Ethiopia Launches New Economic Reform Agenda

November 21, 2019

Ethiopia Launches New Initiatives To Expand Its Economy

Lawrence Freeman

In the last decade, Ethiopia, the second most populated nation in Africa with over 100 million people, has become a leader in economic growth. This is the result of the leadership’s commitment to the continuation of the previous government’s developmental state model, which directed public credit to finance vital infrastructure projects. Now, under new leadership, innovative initiatives are being launched to sustain and expand Ethiopia’s progress.

On September 9, 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed unveiled his nation’s “Homegrown Economic Reform Agenda” (Homegrown Reform) at the United Nations Conference Center in Addis Ababa. Its primary goal is to expand the nation’s economic capabilities, and create employment opportunities for millions of unemployed youth. Addressing the audience, Prime Minister Abiy said: “The Reform Agenda is our pro-job, pro-growth, and pro-inclusivity pathway to prosperity.” To achieve these objectives, this new initiative proposes to entice private investment in the following sectors; agriculture, manufacturing, mining, tourism,  and Information and Communication Technology- (ICT). Key goals of the agenda’s macroeconomic reforms are, curbing inflation that is averaging over 15% in the last four years, increasing foreign currency, improving access to finance, and debt sustainability.

Home Grown Initiative

The Homegrown Reform Agenda is not meant to be a replacement for Ethiopia’s Growth Transformation Plans II (GTP II), which covers the period from 2014-2019.

Ethiopia, aims over the next three years, to attract $6 billion in new soft loans and $4 billion in debt reduction from multilateral and bilateral institutions to alleviate the country’s financial constraints. According Fitsum Arega, Ethiopia’s ambassador to the United States, “many industries are operating below capacity for lack of foreign currency to pay for imports.”

For Ethiopia to advance to the next stage of development certain imbalances and bottlenecks in the economy have to be corrected, which the Homegrown Agenda intends to accomplish through macro and fiscal reforms.  The number one constraint to growth cited by manufacturing firms, is the shortage of foreign exchange. Access to financing, inefficiency in government, and insufficient infrastructure are also leading constraints to doing business in Ethiopia.  In an effort to address these limitations, the Homegrown Reform intends to shift from relying exclusively on public sector investment, which has led to a rise in Ethiopia’s debt, to promoting private sector financing.

Another area of concern for the government is relying on inefficient state-owned firms. A case in point is the military-run industrial conglomerate METEC, which is being investigated for corruption and suspicion of misappropriating public funds.

To complement the new reforms, it is recommended that the government make additional efforts to; discipline public expenditures, attract remittances through legal channels, and end contraband.

Ethiopia On The Road of Progress

The following indicators of economic growth are reported in    A Homegrown Reform Agenda: Pathway to Prosperity power-point. From 2004 to 2015, Ethiopia succeeded in reducing the percentage of people living in poverty-$1.90 per day or less- from 39% to 24%. From 2004 to 2018 per capita income grew from $200 per day to over $800. During that same time frame, child mortality (under age 5) decreased from 123 to 55 per 1000 live births, and life expectancy increased from 56 years to 66.  And from 2005 to 2016 the percentage of the population with access to electricity rose from 14% to 43%–a 300% increase.

Ethiopia aspires to reach the status of a “lower middle income” nation by 2025. This is an ambitious goal that will require; raising yearly per capita income from its levels of $856 to $2,219, reducing poverty from 27.3 % of the population to 13.8%, and increasing access to electricity to 86% of its citizens. For Ethiopia to achieve its objective in the next five years, it needs to mechanize its agriculture sector to be more productive and less labor intensive, and increase manufactured exports five-fold.

Ethiopia’s Job Offensive

Simultaneously, Ethiopia’s leadership is tackling the critical issue of unemployment, especially for the growing number of college educated youth, who are seeking jobs and upward mobility. Ethiopia’s Jobs Creation Commission-(JCC) announced on October 30, a bold plan to create 14 million jobs by 2025, and a total of 20 million new jobs by 2030. This will provide employment opportunities for millions of new entrants into their labor force. The government intends to create 3 million jobs in the budget year that began this July.

In partnership with the JCC, Mastercard Foundation presented its Young Africa Works Initiative–committing $300 million to assist in this job creation program.  Their focus will be generating new employment opportunities in the ICT and Small Medium Enterprises-(SME) sectors. According to the JCC website: “The Young Africa Works in Ethiopia is an initiative that will enable 10 million young people to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030…It was designed in partnership with the government, the private sector, academic institutions, and young people and; is currently aligned with the Ethiopian government’s plan to create new jobs to spur economic growth.”

