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Kikwete Courts Algeria On Oil, Gas Exploration Effort

Source: Algeria Times 1/8/2014, Location: Africa

PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has hailed the existing relations between Tanzania and Algeria, saying the two countries needed to extend them further to cater for investments in natural gas and oil exploration as well as development of human resources.

"We need honest and experienced partners like Algeria in the gas and oil sector as this industry is still new to us," President kikwete said when he met with Algeria's Minister for Energy and Mines, Mr Youcef Yousfi, at the State House in Dar es Salaam.

The minister is on a six-day official visit. The visiting minister and his delegation, which comprises heads of parastatals, toured the Ubungo Power Grid Centre and the ongoing construction of the mega 542-km natural gas pipeline at Vikindu and Mkuranga areas in Coast Region.

Mr Kikwete hailed the visit by the Algerian minister, noting that the two countries have for long cooperated in politics and economy, thanks to the strong foundation laid by Mwalimu Julius Nyerere and Ahmed Ben Bella, founding presidents of Tanzania and Algeria, respectively.

He said Tanzania has a lot to learn from Algeria, given its experience in producing and transporting of natural gas, citing the Maghreb-Europe project, which transports gas from Hassi R'Mel gas fields in Algeria to Morocco, Spain and Portugal.

Meanwhile, the Minister for Energy and Minerals, Prof Sospeter Muhongo has said state control of the imminent gas economy is the best model to be adopted by Tanzania after looking at the successes registered by Algeria where the sector contributes 55 per cent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).

Prof Muhongo said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the decision to pull out the state from engaging in economic activities was not the best option, saying Algeria and China presented better models for Tanzania to adopt. "There are several economic models which nations can emulate.

Some thought the government should not engage in economic activities. But the evidence is there and we have seen what has happened to our industries after privatisation," Prof Muhongo told a news conference after holding bilateral talks with his visiting Algerian peer, Youcef Yousfi.

Touting Algeria's state controlled energy and minerals conglomerate, Sonatrach, Prof Muhongo said time for rhetoric was up and it was now time for action by learning from the Algerians who won independence from France in 1962 with about 10 per cent of the population accessing electricity, but now 98 per cent of the people have access to power.

"This is a huge country covering 2.3 million square kilometres and 38 million people but it has managed to connect so many people to the national grid; let's stop the debate and move on with implementation," Prof Muhongo, well known for his trade mark scientific approach to address developmental challenges, said.

He noted that with 50 per cent of Algerians using natural gas for domestic activity and over 20,000 kilometres of natural gas supplying pipes, the North African nation "truly presents a model which Tanzania should follow." "They have four million students enrolled at universities and their income per head is equivalent to 1m/-, while we have 70,000 students at universities and income per head is 100,000/-.

We need to learn from them because we were at the same level of development at independence," he advised.

The minister, who signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with his Algerian counterpart during a visit to the North African state last month, said scholarships provided to local students are neglected for reasons best known by the concerned.

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