Bush visit to Africa and Tanzania brings hopes
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – US President George W. Bush, on his day visit to Tanzania, signed the largest US financial support to Tanzania, targeting the infectious diseases and economic development projects in the sub-Saharan single nation.
Bush’s four-day visit to Tanzania – the longest stay by any visiting head of stay in this African nation, was observed by his Tanzanian counterpart Jakaya Kikwete as he signed the US$700 support package under the Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) on Sunday.
Focusing to elimination of malaria and minimizing the rate of HIV/IADS scourge in Tanzania, the money will also be spent to boost electricity supply in western parts of Tanzania and roads construction in western and southern areas of the country.
Bush’s visit, which was covered by more than 200 African and world journalists, had also branded the image of Africa on the eyes of Americans who mostly taken the African continent prone to diseases, conflicts and abject poverty.
Tanzanians received Bush’s trip with hopes to see their country lure more Americans in various sectors of life including tourism and economic investments through the international media coverage of the US president, who was accompanied by 100 journalists mostly from major US media houses.
Speaking to journalists in a joint press conference, President Bush said Africa was his priority area soon after getting into the White House eight years ago. “I made Africa my priority area since I started my administration in day one,” Bush told packed journalists at the Tanzanian sea-side State House.
“I doubled my support to Africa,” adding, “We don't want people guessing on the continent of Africa whether the generosity of the American people will continue."
He also said: “We want the money go to the people. We are looking to promote peace in Africa, and looking for sanctions to Sudan over genocide in Darfur. Democracy is needed in Zimbabwe.”
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, who earlier invited Bush to visit Tanzania during his visit to Washington in 2006, said the US president was a true friend of Tanzania and the African continent.
“Mr. President, you have shown great compassion to Africa and its people. You have shown great morals to support Africa towards good governance, fighting diseases, poverty alleviation, to resolve conflicts and fighting the scourge of terrorism,” Kikwete said. “We greatly benefit from your commitment to support Africa in fighting malaria. Generations will remember you here in Tanzania and Africa as a friend.”
Bush’s visit to Tanzania and his stay boosted tourist hotels business here in the Indian Ocean capital city of Dar es Salaam. Posh tourist hotels Kempinski Kilimanjaro, Movenpick Royal Palm and Holiday Inn were booked up to February 20 to accommodate the large entourage accompanying the US president. The three hotels have a combined total of more than 500 guest rooms ranging between US$200 and US$600 depending on the status of each room.
Other hotels in the city recorded good business from Bush’s entourage that had brought more than 1,000 foreign guests to Tanzania.
Crowds of people, some cladding with clothes bearing Bush's image, lined up the road from the airport to welcome Bush, who is the first US president in office to make an official visit to Tanzania.
Bush landed on the Tanzanian soil Saturday evening under tight security by the US marine, and drove off to Kempinski Kilimanjaro Hotel, some 12 kilometers from the airport after inspecting a guard of honor mounted by Tanzanian army.
In surprise, the crowds of people ended up seeing high speeding 50 black limousines in tinted windows carrying the US president to his hotel.
Bush on Sunday inspected a hospital in Dar es Salaam where HIV/AIDS victims are getting treatments through the US support. He will flew Monday to the northern city of Arusha to inspect a textile factory that produce treated mosquito nets, a hospital and a special girls school for the pastoralist Maasai communities.
The African five-nation trip is Bush's second visit to the continent and his wife's fifth largely focusing on the United States' aid programs, which include initiatives to combat HIV/AIDS under his administration's programs of Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR for funding anti-viral drugs (ARVs).
Bush’s administration lauds the program as the "largest commitment ever by any nation for an international health initiative dedicated to a single disease.” He said that he has requested from the Congress some US$ 30 billion over the next five years for Africa.
President Bush arrived in the West African nation of Benin Saturday morning, the first stop in a five-nation trip to Africa which also will include stops in Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia after Tanzania.