Tanzania has been one of Norway’s chief development cooperation partners for several decades. The development cooperation is aligned to the Tanzanian government's goal of independence from foreign aid.

Facts about Tanzania

The flag for Tanzania
Life expectancy
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GNI pr capita
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Percentage poor people (below 1.25$)
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The flag for Tanzania

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Bilateral assistance million kroner

Tanzania is one of twelve preferred countries receiving development aid from Norway.

The country is one of the most politically stable in Africa, and is characterised by both progress and challenges.

There is a substantial potential for economic development, thanks to the extensive deposits of both minerals and natural gas. This has given rise to expectations of rapid income growth. Tanzania's government has ambitions of rapid industrialisation.

The country’s substantial challenges are associated with:

  • poverty
  • access to health services
  • the quality of basic education
  • weak infrastructure
  • an economy with low productivity

Historical introduction: Tanzania and Norwegian development aid

Tanganyika gained its independence in 1961 and became a republic with Julius Nyerere as president in 1962. Tanzania was established in 1964 as a union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Nyerere and the governing TANU party pursued a policy of socialism and self-sufficiency.

In the 1980s Tanzania ran into severe economic problems and had to ask for assistance from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The international institutions imposed economic reforms on the country, and in 1985 Nyerere resigned as president.

Multi-party elections were introduced in 1992. However, the dominant CCM party (established in 1977 after a merger of TANU and the Zanzibar Afro-Shirazi Party) has won every presidential election. Since 2000, there has been recurrent and extensive election-related unrest in Zanzibar.

In 2012, Statoil (now Equinor) and Exxon Mobil discovered large oil and gas deposits on the continental shelf. Development cooperation between Norway and Tanzania started in 1962 and has remained broad and comprehensive. For many decades, Tanzania was the largest recipient of Norwegian development aid, and the Tanzanian public sector has been the main cooperation partner.

Economy and welfare

Tanzania’s economy is growing at a brisk pace. Norwegian companies have evinced growing interest, even though the operating parameters for the private sector are challenging.

Tanzania’s President Magufuli has been cracking down on the culture of corruption and wastefulness in the public sector. Managers of a number of government institutions have had to go. The country has introduced extensive saving and efficiency programmes.

The poverty headcount ratio has moved down from 34 per cent in 2007 to 29 per cent in 2016. However, the actual numbers of the poor have remained unchanged because of population growth.
The country has not quite succeeded in modernising the economy and creating jobs. Around one million new young Tanzanians enter the labour market each year, and most of them are obliged to live on a low income in the informal sector.

Productivity is particularly low in agriculture, where the bulk of Tanzania's population are employed.


Tanzania has made great strides in health. The average life expectancy in Tanzania increased by about 15 years between 2000 and 2015.

There has also been good progress in respect of HIV/AIDS. The number of new cases of children infected with HIV has plunged by 69 per cent since 2009. One and a half million Tanzanians live with HIV/AIDS, and close to 1 million receive HIV medication. The country is an important partner for the Global Fund for combatting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

The number of malaria deaths has fallen by 64 per cent since 2000. Malaria is still responsible for 36 per cent of all deaths in children under the age of five.

Deaths due to tuberculosis have fallen by 29 per cent since 2000.

The recruitment of adequately qualified health personnel presents a challenge for Tanzania.

Sexual and reproductive rights

About 15 per cent of Tanzanian women are subjected to female genital mutilation. Some 40 per cent marry before they turn 18.

Abortion is only allowed if the mother's life is at risk and not, for example, in incest or rape cases.

Since June 2016, some persons in authority have made repeated verbal attacks on organisations that assist lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender persons (LGBT).

A number of health programmes targeting LGBT groups have had to close down. It is feared that these measures may reverse the positive trend of fewer new HIV cases.

Freedom of the press and due process protection

Generally speaking, Tanzania has a diversified, critical and relatively free-speaking press. Restrictive media legislation exerts a certain pressure on freedom of speech.

In 2015 the government passed the Cyber Crimes Act, which places restrictions on utterances in social media. A number of people have been taken in for questioning or arrested as a consequence of the Act, but only a few have been convicted.

The courts and the police are characterised by a considerable degree of corruption and inefficiency. Due process for the average Tanzanian is therefore weak.

Norwegian development cooperation with Tanzania

Norwegian development aid to Tanzania amounted to NOK 373.7 million in 2017.

The following are some of the Norwegian aid projects in Tanzania.

In addition, Norway supports projects in:

  • environment
  • education and research
  • health
  • gender equality
  • governance
  • infrastructure
  • business
  • agriculture
  • culture

For more details on aid funding, see the statistics portal Norwegian aid in numbers

Climate and forestry

The most important cause of deforestation in Tanzania is the expansion of cultivated land.

Population growth is driving up food needs, but agricultural productivity has not increased. In order to increase food production, areas under cultivation have therefore been expanded, entailing substantial deforestation.

