Dar es Salaam (from Arabic: دار السلامDār as-Salām, "the house of peace"; formerly Mzizima) is the former capital and largest city in Tanzania. It is the largest city in East Africa by population, as well as a regionally important economic centre. Located on the Swahili coast, the city is one of the fastest growing cities in the world.

Until 1974, Dar es Salaam served as Tanzania’s capital city, at which point the capital city commenced transferring to Dodoma, which was officially completed in 1996. However, as of 2017, it continues to remain a focus of central government bureaucracy, although this is in the process of transferring to Dodoma. In addition, it is Tanzania's most prominent city in arts, fashion, media, music, film and television and a leading financial centre, with the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) being the country's first and most important stock exchange market. The city is the leading arrival and departure point for most tourists who visit Tanzania, including the national parks for safaris and the islands of Unguja and Pemba. Dar es Salaam is also the largest and most populous Swahili-speaking city in the world.

It is the capital of the co-extensive Dar es Salaam Region, which is one of Tanzania's 31 administrative regions and consists of five districts: Kinondoni in the north, Ilala in the centre, Ubungo, Temeke in the south and Kigamboni. The region had a population of 4,364,541 as of the official 2012 census.

Organisation reference

University of Dar es Salaam


As noted by Tanzanian Commission for Universities, TCU (2016), the country experiences a growing awareness and social demand for education at all levels, and higher education sector is particularly recognized as having a critical role to ensuring sustainable national development. However, the higher education sector in Tanzania has traditionally been a small in terms of student numbers. Until 1990s, university education was still largely viewed as a place for minorities, and some scholars estimate that less than 4% of pupils enrolled in primary education would eventually go to University (Galabawa 1991).

In its recent strategic plan, the TCU aims at increasing the participation rate from 2.4% in 2013/2014 to 4% by June 2020 (TCU, 2015). The number of universities has increased from one public university in the 1970s to more than 40 public and private universities in 2014 (Istoroyekti, 2016). Despite rapid increase in number of universities in the country, however, most universities face challenges such as the inadequate human capital, facilities, and credibility to an extent of jeopardising the quality of teaching and learning (Teffara & Altbach 2004). Universities in the country operate within the legal context based on the individual university establishment Acts (e.g. the University of Dar es Salaam Act No. 12 of 1970, amended in 2005), and a University Charter (2007). Despite the existing legal structures, the fast-changing socio-economic environments and the universities revised missions, objectives, functions, strategies and long-term plans require renewed legal framework for efficient functioning (Cloete, Bailey & Maassen 2011).

As noted in the literature HEIs within Tanzania or elsewhere differ in terms of diversity of their functions, quality, orientation, financial support, and other factors (Nuffic 2015). In particular, the HEIs in the region are divided into two categories, namely, non-university (technical, vocational and professional schools),   which offer various qualifications, ranging from certificates, diplomas and advanced diplomas to postgraduate diplomas. The number of non-university level institutions has increased significantly over the past few years. These institutions are overseen by the responsible Ministries. The other category, are the universities and university colleges, which offer both degree programmes and non-degree programmes, leading to an academic degree or other qualifications. They independently offer both academic and higher professional education leading into bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees; the non-degree qualifications (Cloete, Bailey & Maassen 2011).

The region also has several specialist universities, including, the Ardhi University (ARU), which is the only University in the region which offers integrated training in the entire spectrum of land-based disciplines namely Real Estate, Land Administration, Land Surveying Urban and Regional Planning, Architecture, Building Economics, Environmental Science and Housing,  complemented by Engineering, Finance, Accounting, Economics and Community Development Programmes[1]. The other specialist university in the region is the Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), which offers training programmes in the broad field of agriculture.  The objectives of research, outreach and consultancy at SUA mainly focus on providing training and research that would generate science evidence knowledge and innovations that respond to contemporary and emerging needs. It emphasizes researches that are linked to development and societal needs[2].


[1] See http://www.aru.ac.tz/

[2] see http://www.sua.ac.tz/

Geographical context

Tanzania is a union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar which joined to form the United Republic of Tanzania. It is located between 1 degree South and 12 degrees South latitude and 30 degrees East and 40 degrees East. After the union, Zanzibar kept a semiautonomous state with its own president, national assembly and judiciary system. The country comprises a total area of 945,087 Sq. km consisting of land area of 883,749 sq. km (881,289 sq.km mainland and 2,460 sq.km Zanzibar), plus 59,050 sq. km inland water bodies (URT, 2002). It shares borders with eight countries namely Kenya and Uganda in the North, Rwanda, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo in the West, Zambia and Malawi in the South West and Mozambique in the South. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain, is in the north-eastern Tanzania.

