When Neighbours Quarrel: How M-Pesa Could Improve Tanzania-Kenya Relations
Friday, March 27, 2015
THE relationship between East African neighbours Kenya and Tanzania is a complex one, frequently eluding neat analysis, but two things reliably capture the prevailing spirit: tour vans and Kenya Airways.
Transport flare-ups usually signal an active dispute between the two nations, a trend that goes back decades.
At a meeting in the Tanzania city of Arusha in March 1979, presidents Julius Nyerere of Tanzania and Daniel arap Moi of Kenya agreed a deal to allow Kenya’s flag carrier overfly Tanzania en route to Zambia. It was necessary because two years earlier the two neighbours had shuttered their border, following an acrimonious break up of the old East African Community (EAC).
In the decade following independence, Kenya’s tourism industry due to geography derived more benefit from accessing the game parks in northern Tanzania, which were often sold as a circuit to Nairobi-focused tourists.
While Tanzania authorities bristled at what they believed was a raw deal, the economic argument did not support them at the time, due to the country’s underdeveloped infrastructure and a general ambivalence towards tourism.
The impasse faded away with the closure of the border, but at one point Kenyan oil tankers were barred from Tanzanian roads, for among other reasons imposing a huge repair cost.