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Kai Mykkänen

TANZANIA - Diplomacy

Guiding Hand

Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Finland

Bio

Kai Mykkänen was appointed Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development in June 2016 and has been a member of parliament since 2015. Minister Mykkänen is known for his expertise on energy, Russia, and economics. He was the first chairman of the Parliament’s informal and inter-partisan working group called “the energy renovation group,” which brings together parliamentarians, academics, and entrepreneurs to define and lead a new narrative on energy politics. Prior to his political career, Mykkänen worked as Director for Russian Affairs at the Confederation of Finnish Industries, as investment banker in St. Petersburg, and as political advisor to the Minister for Economic Affairs and Employment.

TBY talks to Kai Mykkänen, Finland's Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, on the role Finland has been playing in strengthening the fundamental pillars of sustainable development, and how it intends to be a long-term partner in Tanzania's ambition to be a middle-income country.

What programs has Finland implemented to support the development of education and healthcare industries in Tanzania?

Until 2015, Finland’s major contribution to financing education and healthcare was through providing general budget support to Tanzania. We are glad that important results have been achieved in these sectors, in particular the broadening access to primary education. Finland is known for its highly rated education system and we are happy to share our educational expertise with Tanzania and other countries. Finland can provide solid expertise on topics such as teacher education, and intends to do so in the future.

How much does Finland welcome the new administration’s ambition to transform Tanzania from being an aid recipient country to a stand-alone economy?

Tanzania has the ability to achieve this transformation and Finland is being supportive of these important efforts. Over the past decade sub-Saharan Africa has been one of the fastest growing areas in the world despite decreasing commodity prices. Tanzania has significantly boosted its revenue collection to reduce aid dependency. Finland will support Tanzania to build sustainable systems for revenue and tax collection. We are discussing with the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) how Finland could support these efforts together with other development partners, many of whom already are participating for example in the TRA’s Tax Modernization Program. The success of the transformation will ultimately depend on Tanzania maintaining its sound macroeconomic policies that support growth and generate employment for people, especially for the growing young population. We are seeing a lot of action being taken and we support the government in efforts to improve public governance, fiscal management, and domestic revenue, which are all critical elements in the process to transform the country.

How can Finland help Tanzania achieve such a transformation?

The creation of employment and livelihoods is one main element of Finland’s collaboration in Tanzania. Finland will concentrate its efforts in two areas: the national innovation system and forestry, which has a close link to the national action against climate change. They are also areas that will benefit from Finland’s experience and know-how. To boost the economic development in developing countries the Finnish government has also decided to increase the funding to the public investment, which creates the enabling environment for economic growth. The Finnish government has allocated over EUR500 million in new funding to this effort over this cabinet’s four-year period. Our new Public Sector Investment Facility (PIF) will be launched later this year. PIF will provide subsidized loans to public entities in developing countries, enabling investments that deal with key development challenges. Our national development finance institution Finnfund invests in the private sector in developing countries, and received additional funding amounting to EUR130 million this year.

What are the major short-term goals for Tanzania-Finnish bilateral relations?

While strengthening the commercial ties between our countries, we continue pursuing the objectives of our development cooperation programs. We aim to support the improved performance of the public sector, focusing on the improvement of the public financial management (PFM) systems, which are crucial for macro-economic stability and sustainable development. To support sound leadership, Finland continues to partner with the UONGOZI Institute, which builds competencies of current and emerging leaders in Africa on leadership, executive management, policy development and strategic thinking. Regarding the private sector, access to finance is one of the key bottlenecks for innovative growth oriented companies in Tanzania. To ease the situation, Tanzania is developing a national system for funding innovation through the National Fund for Science and Technology (NFAST). Finland is currently initiating a second phase of a program, which intends to support this effort through technical assistance and financial contributions. In the forestry sector, Finland will support the private sector and local communities to manage and utilize sustainably natural forests and to establish forest plantations. The bilateral programs will support land-use planning and strengthen the forest administration and forest NGOs.

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