Let me begin by saying I never came here for the money. Let me say also I know we are more privileged than the vast majority of Tanzanians who surround us. We are paid a modest wage by International School standards, we are paid in Tanzanian Shillings (TzS). Since August, when we arrived the value of the Shilling has dropped significantly against the pound. Even more worryingly it has dropped much of its value since March!
We live within Tanzania and so why should there have been a problem you might be asking. Food prices have risen only slightly and the cost of living is low here. On a day to day basis there isn’t an issue. The difficulty is this. We did not come for the money, but one reason we did come was for the opportunities. Opportunities to work in a different place, meet new people, experience a new culture, see new places and travel the world. It is in this last category we have begun to be stifled. Tourist places want dollars, they charge a fixed price in dollars. This includes entry to Safari Parks, Travel Visas and even Accommodation like Wag Hill are priced in Dollars. In August when we arrived £1 was worth 2766 TzS. By October we went to the Serengeti and £1 was worth 2731 TzS. Our $50 entrance cost us 85500 TzS When we travelled to Zanzibar at Christmas £1 was worth just over 2700 TzS it dropped below this value while we were there. This was a positive thing for us. When my daughter went to Kenya in January, £1 was worth 2745 TzS. Her $50 visa cost us 88500 TzS When we travelled to Rubondo in February £1 was worth just over 2800TzS a rise in value which was less good. At Easter when we travelled abroad as a family for the first time since arrival here. On our trip to Uganda £1 was worth 2744 Tzs and our $50 visas cost us 92000 TzS Last week on our trip to Wag Hill, £1 was worth 3179 TzS. Our accommodation was priced in $ – for comparison $50 was now 104000 TzS.
Soon my daughter travels to Rwanda on a school trip, so today we took out another $50 for a visa today costing us just under 108000 TzS today. Today £1 = 3307 TzS
So in real terms our entry to Rubondo was more expensive than Serengeti. Wag Hill was $ for $ more expensive than Uganda or Kenya. Rwanda has been more expensive still. We have thus far been able to enjoy this country and some of its neighbours, we have been lucky and blessed, but that time is either coming to an end or else will need some very careful budgeting. There are theories that this is all due to the upcoming elections this Autumn, others because of the debts the country. Either way the shilling is on the slide and it has put in doubt future travel plans. Mwanza is a nice enough place to I live but it is not a place to spend a holiday. Is this the end of our African dream? No, but it will need a rethink.