Economics and the Nation State

Ethiopia’s economy has been growing at a faster rate than other sub-Saharan nations. However, its prolific university system is graduating more young people than Ethiopia’s economy can employ. Simply put: despite the progress that Ethiopia has accomplished in reducing poverty and building physical infrastructure; the economy is not growing at a level fast enough to accommodate its large and expanding population.

Frustration over the slower than desired rate of development is being expressed by various elements of society. Economic well-being is a substantial motivation that underlies the anger by ethnic movements at those in power. Ethnic groups believe it is necessary to have “their leaders” in charge, in order to ensure a bigger slice of the “economic pie.” People, who judge that they are being economically neglected or marginalized can become desperate, and thus susceptible to being manipulated and aroused to take action against their own government.

To avoid such instigated conflicts, the only real and lasting solution is to create a “bigger economic pie” that equally satisfies the needs of all people regardless of geographical region or ethnicity. It is the unique responsibility, nay obligation, of the nation state to provide for the “general welfare” of its people and their posterity, as beautifully articulated in the preamble to the US Constitution. The nation state transcends (not negates) regionalism, ethnicity, and religion. Its primary concern is the continued existence of a single sovereign Ethiopian nation with one integrated and unified people.

The government is responsible for ensuring that every Ethiopian has the  necessities of food and shelter, and the opportunity for a meaningful life for oneself and one’s progeny. Deliberating on the best pathway to achieve these goals is the responsibility of every citizen. It is in the self interest of all Ethiopians to collaborate in securing a prosperous future for their nation.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa with thirty years of experience in Africa promoting infrastructure development policies.

 

Are The French Losing Their Colonial Grip On Francophone African Nations?

 

CFA franc is used by 14 countries of the African continent: eight belonging to the UEMOA area (Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Senegal, Mali, Ivory Coast, Niger, Guinea Bissau); and five in the CEMAC zone (Central African Republic, Gabon, Chad, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea), The CFA has about 155 million users. Although operational in these countries since independence, this currency until today is manufactured in France. It has been pegged to the euro for 20 years through the French Treasury, and its value is defined by the European currency (1 euro = 655.96 CFA francs). In other words, it is convertible only in Euros, hence its dependence on the financial policy of Europe. (courtesy of afric.online)

Nov. 12, 2019

Despite liberation from France over half a century ago, France has maintained its colonial hold on Francophone nations through its control of the CFA franc currency. It appears France’s grip is loosening with actions led by the President of Benin, Patrice Talon. Without control of one’s own currency no African nation can be truly sovereign. Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao has been relentlessly campaigning for the French to end their modern day colonialism, which requires Francophone nations to use the CFA franc and deposit their reserves in Paris banks. Amb Chihombori, who was the African Union’s ambassador to the United States, was dismissed without cause last month. Many of her supporters believe that it was pressure from France that forced her to be discharged from her post in Washington.

Francophone nations in West Africa, former French colonies, want more control over the management of their currencies and plan to move some reserves from France, said Benin President Patrice Talon.

The eight member-nations of the West African Economic and Monetary Union “unanimously agree” on ending a decade-old model whereby their foreign-exchange accumulation is kept at the French Treasury, Talon said in an interview with Radio France Internationale (RFI). Their currency, the CFA franc, is pegged to the euro, and its convertibility is guaranteed by the former colonial ruler.

Established after World War II, the discussion of the use of the CFA franc frequently triggers debate about the region’s continued economic dependence on France and the view that the currency is artificially strong and curbs the region’s competitiveness. Its supporters cite the region’s low inflation and the currency’s stability relative to other African nations as reasons for its continued use.

“I can’t give you the date, but the willingness of everyone is already there,” Talon said in response to to French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire’s openness to a reform of the currency. “Psychologically, with regards to the vision of sovereignty and managing your own money, it’s not good that this model continues.”

The regional central bank will manage the reserves and distribute them to partners around the world, including Japan, Europe, China, and North America, said Talon. Ivory Coast, with an economy of about $40 billion, is the biggest among the users of the CFA franc in West Africa. In addition to the eight West African nations, six other nations in the Central African Economic and Monetary Union also use the same model.

China’s Successful Economic Model Eliminates Poverty

China’s new Magnetic Levitation train for 2020 will be able to travel 360 miles per hour. (courtesy of (Motor1.com)

November 11, 2019

The article below by Helga Zepp LaRouche, founder of the Schiller Institute, provides a useful overview of China’s successful economic model. However, Chinese leaders have repeatedly pointed out that they are not asking other nations to adopt this model for their emerging economies. 

