Sirkku Hellsten, researcher at NAI, Katarina Rangnitt, Sweden’s ambassador to Tanzania, and Iina Soiri, Director at NAI.

Catching up on the blank spots

INTERVIEW | Katarina Rangnitt, Sweden's Ambassador to Tanzania

”The Nordic Africa Institute and its library is a great resource for knowledge about Africa. I wish I would have come for a visit already before I went to be installed at my new posting in Dar-es-Salaam last year, but there was too little time between my agreement and my departure”, says Katarina Rangnitt, Sweden’s ambassador to Tanzania, after a visit to NAI.

When Katarina was appointed ambassador to Tanzania last summer, it was her first-ever posting to an African country. Before she had been working at the missions in Beijing, Geneva and Paris. Like many others in the same situation before her, she felt there where white areas in her knowledge map of the world that needed urgent filling.

“When you face a completely new country, and on top of that a new continent, like I did last summer, you really need an expert to tell you where to start catching up on those blank spots,” Katarina says.

Now, after eight months in Tanzania, Katarina is back for a few weeks in Sweden and she made it a priority to come to Uppsala for a visit to the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala. 

“I’ve had a rich day. I met with Iina Soiri, the director of NAI, who was working at the Finnish embassy in Dar-es-Salaam up until some five years ago. I also had a long talk with Sirkku Hellsten, researcher at NAI, who worked at the University of Dar-es-Salaam until last fall. So not only do I walk away from here with a heavy load of books and a nice canvas bag, so generously given to me, but also with fewer blank spots”, Katarina smiles.
She also has ideas on how NAI could be better at serving embassy personnel and other expats stationed for service in Africa.

“More online services and digitally accessible resources is of course good, but it would also be great if the Institute’s library could find solutions for long-term book lending for us who work in Africa,” Katarina Rangnitt says.

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