LOCATED midway Cape Town in South Africa and Cairo, the city of Arusha is Tanzania’s tourism hub. It is also known to the tourism world as the safari capital of Tanzania. The city straddles the Great North Road connecting Cape Town to Cairo. By a quirk of fate, Arusha is also located at the geographical centre of East African countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.
It is, consequently, the capital of the East African Community (EAC), a body revived by Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda, after its demise in 1977. Burundi and Rwanda are also EAC members. The city of Arusha had a humble beginning in the 1890’s and grew up to become a world renowned city.
The first guide book produced on Arusha town (and the Northern Province as Arusha Region was then called) was published on December 5, 1929 to mark the opening of the Moshi to Arusha railway line. The official opening was made by the British Governor of Tanganyika, Sir Donald Cameron.
The first session of the Tanganyika Legislative Council to be held in Arusha took place at the same time. In 1929, the guide book says, 5,000 sterling pounds were enough capital to acquire land.
The same amount of money was enough to hire land tillers who also planted coffee and brought it to a bearing stage. The Arusha area also had vast potential for citrus fruits, horticulture and sisal with the climate and rainfall being conducive to ‘White settlement’.
Arusha was a ‘little piece of England.’ At the end of the First World War (WW1) Arusha town was slightly more than a hamlet. There were few shops and no motorcars or garages.
Ox-wagons were the main means of transport and the 79-kilometre journey from Arusha to Moshi, which takes an hour by car now, took more than a week by ox-wagon. By 1929, however, the face of Arusha was beginning to change with the New Arusha Hotel (NAH) of the day proudly advertising that it had hot and cold water in all bedrooms, electricity lights, modern sanitation and a teak dance floor.
To be precise, the advert said: “If you wish to have a real enjoyable holiday, then go to Arusha and stay at the New Arusha Hotel, where you will obtain hot and cold water in all bed-rooms, modern sanitation, Teak dancing floor, electric light and really excellent food as well as golf.”
The advert also appealed for customers saying that the hotel had a tennis court, big game (wild animals) and bird shooting. A company owned by John Mulholland claimed that it had the ‘finest bacon slicing machine in the territory,’ and Major A.E. Pekins advertised for more white settlers, mostly from Britain.
In 1957 the East Africa Tourist Travel Association produced the first formal guide book to the town of Arusha. Not surprisingly, there was a picture of Maasai family ( man, woman and child) on the cover and Mount Meru in the background.
The guide was published four years before Independence in 1961. The book also carried advertisements from a ‘European’ bakery, meat shop for ‘European service,’ and ‘European vegetable shop.’ There was also an advert on ‘European hospital.’
The 1952 census put the population of Arusha town at 7,797. The census figures in colonial days showed racial divisions. So, the population of Arusha comprised 3,560 Africans, 3,153 Asians and 1,084 Europeans. In 1952 the tariff for single room in New Arusha Hotel with a private bath was 40/-. Breakfast was four shillings and lunch seven shillings. Today, Arusha City is simply dynamic.
Part of the present scenario has been brought on by the dramatic increase in the tourist trade and the rural-urban migration that affects all societies. Lured by the city’s potential people have resettled in the city from all over Tanzania and various parts of the world.
This cosmopolitan liveliness may at times border on chaos to the visiting outsider. Pushcarts carrying items ranging from roofing sheets to grass for domestic livestock ‘compete’ with motor vehicles on the city’s narrow roads.
A report compiled at that time by the City Director, Mr Raphael Mbunda, showed that further 100,000 people entered the city daily and leave the same day. The city of Arusha has been developing as the capital of the East African Community (EAC) with the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) at the pivot. Arusha has also the distinction of being the centre of the trade in Tanzanite which is mined at Mererani in Manyara region.
The industrial potential of unique Lake Natron, once developed will add to the region’s prestige as an industrial region. Lake Natron, contains the country’s only commercial deposits of soda ash.
Arusha region’s commercial, industrial, tourist and agricultural might make the region the second largest consumer of electricity and gives the region the sixth longest regional economy after Dar es Salaam Mwanza and Shinyanga. The population boom has over-stretched social services.
What is required is fresh look at the Arusha master plan and better implementation initiative. Water supply is one of the sectors that have been over-stretched by the population boom. Out of the 14 deep boreholes that supply the city with water, 12 are located in Arumeru District.
Only two boreholes are located within the perimeters of the city. The city also gets water from two springs located in Arumeru District. In 2006 the city of Arusha had water requirement of 42,000 litres per day while actual production stood at 35,000 litres during dry seasons and 44,000 litres during rainy seasons.
Arusha City residents are mainly business people. The city has a sizable population of industrialists, tourism operators, urban village farmers and livestock keepers. The main sources of revenue for the city, however, are industries, businesses and tourism. About 52 per cent of residents in Arusha depend on the three economic sectors. Arusha city has 12 major factories that contribute significantly to the
These include General Tyre East Africa; Tanzania Breweries and Sunflag. Others are Tanzania Pharmaceutical Industries; A to Z (treated mosquito net industry); Kilima Bottlers; MB Super Food; Sunkist Jumbo Mills; Tanfoam Industries; National Milling Corporation; Foills and Silos Industries and Arusha meat Company.
The city also is home to more than 200 small-scale industries. Residents in the city require a total of 95,240.3 tonnes of grains and 14,654 tonnes of legumes per year. Arusha District is self-sufficient in food annually, depending on rain performance.
Arusha Meat Company, an abattoir that was built in 1991 and which is owned entirely by the Arusha City Council, has slaughter capacity of 500 cattle and 400 goats and sheep per day. At the moment the abattoir slaughters only 150 cattle and 130 goats and sheep.
The main problem that afflicts Arusha Meat Company is lack of capital that would enable the company to expand its slaughter houses (killing floors), build more storage rooms (drilling rooms), increase supply of water and abattoir equipment.
The city council plans to solve the problem by entering into public-private partnership in order to secure funds for improvement of the meat processing operations. The company has market value of 1,305,000,000/-. Arusha Region is the second to Dar es Salaam on the industrial development ranking. There are large, medium and small-scale industries scattered all over the region.
The major industries produce textiles, iron and steel. There are also large-scale industries dealing in wood, electrical and electronic appliances and beverages. Also in this rank are food industries and milling industries.
Others are pharmaceutical, chemical and plastics industries. The region has 11 hospitals, 34 health centres and 197 dispensaries. These facilities have a total of 1,743 hospital beds. The most common diseases in the region includes malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, anaemia and tuberculosis.