Tanzania FlagThe United Republic of Tanzania is in East Africa bordered by Kenya and Uganda to the north, Rwanda, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique to the south and Indian Ocean to the east. Tanzania attained Independence from colonial rule in 1961. The country was formed as a union between the mainland territory, Tanganyika, and the island of Zanzibar in 1964, although the latter still maintains a semi-autonomous government and legislature.[1]

Government Structure

The United Republic of Tanzania is a unitary state composed of 30 administrative regions. The current head of state is President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, first elected in 2005 and re- elected in 2010 for a final five year term. Since 1996, the official capital of Tanzania has been Dodoma, where parliament and some government offices are located. Between independence and 1996 the major coastal city of Dar es Salaam had been the country’s political capital. Today Dar es Salaam remains the principal commercial city of Tanzania and the de-facto seat of most government institutions. It is the major seaport for the country and its landlocked neighbours.[2]

Existing Transportation Network

Tanzania’s national development strategy emphasises that extensive and efficient infrastructure is critical to ensure the effective functioning of the country’s economy[3]. The transport system in Tanzania consists of five modes: roads, rail, water, air and pipelines. A high proportion of the infrastructure was not modernised over time due to limited resources to invest and a large amount of infrastructure and equipment is now beyond its economic life.


The road network in Tanzania currently comprises 86,472 km of roads in the formal inventory of which 12,786 km are categorised as trunk roads, 21,105 km as regional roads and the remaining 52,581 km as district, urban and feeder roads.


Tanzania has two railway systems of different gauges that were constructed at different times and for different purposes.

The first and oldest system is the Reli Asset Holding Company (RAHCO)/TRL system which was constructed in colonial times. The rail system was constructed to a 1metre gauge (1,000 mm) standard. The mainline comprises the central corridor between the port of Dar es Salaam in the east, linking central and western areas of the country and terminating at Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika in the west. A second east-west line from the port of Tanga to Moshi was built between the years 1899 to 1911, and was subsequently extended to Arusha and linked to the Kenya and Uganda rail system at Voi in 1925. Branch lines were constructed to Mpanda in 1949 and to Kidatu in 1965. Another line was constructed in 1965 linking the central corridor line with the Tanga line. The total system length is 2,707 km.

The Tanzania–Zambia Railway (TAZARA) is the second railway system constructed from 1970 to 1975, financed by the Peoples’ Republic of China It was constructed to the cape gauge standard, 1,067 mm, similar to the rail systems of Southern Africa to which it links with Zambia. The line is 1,860 km in length, of which 975 km is in Tanzania and 885 km in Zambia. An interface was constructed between this railway and the TRL system at Kidatu to facilitate freight traffic interchange between the two rail systems.


The development of ports in Tanzania has a long history extending well over a century commencing with the initial coastal settlements at Dar es Salaam and Tanga in the 19th century. Lake ports were also developed at these locations to serve the lakeside communities and provide trading nodes to surrounding settlements.

The coastal ports became important ports of call for both freight and passenger shipping movements and were the main gateways for international travel between the country and foreign destinations, particularly in the Middle East and Europe. The Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) was established under the Ports Act No 17 of 2004 to take over the functions of the Tanzania Harbours Authority and the Marine Services Company. Its major responsibilities are to develop, manage and promote the port subsector in Tanzania mainland.

TPA’s network of ports serve a large market which includes the whole of the country’s hinterland and the neighbouring landlocked countries of Burundi, Rwanda, DR Congo, Uganda, Zambia and Malawi. The main seaports, especially Dar es Salaam, provide vital access to world markets for this region. The ports on Lake Victoria, Tanganyika and Nyasa are also important for local and international trade although they now suffer from competition from road transport in many locations.


Airports in Tanzania play an important part in the country’s transport infrastructure. In addition to providing international gateways, airports have historically been used in domestic traffic and have been indispensable for pioneering development opportunities in remote rural areas. Overall, the country has 368 airports with the Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) responsible for 58 airports on the mainland. The majority of the airports are private airfields owned by Mining companies and tor operators.


At the present time there are three pipelines in Tanzania which are all related to the energy sector. They are the TAZAMA pipeline which transports crude oil from Dar es Salaam port to an oil refinery at Ndola in Zambia over a distance of 1,710 km, the Songo-Songo pipeline which transfers natural gas from Songo-Songo island to Dar es Salaam over a distance of 232 km and the Mnazi Bay pipeline which transfers natural gas from the Mnazi gas field to a power plant in Mtwara over a distance of 28 km. The oil and gas industry is currently expanding at a fast pace as new sources of supplies are being discovered.

Economic Development

In 2012 and into 2013, the Tanzanian economy expanded at an annualized rate of approximately 7%. Economic growth continues to be driven by growth in a few sectors, particularly the ICT, financial services, construction, trade and mining sectors. Except with mining, activities within these sectors are largely concentrated in urban areas. Future economic growth will also depend on the ability of the Government to remove existing constraints on businesses. The most significant constraint on growth as reported by 80% of businesses operating in Tanzania, relates to the provision of electrical energy. On transport infrastructure, Tanzania has made notable progress in the rehabilitation and extension of the country’s road network. However, rural roads need more improvements as they raise production costs in the agriculture sector, and the rail systems are not effectively operated with poor infrastructure and equipment problems.
[1] www.worldbank.org

[2] www.tanzania.go.gz

[3] Tanzania Transport Sector Review (AfDB), 2013


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