Visionaries hope for a modern metropolis modelled on Singapore, but pessimists fear the emergence of another dirt-poor city of slums. Dar es Salaam is one of the world’s fastest growing cities, and it has reached its tipping point.
In the dark basement of the cavernous Kariakoo market, dozens of traders gather at tiny makeshift stalls, arranging fruit and vegetables into neat piles. This part of the market has the least sought-after plots, and all of the stallholders have one thing in common: none of them was born in Dar es Salaam.
Rolens Elias arrived seven years ago from a village near Morogoro, about 150km to the west. He had been a farmer but wanted to try his luck as a trader. He now makes about 3,000 shillings ($2; £1.50) each day selling tomatoes in the farthest corner of the basement.
“It has been hard to set up a life here,” he says. “I came here by myself and had to wait until I had enough money to bring my wife and family. We all live in one room, but it’s a better life than in the village.”
As he arranges his tomatoes, a group of his friends gather around and chip in with their own stories. They are all from Morogoro, and all came to Dar es Salaam in the hope of a better life. They all contrast the rural poverty they were born into with the lure of Dar es Salaam and its big-city opportunities.
Their stories are repeated many thousands of times across the city.
Read more at Dar es Salaam: Africa’s next megacity?