“Rather than seeing the rise of China as a threat, we in the West should acknowledge the enormous benefits for mankind flowing from the unprecedented economic miracle that China has achieved in the past 40 years. Unfortunately, most people in the United States and Europe know very little about China and its 5,000-year-old culture, which makes it relatively easy for the geo-politically motivated mainstream media and exponents of the anti-China lobby to paint a completely distorted picture of the country.

“In fact, China has opened a new, totally inspiring chapter of universal history, by setting an irrefutable example, for all other developing countries, of a way to overcome poverty in a relatively short period of time and achieve a good standard of living for a growing segment of its population. Over the past 40 years, China has implemented the most massive anti-poverty program in human history, lifting 850 million of its own citizens out of poverty, and contributing 70% of the total global poverty alleviation efforts. Its average economic growth from 1978 to 2018 was an impressive 9.5% per year, and even the decline this year to only 6% growth, due to various factors, still represents a level that European nations and the United States can only dream of.”

Read: The Secret of China’s Success Model

Africa and China Cooperate on Development and Eliminating Poverty

Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu

November 8, 2019

Cabinet applauds Chinese investment push for attracting R116bn

31st October 2019 BY: AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY

The South African government on Thursday applauded the growing trade and economic relations with the People’s Republic of China, which has led to at least 88 Chinese companies investing massively in the country’s economy.

Addressing media in Cape Town on the outcomes of a Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said the growing two-way trade between Beijing and Pretoria has led to Chinese companies investing a capital expenditure of R116-billion from 2003…

Read: South Africa Cabinet Applauds Chinese Investment

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China’s capacity building support wins acclaim in Ethiopia

ADDIS ABABA, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) — Ethiopia on Monday commended China’s support to the East African country’s capacity development endeavors as the two countries set to mark 50 years anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations next year.

Tilahun Sarka, Director General of Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway Share Company (EDR), stressed the vital importance of China’s capacity development support at an event on Monday that marks the start of railway operations training for 47 Ethiopian train conductors.

Noting ongoing knowledge transfer activities that are jointly implemented by ERD, the Chinese government and the consortium of Chinese companies, Sarka also urged the new batch of trainees to effectively study train operations along with Chinese experts so as to realize the Ethiopian government’s ambition in building the East African country’s capacity in railway technology…

ReadChina’s capacity building support wins acclaim in Ethiopia

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President Xi Jinping Addressing China International Import Expo:  The Common Good of Humanity and Eliminating Poverty

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the Second China International Import Expo, President Xi Jinping discussed the continuing process of “reform and opening up,” but focused his remarks on an appeal for the world to come together for the common good.

“Of the problems confronting the world economy, none can be resolved by a single country alone. We must all put the common good of humanity first rather than place one’s own interest above the common interest of all. We must have a more open mindset and take more open steps, and work together to make the pie of the global market even bigger….

“All problems could be settled in the spirit of equality, mutual understanding and accommodation. We need to promote development through opening-up and deepen exchanges and cooperation among us. We need to join hands with each other instead of letting go of each others hands. We need to tear down walls, not to erect walls.”

“China’s development, viewed through the lens of history, is an integral part of the lofty cause of human progress. China will reach out its arms and offer countries in the world more opportunities of market, investment and growth. Together, we can achieve development for all. The Chinese civilization has always valued peace under heaven and harmony among nations. Let us all work in that spirit and contribute to an open global economy and to a community with a shared future for mankind.”

President Xi Jinping delivered his keynote address “in front of a countdown screen for winning the country’s battle against poverty,” Xinhua reported. China has so far lifted some 850 million people out of poverty, and intends to do the same with the remaining 20 million by the end of 2020. Xinhua went on to report that “Xi said China is ready to share its poverty relief experience with other countries and jointly build a community with a shared future for humanity featuring common development and the elimination of poverty.”

Read my recent post: CGTN: China Reaches New Stage of Development With CIIE

CGTN: China Reaches New Stage of Development With CIIE

CGTN, China’s media giant published my article on the second China International Import Expo-CIIE, on the opening day of the conference in Shanghai.

CGTN

China reaches new stage of development with CIIE

by Lawrence Freeman

November 5, 2019

Editor’s Note: Lawrence Freeman is a political-economic analyst for Africa with 30 years of experience in Africa promoting infrastructure development policies. The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2013 is changing the world economy. China has signed cooperation documents on the BRI with 136 countries and 30 international organizations as of the end of July. Four years later, in May 2017, President Xi personally announced the creation of the China International Import Expo (CIIE) that took place in November 2018.

