US & Africa

Nov. 29, 2018—Forget the stock market, inflation, and the jobs figures. According to the most vital measures of the U.S. economy, the fundamentals are very unsound.

U.S. life-expectancy at birth decreased again in 2017, according to statistics released today by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). This makes the third year in a row that, contrary to the rest of the world, U.S. life-expectancy has stagnated or gone down. Such a multi-year reduction—from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 years in 2017—has not occurred for 100 years, at the time of World War I and the Spanish flu epidemic.

The fact that adults between 25 and 44 years of age were the grouping that showed a statistically significant decrease in life-expectancy bodes poorly for future population growth as well. A society whose young adults of child-bearing age are dying at increasing rates, is a society headed for death.

A complementary report from the CDC also issued today points to one of the causes of the life-expectancy decline: deaths from opioid overdoses increased 9.6% between 2016 and 2017.  The absolute number—70,237—is slightly less than had been anticipated in the summer, but should still be cause for alarm. The other cause of deaths that  the CDC cites is the increase in suicides.

I’ve written about it before, but I have to say it again: population growth, in quality and quantity, is a hallmark of the American System of economics, and all competent economic science. The human mind is the source of invention and wealth, as human history shows, and as humanity cultivates its power over nature (including itself), it creates new potentials for progress. Through human inventive power, we have been able to advance from a culture where people had to spend all their waking hours simply guaranteeing their survival, to one where people (potentially) can eliminate poverty, harness nature, and have the leisure to develop their minds, create new inventions, and explore new worlds.

Conversely, when the human mind is degraded—as through slavery, narcotic drugs, pornography, and other degeneracy—the economy is eventually doomed. This is the process which we in the United States have been going through for nigh onto 50 years, and it’s killing us.

The last statistic I will mention is suicide.  Suicide is now the 10th major cause of death in the United States, and has increased from 10.5 per 100,000 in 1999 to 14 per 100,000 in 2017. It is at the highest rate in 50 years. Here again, the United States is out of sync with the rest of the world, where the suicide rate, on average, is going down.

“Since this (drop in life expectancy) is being driven by increases in deaths due to drug overdoses and suicides and this affects the younger population, you’re talking about a lot of potential life that’s not being lived as a result of those increases,” commented Robert Anderson, chief of the Mortality Statistics Branch at the National Center for Health Statistics.

This situation is not going to be reversed by special programs to stop addiction and suicides. It’s going to take a sweeping change in the approach we citizens take toward our obligation to society and the future. Fortunately, there are models within our own American history for success. When will we start to heed them

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‘Investigate or Legislate’: What Will the Democrats in Control of the House of Representatives Do?

With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation.  Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.

President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA.  However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.

Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.

Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects. 

A New Opportunity for a National Infrastructure Agenda?

Nov. 7, 2018—One thing is definitive about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections: Neither political party put a solution to the country’s economic and financial disaster on the national agenda.  That doesn’t mean that many of the new Democratic members of Congress don’t have a strong commitment to address the economic crisis, however. They can potentially galvanize the veteran Congressmen into action. The question is, will competent, workable proposals be put on the table in the 116th Congress?

Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.

Rep. DeFazio in his campaign photo.

More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from  raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.

“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”

The Issue of Funding

The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.

The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.

Moving ahead on Gateway would be a good place to start.

Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do?  Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.

So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects.  These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters.  If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.

For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here

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RT HomeWorld News

‘West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation’

Below are excerpts from an interview that I did with RT on the significance of the trip by China President, Xi Jinping to Africa this week. I also commented on the dramatically different policy approach that China has towards Africa, than that of the United States. The past several US administrations have failed to construct a strategic policy to assist African nations in developing their economies.

'West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation'

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a trip to Africa in a bid to establish deeper trade ties. On Monday, he arrived in South Africa for a state visit, which will be followed later this week by his participation in the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Earlier, the Chinese leader visited Rwanda and Senegal, which is the first West-African country to be involved in China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

Beijing has been expanding its presence in Africa in recent years, investing $39 billion in the continent in 2017.

Political analysts told RT that countries in Africa are turning to China because of US government policies.

RT: What do you think Xi Jinping will be hoping to get from his tour of Africa?

