Tanzania’s minister of defence is present at the International Defence Exhibition and Seminar (IDEAS) in Karachi, Pakistan, with the aim of learning how to promote peace and stability in Africa, and viewing Pakistani military equipment.
“As minister of defence I’m more concerned about peace and stability in my country and the Great Lakes region,” said Shamsi Vuai Nahodha, who noted that instability in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo is a big problem. Nahodha said different countries have different approaches to dealing with problems. “I want to learn from these countries [such as Pakistan] how to promote peace and security. We also need to create jobs and opportunities.”
Nahodha said it was his first time at IDEAS. He said he was very impressed by the entrepreneurial capacity of Pakistan and the quality of its defence equipment. Some of the items on display include modernised main battle tanks, assault rifles and machine guns, unmanned aerial vehicles and jet fighters and trainers – much of this is produced locally and in conjunction with China.
He said Tanzania is interested in importing military equipment as it has a large territory to secure with long borders, which are “challenging” to protect. Apart from instability on Tanzania’s land borders, piracy is another issue for the country to deal with. As a result, Tanzania recently signed a joint maritime agreement with Mozambique and South Africa to patrol and protect the waters around the Mozambique Channel.
“It is very challenging to patrol the East African coast…it requires modern naval ships,” Nahodha said. “Pakistan has capacity to build modern ships in conjunction with China.” The Tanzanian delegation is visiting the shipyard in Karachi to see what is on offer. Nahodha also said that Tanzania has had good relations with China, which have been running since before independence.
“The [Tanzanian] army is well equipped,” Nahodha said, but added that as we live in a globalised world, there are many challenges, such as piracy, terrorism and other emerging security problems, which require a strong army.
“Security needs modern gadgets,” Nahodha said, with items of interest being helicopters and Land Rover type vehicles for the military and police. Nahodha said he was on a “fact finding mission” in Pakistan and would also look at what other countries have to offer. At the end of the day, the available budget will determine whether new equipment is procured for the Tanzanian People’s Defence Force or not.