The global BRI, which now involves the majority of nations in the world, is creating new infrastructure platforms to stimulate economic growth. China’s second CIIE will again be held in Shanghai from November 5 to 10, 2019. Although the CIIE is focused on attracting imports to China’s large domestic market, it complements the BRI, demonstrating China’s emergence as an export-import engine promoting global development.

Read: China Reaches New Stage of Development With CIIE

China & Russia-Africa Leads to Economic Growth; Not Debt Trap

Below you will read about the success of the second segment of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railroad, and President President Cyril Ramaphosa’s firm refutation of allegations that a number of countries in Africa are being led into a debt trap by China and Russia

“Proponents of the New Paradigm in Africa have a new milestone to celebrate, with the opening of a new segment of the Mombasa-Kisumu Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) line in Kenya. On October 16, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led a celebration to open Segment 2A, a 120 kilometer (75 mile) extension from the capital (and current terminus) of Nairobi, to Naivasha, a large town northwest of the capital. Opening of this—admittedly rather short—segment nonetheless brings the SGR project one step closer to its planned destination: Kampala, the capital city of neighboring, landlocked Uganda.”

Stunning Progress

Kenya’s SGR project, the most advanced in Sub-Saharan Africa, began in 2014, when the country began construction of a modern, standard gauge (1.435 meter) rail line from the port of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, northwest to the nation’s capital of Nairobi, a distance of 450 km (275 mi). Opened in 2017, on Madaraka Day—Kenyan Independence Day, when the people took political control of their destiny from the British Empire on June 1, 1963— the rail line has been a huge success, cutting transport and delivery time significantly for both goods and people. Exceeding expectations, the railway transported two million passengers within its first 17 months; and in 2018, its first full year of operation, carried over 5 million tons of freight.

The Mombasa-Nairobi line was initiated in 2009 discussion between the China Road and Bridge Corporation and the Kenyan government, as reported by P.D. Lawson in the April 27, 2018 EIR. China’s Exim Bank extended credit for 90% of the project. By May 2016, initial track laying was completed in just over 1 year. Passenger service was opened May 31, 2017, eighteen months ahead of schedule. Freight services commenced in January 2018. Plans are now underway to electrify the segment from Mombasa to Nairobi, which will greatly lower operating costs.

Benefits of the new, faster technology now extend far beyond mere transport, where the railway has taken hundreds of trucks (and buses) off the notoriously congested highways, making them safer and more useable for the population.

With the increased capacity and speed of freight transport, Kenya’s exports to the East African Community (including neighboring states Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan) have hit a three-year high in the first eight months of 2019. Not only have government earnings from domestically produced goods increased 6% compared to 2018, but Kenya’s domestic consumption of electricity—certainly not a nation known for its over consumption of this resource—has increased 3.2% in the first 8 months of 2019.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
President Kenyatta has launched additional infrastructure projects, building on the Kenya Vision 2030 plan. In addition to the opening of SGR Section 2A on October 16, he has announced plans for construction of an inland container depot (ICD) at Naivasha (to store or transfer goods from rail to truck, or from SGR to the old meter gauge rail, MGR); a new 23 km expressway in Nairobi; and a water project in rural Kimuku (stemming from a natural spring accidentally discovered during construction of the rail line!). He wants to create a Special Economic Zone—to include the port of Mombasa—to further speed up freight delivery.

EIR magazine, Nov. 1, 2019: “Kenyan Standard Gauge Successful in Looking Beyond the Here and Now

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NEWS October 28, 2019

Russia-Africa Summit: African countries not being led into debt trap —South Africa’s Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday refuted allegations that a number of countries in Africa are being led into a debt trap as they take up loans to fund a number of projects.

Ramaphosa said this during his weekly address from the Desk of the President in Cape Town, after returning from the Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last week.

“One need only look at initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was last held in Beijing in 2018, to see that the focus is now on partnership for mutual benefit, on development, trade and investment cooperation and integration,” Ramaphosa said.

He lambasted remarks which label initiatives like the recent Russia-Africa Summit as an attempt by world powers to expand their geopolitical influence. African countries had taken part in the  summit to discuss ways of how to increase trade and cooperation between Russia and Africa. He said the summit was a sign of the growing economic importance of Africa on the world stage.

“What we are witnessing is a dramatic re-balancing of the relationship between the world’s advanced economies and the African continent,” he said.

African countries have consistently affirmed that Africa no longer wants to be passive recipients of foreign aid, said Ramaphosa. The president said African countries are developing and their economies are increasingly in need of foreign direct investment.

“We are ever mindful of our colonial history, where the economies of Europe were able to industrialize and develop by extracting resources from Africa, all the while leaving the colonies underdeveloped,” said Ramaphosa.

