For Tanzania, rapidly growing cities could either become a national liability or the springboard towards global competitiveness, sustainability and middle-income status.

Tanzania has both a growing economy and an urbanising population, but the two trends are not currently mutually reinforcing. On the contrary, Tanzania’s predominantly rural past left very little of the governance architecture necessary if expanding cities are to flourish.  The rate of urban expansion in recent years has exposed the limitations of an urban development strategy reliant on dated Master Plans and implemented by national ministries and SOEs each operating in isolation.

Recognising the inevitability of the urbanisation trend, and the potential for growth and development where urban development is better co-ordinated, the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the President’s Office – Regional Administration and Local Government, worked with an inter-disciplinary community of urban practitioners in the Tanzanian Urbanisation Laboratory (TULab). The collective effort, hosted by the Economic and Social Research Foundation, culminated in an urbanisation roadmap, Harnessing Urbanisation for Development: Roadmap for Tanzania’s Urban Development Policy,  launched in the capital, Dodoma on 21 August 2019.

The roadmap outlines the leadership, fiscal and monetary strategy and regulatory steps, that would make Tanzanian cities safer, more inclusive, more productive and financially viable. It pays special attention to ‘who does what and with what money’ in the multi-actor process of establishing the synergies between low-carbon urban electricity, safe mobility, city-focussed industrialisation, new urban identities and citizen well-being. Based on the estimates produced by a macro-economic model, implementation of the roadmap could boost GDP, create over 200 000 new jobs, result in fewer road deaths per annum and a 3-fold increase in GDP per ton of CO2 emitted. Perhaps most importantly, it would also make Tanzanian cities nicer places to call home.

The roadmap’s release presents the Government of Tanzania with the option of approving its first National Urban Policy and joining the growing number of African cities seeking to draw benefits from urbanisation. National Urban Policy, as it is presented in the roadmap, highlights the need for co-ordinated land surveying, tenure upgrades, land zoning, infrastructure and service provision as well as the collection of levies, but also recognises that the success of Tanzanian cities has to include a new metropolitan mindset, new partnerships and a political commitment to cities.

The work of the TULab was initiated by Anton Cartwright at the African Centre for Cities, chaired by Dr Lorah Madete of the Ministry of Finance and Planning, co-ordinated by Mussa Martine and Dr Fortunata Makene at ESRF and supported by academics, development practitioners and government officials across Tanzania. The two-year project was financed by the Coalition for Urban Transitions, a special initiative of the New Climate Economy.

Download the roadmap HERE.