President John Magufuli yesterday asked the Turkish government to provide a concessional loan for the construction of at least 400 kilometre-stretch of the envisaged standard gauge central railway.
President Magufuli as well revealed that a Turkish company was among the short-listed contractors that had bid for implementation of the multitrillion shilling project that covers over 1,200 kilometres from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza.
Dr Magufuli’s disclosure came as he hosted a joint press conference at the State House with the visiting President of Turkey, Mr Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was in the country for a two-day state visit.
“I have appealed to government of Turkey through their EXIM Bank to provide funds for construction of a section of the standard gauge railway to which President Erdoğan has agreed...he has directed his finance minister to work on it,” the president announced.
President Magufuli said the visiting Turkish leader had pledged to support the project, “describing the 400-kilometer stretch asked for by the Tanzanian government as too small.” The two leaders had a closeddoor meeting for the better part of yesterday, reportedly dwelling in bi-lateral relations between the two countries.
“For our economy to grow, we must develop friendship and co-operation with other countries...Turkey, for instance, is ranked the seventh leading producer of food crops in the world. We can use their technology to improve agriculture in our country,” President Magufuli noted.
Adding, “Tanzania is a developing country, but eager to cooperate with developed countries in the world.” President Magufuli was hopeful as well, that direct flight between Tanzania and Turkey through Turkish Airlines will add the number of tourists visiting Dar es Salaam from Ankara. Trade volume between Tanzania and Turkey stood at US 66 million dollars in 2011 and the amount more than doubled to US 190 million dollars as of last year.
“There are currently 30 Turkish projects registered in Tanzania with a combined value of 505.08 million US dollars... the investments have created 2,950 jobs for Tanzanians,” Dr Magufuli noted. President Erdoğan pointed out that there was huge potential for cooperation between the two countries in sectors like industry, trade and tourism, among others.
“The current rate of trade volume of 190 million dollars does not reflect the real potential, I believe the amount could be as much as 500 million dollars per annum. “We want to strengthen co-operation between our countries through enhancement of investments and promotion of entrepreneurship,” he remarked.
The visiting leader, who arrived in Tanzania on Sunday and was expected to depart yesterday evening, was optimistic that authorities in Tanzania would provide smooth facilitation for Turkish investors wishing to invest in Tanzania. President Erdoğan invited President Magufuli at the inauguration of the Tanzania High Commission in Ankara, Turkey, scheduled for the near future.
In another development, President Erdoğan asked the support of President Magufuli and the government of Tanzania in flushing-out members of the Fethullah Gülen Movement from the African continent. The Turkish government accuses the movement, founded by Muhammed Fethullah Gülen, now in exile in the United States, for the failed coup attempt in Turkey last year.
“As you know Mr President there was a coup attempt in Turkey in July last year in which about 240 people were killed and over 2,000 injured, this movement (Gülen Movement) is present everywhere, including Africa.
“It is my hope that your government will support us to eradicate the movement in Africa,” he appealed.