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I landed in Dar es Salaam over the weekend to prepare for a research workshop on Tanzania’s natural gas sector. “We need a quote from a government official saying that they think this research is a good idea,” my co-author, Mujobu Moyo, announced. “Otherwise journalists might be hesitant to cover it.”
Welcome to election year in Tanzania. On March 27, the Tanzanian parliament passed a “new draconian data law” that would allegedly criminalize the publication of any statistics not endorsed by the National Bureau of Statistics, with minimum penalties of one year in prison or a $6,000 fine. I say allegedly, because nobody seems to be able to find the actual bill. President Jakaya Kikwete hasn’t given any indication yet whether he’ll sign it, though it was rushed through parliament with backing from the ruling party.
Somewhat awkwardly for the Obama administration, Kikwete has also taken a lead role in the Open Government Partnership — a multilateral initiative hatched by the White House to promote government transparency worldwide.