Tanzania, United Republic of
major macro economic indicators
|GDP growth (%)
|Inflation (yearly average, %)
|Budget balance (% GDP)
|Current account balance (% GDP)
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(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Fiscal year from 1st July 2022 - 30th June. 2023 data: FY22-23 **Grants included
- Mining wealth (gold, copper)
- Gas potential thanks to offshore reserves discovered in 2010
- Tourism assets (national parks, coastline)
- Regional cooperation strategy, accelerated integration into the East African Community (EAC) under President Samia Suluhu Hassan
- International support in the form of concessional loans
- Development of monetary policy instruments
- High dependence on gold prices
- Vulnerability of agriculture (29% of GDP and 65% of employment) to climatic conditions
- Inadequate infrastructure, particularly in electricity and transport
- Inconsistent industrial policy and poor business environment
- Religious tensions between the Zanzibar archipelago and the mainland
- Low level of human capital
Numerous infrastructure projects continue to boost activity
After proving fairly resilient in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic thanks to gold exports (40% of the total) and the authorities' refusal to impose major health restrictions, the economy now has to deal with the effects of the war in Ukraine, particularly on prices. However, although growth is expected to decelerate, it should remain strong thanks to public and private investment in ongoing and future infrastructure projects. For instance, the standard gauge railway project is expected to continue. Work on the railway line, which started in late 2019, will link the country with Rwanda and Uganda, and thereafter Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The 2022-2023 budget of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport anticipates spending USD 1.7 billion on transport infrastructure development projects, including this project. Also earmarked for expenditure is the purchase of four new Boeing aircraft by Air Tanzania. The USD 30 billion offshore natural gas development and liquefaction project is expected to start in 2023 as part of the agreement signed with Shell (UK) and Equinor (Norway). However, the immediate impact on growth will be small as the final investment decision is not expected before 2025. By contrast, the terms of trade are deteriorating owing to the war in Ukraine, thereby increasing the import bill. While imports will continue to be driven by capital goods required for infrastructure projects, rising fuel and food prices, coupled with disruptions to the fertiliser and pesticide markets, will undermine the contribution of trade to growth. Moreover, tourism revenues, which were already struggling to recover their pre-crisis level, are expected to suffer from the reduction in tourist flows from Ukraine and Russia (11% of arrivals in 2021). In addition, rising bills for imported goods and commodity prices are fuelling inflation to its highest level since 2017, which will erode the contribution of private consumption. That said, inflation is expected to remain below the central bank's 5% target, and household purchasing power will be boosted by the announced removal of the mobile money tax.
Twin deficits still large and sustainable public debt
The public deficit, which remained high in 2021-2022 due to expenditure linked to the Socio-Economic Response and Recovery Plan, will increase again in 2022-2023 on the back of social and development expenditure. The government has announced fuel and fertiliser subsidies to combat the impact of inflation on household purchasing power. Furthermore, health expenditure linked to the fight against Covid-19 is expected to remain high until 2024. Finally, while partial debt service relief was granted in 2020-2021, debt service will increase in 2023. Public debt, which has increased by almost 15 percentage points of GDP since the early 2010s due to the financing of infrastructure projects, is expected to stabilise in 2023. The risk of debt distress remains limited as about 70% of the external share (approximately 71% of total public debt) is made up of concessional loans from multilateral and bilateral partners. The domestic share is held mainly by commercial banks and pension funds.
Structurally in deficit due to Tanzania's dependence on imports, the current account is expected to continue to post a large (albeit slightly shrinking) deficit. Deterioration in the terms of trade and slow recovery in tourism receipts due to the war in Ukraine will continue to weigh on the trade deficit. However, continued strong exports of mining products, starting with gold, will mitigate the deterioration. The primary income account (mainly investment income) is in deficit, in particular due to the repatriation of corporate profits. This is only half offset by the surplus in the secondary income account, which is mainly fuelled by remittances from expatriates. The current account deficit will continue to be financed mainly by loans (concessional and non-concessional), foreign direct investment and project aid. Exceptional financing from the IMF (USD 1 billion loan under the Extended Fund Facility) and the World Bank will contribute to funding. A new allocation of SDRs equivalent to USD 543 million in 2021 will supplement the foreign exchange reserves, which were still estimated at 4.5 months of imports at end-June 2022.
Efforts to ease the social climate and strengthen external relations
President John Magufuli died in March 2021 after being re-elected in October 2020 for a second five-year term, winning nearly 85% of the vote in a high-stakes election. Vice President Samia Suluhu Hassan was sworn in as President to finish Magufuli's term of office (2025). On the domestic front, the President has taken steps to calm the social climate, starting with the abolition of the mobile money tax in September 2022. When introduced in 2021, the tax initially provoked a wave of protests, leading the government to reduce it once. Fuel and fertiliser subsidies should also limit social discontent over price increases. Moreover, after years of fending off pressure from opposition parties and rights activists, the ruling CCM party has said that it is ready to reform the country's constitution. However, in the absence of a timetable, it seems unlikely that such a reform will materialise before the 2025 elections. A possible revision of the constitution could reawaken latent tensions over Zanzibar's status and the archipelago's desire for independence.
Externally, efforts to position the country as a regional trade hub (pipeline project with Uganda, strengthening the country's integration into the EAC, etc.) could strengthen ties with neighbouring countries. While the Kitaya attack (October 2020), near the border with Mozambique, signalled that insecurity related to Islamist insurgency in its neighbouring country could harm Tanzania too, the government also agreed to greater security cooperation between the two countries. After the DRC joined the EAC in March 2022, multilateral cooperation on regional security is expected to intensify in an attempt to contain continuing instability in the area.
Last updated: April 2023