Even now, African countries are still trying to stop the extraction of its resources, this time in the form of illicit financial flows through commercial transactions, tax evasion, transfer pricing and illegal activities that cost the continent more than 50 billion dollars a year, according to Ramaphosa. The age where “development” was imposed from outside without taking into account the material conditions and respective requirements of our countries is now past, the president said.

“China, Russia, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and other large economies are eager to forge greater economic ties with African countries. “This is because they want to harness the current climate of reform, the deepening of good governance, macro-economic stability and the opening up of economies across the continent for mutual benefit,” the president said.

 

Nuclear Energy Will Create Jobs and Raise Skill Levels in Africa

Left-Claver Gatet, Rwanda Minister of Infrastructure. Right-Alexy Likacheve, Director General of Rosatrom. Speaking at the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi.

October 27, 2019

The article below from {World Nuclear News}, reports on important agreements with Russia to build nuclear power plants in Africa. Beyond providing energy, nuclear plants will provide jobs and new shill levels for the tens of million of young Africans entering the work force.  Along with China, Russia is assisting African nations in building vitally needed infrastructure, which they need to become industrialized, with productive manufacturing and agriculture sectors. This is very good news for the African continent.

Read: Nuclear Energy Can Bridge the Skills Gap in Africa

Excerpts below:

Speaking at the round table session titled The Contribution of Nuclear Technologies in the Development of Africa,  Alexey Likhachov  said:.

“We are talking about solutions related to raising the level of education, energy security, applying nuclear solutions to medicine, agriculture, as well as other scientific research and development. Every dollar invested in our projects in any country, brings two dollars in localisation to that country. This significantly increases the country’s GDP.”

Rosatom said a job is created for every 0.5 MWe of electricity produced at a nuclear power plant, meaning that a 1000 MWe plant provides employment for more than 2000 people. Human capital development is both “a condition and a consequence” of nuclear power plant construction projects, it added.

Through joint educational programmes, the Russian state nuclear corporation is attracting applicants from African countries to its partner universities in Russia, it said, and Rosatom has already awarded up to 50 scholarships to students from Rwanda and Zambia. They are among hundreds of other African students from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, it added.

Development

Claver Gatete, Rwanda’s minister of infrastructure, said: “In order to grow our industries from 17% GDP to 30% GDP, and to achieve our ambition of becoming a high-income country by 2050, we want to take advantage of nuclear to enhance our socio-economic development.” Rwanda sees a clear link, he said, between nuclear technologies and the country’s vision of development.

Citing data from the World Economic Forum, Rosatom noted that 15 to 20 million young people are to enter Africa’s workforce in the next two decades, meaning that 15% of the world’s working-age population will be in Africa, with 60% under-25.”

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Glazyev Warns Africans About IMF Looting Policies

The Russian economist Sergei Glazyev, who was for years an economic adviser to President Putin and is today minister in charge of integration with the Eurasian Economic Union, spoke to the gathered leaders at the Russia-Africa forum
in Sochi, and warned them about the policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). According to Moscow Times, Glazyev reported that IMF policies had led to about $1 trillion in capital flight from Russia, and another $1 trillion or so from the other 14 post-Soviet countries over the last 30 years.

Glazyev said the IMF has adopted a similar approach in Africa as the former Soviet Union. “Of course, Africa has been exploited for much longer. We have been living in this financial and economic environment for only 30 years.” Moscow Times added that “Glazyev also advised African countries to keep full control over their natural resources and infrastructure, in line with his advocacy in Moscow for greater economic self-sufficiency.”

Rwanda Moves Forward With Nuclear Energy: Time for Africa To Go Nuclear!

October 23, 2019

A nuclear plant. FILE PHOTO | AFP
A nuclear plant. Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom has signed co-operation agreements to set up the nuclear plants in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Nuclear power is essential to meet the needs of Africa’s huge energy deficit. However, it will do more for Africa. Nuclear energy not only has a higher energy flux density than hydro, coal, gas, inefficient solar, and silly wind mills, but it embodies a higher level of technology. This will enable African nations to raise the skill level of their workforce, as they learn to build an operate a more technologically advanced energy platform. More engineering schools and training centers will be required as African nations enter the age of civilian nuclear power. Thus, the nuclear energy industry will serve as a science driver for society, while creating higher levels of economic growth. 

Read: Rwanda Approves Nuclear Power Deal With Russia

Excerpts below:

The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes,” a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter’s interests in the region.

This comes ahead of the first Russia-African Forum next week in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials.

The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali.

The deal was boosted in May when a Russian government nuclear parastatal, Rosatom Global, reached an agreement to set up the nuclear plant by 2024—that the government says will help in the advancement of technology in agriculture, energy production and environment protection.

