US President Barack Obama received a warm and festive welcome Monday (July 1st) on his first state visit to Tanzania, the third and final stop on his weeklong tour of Africa.
Obama was greeted in Dar es Salaam by the largest crowds of his tour, with thousands of people — some wearing shirts and traditional clothing bearing his image — lining the streets as his motorcade sped by. In honour of the historic visit, the oceanfront road leading to Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete’s residence was permanently changed to Barack Obama Drive.
In a joint press conference after official talks, Kikwete thanked Obama for accepting his invitation to visit Tanzania and for his commitment to continue supporting the two countries’ mutual interests.
“You have seen the outpouring of warmth,” Kikwete said. “There has never been a visit by head of state to Tanzania that has attracted such big crowds like [this] one — the first one of its kind.”
The visit comes on the 50th anniversary of Tanzania’s relationship with the United States, when US President John F. Kennedy welcomed to the White House Tanzania’s first President Julius Nyerere.
Obama used the occasion of his visit to announce major US economic policy initiatives for Africa and reiterate his country’s partnership with Tanzania. He also praised Tanzania’s efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and improve the delivery of services.
“With the right steps, Tanzania has the potential to unlock new economic growth not only in this country but all across East Africa,” Obama said.
“For example, Tanzanians continue to work to strengthen their democracy. Parliament, opposition groups, civil society groups and journalists are all doing their part to advance the good governance and transparency upon which democracy and prosperity depend.”
Obama commended Kikwete, President Ali Mohamed Shein of Zanzibar and the Tanzanian people for “embarking on a vital constitutional process that will determine the future of this nation and its democracy”.
In meetings before the two presidents’ public address, Obama and Kikwete discussed a number of important issues and initiatives including Tanzania’s agriculture sector, which employs the vast majority of Tanzanians.