Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan has defended her use of loans from multilateral lenders, telling an audience in Accra that the institutions were her country’s lifeline in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Samia, participating in a panel alongside the presidents of Ghana, Mozambique and Comoros, said loans received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and African Development Fund (AfDB) helped her stabilize the economy , improve the quality of the learning environment and expand the scope of drinking water supply.
“With the support of the AfDB and other multilateral donors, I have done well,” she told an audience on Tuesday during the presidential dialogue on the development challenges and opportunities of the country. Africa, as part of the AfDB’s annual meetings this year in Ghana.
“Due to Covid-19, the IMF gave us money as an economic bailout. Most countries used this money to buy disinfectants and those [other] items needed to fight Covid-19. But for me, I thought Covid-19 meant the decongestion of students in the classroom.
“[We] had 100 to 120 students in a class. I was able to decongest them and now have 45-50 students in a class. I thought Covid-19 meant water availability, I took that money and used it to provide clean, safe water to most parts of my country. When I arrived the water availability was 72% and I moved it to almost 80%. I expect that in 2025 it will be 95% in urban areas and 85% in villages.
Tanzania, like several African countries, has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Tanzania’s economy fell from 6.8% growth to 4% after Covid-19, even though the country, unlike its neighbors, did not implement a lockdown and did not initially order port mandatory mask, nor calls for vaccines. But after Samia was sworn in as president in March last year following the death of her predecessor John Pombe Magufuli, she made changes, including calling on citizens to take preventive measures, such as the mask wearing and hand hygiene, to curb the spread of Covid. -19.
Nonetheless, the country has taken advantage of multilateral lenders eager to help respond to Covid-19.
Under the Crisis Response Budget Support Program, the AfDB disbursed a $50.7 million loan in 2020 to support response measures, including health systems strengthening and health care responses. emergency.
And after President Samia came to power in March 2021 and Tanzania agreed to share data on Covid-19, as well as coordinate the response with international bodies, the IMF Executive Board approved 265, $2 million in special drawing rights (SDRs), or about $372.4. million. Donated under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF), the money was intended to help Tanzania’s balance of payments as the country faced a revenue shortage.
The IMF said at the time that the money should also help catalyze support from development partners to back Tanzania, if it strengthens governance and transparency around the pandemic.
“I also used this money for health. Covid-19 means treating people at the village level. So I built about 350 health centers using this money and modern equipment,” President Samia told the audience, during a panel discussion that included Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo, the Mozambican leader Felipe Nyusi and Comoros President Azali Assoumani (who appeared virtually).
It also included the Ivorian Vice-President Tiémoko Meyliet Koné and the Rwandan Prime Minister, Mr. Édouard Ngirente.
The Tanzanian leader, visiting West Africa for the first time since taking power in March 2021, was answering a question about the challenges faced during her year in leadership. She said she must earn the trust of Tanzanians as the first female president.
“I had to prove to them that I could do it, that women could do it. I think in a year, I proved that women can do it. I ruled the country the way the men did, and in some circumstances better than the men.
During the session, she hinted that she would keep coming back to lenders as the country targets crucial infrastructure like airports, ports, roads and an expanded national airline.
“We need to make our voice heard with multilateral lenders to enable AfDB to access SDRs as these will benefit Africa,” she said, expressing support for the AfDB call. to reallocate SDRs to Africa to benefit countries directly.
The Tanzanian leader is this year’s recipient of the Africa Road Builders-Babacar Ndiaye trophy, an annual award sponsored by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and organized by Acturoutes, an information platform on infrastructure and roads in Africa, as well as than the media. for Infrastructure and Finance in Africa (MIFA) – a network of African journalists specializing in road infrastructure. According to the AfDB, the prize is awarded to African personalities who have demonstrated their commitment to the development of transport infrastructure on the continent.
His trip also comes as the continent discusses technology to boost energy investments and tackle the ongoing food shortage crisis. The Bank’s theme this year is climate resilience and a just energy transition.