Skip to content

What’s the Background to Tanzania’s Capital City Relocation?

The first president of Tanzania, Julius Kambarage Nyerere, announced the planned move from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma in 1973. A state agency and ministry were established to oversee the implementation of the plan. It was decided that Dar es Salaam would continue to serve as the nation’s principal port and commercial capital. This choice posed a difficult development challenge. Government services and resources had to be relocated and infrastructure had to be built. A comprehensive array of administrative functions were needed in Dodoma. Several observers of Tanzania’s social, economic, and political environment wondered why such a step was taken in the context of Tanzania’s development philosophy of socialism and self-reliance. Dodoma was a capital nobody desired, and some called it a political hoax or a white elephant project. Despite the clear benefits, the relocation process has been slow due to a combination of political, economic, and logistical factors. The national leadership lacked the commitment. Successive governments delayed the move owing to competing priorities like developing education and health. Economic challenges have also played a role, as Tanzania has had to carefully allocate its limited budget. Moving an entire capital city also poses logistical challenges.