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HE Bernard Kamillius Membe

TANZANIA - Diplomacy

Pillars of Policy

Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooper, the United Republic of Tanzania


Bernard Kamillius Membe studied Political Science at the University of Dar es Salaam. He later pursued his Master’s Degree in Conflict Management, Conflict Resolution, International Law, and International Economics at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) from 1990 to 1992. In 1992, he was assigned to serve as an Advisor of the Tanzanian High Commissioner in Ottawa, Canada, where he served until 2000. Previously, he served as a National Security Analyst at the President’s office from 1978 to 1989. In 2000, he was elected as a Member of Parliament representing the Mtama constituency. He was reelected in 2005 and 2010 and appointed as Deputy Minister of Home Affairs by President Kikwete after the 2005 general elections. After a cabinet reshuffle in October 2006, he was appointed as Deputy Minister of Energy and Minerals, and became Minister of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation in January 2007.

"Over the last decade, we have seen fantastic development."

You define Tanzania’s current foreign policy as “economic diplomacy.” What does that mean, and how does it differ from Tanzania’s traditional foreign policy?

Our traditional foreign policy was centered on African unity, liberation, and the promotion of neighborliness, regional integration, non-alignment, and adherence to the UN Charter. It took a long time for countries in Southern Africa, such as Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, to get their independence. After Africa was fully liberated, we then began thinking about what to do next. We decided to direct our attention to economic development. We determined that one of our pillars of foreign policy would be economic diplomacy, which we defined as promoting investment, trade, and tourism. Moreover, we are encouraging investors in extractive industries, agriculture, and communications. We have encouraged our overseas embassies to look for investors who are interested in coming to Tanzania, while also providing Tanzanians with economic opportunities in other countries based on the information that our diplomatic missions gives the business communities through the Tanzanian Investment Center, chambers of commerce, and the media. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has succeeded in doing this. It has created a boost in tourism as well as greater investment into agriculture, the extractive industries, manufacturing, telecommunications, and trade. Over the last decade, we have seen fantastic development.

How would you define Tanzania’s regional leadership credentials and the importance of regional integration?

We feel very powerful in the region because we are strategically located and took part in the liberation struggle. We are among the creators of the East African Community (EAC). We have reached the common market level in the region and now have free movement of labor, capital, goods and services, capital as well as common external tariffs. With regard to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, we have reached a free trade agreement (FTA) that allows the free movement of goods. This is a market of 500 million to 600 million people, and any commodity that Tanzania makes can find its market there. However, we believe we can do better. Tanzania is strategically located in the region in the sense that it has a deep natural harbor and is surrounded by seven landlocked countries. We have the Port of Dar es Salaam and two railway lines running from Dar es Salaam to Zambia and from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma. This is a dream coming true. Tanzania is both a member of the EAC and SADC, and we are comfortable in enjoying this dual status. We cannot abandon one region in favor of another; we believe we can serve both. We are doing our best in terms of promoting trade and investment.

“Over the last decade, we have seen fantastic development.”

One of your goals is to increase the number of Tanzanian embassies abroad. What impact will that have?

It will have a huge impact. We now have 35 embassies, and our mission is to reach at least 50 by 2020. Four or five years ago, we had no tourists from Turkey and no business investment from Turkey to Tanzania. However, as soon as we opened our honorary consulates in both Ankara and Istanbul, and when flights began between the two countries, we saw business beginning to flow. When an embassy or an honorary consulate is opened, you can see an immediate impact as business people and tourists begin to flood in. We are now planning to open embassies in Turkey, South Korea, the Comoros, and the Netherlands.

© The Business Year – October 2013



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