City view of Bahrain's capital Manama © Hamad I Mohammed

Lawrence Freeman: I think this is an indication by President Xi of how important they view their collaboration with Africa. He is going to be visiting four countries and they are going to end up at the BRICS Summit in South Africa. This is a continuation for the last several years of the ‘Belt and Road’ policy in Africa. And it has been a real boost for African development policies, especially in the areas of infrastructure, energy, roads and rail. And this indicates that they are going to continue along that policy for sure.

RT: Do you think China’s interests in Africa are purely economic or are they also about greater geopolitical influence?

LF: China, especially under this president, has a view of a win-win cooperation, that countries can work together for the common benefit of a mankind, that they will benefit from economic cooperation. The African countries certainly will. There has been no infrastructure built in Africa since the colonial period. The West refused, the US state has refused, Europe has refused. So, China building its infrastructure which you see in Kenya, in Nigeria, Ethiopia and other places, this is a real positive step for the development of Africa. And I think the Chinese want to help Africa. They will make money, of course. The Africans will improve their economies. And the people’s standard of living will improve and hopefully we’ll eliminate the poverty in Africa.

RT: Many Western countries are wary of investing in Africa due to instability and security problems. But China doesn’t seem to have been put off by these concerns. Why is that the case?

LF: China under this president has a vision for the future. They develop themselves and they develop their neighbors and they develop other countries around the world. So, the whole concept of the ‘Belt and Road’ is counter to geopolitical thinking, it is countries working together, they call it win-win. And the problem is that the West has no vision for development of Africa, has refused to develop Africa, so therefore they attack Africa, they complain about Africa’s loan, they complain about the debt. The debt under Western countries, the IMF and the World Bank far exceeds anything that the Chinese have in terms of debt with African countries. So, the West has to get over their problems, get over the geopolitical thinking, stop demonizing China and actually if the president was intelligent in this question, he would join the ‘Belt and Road’ because if China and the US joined together, we could transform the continent and eliminate the poverty and hunger. And that is what I am trying to do.

The US influence on Africa was already dwindling well before Trump came into the play. And it will continue to dwindle because of some of his comments, his attitude towards Africans, and his position on Africa in general. He is only interested in military bases. And Africans, I am afraid, are very much interested in partnership and those who take them seriously. And like a liberalized continent, it is voting with its feet and it is changing the US in every sector, that I know of, in favor of the Chinese. And China already had a huge presence and influence and that influence has just grown to levels for which even if the Americans were to try now unlikely to ever catch the Chinese in my lifetime. – Ayo Johnson, journalist & founder of Viewpoint Africa

The US has a very small outlook towards Africa and the rest of the world. They do not want to invest in the infrastructure, which is a long-term investment but it improves the entire economy. And they haven’t. The basic attitude of the US… is to make money, to make double-digit profits overnight. They are not interested in the long-term development of a country. That is why the US and the West built no railroads, they were built with China’s help, China has built the new hydro-energy plants, China has built new ports. And there are many more things that they are working on across Africa. So, the problem is that the West is not really thinking how to develop this continent, they are thinking in terms of how to make some fast bucks…

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China and US Should Jointly Partner With Africa to Transform the Continent

By Mark Kapchanga
June 26, 2018

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

On June 18 in Michigan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a meeting under the umbrella of the Detroit Economic Club. In a question that seemed to have made him a tad uncomfortable, the secretary of state was informed that Africa appeared to be evolving and transforming rapidly, and further, China was asserting itself in the continent.

He rightly confirmed that Africa is facing two issues. One is extremist groups threatening to tear apart the continent’s fabric of unity. But the second issue is the opportunities that lie in Africa. It is here that Pompeo seems to have stained his otherwise well researched address to the people of Michigan. With obvious jealousy that is always expected from Western countries against China’s foray into Africa, Pompeo downgraded Africa’s growth potential that is underpinned by significant Chinese investments and trade by saying that Africa will see actual growth with a Westernized model of development.

He meant that the foundation for growth in Africa is the rule of law and property rights. In his usual way of disparaging China, Pompeo further claimed that Chinese trade and investments are about exercising political influence in Africa.

African countries and their leaders have grown sick and tired of such stereotyped thoughts coming from Western nations. History has proved that America and European countries are behind Africa’s underdevelopment. They not only colonized Africa but also stripped it of resources and displaced people from their lands.

