Return to Transcripts main page


Africa's Economic Crisis; Tanzaniya's Fishing Industry

Aired March 14, 2009 - 12:30:00   ET


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN ANCHOR: Charting a course through troubled waters. Business leaders meet in Dar es Salaam to plot a strategy for Africa.

From the dhow to the plate, how Tanzania's fishing industry delivers the goods.

And rising music star Nakaaya (inaudible), on INSIDE AFRICA.

Hello, and welcome to INSIDE AFRICA. I'm David McKenzie, reporting from the Kivukarni (ph) front in Dar es Salaam. It's an important center for the fishing business in the city, which is apt, because world business leaders are here to discuss how Africa can navigate the economic downturn. Tanzania's nickname is "bongo," which means clever, and they'll need all the intelligence they can muster.


DOMINIQUE STRAUSS-KAHN, IMF: The IMF expects global growth to slow below zero this year, the worst performance in most of our lifetimes.

MCKENZIE: That forecast by IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn puts Africa at a critical junction. What Strauss-Kahn calls the great recession has reached its shores, threatening to undo years of strong economic growth and cast nearly 50 million people into poverty.

NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA, MANAGING DIRECTOR, WORLD BANK: I want to say that we need to focus on this crisis. My continent is hurting.

MCKENZIE: To help ease the pain, Africa needs money and direct investment, both in short supply in the U.S. and Europe. Even still, the IMF is calling for at least $25 billion in aid to help the world's poorest countries, many of which are in Africa.

STRAUSS-KAHN: Some private financial institution in the advanced countries have received more financial support than the entire African continent.

MCKENZIE: It's the sentiment that echoes in the corridors of this conference in host country, Tanzania. Along with anger from a continent that only just recently set itself back on a better path.

JEFFREY SACHS, DIRECTOR, THE EARTH INSTITUTE: The rich world can't say sorry, you know, clean up your act. This is the act of the rich world that has -- leading to so much trouble.

DONALD KABERUKA, AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK: Tell the G20, it is your fault, it is not our fault. We are not the origin of the crisis. The support we want is to ensure that we don't fall back.

MCKENZIE: A fear felt by Tanzania's president, who says Africa has been left behind before -- the recession of the early `80s.

JAKAYA KIKWETE, TANZANIAN PRESIDENT: Men of our countries lost a decade and half of growth and experienced a reversal of some hard-earned gains. We cannot afford to mark time again.

MCKENZIE: It's a plea African leaders hope will be heard loud and clear by the countries they say have promised financial aid in the past, but have yet to deliver in the middle of this global crisis.


MCKENZIE: The IMF says Tanzania needs to improve its infrastructure to sustain its economic growth. I'll take a look at some of the country's transportation problems after the break.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prices of food especially is going too high. Previously, they said it's just because of oil, but if you look at the oil prices, it's gone down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not getting better. It's getting worse. It's getting worse day by day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America is the economic engine of the world, at the end of the day. You ripple in America, we'll get the aftermath out here.


MCKENZIE: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA. I'm David McKenzie, reporting from the busy streets of Dar es Salaam.

The IMF held a conference here to discuss how the global recession is affecting African economies, and CNN partnered with that event. One of the key issues on the table was infrastructure, because infrastructure development is a major challenge in Africa. Tanzania is no exception.


MCKENZIE: At a distance, the Magagone (ph) ferry in Dar es Salaam looks pretty organized. But get up close, and it's a foot race for passengers. Successive governments have promised Tanzanians a road bridge between Kigamboni island and the main land, but it's been more than a decade, and a bridge still hasn't been built. So, commuters take the boat, then rush to the dala-dalas (ph), Dar's favorite form of transport.

Heavy traffic is the daily lot in many African cities. So, once people finally get going on the road, they won't get anywhere in a hurry.

Africa's economic expansion has meant a growing middle class, but it has also meant this -- more and more people owning cars and jamming up the cities. Throughout the continent, people can just stand in the street and talk, because they just simply don't get places. You spend hours going to and from work.

Taxi drivers like Rajab (ph) shop for passengers, but he spends much of his time waiting in traffic, driving down his profits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The passengers complain a lot. Instead of taking a short time to reach their place, they take a long time, so they complain a lot and it costs money.

MCKENZIE: In part, the continent's own success threatens to derail development. Like much of Africa, Tanzania has seen years of robust economic expansion, with strong growth peaking in 2007 at over 8 percent. That growth has taxed the system, with limited transportation routes and utilities unable to meet demand. Despite concerted investment in hydropower and power grids, there are frequent power outages, and the government is playing catchup.

RAYMOND MBILINYI, TANZANIA INVESTMENT CENTER: The challenge which we are facing at the moment, it -- the requirements are huge compared to the ability of most of the East African countries. The governments are trying, but the challenges are too high.

MCKENZIE: Many Africans believe their governments aren't doing enough to get them out of a jam. U.N. agencies and research groups have persistently warned that corruption and poor planning hurt Africa's infrastructure development.

