this at this time indicates lack of a vision.

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