The president of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, walked along with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinistö, into the Yellow Room of the presidential palace on Tuesday afternoon. While the presidents stood under the glimmering chandeliers, an orchestra played the Tanzanian and Finnish national anthems from the gallery of the second floor.
The welcoming ceremony was short and compact. Maybe because among friends who go back over five decades, there is no need for long ceremonies and introductions.
Many Finnish presidents and ministers have visited the nation of about 47 million people in East Africa, including President Tarja Halonen and Martti Ahtisaari. And vice versa.
Since 1962, Finland has given bilateral development aid to Tanzania, which totalled for 27 million euros in 2013. This makes Tanzania Finland’s longest standing partner in development cooperation. The exports are also on a solid base. Finland currently exports to Tanzania energy machinery and engines, fertilizers and electronics. The amount of exports to Tanzania in 2011 was about 26 million euros while the Finnish imports focused mainly on coffee and tea, a trade worth about 8 million euros.
Even though the trade flourishes, President Kikwete arrived in Finland to seek investments.
On Monday, just after his arrival, he visited the Kone Corporation in Lohja and got acquainted with a laboratory manufacturing high-rise elevators. “In Dar es Salaam (the largest city of Tanzania), we have streets of 10 kilometres long where they are developing 12, 13, 14 story buildings. There are many opportunities for elevators,” Kikwete said.
On Tuesday morning, Kikwete visited the Vuosaari harbour and later in the afternoon he would pay a visit to the innovation hub at the Aalto University.
President Kikwete continues visiting the Finnish companies on Wednesday by taking a stroll in Wärtsilä’s premises in Helsinki, which supplies equipment for marine and energy market and afterwards he will pay a visit to Metso’s factory in Vantaa. Metso is the world’s leading industrial company in the mining and aggregates industries and also known for its automation solutions for paper, pulp and power generation. “We welcome Finnish companies to come to Tanzania. Others are coming all over the world. Why shouldn’t Finnish companies come? Finland is strong in the wood industry, timber and paper,” Kikwete said.
Kikwete also reminisced about his days among the Finnish teachers while attending the secondary school in Tanzania. “I have a Finnish education. Your support that you have extended to Tanzania over the many years has produced a president, who was a poor boy from the village.”
“I want to think for your support. You supported us and we are now almost getting out of the poverty in the next one or two years,” he said and smiled.