Even in Tanzania, where the country has streamlined development by creating one agency to deal with all the infrastructure matters, the global economic meltdown could squeeze foreign investment and lending from the IMF and World Bank, both vital lifelines for Africa.

DONALD KABERUKA, AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK: The infrastructure will be the first victim. It always does. Now, that will be sad, because this is the path of expenditure on the continent, where expenditure was already at a minimum, at bare minimum. And therefore what all of us are trying to do is to say, during this crisis, let us find a way in which infrastructure can continue to be developed.

MCKENZIE: The IMF believes to spark that development, Africa needs tens of billions of dollars in foreign investment to help stave off a recession caused by the global meltdown. But in the long term, without investment in the arteries of the economy, the continent's hard fought gains could grind to a halt.


MCKENZIE: At first, experts thought that Africa might not feel the full effect of the economic crash. They might have been a little optimistic. Christian Purefoy and Nkepile Mabuse tell us how Nigeria and South Africa are fairing.


CHRISITAN PUREFOY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, I'm Christian Purefoy in Lagos, Nigeria. Behind me, the main financial district of Lagos, which, since the start of the global economic crisis last year, has been in turmoil. The stock market here has collapsed. It's one of the worst performing stock markets in the world. And it seems to be dragging Nigerian banks down with it, amid fears that bank lenders are now exposed to bad loans, given out amidst a frenzy of stock markets speculation last year.

But the governor of Nigeria's Central Bank has dismissed calls by foreign investors for greater transparency in the banking sector. So nobody actually knows how secure or fragile Nigeria's finances actually are.

NKEPILE MABUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Nkepile Mabuse in Johannesburg, South Africa, where the manufacturing sector has been hardest hit by the global economic downturn, especially the motor industry. It is estimated that up to 34,000 jobs could be lost in the car industry because of low domestic demand and a sharp decline in exports.

Now, mining is also under intense pressure. With some of South Africa's main trading partners, such as the United States and Britain, in a recession, local exports have fallen by more than 25 percent, widening the trade deficit to a record $1.7 billion U.S. dollars. Now, the good news for South Africans is that their banking sector is still pretty solid for now.


MCKENZIE: While Africa could be in for some tough times, the U.N. South African official comes from right here in Tanzania. Doctor Asha-Rose Migiro sat down with me, and she said that women and children could be the hardest hit in the downturn.


ASHA-ROSE MIGIRO, U.N. DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL: In the first place, I think the current global crisis has got very serious implication for women's position in Tanzania and surely in other African countries. Much as there has been great strides in the women's empowerment, especially economic empowerment, women's education, but still women have not taken full potential that they have in development.

They're working hard. They do most of the farming. They do petty trade. Now, with the financial crisis, credit's getting less and less, food prices being high, this means that the little that women have been trying to do will be adversely affected..

MCKENZIE: You know, 46 million people could be at the risk of falling below the poverty line, because of the current economic crisis within Africa. You know, what does that mean for individual families? That sort of number is so big and hard to kind of get your head around, but within Tanzania and East Africa, what does that mean for children, for families on a personal level?

MIGIRO: That means that families are exposed more. They become more vulnerable. And when you look into numbers, you will find that majority of those who are poorest of the poor are women, and when women are poor, then children are poor. We have seen studies, but we have also experienced where a woman has had no opportunity to get education, where a woman has no employment, the child is there, because they're always together.

And even when we talk of women engaging in petty trade, another downside of it is that they have their children with them, and these may lose the opportunity to go to school.

Education is the most crucial step that has to be taken to empower women. And then, that will bring in opportunities for economic empowerment. Participation in decision making, that is key, because a lot of policies, pieces of legislation are put in place without taking into account the specific needs of the different sections of society, especially of women and other marginalized groups.


MCKENZIE: Tanzania's own Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro.

Tanzania's fishing industry employs scores of people at a variety of jobs. We will meet some of them, hard at work, after the break.


MCKENZIE: You're watching INSIDE AFRICA. Welcome back. I'm David McKenzie. I'm reporting from one of the largest and most important port cities in East Africa. That's Dar es Salaam. And behind me, is the bandari (ph), or harbor in Kiswahili. Now, that's a center of both trade and fishing -- key industries in the Tanzanian economy.


MCKENZIE: After days at sea, the dhow slips in before dawn. The fish buyers at Kibokoni (ph) bay wait patiently for the trading time. Then the fish come in. Shahman Mohammed (ph) sums up the fluctuating prices, pulling in cash for the catch, eyeing every shift of nature.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This year at least, we are getting a good catch compared to a year ago. Now it is the northerly wind, so we are getting a lot of catch. Later, the sea is rough. We don't get a lot of fish and the price shoots up.

MCKENZIE: They work through good times and bad, with everyone earning their keep in the trade. Selemani`s (ph) only job is to hand buckets of fish from the boats to the next guy. And Rajave (ph) is at the sharp end of the business, grinding knives to the quick since 12 years old, earning around $6 a day.

