Destinations Eastern Africa

Tanzania Moves Capital From Dar es Salaam to Dodoma

Dodoma City
Written by Jesca

In a significant move, Tanzania has moved its capital from the bustling coastal city of Dar es Salaam to the inland city of Dodoma after a 50-year wait.

This transition marks a major milestone in the country’s history, as it aims to centralize its administrative functions and stimulate development in previously neglected regions. The shifting of the capital was revived with renewed vigour during the Presidency of the late John Magufuli. His approach was to move immediately and build the necessary infrastructure in situ. Today, all government ministries and major public institutions have head offices in Dodoma.

What is the Capital City of Tanzania Now?

The current capital city of Tanzania is Dodoma. Dodoma is known for being a major trade centre in the country’s agricultural region and for its unique location among the world’s highest mountain ranges. The total GDP of Dodoma is US$191.6 billion.

Dodoma City new capital of Tanzania

Dodoma City new capital of Tanzania. Photo/Focus East Africa Tour

What Was the Capital Before Dodoma?

The capital city of Tanzania before Dodoma was Dar es Salaam. It was the capital from the country’s independence in 1961 until 1973. In 1973, the Tanzanian government relocated the capital to Dodoma for various reasons, including its central location within the country and its aim to decentralize power and promote regional development. However, Dar es Salaam remains an important economic and commercial hub in Tanzania.

Why did Tanzania Transfer its Capital From Dar es Salaam to Dodoma?

In 1974, the Tanzanian government announced that the capital would be moved to Dodoma for social and economic reasons and to centralise the capital within the country. The first president of Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, announced this planned move from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. Dar es Salaam would continue to serve as the nation’s principal port and commercial capital.

When did Dodoma Become the Capital of Tanzania?

Dodoma became the capital of Tanzania in 1974 after a nationwide referendum. Before that, the capital was located in Dar es Salaam. While initial steps were taken, such as the relocation of Parliament in 2017, Dodoma remained the capital only in name. However, with the inauguration of the new presidential offices in Dodoma in May 2023, the transition to the new capital is now nearly complete.

Why was the Relocation Necessary?

The relocation was necessary due to overcrowding and strain on infrastructure in Dar es Salaam. With a population of 5,383,728, the city faced overcrowding and infrastructural strain issues. Moving the capital aimed to redistribute the population and alleviate the pressure on resources and public services. It also aimed to stimulate economic activity in previously neglected regions, promote accessibility and national unity by centralizing the capital, and improve the efficiency of government operations by reducing travel time and costs for government officials.

Why Has it Taken So Long?

The relocation process has been slow due to various political, economic, and logistical factors. Successive governments delayed the move due to competing priorities, and economic challenges required careful budget allocation. Moving an entire capital city also presented logistical challenges.

Dodoma city

Dodoma City. Photo/Africa Press Arabic

Nevertheless, the 50-year journey culminated in May 2023 with the opening of the new State House building in Chamwino, Dodoma, which will house presidential offices and serve as the president’s official residence. As Dodoma becomes the new capital, it faces challenges in developing the necessary infrastructure to accommodate government workers and residents.

The city must improve transport systems, water supply, housing, and other essential services. While service provision has improved, Dodoma still lags behind Dar es Salaam. The city is expected to receive more than 1,500 officials for the relocation by the end of 2023.

However, there is a deficiency in utilities and community infrastructure to meet the rising demand, particularly in waste management, education, healthcare, and integrated public transport. Efforts are needed to address these challenges and ensure the successful functioning of Dodoma as the new capital city.

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About the author

Jesca

Besigye is a Ugandan writer and a teacher by profession. She loves adventure and travelling that's why she loves writing travel blogs.

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