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Nuclear Power at Russia-Africa Forum

The Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi will host a special panel discussion, “Contribution of Nuclear Technologies in the Development of Africa,” on October 23, with the participation of Alexey Likhachev, Director General of Rosatom-the State Nuclear Energy Corporation.

“Rosatom has been active in Africa for a long time. The creation and development of the nuclear industry in Africa will not only solve the problem of the energy crisis, but also change the standard of living, providing full access to public health services, increasing the level of education and food security. We see a great interest on the part of African countries in creating new ties for further technological development. Moreover, we are ready to discuss all possible options for cooperation on the continent. I am sure that Russian-African nuclear projects will have a great future,” said Likhachev on Oct. 15, in a preview of the Sochi event.

The forum in Sochi was also prepared by a conference in Nairobi last week that featured officials of Rosatom and over 150 energy and nuclear professionals from across the globe. Representatives from key African countries that are planning or already implementing their respective programs for developing peaceful nuclear technologies included Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Speaking in Nairobi, Dmitry Shornikov, CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, emphasized the advantages of joining the atomic club through creating nuclear industries in newcomer countries, and gave an overview of projects with the maximum positive effect on industrial development, enhancing the quality of life and developing ‘knowledge economy’.

Russia’s Growing Involvement in African Nuclear Development

One of the questions of the Oct. 23-24 Russia-Africa Summit is the need for Africa to develop civilian nuclear power. Russia is at the front end of the strategy to equip Africa with nuclear power, reports Sébastien Périmony in his blog “Africa with the Eyes of the Future” in France. No fewer than eight African countries have already signed agreements with Russia’s nuclear power company, Rosatom: Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.

“The stark reality is that Africa is in dire need of energy: 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa produce as much energy as the single country of Spain produces in Europe. That means that every other African has no access to electricity. According to the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017, only five African countries have 100% electrification, all of them in  North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. South Africa follows immediately after, with a rate of 85.40%. Then come Ghana, 64.06%; Senegal, 56.50%; Ivory Coast, 55.80; and Nigeria, 55.60%. Some francophone countries: World Bank Reports gives access to electricity as 16% for Niger, 9% for Chad, 14% for the Central African Republic, and 20% for Burkina Fasso.”

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Read: Time to Invest in Nuclear Energy in Africa

Excerpts below:

“The future of energy and base-load generation is in nuclear, and probably coal and liquefied natural gas. Kenya needs to push ahead with the nuclear agenda to meet the country’s energy needs,” said the managing director of Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board Collins Juma.

Mr Juma said that Kenya requires at least 18,000MW to become a middle-income and an industrialized nation. With the total installed capacity at 2,370MW, it will need to diversify its energy sources to reach that target.

Countries in East Africa are among those on the continent seeking to build nuclear power plants driven by the need to end power challenges, and accelerate industrial and economic growth.

Russia, China and South Korea have emerged as the key vendors of nuclear energy, offering to help in financing the deals.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been at the forefront of the campaign to sell nuclear to Africa. Its deputy director-general Mikhail Chudakov told The EastAfrican that nuclear energy holds the key to industrial development.

“Africa needs to understand that solar and wind are good for home lighting [but not manufacturing],” he said.

Massive investments

But nuclear energy needs massive resources to build and operate, so state-owned companies like Russia’s Rosatom, China General Nuclear, China National Nuclear Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation are pushing various financing and construction models for the continent’s customers.

The companies have signed agreements and memoranda with African countries, ranging from research and development and human resources development to full reactor projects. Russia and China, in particular, have crafted packages providing state-backed loans, in the process altering the dynamics of nuclear markets.

In Egypt, for instance, Russia is providing 85 per cent of the funding for the 4,800MW plant currently under construction at a cost of $21 billion.

 

Ethiopia to Djibouti Railroad Successfully Growing Ethiopia’s Economy

Ethiopia to Djibouti Railroad Successfully Growing Ethiopia’s Economy

The Chinese-African built railroad from Addis-Ababa to Djibouti has been a success, as I knew it would. Inaugurated in October 2016, it has  allowed Ethiopia to effectively overcome being a landlocked nation. Railroads increase productivity, create growth, build cities, and establish new manufacturing-agricultural centers. Africa will be transformed-industrialized when it is able to generate hundreds of thousands of megawatts of electricity and build tens of thousands of kilometers of rail lines connecting major capitals, cities, and ports across the continent. Ethiopia has been a leader in economic growth by investing in vitally needed infrastructure, such as the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, to begin operation in late 2020.

