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Tanzania's Good News
Alex Steffen, 22 Apr 05

Tanzania is working. It's one of the African countries where (while the problems remain massive) peace, growth, innovation and the beginnings of democracy appear to be turning back the tide:

When I visited the villages in the district of Iringa, eight hours by road from Dar es Salaam, the capital, I could hardly believe my eyes. When I worked here as an agricultural extension agent 40 years ago, there used to be in the market place just a few heaps of vegetables.

Now there was a cornucopia of produce zucchini and pineapples, eggplant and guavas, fresh peas being podded and a truckload of fresh cabbages being unloaded.

Where once you could only buy maize, now there were sacks of rice from local paddies and Nile perch from Lake Victoria. There was sunflower oil, brought in from the fields that dazzle the countryside with their yellow flowers among the green maize. And everywhere tomatoes enormous baskets of them, with a local sauce factory consuming the surplus.

All this is quite new, as are the cell phones that reach 90 percent of the villages in Iringa district, enabling traders and farmers to cut out the middlemen and find the best price on their own.

(thanks to ally Howard French for pointing this out!)

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