The country is a democratic unitary republic with both a central government and a devolved government of Zanzibar which has autonomy for non-union matters. In the mainland, there are three types of urban authorities: city, municipal and town councils. In rural areas there are two levels of authority; the district councils with the township authorities, and the village councils. On the other hand, in Zanzibar, the urban authorities are either town councils or municipalities, while all rural authorities are district councils. In the mainland Tanzania there are 25 regions, 40 urban councils and 132 rural district councils, whilst in Zanzibar there are five regions, four urban authorities and seven rural district councils. Local government authorities (LGAs) have the power to levy taxes, fees and charges .

Social context

Based on the 2012 Population and Housing Census, the country was reported to have about 44,928,923 people: 43,625,354 from mainland Tanzania and 1,303,569 from Zanzibar with an annual average growth rate (2002 – 2012) of 2.7 (NBS 2014). The national average population growth rate, is cited as one of the fastest growing populations in the world (Wuyts and Kilama 2014). In particular, the country faces increase in its youth population, which started since 1980s. If not addressed, this increase may have negative consequences on areas such as delivery of social services, infrastructure development, and economic growth.

Tanzania also faces issues with urbanisation, due to rural-urban migration leading to a high rate of urban population growth. This has led to the rise of unplanned settlements (squatters/ slums), affecting the availability of basic services such as housing, safe and reliable water supply, sanitation, access roads, drainage and waste collection management (Agwanda and Amani, 2014). The region also faces a challenge of accommodating refugee populations from countries with political and social crises.

Economic context

Agriculture is regarded as a pillar of the economy and accounts for almost half of the country’s gross domestic product. It employs almost two-thirds of working-age population – most of whom are subsistence farmers (Osorio, Percic, and Di Battista, 2014). The inadequate diversification of the economy and inadequate investment in irrigation has caused the agricultural sector to be highly exposed to the effects of climate change. Similarly, Tanzania faces slow pace of industrialisation, a shortage of skills and unsatisfactorily infrastructure (Economic Commission for Africa, 2015, p.1). In recent years however, Tanzania’s economic growth is expected to average 6.2% between 2017 and 2026. Despite some growth in the economy, the country faces challenges such as liquidity squeeze, business shutdowns and loss of private sector confidence (KPMG, 2017).

The unemployment rate is approximately 15%, although underemployment is widespread. In 2014, Tanzania was ranked 159 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (UNDP, 2014). In the 1990s, the growth industries were in government and parastatal employment, although in recent times the growth industries have been in the informal sector. 

Youth unemployment is seen to be a serious issue in the region.  In 2012, Tanzania had more unemployed 15-to- 24-year-olds per capita than other countries. A survey by the non-governmental organisation, Restless Development, found that out of more than 1,000 young people across Tanzania, only 14% reported working in formal, wage-earning jobs (Kushner, 2013). The low level of youths who find jobs in the formal sector is mainly said to be a result of the low employment content of the growth programme in all sectors of the economy, but also due to low levels of educational attainment.


Environmental issues

In terms of environment, Tanzania is highly endowed with natural resources such as gold/gemstones, fish, forests, wildlife, and biodiversity, therefore environment is key to the livelihood of the vast majority of Tanzanians (URT 2006).

Analysis by USAID (2012) highlighted some of the key environmental issues and challenges facing the region. These included land degradation that reduces the productivity of soil in many areas; unsatisfactory access to good quality water; urban and countryside environmental pollution including untreated solid and liquid wastes that are left in some cities that are likely to contaminate air and water with pollutants. Other issues include poor quality sewage systems that flow directly into the ocean, affecting marine habitats; and the deterioration of aquatic systems through pollution and poor management. 

Given that the majority of Tanzanians rely on wood and agicultural residues for their energy needs, the region also faces issues of large scale deforestation and reduction of woodland through clearance. This risks envrionmental degredation leading to biodiversity loss and soil erosion [1].


[1] http://wwf.panda.org/who_we_are/wwf_offices/tanzania/environmental_prob…

Social issues

The UNDP’s Human Development Index (HDI), positions Tanzania into the bottom quartile of countries with the lowest level of human development, ranking at 159 out of 187 countries (UNDP 2014, ix).  It is one of the poorest countries of the world; with about 50% of the population living below poverty line (Mwamila, 2008). The country experienced a steady economic decline in the late 1970s and a financial crisis in the early 1980s. In 1986, the country formally adopted an economic recovery program (Muganda, 2014). 

Tanzania has a long history of progress in the social services provision, with the Government responsible for delivering  a wide range of social services (Wangwe and Rweyemamu 2001).  However, since the 1980s, there have been a range of socio-economic challenges to the provision of services, for example, high levels of poverty, poor health, rising rate of crime, alcohol and drug abuse and problems related to HIV/AIDS (URT, 2012). The other key challenge facing the country is failure to translate its real GDP growth into faster poverty reductions and income inequality (African Development Bank, 2016).