Railroads across Ethiopia will increase its import and export capability.

Roundup: Ethiopia-Djibouti railway adds impetus to Ethiopia’s agricultural economy

ADDIS ABABA, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) — The Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has won acclaim for facilitating landlocked Ethiopia’s import-export necessities.

For the past more than one year, it has transported much-needed agricultural inputs to Ethiopia’s agriculture-dominated economy.

Tilahun Sarka, Director-General of Ethiopia-Djibouti Standard Gauge Railway Share Company (EDR), said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the 752 km-long Africa’s first transnational electrified railway is leveraging the smooth transportation of Ethiopia’s major import and export commodities, mainly fertilizer and wheat.

“The railway is showing major progress in terms of facilitating Ethiopia’s basic import-export activities as it significantly reduced both the travel cost and time from landlocked Ethiopia to ports in its neighboring Djibouti,” Sarka told Xinhua.

The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway commenced its commercial operations for both passenger and freight services in January last year, eventually connecting landlocked Ethiopia to ports in the Red Sea nation of Djibouti.

The EDR director underscored the railway’s achievements over the past one and a half years, with particular emphasis on easing the pressure in transporting the much-needed imported agricultural and food security inputs, mainly fertilizer and wheat, from ports in Djibouti all the way to the Lebu Railway Station on the outskirts of the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

Figures from ERD show that the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway has been able to carry more than 70,000 tons of fertilizer from the Djibouti port to Ethiopia over the past few months, as the East African country embarked with its main harvesting season since May.

“Fertilizer is a very important commodity to Ethiopia’s socio-economic well-being,” Sarka said, adding “It is by far considered as a major imported priority item by the Ethiopian government.”

Ethiopia – Africa’s second populous nation with about 109 million total population, according to the World Bank’s latest report – is an agrarian economy.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which described Ethiopia as “one of the top-performing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa with an average growth rate of 11 percent over the last seven years,” dubbed the agriculture sector as “the mainstay of the Ethiopian economy, and exports almost entirely relies on agricultural commodities.”

Sarka, who dubbed fertilizer as a “political cargo,” also said that “a failure to import the much-needed fertilizer would adversely affect Ethiopia’s overall security, as far as igniting public uproar against the Ethiopian government.

Sarka also emphasized the joint Ethiopian government and EDR’s future plan that envisaged “to significantly boost the railway’s share in the transportation of fertilizer to the country.”

“Both the Ethiopian government and EDR give particular emphasis to the smooth transportation of fertilizers from the Djibouti port to Ethiopia, as well as the export of other export-bound agricultural commodities from Addis Ababa and other parts of Ethiopia to the port,” Sarka said.

Ethiopia imported a total of about 1.3 million tons of fertilizer during the just-concluded Ethiopian 2018-2019 fiscal year, according to figures from the Ethiopian government.

Built by two Chinese companies, the first 320-km of the project from Sebeta to Mieso was carried out by the China Railway Group Limited (CREC), while the remaining 423-km from Mieso to Djibouti port section was built by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

The Ethiopia-Djibouti railway is presently managed by a consortium of Chinese companies – CREC and CCECC – for a period of six years undertaking railway operation and maintenance management activities.

According to Sarka, the six-year contract was given to the two Chinese firms mainly due to the shortage of electrified railway operation and management experience in the two involved countries.

Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway

Grand Renaissance Dam Essential for Africa’s Economic Growth

Artist rendition of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD

Grand Renaissance Dam Essential for Africa’s Economic Growth

Lawrence K Freeman

October 14, 2019

Completion and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-(GERD) will profoundly affect not only the future of Ethiopia, but all of the Horn of Africa, and the entire African continent. It reflects the bold visionary thinking that characterizes Ethiopia’s unwavering determination to eradicate poverty in the second largest nation on the continent with 103 million people. Ethiopia has been a leader in economic growth for the last decade due to its unparalleled commitment to constructing new infrastructure projects. Although an emerging nation, Ethiopia with assistance from China, completed the Addis-Ababa to Djibouti railroad in October 2016. This is the first and only electrified rail line in sub-Saharan Africa- (SSA), reducing travel time from several days by truck to hours by rail, effectively freeing Ethiopia from the limitations of a landlocked nation via Djibouti’s port.

