Dar es Salaam. President Samia Suluhu Hassan will pay a state visit to Zambia tomorrow with the goal of strengthening trade ties and partnerships through port and road infrastructure.
The two-day visit will coincide with Zambia’s 59th anniversary of independence, which President Hassan will also attend.
In a briefing about the trip, the minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Mr January Makamba, told reporters yesterday that the visit will strengthen the historical connection between the two countries and explore opportunities for businesses.
He said the leaders of both countries will discuss the future of the Tanzania and Zambia Railway Authority (Tazara) and the Tazama oil pipeline, both jointly owned, and explain the ongoing improvement at the port of Dar es Salaam.
“Tanzania and Zambia will discuss the best way to collaborate to improve the operation of the infrastructure that we jointly own, including the Tazama oil pipeline, Tazara and other infrastructure,” he said.
About 25 percent of all cargo passing through the port of Dar es Salaam is destined for Zambia, making the security and efficiency of the port a top priority.
Mr Makamba stressed the need for an effective and secure Dar es Salaam port to support Zambians in their international trade.
In 2022, the trade volume between the two countries reached Sh394.2 billion, with Tanzania’s exports to Zambia estimated at Sh183.6 billion.
Mr Makamba underscored the significance of the visit, stressing the importance of strengthening cooperation in strategic areas such as transport, energy, trade, and infrastructure.
A major focus of the state visit will be addressing the vital infrastructure that connects the two nations.
President Hassan is expected to discuss the development of the port of Dar es Salaam, which plays a pivotal role in trade between Tanzania and Zambia.
The Tazara, originally built in the 1960s, is another critical component of the infrastructure agenda.
Recent years have seen the railway facing operational challenges, but both countries have now reached an agreement on a new approach to revitalise and strengthen the railway.
“This renewed effort is poised to enhance the connectivity between Tanzania and Zambia and further facilitate the movement of goods and people, hence worth a priority in the state visit,” he said.
On the energy front, the visit will also address the Tazama oil pipeline, which is a company jointly owned by the two countries. Historically, this pipeline transported unrefined crude oil, but since 2021, it has been repurposed to transport refined oil, particularly diesel.
“This shift in operation underscores the need to bolster the pipeline’s security. Additionally, the possibility of constructing a new, larger pipeline will be explored to improve the oil transportation infrastructure further,” stated Mr Makamba.
The interaction between the citizens of both countries is another vital aspect of the visit, with a specific focus on immigration. With over 600 trucks passing daily between Tanzania and Zambia en route to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), there is a necessity to streamline and improve immigration procedures.
Mr Makamba noted: “Facilitating easier movement of people and goods is essential to ensuring smooth trade relations between Tanzania and Zambia.” Trade and investment are at the forefront of the agenda for this state visit. Both countries boast a thriving business relationship, with significant activities in energy, grain, logistics, and vehicle equipment, among others. Minister Makamba emphasised the potential for even greater economic cooperation and the need to enhance commercial rules and procedures to boost productivity.
President Hassan’s visit aims to explore opportunities for strengthening commercial ties through the three economic communities of which both countries are members.
As Mr Makamba put it, “The purpose of this visit is to assure our Zambian colleagues that the port of Dar es Salaam will continue to be a source of support for Zambians in doing their international business.”