Despite many efforts since independence, the country has relatively weak education system, and unsatisfactory quality of education provided in terms of pupil-teacher ratio and teaching and learning infrastructure. This has led to a low stock of well-qualified people, and poor educational performance in different levels. There are also high illiteracy rates and low skill levels which may jeopardise the future quality of the labour force. Critics suggest that this is due in part to Tanzanian education providing general knowledge but not skills that are necessary for employment (Kushner, 2013).

The country in addition faces corruption problems which undermines service delivery. Challenges in the health sector, include unsatisfactory health services and increase in HIV/AIDs cases. The country also faces threats from diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis (WHO, 2015).

Economic issues

One of the critical challenges facing the country’s economy is the failure to promote a diversified economy. For example, while the manufacturing sector represents a powerful engine of structural change and modernisation of the economy, it contributes only 7.6% to the GDP and less than 1% to export. Instead, there is an excessive dependence on subsistence agriculture, which makes the economy vulnerable as these are small scale practices which are climate-dependent and unsustainable (Amani, 2005). Such practices also aggravate economic instabilities, and leads to failure in providing additional rural employment.

There is also a lack of investment in research and development. The majority of firms in the manufacturing sector have no R&D department, and have very weak linkages with Government and Universities.  A study of 50 randomly selected manufacturing firms in Dar es Salaam indicated that only 2 out of 50 industrial firms had some forms of contacts with universities and R&D Institutes (Diyamett, 2005).

Organisation and management

As noted by Teffara & Altbach (2004), since, the majority of higher education institutions in region are public, there is a general tendency for governmental involvement in university affairs. The current governance structure in most of the Universities reflects this legacy. Traditionally, the President had been the ultimate authority as the chancellor. However, more recently, given the changes in the nature and structure of universities in the region, the President has been appointing Vice-Chancellors and others down the administrative line for public universities.

Teffara & Altbach (2004) note further that  the Vice-Chancellors, has the executive power as furnished by the senate, who are also largely composed of government-appointed members and students representatives. The chain of administrative power starts with the vice-chancellor, then moves to deans/directors, and then department heads. The deans and directors in most cases are appointed either by the Vice-Chancellors. The department heads are in most cases recommended by fellow members by short-listing candidates, through search committees and submitted to the university authorities.

With regard to financing, most of the public universities are largely dependent on government subvention to fund their activities. However, from the 1980’s as a result of economic hardships, the government support to public higher education institutions had been declining. Universities had therefore been forced to re-think their strategies, and possibly look for extra sources of financing, including establishing income-generating activities. The effects of this under-funding on infrastructure, research, staff morale and student intake had been widespread (Kimambo et. al, 2008). Recent allocation trends, however, indicate some improvement in Government funding to Universities.

Main priorities of HEI in the region

The Tanzanian government considers universities as potential for rapid development (URT, 1999). The role of universities in development is consistent with Tanzania‘s Vision 2025 that clearly spells out the need to amass knowledge so that society can fight poverty, diseases and ignorance and foster economic growth. The Tanzanian vision 2025 envisages Tanzania becoming “a nation with high level education at all levels; a nation which produces the quantity and quality of educated people sufficiently equipped with the requisite knowledge and skills to solve the society’s problems; meet the challenges of development and attain competitiveness at regional and global level.” The aspirations of Vision 2025 are closely aligned to the National Strategy for Economic (URT, 1999).

Most Universities in the region view themselves as having a social responsibility. The University of Dar-es-Salaam (UDSM) for instance, accepts a responsibility to perform community services as mandated by its 1970 Act (Part II), Section 4 (a-g), which states one of the functions of the UDSM as: “To create a sense of public responsibility in the educated and promote respect for learning and pursuit of truth” (See also, UDSM 2011). The mission of the UDSM has since encompassed a wider scope of “the unrelenting pursuit of scholarly and strategic research, education, training and public service directed at the attainment of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development of Tanzania and the rest of Africa.” This reads alongside the vision “to become a reputable world-class university that is responsive to national, regional and global development needs through engagement in dynamic knowledge creation and application.” Between 2006-07 and 2010-11, the guiding theme was: “Enhanced quality outputs in teaching, research and public service”. It is further argued that ‘the university has a societal orientation, and it is argued that in pursuance of the above, the “societal” mission of the UDSM has been projected even more in recent times. One of the three interrelated core functions of the UDSM is “to provide public services to the community that address the country’s existing and future social problems, through consultancy and outreach programmes”

The contentions above suggest the need to re-thinking the role of universities in society, and the need for universities to move away from traditional mode of working in isolation into more collaborative ways of working in which both government data institutions and academia. Both the national and international regional policies attach value to regional collaboration and integration in the higher education sector. The Tanzanian national Higher education policy (1999) for instance, clearly states that ‘institutions should seek cooperation and links with foreign institutions with similar interests’ (p.26). The regional development priorities have been integrated in the national higher education policy. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Education and Training has explicitly influenced national higher education policy and practice, in which collaborations such as the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA) have been established since 2005 as a membership based association for the 66 public universities in the 15 SADC countries. The general aim of SARUA is to assist in the general revitalization of HEIs in Southern Africa and specifically to enhance and build the senior leadership capacity of SADC Higher Education institutions, thus enabling the sector to effectively respond to regional development challenges.