This is described by Walter Rodney in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa where he argues that the short period of colonialism and its negative consequences for Africa spring mainly from the fact that the continent lost power. Rodney notes that power is the ultimate determinant in human society, and implies that one should have the ability to defend one’s interests and if necessary impose one’s will by any means available.

There is no doubt that when the question of power emanates, it determines one’s bargaining power, the degree to which a people survive as a physical and cultural entity. But as Rodney vividly says, “when one society finds itself forced to relinquish power entirely to another society, that in itself is a form of underdevelopment.”

Instead of Western powers always complaining about China’s presence in Africa, they should transform and improve their strategies for the continent. The old template they applied to Africa is already stale. Africa cannot be developed through conditionalities that only massage the whims of America and Europe.

Through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Europe and America bullied African countries for more than three decades. Those nations seeking access to the General Account of the Fund had to commit themselves to explicit conditions regarding the conduct of their international policies.

Ultimately, African countries in need of financial support to boost their infrastructure, education and health failed to do so as the conditions were too tough. Globally, economists termed the conditions inefficient and mistargeted.

With the urge for greater development, China filled in the void. Its support to Africa has been less bureaucratic and almost without conditions.

As Pompeo and his fellow Western leaders continue complaining about China and its relations with Africa, youths in the continent are grinning having secured jobs in various projects being pursued by China. In Kenya, for instance, thousands of youths continue to earn an income from the construction of the standard gauge railway whose construction is now being extended from Nairobi to Naivasha.

The enormous investments China is pursuing in Addis Ababa have totally transformed the face of Ethiopia, a country once ranked among the poorest in the world. Today, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that can manufacture its own leather shoes, thanks to support from China. This is the kind of friendship Africa has been yearning for.

Africa’s development can only be shaped by Africans. Europe and the US can therefore involve African leaders in designing the kind of investments and relations that fit them. If they continue condemning China on its relations with Africa, the continent’s ties with Beijing will only get stronger and thrive all the more.

The author is an economist specializing in China-Africa relations. Twitter: @kapchanga opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Major western political and financial institutions are in serious trouble. The Group of Seven and Wall Street are part of the old geo-political order that should be replaced by institutions that represent the “common interest” of all nations and all people. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is providing a new framework for strategic relations among nations

The steady demise of the Group of Seven

OPINIONS
By William Jones
2018-06-07

Editor’s note: William Jones is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Executive Intelligence Review, and Non-resident Senior Fellow of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The failure of the G7 to resolve the 2008 financial blowout has given the lie to the “acumen” of these seven countries in keeping the economy on an even keel. With the trillions of dollars that were spent to bail out those “too big to fail” investment bank, the “bubble” has simply gotten bigger – and more dangerous.

And for most of the world, the G7 has simply been considered something of an “old boys’ club”, kept intact for the sole purpose of maintaining their positions – and that of the “moneyed interests” in power.

The lame attempt at integrating Russia into the G7 “club”, at least into their political discussions, lasted only a short amount of time before it was rescinded.

But the G7 no longer has the same weight it once had. The growing weight of the Asia-Pacific region, and particularly, China, has significantly reduced the clout of the G7 nations in world markets, and in world affairs. And the sorry state of the European economy, with the Brexit and the crisis in Italy, has critically undermined the “European factor” in the G7.

continue reading

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WaPo Warns of “Mother of All Credit Bubbles:” Who’s Listening?

June 12, 2018—An extraordinary article by regular financial columnist Steven Pearlstein in the June 10 Washington Post warned that a surge in corporate debt has created “the mother of all credit bubbles,” and put the U.S. (and world) financial systems on the road to a new crash worse than that of 2007-8. The full-page spread featured charts showing that corporate debt, much of which is being used for stock buybacks, is increasingly risky, and that it is at record highs. Pearlstein adds that one in five companies have debt obligations exceeding their cash flow—i.e., they are zombies just waiting to die.

WaPo Warns of "Mother of All Credit Bubbles:" Who's Listening?

Washington Post on June 10, 2018

Much of what Pearlstein reports is not new to readers of more reliable financial reporters, such as Nomi Prins, Pam and Russ Martens, and others. This blog has reported on previous warnings by the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research, which Pearlstein mentions, and by former FDIC officials Thomas Hoenig and Sheila Bair. Pearlstein also does not stress, for example, the link between the new shaky mountain of debt, and the major banks, which are intimately connected to the so-called “non-bank lenders” involved in the current bubbles.