Rajave's handiwork cleans the fish, and Omarsaeed (ph) cooks them. He works one of 48 fryers at the fish market. It's been eight years in tough conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't have any other option. I am doing this job because I have to make a living.

MCKENZIE: To make his living, he needs work. Sofia Anthony (ph) provides it, and for her family, by getting old scaffolding from construction sites. The job isn't her first choice, but it gives her choices.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am proud of doing this job, because it is helping me to earn some living and other things. For me, it is better to do this job rather than staying at home and be jobless.

MCKENZIE: And she provides a job to her son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I don't know how many years I've worked -- about two years.

MCKENZIE: At least he knows the toil pays off in one way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Look at my body. The women have to love me!

MCKENZIE: And the Tanzanians do love their fish, the deep fried dagar (ph) and changar (ph), local delicacies, brought in by those far away from the chaos, like Rashid (ph), who maintains this dhow with animal lard. In a few days, he will head out again to the ocean, but there aren't any guarantees.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Sometimes when we go out to sea, there are winds and storms, and we can't catch any fish, and it's a big problem for us. We are putting money to invest in this business, and if there is no catch, we lose all our money.

MCKENZIE: Shipping has changed, but the ancient fishing industry of Tanzania goes on, the lifeline to the people of Dar.


MCKENZIE: Every weekend and most week nights, in fact, you'll hear a particular strain of music floating from the rooftops of Dar es Salaam, and it's called Bongo Flava. It's a popular style of music that's from here, but it's been exported throughout the region. And we will meet one star of Bongo Flava, who is trying to take it to the world.


MCKENZIE: Welcome back to INSIDE AFRICA from Dar es Salaam. Bongo Flava is a popular style of music from right here in Tanzania, and it's hip-hop meets Africa. I met one of the rising star of Bongo Flava, Nakaaya, and she's just being signed by Sony Music, a real global star in the making.


NAKAAYA, MUSICIAN: Yeah, I'm a country girl from Tanzania, but I'm a modern African woman, tired of men telling me what a woman can be and tired of men telling me what a woman can do and stop telling me how to dress and what to say.

MCKENZIE: So, I'm really curious. Bongo Flava, I mean that's all over the airways in East Africa. I hear it in Kenya all the time. Why is it -- it just exploded on the scene in Africa?

NAKAAYA: Because for a long time, it was not there, and naturally anything new kind of gets attention. But also because for a long time, Tanzanian artists were not really given the freedom of -- of speech, if I might say. People were not free to express themselves the way they wanted to. Typically, women.

(singing): Yes, it's time to rise up and speak.

And so, when the music came out, when Bongo Flava music came out, it was Swahili, but in hip-hop, Swahili and R&B. So everybody around the region was relating to that type of music, and that's why Bongo Flava is just keeping (ph).

It hasn't changed hip-hop. I think it's just translated hip-hop in a Swahili way, in a Swahili way. I think it has been able to accommodate hip-hop but also cushion our own culture with it. So it's a nice beautiful blend.

English is not a Tanzanian (inaudible). And so, because of that, people -- people do what they can, and what they can do at this point in time is Swahili, lots of Swahili, and a little bit of English here and there.

MCKENZIE: One song particularly, where you can see that blend of Swahili and African hip-hop is the song "Mr. Politician." Why did you feel this particular song became such a hit with the youth?

NAKAAYA: Because it's speaking the truth, you know. We're all frustrated, we're all frustrated. I don't care what it's put out there and how we're made to look like, hey, they're having a good time. No. We're very frustrated about the way things are going. And I always say this, you know, now you're dealing with the generation of Africans that's so much more exposed. This is not the generation of Africans that are living in the village, don't have shoes on and -- no, this is a very, a different type of African that I feel has not been exposed, but we think about this, we express ourselves and we talk about this.

MCKENZIE: If you could, what would you want your music to achieve?

NAKAAYA: I would want it to entertain and teach at the same time. I really want to entertain, because that way you draw the attention and they pay attention. And as soon as they pay attention, teach them, and it will stick in their heads.

MCKENZIE: What does it feel like for you to be signed to a major label?

NAKAAYA: Oh, my God, it feels great. I'm still recovering.


NAKAAYA: I'm still recovering. I thought it was a friend of mine playing with my head. I really thought -- because she said, somebody called me and said he's interested. And so I said, please don't play with me, stop playing with me, and I didn't take it seriously. And they called back with a number, call this number. So I couldn't believe it. I almost passed out. I almost passed out. Because it's something you never really even dream of, because it feels like it's too big a dream for me. It tells me that that you're the same, Nakaaya, as good as Beyonce, you're as good as Alicia Keyes. You might not be there yet.


MCKENZIE: Tanzania's own Nakaaya Sumari.

Well, that's it for this edition of INSIDE AFRICA from Dar es Salaam. Thanks for watching. I'm David McKenzie. Isha Sesay will be in next week with a brand new show.