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Next Africa: Tanzania Stirs Investors, Dismays Democrats

Welcome to Next Africa, a weekly newsletter of where the continent stands now — and where it’s going next.

Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan’s honeymoon is over.

The 61-year-old caused a frisson of excitement following her appointment in March when she moved to break with controversial policies of her predecessor, John Magufuli. Before his death earlier this year, Magufuli fought with investors, ignored the Covid-19 pandemic and bullied the opposition.

While Hassan promised to change all of that, her actions belie her words, at least as far as political tolerance is concerned.

This week, opposition leader Freeman Mbowe was charged with terrorism following an arrest before a meeting that was planned to discuss demands for a curb on presidential powers and amendments to the electoral process.


Freeman Mbowe.

It’s the first time an opposition leader has been charged with the crime since Tanzania became a multi-party democracy three decades ago.

It also goes against the conciliatory tone Hassan struck in an address to parliament in April, when she pledged to meet opposition leaders to “negotiate a mutually acceptable way forward for democracy.”

To date, she has won praise for restarting talks over a stalled $30 billion natural-gas project, pledging to end Magufuli’s disputes with mining companies and acting, albeit haltingly, to bring Covid-19 vaccines to the country.

In short, Hassan has made it clear that Tanzania is open for business, not democracy. She may find that it’s better when the two go together.

News & Opinion 

Ports Cyberattack | South Africa’s state-owned ports and freight-rail company declared force majeure at key container terminals due to disruptions caused by a July 22 cyberattack. With Transnet’s Durban port handling 60% of the nation’s shipments, a prolonged disruption will deal a further blow to an economy that was reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and deadly protests that shuttered businesses in two provinces. The attackers appear to have used a strain of ransomware that’s potentially linked to data breaches reported in Eastern Europe and Russia.

Waiting off South Africa

South Africa ports.


Financial Hub | Prudential plans to join Kenya’s financial center that formally begins operations in a couple of weeks. The hub is part of the East African nation’s longstanding plans to develop a financial industry to compete with regional intermediaries in Dubai, Johannesburg and Casablanca. Prudential recently moved its Africa hub to Nairobi from London. Since investing in Ghana in 2014, Prudential now has 1.2 million customers in eight African nations.

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