In March 2023, Tanzania President Samia Suluhu threw a jibe at a neighbouring country whose currency was on a free fall against the US dollar.
In the jibe that appeared to bave been directed at Kenya’s President William Ruto, Samia said that the neighbour had run out of US dollars and had been begging for help behind closed doors while pretending everything is okay.
Samia noted that the neighbour was broke and didn’t have enough dollars to last a week on its own.
“One of our neighbours here does not have (US dollar reserves) even for one week,” she said.
According to Samia, the Tanzania economy is currently stable and has forex reserves that are adequate for a coverage of up to four months.
“Economically, we are the best in EAC, while everyone else is complaining of lack of forex reserves, we have enough for four months,” she said.
Samia added that the broke neighnour had also been begging Tanzania to guarantee her so that they can get fuel from the Middle East on debt.
“We are getting requests to guarantee them so that they can be loaned fuel,” said Samia. “When they come to us for help, I tell them we are in the same situation although our economy is stronger.”
Samia’s jibe was largely interpreted as being directed at Kenya which has facing a forex crisis that the government appears clueless on how to resolve.
At the time, Kenya’s forex reserves had dropped to $6.6 billion (Sh. 845.46 billion) from $6.86 billion (Sh. 878.76 billion) on February 23. This was equal to 3.69 months of import cover, and was below the threshold of four months coverage.
Today, the Kenya shilling is trading at an all-time low of 138 against the US dollar. The Shilling has also lost significantly against currencies from the neighbouring countries.