The work of preventing destruction of the forest is a priority area in the cooperation between Tanzania and Norway. In 2008, the countries entered into cooperation on climate and forests.

The planting of trees is an important national goal for the authorities.  This is a part of Tanzania’s climate goals, but is normally mentioned in connection with commercial interests.

The production of charcoal also contributes to deforestation.  Much of it takes place illegally in protected areas, where law enforcement is weak. Charcoal is cheap, and therefore in demand as a source of energy for the great majority of Tanzanian households, who do not have electricity or other energy sources for cooking. 

Climate ranks relatively low on the agenda of the Tanzanian authorities, despite an active environment minister.

The low political awareness is an evident challenge to cooperation with Tanzania on climate and forestry.


Norway is funding increased access to modern energy for rural districts, in collaboration with the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency. In 2015, the Norwegian Embassy approved three proposed investment projects in electrification and biogas. By the end of 2018, Norwegian funding is expected to have linked at least 70 000 new customers to the grid.

The state electricity supply company, TANESCO, has been a partner in the cooperation on energy for many decades. The current agreement promotes capacity building in the maintenance of hydropower plants by funding necessary maintenance and the upgrading of five existing facilities.

In 2016, Norway funded new courses on hydroelectric power at the Arusha Technical College and the establishment of a training centre with courses and training programmes for hydroelectric power engineers.

Norway has funded several phases of the electrification of Zanzibar, including an undersea cable from the mainland to the island of Pemba. The programme also includes essential rehabilitation of existing systems.

Female engineers

Norway supports the training of female engineers through the Engineers Registration Board.

Since the start in 2010, Norwegian support for female engineers has led to the registration of 200 women as professional engineers and to their finding relevant work. This accounts for more than half of all female professional engineers in Tanzania, and demonstrates the importance of the Norwegian support.

In 2016, a total of 52 women who have received Norwegian funding were registered as professional engineers after the necessary period of practical training in the industry.

A new agreement for continued support for the Engineers Registration Board was signed in July 2016. It will help a further 150 women to register as professional engineers in the course of the next five years.

Taxes and public financial management

Norway is supporting a reform programme in Tanzania’s tax administration that has yielded many positive results.

Tax revenue is exhibiting significant growth, and increased by more than 25 per cent in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Over time, the reform programme has reduced private sector costs incurred in connection with tax legislation and regulations. It has also led to improved operating parameters for trade.

Further reform is still urgently needed in order for long-term tax receipts to increase. This is a precondition for Tanzania being able to finance its own development in the long term, and achieve its aspiration of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.

Financial management in Zanzibar

Sound public financial management systems are crucial for increasing the standard of living through higher quality public services. Actual expenditure must be in line with the budget, and it must be possible to document and control spending.

Norwegian support has contributed to the inclusion of Zanzibar in the national reform programme for public financial management.

The tax authorities in Zanzibar report 25.6 per cent growth in net income in the 2016/2017 financial year.

Efficiency has also increased in the past two years. Collection costs per tax shilling have been cut from about 4 per cent to 3 per cent.

Oil for Development

Norway has been involved in the development of Tanzania’s petroleum sector since the 1990s.

The first phase of our Oil for Development cooperation with Tanzania was concluded in 2016.

The programme has resulted in:

  • a new Petroleum Act
  • new public sector practice in petroleum activities
  • a strategy for managing petroleum data
  • the compiling of environmental data into an Environment Atlas
  • a new emergency response plan for oil pollution control
  • the conducting of a full-scale emergency response exercise
  • the establishment of the Petroleum Upstream Regulatory Authority (PURA) in 2016
  • Norway has provided general advisory services in connection with the organisation of the sector. Norway has also provided training for technical personnel and concrete plans for PURA

Read more about the Oil for Development programme in Tanzania 

Read more about Norwegian support through

Norwegian non-government organisations

Norwegian Church Aid, the Royal Norwegian Society for Development and the Norwegian Refugee Council are the only Norwegian organisations with a permanent presence in Tanzania.

The following Norwegian organisations receive funding for providing aid in Tanzania

  • Atlas Alliance
  • CARE Norway
  • Chr. Michelsen Institute
  • Deaf Aid
  • Royal Norwegian Society for Development
  • Digni
  • FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development
  • YWCA-YMCA Global
  • Norwegian Church Aid
  • The Norwegian Heart and Lung Patient Organisation
  • Norwegian Confederation of Trade Unions (LO)
  • Friends of the Earth Norway (Naturvernforbundet)
  • Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF)
  • Norcode - The Norwegian Copyright Development Association
  • The Norwegian YWCA-YWCM
  • Plan Norway
  • Right to Play
  • The Centre Party’s Study Association
  • Shelter Norway
  • The Centre Party
  • Strømme Foundation
  • WWF Norway
Published 29.08.2014
Last updated 20.02.2019