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Tanzania Economic Performance Assessment

Bruce Bolnick, Andrea Camoens and Julia Zislin

This publication was produced by Nathan Associates Inc. for review by the United States Agency for International Development

August 2005

SARPN acknowledges USAID ( as the source of this document.
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This paper is one of a series of Economic Performance Assessments prepared for the EGAT Bureau to provide USAID missions and regional bureaus with a concise evaluation of a broad range of indicators relating to economic growth performance in designated countries. The report draws on a variety of international data sources,1 and uses international benchmarking to identify major constraints, trends, and opportunities for strengthening growth and reducing poverty.

The methodology used here is analogous to examining an automobile dashboard to see which gauges are signaling problems. Sometimes a blinking light has obvious implications—such as the need to fill the fuel tank. In other cases, it may be necessary to have a mechanic probe more deeply to assess the source of the trouble and discern the best course of action.2 Similarly, the Economic Performance Assessment is based on an examination of key economic and social indicators, to see which ones are signaling problems. In some cases a “blinking” indicator has clear implications, while in other instances a detailed study may be needed to investigate the problems more fully and identify an appropriate course for programmatic action.

The analysis is organized around two mutually supportive goals: transformational growth and poverty reduction.3 Rapid and broad-based growth is the most powerful instrument for poverty reduction. At the same time, measures aimed at reducing poverty and lessening inequality can help to underpin rapid and sustainable growth. These interactions create the potential for stimulating a virtuous cycle of economic transformation and human development.

Transformational growth requires a high level of investment and rising productivity. This is achieved by establishing a strong enabling environment for private sector development, involving multiple elements: macroeconomic stability; a sound legal and regulatory system, including secure contract and property rights; effective control of corruption; a sound and efficie nt financial system; openness to trade and investment; sustainable debt management; investment in education, health, and workforce skills; infrastructure development; and sustainable use of natural resources.

In turn, the impact of growth on poverty depends on policies and programs that create opportunities and build capabilities for the poor. We call this the pro-poor growth environment.4 Here, too, many elements are involved, including effective education and health systems; policies facilitating job creation; agricultural development (in countries where the poor depend predominantly on farming); dismantling barriers to micro and small enterprise development; and progress toward gender equity.

The present evaluation of these conditions must be interpreted with caution, because a concise analysis of this sort cannot provide a definitive diagnosis of economic problems, or simple answers to questions about programmatic priorities. Instead, the aim of the analysis is to spot signs of serious problems for economic growth, based on a review of selected indicators, subject to limits of data availability and quality. The results should provide insight about potential paths for USAID intervention, to complement on-the-ground knowledge and further in-depth studies.

The remainder of the report discusses the most important results of the diagnostic analysis, in three sections: Overview of the Economy; Private Sector Enabling Environment; and Pro-Poor Growth Environment. Table 1-1 summarizes the topic coverage. The Appendix provides a brief explanation of the criteria used for selecting indicators, the benchmarking methodology, and a table showing the full set of indicators examined for this report.

Table 1-1: Topic Coverage

  1. Sources include the latest data from USAID’s internal Economic and Social Database (ESDB), and from readily accessible public information sources. The ESDB is compiled and maintained by the Development Information Service (DIS), under PPC/CDIE. It is accessible to staff through the USAID intranet.
  2. Sometimes, too, the problem is faulty wiring to the indicator—analogous here to faulty data.
  3. In USAID’s White Paper on U.S. Foreign Aid: Meeting the Challenges of the Twenty-first Century (January 2004), transformational growth is a central strategic objective, both for its innate importance as a development goal, and because growth is the most powerful engine for poverty reduction.
  4. A comprehensive poverty reduction strategy also requires programs to reduce the vulnerability of the poor to natural and economic shocks. This aspect is not covered in the template since the focus is economic growth programs. In addition, it is difficult to find meaningful and readily available indicators of vulnerability to use in the template

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