Ethiopia’s former Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, who conceptualized the developmental state, proposed building a dam on the Blue Nile, laying the first foundation stone on April 2, 2011. Thus, initiating the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile that will be the largest in Africa. The GERD will be 175 meters tall, 1,800 meters wide, with a reservoir of 79 billion cubic meters-(BCM), more than twice the size of the Hoover Dam in the US. It will have the potential to generate upwards of 6,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Upon completion, Ethiopia will be the largest net exporter of electricity in Africa with transmission lines to its neighbors that include Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. Ethiopia will also become second only to South Africa in power generation in SSA, as it strives to achieve its interim goal of producing 15,000 MW. The GERD, self-financed by bonds sold to the Ethiopian people, is not only a source of tremendous pride, but an indispensable component of Ethiopia’s resolve to expand its manufacturing sector and become a “middle income” nation by 2025. A nation must have abundant and accessible electricity in order to power an industrialized economy. With more than 60% of its population deprived of access to electricity, and energy demands growing every year, Ethiopia wisely realized that utilizing the potential hydro-power of the Blue Nile to drive its economic growth was not an option; but a necessity.

Sovereignty Superior to Colonialism

 Egypt is accusing Ethiopia of violating the 1959 agreement for utilization of water from the Nile River, which stipulated that 55.5 BCM of waters be allocated to Egypt, 18.5 BCM to Sudan and that no other nation could interfere with the flow of water in the Nile.  There is no basis in law or physical topography for Ethiopia to adhere to this agreement for the following reasons:

  • The 1959 water agreement is a rewrite of the British imperialist 1929 water treaty, when Egypt was a British colony that governed Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1956).
  • The Blue Nile flowing from Lake Tana in the Ethiopian highlands that joins the White Nile in Khartoum, provides 85% of the Nile water as it travels north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Ethiopia, as an independent nation that was never colonialized, was not a signatory to either water agreement.
  • Ethiopia has the sovereign right and obligation to utilize its natural resources, in this case water, to improve the living conditions of its people.

The Nile River, although the longest in the world at 6,650 kilometers, is not the most voluminous. Historically, the Nile was the only water way to cross the Sahara Desert from SSA. Today ten nations in Eastern and Central Africa are part of the Nile Basin with their total population approaching 500 million, whose present and future needs exceed the 84 BCM of Nile water. For development of the Nile Basin, it is urgently required that:

  • a new approach to water management for the region, which supersedes the archaic colonial agreement.
  • a new system for generating additional water. A crash program to create billions of cubic meters of fresh water through desalination is an obvious solution.

In essence, a “second Nile” must be created. Nuclear energy, utilizing its higher heat source, would be ideal for removing salt through evaporation, and, equally as important, supplying thousands of megawatts of power to energy-starved nations.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize 2020 (Courtesy of MGN.TV)

Shared Common Interest

The Declaration of Principles, signed in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 by the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia calls for cooperation among the three nations to resolve disputes concerning the GERD among themselves. The report states: “The Three Countries shall cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, mutual benefit and good faith in order to attain optimal utilization and adequate protection of the River.”

The shared vision of the Nile Basin should be to promote prosperity for all the nations involved. The common shared interest of the upstream and downstream nations is one and the same: to uplift millions of Africans out of poverty and present the expanding youth population with economic opportunities to obtain a meaningful and productive life that secures a future for their families.

 Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shourky warned Ethiopia: “Ethiopia’s moving forward with the operation and filling of the Renaissance Dam is unacceptable and a clear violation of the Declaration of Principles and will have negative consequences for stability in the region.” Within Egypt threats of military action have recently resurfaced, but such unwarranted aggression is highly unlikely, and would be roundly condemned by the international community.

According to Xinhua News, Egypt is looking for the United States to play an “international instrumental role,” a position presently not supported by the US State Department. Egypt’s attempt to bring in an outside party to mediate disputes concerning the Nile waters is in direct violation of the Declaration of Principles.

Exercising its sovereign rights, Ethiopia has already completed 60% of the construction of the GERD, and although there have been delays, it is expected to begin producing electricity by the end of 2020. Egypt has no choice but to accept this reality and continue to engage discussions regarding the management of the Nile.  There are substantive legitimate issues respecting the effects of the GERD on Egypt, a downstream nation that is almost totally dependent on Nile water. However, Ethiopia’s sovereignty over the Blue Nile is inviolate. In 2018 the National Independent Scientific Research Group-(NISRG) was established to discuss the filling of the dam’s reservoir. The NISRG consisting of scientists from Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia, has met several times, and has reported to the Minister of Water Affairs of each nation.

How many years will it take to fill the GERD’s reservoir, and what will be the flow rate of the Nile at the Aswan Dam, are yet to be resolved. These are technical matters that scientists and engineers must continue to examine in an atmosphere of good will and good faith. Such cooperation is essential to promote the common interests of all nations for a prosperous Nile Basin.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political Economic Analyst for Africa with thirty years of experience in Africa promoting infrastructure development policies.