The president of the Republic of Tanzania arrived in San Rafael Monday night — an hour late — for the official opening of a new honorary consulate office on the premises of a local moving company: Ahmed’s Moving Express.
Ahmed Issa, the owner of the moving company located at 4322 Redwood Highway in San Rafael, has been appointed as Tanzania’s Honorary Consul for California. Tanzania’s president Jakaya Kikwete came to San Rafael Monday to celebrate Issa’s appointment, mark the opening of the new consulate office and launch a new advertising campaign promoting tourism in Tanzania.
“I sincerely thank you Mr. Issa for accepting the appointment,” Kikwete said, speaking from a dark, outdoor stage since the ceremony was expected to have taken place before the sun went down. “We cannot remain a country receiving charity. We have to go beyond charity; but to do that we have to see more investment and trade happening between our two countries.”
About 100 people waited patiently for the president to arrive. Guests included: Supervisor Susan Adams, comedian and educator Michael Pritchard, and Sean Randolph, president of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.
Randolph, who lives in Corte Madera, said, “There aren’t many diplomatic events in Marin. There are a lot in San Francisco. The Bay Area hosts the largest dipomatic community in the U.S. after Washington D.C. and New York. There are over 70 consulates both full-time official and honorary consulates in the region.”Several of Issa’s moving trucks were parked around the perimeter of the gathering. Large pictures of African animals had been affixed to the side’s of the trucks as part of an ad for VisiTanzania.com, a website promoting Tanzanian tourism.
Issa said, “I spend a lot of time in people’s homes so I know a lot of people like to travel. They’ve been to a number of countries in Africa, and they’re very fascinated with animals and what those countries can offer in terms of tourism.”
Issa was born in Tanzania; but he has lived in Marin County for the past 25 years. In addition to operating his moving company for the past 15 years, Issa has been working with the Tanzanian government to help build business partnerships between his country of origin and the United States through tourism and investment opportunities.
According to a Central Intelligence Agency website, “Tanzania is one of the world’s poorest economies in terms of per capita income; however, it has achieved high overall growth rates based on gold production and tourism.”
Reuters reported Monday that the country’s current account deficit widened 4.3 percent to $4.23 billion year to day through July following a drop in receipts of aid and loans.
Citing information contained in the central Bank of Tanzania’s latest economic review report, Reuters said Tanzania’s gold exports, the country’s top foreign exchange earner, dropped to 35 tons, year to day through July, from 40 tons, compared to the same period the year before.
But the story also noted that tourism earnings rose 10 percent to $1.69 billion from $1.53 billion during the same period due to higher tourist arrivals.
“Tanzania is one of the most beautiful places on earth,” said Nancy Anne Lang, the owner of Safari West, an African wildlife preserve in Sonoma county that attempts to recreate an African safari experience. “The wildlife in Tanzania is very diverse; the habitat is diverse; the experiences are extraordinary. It is actually my favorite country in Africa. I’ve been there many times.”
Lang said because tourism is an economic mainstay for Tanzania and other countries in eastern and southern Africa “those countries are very protective of foreigners who travel there. They’re very concerned with safety. They want people to have an extraordinarily good experience while learning about conservation.”
The celebration at Ahmed’s Moving Express Monday night was followed by a reception at the Embassy Suites Hotel in San Rafael.