But Pearlstein’s summary of the current problem is sharp, and ironically, points implicitly at the solution. He writes: “Today’s economic boom is driven not by any great burst of innovation or growth in productivity. Rather, it is driven by another round of financial engineering that converts equity into debt… Rather than using record profits, and record amounts of borrowed money, to invest in new plants and equipment, develop new products, improve service, lower prices or raise the wages and skills of their employees, they are `returning’ that money to shareholders. Corporate America, in effect, has transformed itself into one giant leveraged buyout.”

How to reverse this process? We need the policies that do the opposite: that promote growth in productivity (credit for a revolutionized infrastructure and scientific frontiers), and convert debt into equity—specifically in the way that Alexander Hamilton transformed the debt of the fledgling United States into capital for the First National Bank. After taking away the rewards and incentives for speculative borrowing (by re-imposing Glass-Steagall), we need a new National Bank for Infrastructure into which certain categories of solid debt (such as Treasury and municipal bonds) can be traded in for capital stock, which will serve as the foundation for an investment boom in the real economy.

Is anyone in Congress or the Administration listening? When the mainstream media puts out a signal like this, continued inaction on the measures before them is foolish, if not insane

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Who is Out to Control Africa’s Mining Sector? It is NOT China! Read the Data

April 22, 2018

You might be surprised to learn that contrary to what is generally believed, China is not the largest foreign investor in Africa. China only ranks third, after the United States, and after the United Kingdom. In the ten years between 2005 and 2014, the total accumulated Chinese direct investment (FDI) in Africa was below $40 billion, while that of the U.S. above $60 billion, and that of the U.K. over $50 billion. However, China is both the number one trade partner of Africa and leads in the rate of growth of direct investments in the recent years; this means it will soon surpass the United States and the UK. On the other hand, U.S. investments in Africa have been collapsing at a rapid rate starting in 2009.

The statistics reveal that it is not China, but rather the United States and the UK which are primarily interested in the raw materials and financial wealth of Africa. While China’s investments are spread over several economic sectors in Africa, with infrastructure and construction being the primary one. U.S. and British investments are  concentrated in raw materials and finance.

The Chinese Exim Bank is increasingly becoming the leading source of foreign loans for Africa in projects related to  infrastructure. China Exim lent more than $50 billion over the period from 2005 to 2014; during the same time, the U.S. Exim Bank had invested less than one-tenth of that amount in Africa, and 70% of those investments were directed to the mining sector. 

Below is the link to the full report with tables, charts and statistics from the China Africa Research Institute -CARI, at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies-SAIS. ReadUS and China in Africa; What Does the Data Say

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President Trump: Don’t Lose Sudan

Lawrence Freeman

February 11, 2018

On October 12, 2017, the Trump administration announced the partial lifting of sanctions against the nation of Sudan to allow the government and people of Sudan to participate in the international banking system to promote trade and economic growth. Over the last twenty years since these financial, trade, and banking sanctions were imposed, Sudan has economically suffered. President’s Trump’s executive order easing restrictions on Sudan created a new mood of optimism, with the State Department indicating that this would be the beginning of new relations with Sudan. The State Department publicly mooted that this could be the first step to removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism in the future. However, after almost four months, the U.S. government has not facilitated the transfer of money for Sudan, which is contributing to the nation’s economic strife today.

Sudan Opens a Second Front

The failure by the U.S. to implement fully the easing sanction is the result of a conflict between President Trump’s agenda and dissident factions in the State Department, supported by many in the Congress, who are incapable of relinquishing their fanatical desire to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir removed from office.  These contradictions became obvious when Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Khartoum on November 16, 2017, and conspicuously avoided meeting with President Bashir, using the excuse that the president of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, it is well known that previous administrations supported efforts to have President Bashir removed from office. The zealots of this international alliance for regime change, who have been behind this nefarious campaign for decades, reject even tentative overtures by President Trump to chart a new course for U.S.-Sudan relations. There are unconfirmed reports that the U.S. State Department, not the executive branch, is demanding the removal of President Bashir as a precondition for further progress in U.S.-Sudan relations including removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

