U.S. contributions to Tanzania estimated at $2.8 billion annually, according to research by AidData and REPOA

The report is the first to provide a whole-of-society perspective on U.S. contributions to Tanzania’s development.

May 24, 2024
Sarina Patterson
U.S. Ambassador to Tanzania in discussion with a business leader at a roundtable event.

Photo by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania. Used under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0 DEED and CC BY-ND 2.0 DEED.

New research finds that the United States’ relationship with Tanzania delivered an estimated $2.8 billion USD per year in tangible benefits to the Tanzanian people and economy from 2012 to 2022. The report, Investing in Tanzania’s People | Kuwekeza kwa Watu wa Tanzania, is available online in Kiswahili and English and was produced by AidData, a U.S.-based research lab at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute, in close collaboration with REPOA, a leading Tanzanian policy research organization.

Tanzania and the U.S. have partnered on economic and development initiatives across multiple sectors since Tanzania’s independence, with significant U.S. government assistance from 2012 to 2022 in agriculture ($546 million), infrastructure ($579 million), and health, particularly around HIV/AIDS ($3.8 billion) and malaria ($533 million). The AidData-REPOA report finds that the U.S. was the single largest provider of HIV/AIDS-related funding by far during the period, helping Tanzania save roughly three-quarters of a million lives. 

“Despite an enduring relationship, Tanzanian leaders and the public have little information readily available to assess the value of this partnership, particularly as they measure progress toward achieving the goals the country set for itself in Tanzania’s Development Vision 2025,” said Samantha Custer, AidData’s Director of Policy Analysis. “Our hope is that this report helps inform policymakers by illuminating whether and how the U.S.-Tanzania partnership contributes to Tanzania’s growth and prosperity, as well as paving the way for future evidence-based research into this important topic.”

“The report uncovers and provides a broader picture of aspects arising from the long-standing partnership that may have been overlooked and unnoticed by the Tanzanian community at large,” added Dr. Jane Mpapalika, a Senior Researcher at REPOA. “The identified contributions and challenges will inform and ensure the partnership continues and improves, to promote Tanzania’s growth and prosperity.”

Researchers at AidData and REPOA drew from a wide range of secondary data sources to analyze historical financial flows from the U.S. to Tanzania over a decade, from 2012 to 2022. The report also includes the perspectives of 150 Tanzanian leaders in government agencies, universities, think tanks, and other organizations, who were surveyed by AidData and interviewed by REPOA on how they view the U.S. impact on Tanzania’s development. Ninety-six percent of these leaders said that the U.S. was not only active in Tanzania but making meaningful contributions to their country’s development, and sixty-six percent said that partnership with the U.S. was improving economic conditions in Tanzania. Leaders highlighted in particular local job creation, vocational training and education, trade and tourism flows, and upskilling technology expertise to enter new sectors. 

The report is the first to give a holistic, whole-of-society view of U.S. contributions to Tanzania’s economy and development. It not only tracks direct U.S. government assistance, but also quantifies the value of indirect benefits from trade and other channels, such as foreign direct investment (FDI); contributions from U.S.-based NGOs in Tanzania, private foundations, and individual donors; revenue from American tourists; and remittances from Tanzanians working in the United States.

Read the report, Investing in Tanzania’s People, online.

Just over a third of the total American contribution to Tanzania—roughly $1 billion annually—comes from aid, the report finds. The rest includes benefits that flow from favorable trade policies and broader engagement with U.S. society. $2.8 billion per year in total U.S. contributions is a significant sum, given Tanzania’s GDP of $75 billion in 2022. 

“Due to the difficulty in measuring non-official investments and financial flows, our estimate of $2.8 billion per year in tangible benefits to Tanzania from the U.S.-Tanzania relationship is likely conservative, and the overall U.S. contribution to Tanzania's growth and development could be significantly higher,” noted Divya Mathew, Senior Policy Specialist.

The report finds that in addition to large volumes of aid targeted toward Tanzania’s health sector, the United States has also been supporting Tanzania in developing more resilient agricultural systems and expanding industry. Tanzania’s growth is now outpacing that of its neighbors, and the country is expected to become East Africa’s largest economy in the next decade, according to the IMF and the African Development Bank. 

Although Tanzanian manufacturing and industry are growing, agriculture currently accounts for one-third of Tanzania’s GDP and two-thirds of its jobs. While nearly 100% of U.S. agricultural aid to Tanzania in the early 2000s was in the form of emergency food relief, less than 5% is now focused on short-term food aid; instead, the vast majority is funding longer-term investments in resilient food systems to strengthen agricultural value chains and yields.

With its Vision 2025 plan, the Tanzanian government views boosting manufacturing efficiency and productivity as critical to increasing the country’s competitiveness and fueling its human development. From 2012 to 2022, enabled by the United States passing the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Tanzania increased its textile exports 45-fold to the U.S., with overall exports to the U.S. increasing by 16% from $146 million to $170 million.

Tanzania’s development plan also singles out foreign direct investment (FDI) as the main external private sector source for financing its agenda. The country is already one of the top 10 destinations for FDI in Africa, and Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, has set a goal of reaching $15 billion in annual inbound flows of FDI by next year. The report finds U.S. companies see Tanzania as a desirable investment destination: they hold $1.3 billion annually in FDI stock, and U.S. support to investment guarantees has enabled Tanzania to attract an estimated $93 million in private sector investments since 2012.

Many of these signs of economic health over the past two decades coincide with the country’s progress in combating HIV/AIDS. Tanzanian leaders interviewed routinely cited U.S. government and private foundation investments in building their capacity to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other diseases as some of the most successful examples of partnership between the two countries. Through improved healthcare, Tanzania has made dramatic inroads in improving life expectancy and reducing mortality. By 2021, average life expectancy had jumped from just 51 years in 1990 to 66 years, and neonatal mortality had dropped by half. Tanzanian leaders are conscious of U.S. investments as creating an enabling environment for human development, giving high marks to their partnership with the U.S. as improving governance (61 percent) and environmental conditions (59 percent) in the country.

Two out of every three dollars in the report’s nearly $3 billion per year valuation of the total U.S. contribution to Tanzania comes from broad engagement with U.S. society. In addition to the FDI mentioned above, examples of average annual contributions from U.S. society include:

  • Remittances: The Tanzanian diaspora living and working in the United States sends home $103.7 million annually to their families and communities.
  • Tourism: Visiting American tourists generate $317.7 million in annual revenues for Tanzania.
  • Philanthropy: Twenty-two U.S. private foundations and philanthropies fund development activities worth $96.3 million annually.
  • Individual donations and microloans: Americans gave $0.3 million annually in private donations and microloans for development projects in Tanzania.

“We at REPOA hope that this report will trigger meaningful dialogue and engagement, providing Tanzanian leaders and the public with valuable insights into the benefits of the U.S.-Tanzania partnership," REPOA’s Director of Collaborations & Capacity Building, Dr. Lucas Katera, affirmsed. "By highlighting both the successes and areas for improvement, the report aims to foster informed policymaking and future research, ensuring that the partnership continues to support Tanzania’s growth and prosperity.”

For media inquiries, please contact Alex Wooley, Director of Partnerships and Communications, at awooley@aiddata.org or +1 757-585-9875. 

Sarina Patterson is AidData's Communications Manager.