Research has been identified as a key for Africa if the continent is to make significant and recognized contributions to regional and global knowledge. Paradoxically, in most of the HEIs in Africa, research is often cited as the weakest and most neglected component. However, networks of researchers have emerged as crucial vehicles for acquiring knowledge from global sources, enhancing understanding of global phenomena and developing solutions to local problems. Developing a meaningful and comprehensive research capacity, is therefore one of the core element of any university’s globalization strategy.

The country has a significant number of international collaborative activities that involve Tanzanian universities and other organisations as well as other partnerships in Africa and in the rest of the world.  As noted in the National Research and Development Policy (URT, 2010, p.24), most of the R&D institutions in the region have limited interaction and collaboration between each other, such that there is inefficient use of research equipment and human resource as well as poor sharing of knowledge and experiences. The policy emphasises on establishing and institutionalising an efficient system of partnership, networking and collaboration among researchers. To stimulate high‐level skills and knowledge innovation, partnerships and networks between the state, higher education institutions and the private sector are important.

As Preece, (2011) notes, for many years, universities avoided their third missions due to different reasons including, a pressure from international organisations.  Mugabi (2014, p.16) maintains this view by arguing that ‘although most universities have always served society through teaching and research, the third mission is often considered a new function’.  The University of Dar-es-Salaam for instance, has recently established a Directorate of Public Service (DPS), which serves as a bridge between the UDSM and the wider society, as part of the new organizational structure of the University. The outreach at this university is reported as a relatively new area and the relevant coordinating Unit were still working out strategies for developing it (UDSM, 2011).  The university also emphasise the teaching related to economic development   strong focus on entrepreneurial training and small business development. The university has a policy on entrepreneurship which requires that every student is exposed to entrepreneurship training, in attempt to align higher education to national development priorities and can thereby contribute to development in society. The universities increasingly emphasise the need to engage with relevant external stakeholder, namely government, industry, parliamentarians, development partners and the private sector. Various collaborative activities can take place among partners in the region, including.

  • Collaborative Research: e.g. joint projects and joint workshops across a broad range of areas disciplines in as well as a fellowship program for staff exchange, for tackling the grand challenges.
  • Conducting research in areas identified as having  critical challenges
  • Articulation and Twinning – e.g. students completing part of a degree program in from a collaborator, and articulates to a degree that can be completed in a partner university.
  • Student and Staff Exchanges – e.g. internships, study tours and cultural , staff to visit partner institutions, and preparing ad hoc or one-off events such as conferences, workshops and exhibitions, built around shared interests.
  • artistic collaborations, leading to public exhibitions and performances

Cultural issues

As for cultural challenges, within the African perspective, culture transcends arts, artefacts, literature, music, dance and other artistic paraphernalia. It entails the totality of a people's norms, ethos, values, beliefs, raison d'etre, codes of socially acceptable conducts, modes of life, religion, philosophy and ideology (Soetan, 2001). Some of the cultural challenges noted by Soetan (2001, p.5); (see also URT, 2007), include the dominance of traditional concepts that are not reflected in the  development discourse. There has also been a failure to use home-grown models that make use of historical and cultural experiences a critical means for ensuring the sustainability of development efforts in Africa. The cultural challenges also include the imposition of Western values through the development agenda that questions and challenges the worldview of Third World people while promoting and valorising Western values. This is perceived as reinforcing cultural domination that can promote social dislocation resulting into unsustainable development.

The cultural challenges according to Soetan (2001) also include the influence through modern technology and media, whereby some of the foreign cultures adversely affect the established cultural practices, and negatively affect the youth to an extent of losing their identity. They further include a failure to tap the vast reservoir of traditional and indigenous knowledge that have sustained societies for many years into income and employment generation. The other cultural challenges noted by Soetan (2001) include the lack of the voices of African scholars, activists, grassroots women and other vulnerable groups that would have led into a more inclusive re-theorising and reconstruction of development. The challenges also include the predominance of negative traditional practices, beliefs and laws that are harmful to women and derogatory of their as well as a failure to mainstream culture and gender in development.


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Dar es Salaam