One week following the diplomatic snub by Sullivan, the most senior State Department official to visit Khartoum, President Bashir shocked everyone in Washington, and many in Khartoum, when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 23.  This surprise move was not expected by Washington. Reflecting the sentiments of most Sudanese, especially in the ruling National Congress Party, that the U.S. once again was not acting in good faith, President Bashir made his very first visit to Russia. Fearing that the goalposts have been moved again, as they have been repeatedly, and that the regime-change faction is still desirous of his removal, President Bashir asked Russia for protection from aggressive acts by the U.S. Sudan’s Rapprochement With Russia

The two presidents discussed increased economic and military cooperation, including the possibility of Russia securing a military base on the Red Sea that forms the eastern border of Sudan. According to knowledgeable sources, President Bashir will continue to look forward to improved cooperation with the U.S. and the West, but simultaneously pursue a closer alliance with Russia.  President Bashir believes Russia’s veto on the United Nations Security Council, along with its military capability as demonstrated in Syria, will provide a bulwark against any future reckless policy against Sudan by the West.

U.S. Needs Sudan

For Sudan, there is no turning back from their “dual-front” policy with the world’s two superpowers, but it didn’t have to come to this. The failure to fully implement the easing of trade/financial sanctions after years of refusal by the U.S. to talk face-to-face with President Bashir, accompanied by the severe economic hardships suffered by the Sudanese people from U.S.-led sanctions, contributed to President Bashir’s first overture to Russia.

Sudan is strategically situated in East Africa in the Nile River system that connects sub-Saharan Africa to North Arica. Moreover, Sudan has for years been a valuable ally in the war against ISIS, providing useful intelligence to U.S. security forces. Also, it must be unequivocally stated, that there will be no solution to the crisis in South Sudan that the U.S. and Britain have contributed to, without the direct participation of the President of Sudan. Susan Rice, in charge of African policy in the second term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency is personally culpable for the horrific conditions in South Sudan today.  She and other so-called liberals hated Sudan’s leadership, and were fierce advocates for the creation of South Sudan. Their intention was to use South Sudan as part of their arsenal for regime change, without the slightest concern for the welfare of the people of South Sudan.

Sudan is a nation rich in mineral resources, and has large tracts of arable land, not yet under cultivation.  It has been known for decades, long before the creation of South Sudan in 2011, that Sudan had the potential to feed a billion people, about the size of sub-Saharan Africa’s population today. It should be recognized (if not admitted) that successive U.S. administrations have strategically failed in their policy towards Sudan, lacking a vision of how to participate with African nations to develop their huge wealth in land and in its people.

Africa needs huge investments in infrastructure to realize its potential in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing. Instead of the West fixating on extractive industries, i.e., gas, oil, and minerals, which have a minimal role in job creation, their focus should have been on railroads and energy. When the South-North and East-West railroads are finally built, their nexus will be in central Sudan. Trains carrying freight and people will be able to travel from Port Sudan on the Red Sea into West and Southern Africa, thus ensuring that Sudan will become a mega manufacturing-agricultural-transportation hub for the continent.

The Way Forward

There is a relatively easy path for President Trump to follow, to engage Sudan fruitfully. Port Sudan is already included on China’s Maritime Silk Road. China’s involvement in building infrastructure throughout the African continent is unparalleled. Were President Trump to join with China’s New Silk Road for Africa in vital infrastructure to Sudan, the U.S. would form new partnerships with Sudan and other African nations.

President Bashir demonstrated his ability to negotiate and compromise when he signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with President George W. Bush to allow an independence referendum in South Sudan. This resulted in the peaceful separation of Sudan seven years ago, with Khartoum voluntarily giving up 75% of its oil production.  With this historical perspective in mind, President Trump can put U.S.-Sudan relations on a positive course by arranging for direct, if informal, talks with President Bashir, and carrying through on the easing of sanctions pertaining to trade, finance, and banking.  These actions will be well received in Khartoum and reciprocated.

Lawrence Freeman has been visiting and writing about Sudan for over 20 years, discussing economic development and US-Sudan relations with members of parliament, the NCP, and leaders of opposition parties.

