Tanzania has inaugurated its biggest and most modern library yet—all thanks to China.
On Tuesday (Nov. 27), president John Magufuli opened (in Swahili) a 93.6 billion shillings ($40.5 million) library complex that covers an area of 200,000 square meters. Built at the University of Dar es Salaam, the two-story center can house up to 2,100 people, and stock 800,000 books. It also reportedly contains a Confucius Institute, cultural centers that help propagate and promote Chinese language and culture whose presence continues to grow across Africa.
Pointing to the deepening Sino-Tanzanian relations, Magufuli thanked China’s government and people for helping fund the project. Relations between the two nations extend back to the early 1960s following independence, with China offering assistance and investments in agriculture, military, education, and skills transfer. Magufuli specifically mentioned the 1,860 kilometers (1,155 miles) railway to Zambia that Beijing helped build between 1970 and 1976, along with the Urafiki textile mill that opened its door in 1968.
The 59-year-old president, who has come under scathing criticism for his administration’s handling of human rights and press freedom, also used the occasion to praise China’s unconditional aid offers. Beijing offered ‘no-strings’ financial support worth $60 billion to African countries in September, even though president Xi Jinping had warned against using the monies for “vanity projects.”
Both the Dutch government and the World Bank recently said they would withhold over $300 million in aid citing “negative developments” in the country. But after agreeing to review a legislation banning pregnant girls from schools, the global lender said it would re-engage the East African nation.
“The thing that makes you happy is that their aid [China’s] is not tied to any conditions,” Magufuli said in a statement (in Swahili) released on his official website. ”When they decide to give you, they give you.”