Although one of the poorest countries in the world, Tanzania is emerging as one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and there are opportunities for those looking to live and work there.
Expats moving to Tanzania are likely to do so as part of a corporate relocation within their existing company or go there to take up a position within the NGO sector. Expat salaries are unlikely to reach the levels of other African hardship destinations, such as Nigeria or Angola, but expats working in Tanzania are likely to enjoy a rewarding cultural experience in a friendly and welcoming environment.
Job market in Tanzania
Agriculture is the backbone of Tanzania’s economy, employing around 80 percent of the population. Tourism is another major economic sector, while mining is also an important contributor to the Tanzanian economy. Manufacturing and services, although small, are also key sources of employment in the country.
While Dar es Salaam, as the home of the country’s largest seaport, is the most important centre of economic activity in Tanzania, other major areas that attract foreigners include Arusha and the capital, Dodoma.
Finding a job in Tanzania
Expats may be able to find job opportunities in Tanzania online, and should also consider consulting with local recruitment agencies. Those looking for work are likely to find opportunities in the tourism or mining sectors, while a significant proportion of foreigners also work in the NGO sector. Teaching English is another option for those seeking employment in this East African country.
Although it’s not essential to speak Swahili, learning at least a few key phrases of the local language will go a long way when looking for work or earning the respect of Tanzanian colleagues.
Work culture in Tanzania
The working environment in Tanzania is generally a friendly one, although expats may take a while to adjust to the cultural changes.
Business structures are hierarchical and status is revered. Business decisions are therefore made from the top down and subordinates hesitate to question their manager’s authority. This may take some getting used to for those moving from a more egalitarian society. Decision-making can also be a drawn-out process as Tanzanians are not direct in their communication style, preferring not to give an outright yes or no to a question. Expats therefore need to learn to exercise patience when working in Tanzania.
Although Swahili is the official language, English is the dominant language of business in Tanzania, especially in the main cities. Arabic is also commonly spoken in the predominantly Islamic archipelago of Zanzibar.
Networking and building meaningful relationships is also crucial to successful business in Tanzania, and it’s important to always be respectful and courteous to business associates in order to avoid causing anyone to 'lose face'.