The visit of President Samia Suluhu Hassan of the United Republic of Tanzania, to the Sultanate of Oman has huge political, economic and social significance. Both these countries have a common history in which their social relations are also rooted. Therefore, it is said that there are no borders in their bonhomie and friendship. The warmth and affection which the two countries enjoyed can be a stepping stone to build economic relations and draw investments. This will bring the people of the two countries closer and cement their ties. This can begin with building communication at people-to-people level.
The relations of Oman with the Horn of Africa, particularly Tanzania and Zanzibar, are deeply rooted in history. They still have beautiful ethnic connections. Now the time has come for the people of the two countries or the regions to be allowed to come forward to implement their agenda of reviving this bonhomie.
Oman can play a major role by creating a positive environment for this in cooperation with its counterparts in the Horn of Africa region. The two countries or regions can maximise cooperation in the economic areas by establishing a bloc of the Swahili-speaking countries, for example. This will bolster their cooperation and communication, like many other regional groups in the world. These groups are formed using common elements such as language and social relations.
Undoubtedly, the ground for developing bilateral relations between the two countries is already available. The only thing we need is some more attention. Oman exported goods to Tanzania worth more than $36 million in 2021. The volume of imports from Tanzania was more than $9.5 million. It means the trade balance is in favour of Oman with more than $27 million. It means that more work is required to bolster bilateral trade between the two countries. It requires serious attention from both sides. Both Oman and Tanzania should work hard to explore more opportunities for expanding economic cooperation.
The statistics speak volumes. They show that the amount of bilateral trade between Oman and Tanzania was lower compared with their social relations between the two as well as their geographical proximity and shared history. These are the realities which can be utilised for further strengthening and expanding the areas of cooperation particularly in economic and commercial areas.
Tanzania has a population of 62 million. It has an area of more than 947,000 square kilometres. With a gross domestic product of $62 billion, it has a growth rate of 2 per cent. There are huge opportunities for cooperation and investment, particularly in mining, raw materials, agriculture and tourism.
Therefore, we should use this historical and cultural ties to add more momentum in the trade exchange and cooperation between the two countries.
Perhaps the formation of a group of Swahili-speaking countries, similar to Francophone, Spanish and Portuguese groups, would help in penetrating African markets and Tanzania in particular. The group can address the real issues of the citizens of the region, utilise their potential in trade and investments for the development and growth of those countries.
The two countries can develop people to people contact and all required facilities should be provided for this. There should be exchange programmes of media persons, research scholars, writers, scholars and students. There should be mutual visits of these countries at this level so that they have first hand experience of each other and build their own ties.
We are confident that the visit of President Samia Suluhu Hassan would open up more avenues of bilateral relations at all levels as a prelude to greater ties leading to a regional Swahili association.