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President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy

By Lawrence Freeman,

January 4, 2018

After nearly a year in office, the outline of President Donald Trump’s policy for Africa has emerged as fundamentally and seriously flawed. In a similar manner to his predecessors, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Trump’s African strategy suffers from a conceptual deficiency in its failure to recognize that the most fundamental human right is the right to life. Every human being is morally entitled to live a healthy, productive, meaningful life with the hope that the future will be an improvement over the present.  If one examines the outlines of policy by President Trump and the State Department, such a guiding and indispensable principle is conspicuously absent. For Africa, where the largest number of people endure the greatest hardships of life of any continent, the absence of a full-throttled U.S. commitment to eliminate poverty and hunger as an essential feature of a strategic policy, is damning, and must be remedied.

To ensure a prosperous future for what will be the most populated continent on the planet in 2050, by which time the population is expected to double, from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people, President Trump should emulate China’s infrastructure-led development program.

The Trump administration is expected to reduce State Department and USAID-funded programs, among others, beneficial to Africa. Not to overlook the potential harmful effects of these cuts, there is a more fundamental shortcoming to Trump’s policy. Like his recent predecessors, he is ignorant of, or ideologically blind, to understanding what is required to accelerate economic growth across the African continent. Africa needs, infrastructure, infrastructure, and more infrastructure, particularly in the vital categories of energy, rail, roads, and water management. Trump has been especially eager to support increased military deployments and kinetic warfare against violent extremists in Somalia, the Sahel, and northeast Nigeria. However, any competent and honest military leader knows an effective counter-terrorism effort must include economic development. If the Sahel, were not a barren, underdeveloped desert, the various terrorist militia would not be able so easily to occupy this region for their base of operations.

Security and Free Trade: Inadequate for Africa

The African continent has the greatest deficit in all categories of infrastructure on the planet. Thus, not surprisingly, Africa has the largest number of people living in poverty; living without the basic necessities of life.  According to a 2016 World Bank report on poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of people, 41%, living in extreme poverty. That translates into the largest number of poor at 389 million, just over 50% of 767 million worldwide living below the poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. Yet despite all the hype about Africa’s “rising lions,” referring to African nations with high growth rates of GDP, the number of people living in poverty is Sub-Saharan Africa is increasing.

Look at one critical area: access to energy which is the lifeblood of an economy. Abundant grid energy, accessible to all sectors of society, can transform an entire nation and lift its population out of poverty. Conversely, the lack of energy kills. According to “Energy Access Outlook 2017,” of the 674 million people, globally, expected to be without access electricity in 2030, over 600 million, or 90%, will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the developing sector nations in Asia and Latin America, the percentage of the population expected to have access to electricity by 2030 is 99% and 95% respectively, while for Sub-Saharan Africa, it expected to be 50% or less.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of those without electricity is increasing, unlike like all other populations in the world. Africa requires a minimum of 1,600 gigawatts of electrical power to have same the standard of living as advanced nations.

In a related classification, cooking energy, the picture is also abysmal. Almost 80% of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have gas or electric stoves; instead they cook with solid biomass, i.e., solid waste, animal dung, wood, saw dust, wood chips, etc. This is not only destructive to the environment, but to human labor as well. I have witnessed, on numerous occasions in my travels throughout Nigeria, young girls collecting firewood and then carrying it on their heads for sale in the market. In Mali, young men are destroying trees to be used in the primitive method of charcoaling, aiding the expansion of the desert.

President Trump’s Africa policy of security/counter-terrorism first, followed by trade and investment, fails to address Africa’s underlying depressed conditions of life which allow violent groups to easily recruit. People who can’t feed their families or provide the minimal necessities of life, and see no hope in the future, are led to violence out of manipulation and despair. Trade and investment, as proposed by the Trump administration, are not the solution.

Africa suffered greatly from 500 years of slavery and colonialism, 1450-1960. Following the initial success of the independence movements, the financial predators moved in to loot the continent’s vast wealth in natural resources. Extractive industries provide revenue, but they do not add/create wealth or generate a significant number of jobs. Africa doesn’t need more investors intent on making profits under the guise of applying the distorted “laws” of free trade and the marketplace. African nations require real economic growth that creates added value, increases the total wealth of society, and provides productive jobs to the restless masses of unemployed youth.

In 2014, Africa’s share of value added in global manufacturing is reported to be a pitiful 1.6%.  This sorrowful state of economy can and must be reversed. The manufacturing process is vital for every healthy economy. It adds wealth by transforming natural resources into finished and semi-finished products to be either consumed domestically or exported. This requires technologically advanced capital equipment, and skilled labor, all embedded within an integrated platform of infrastructure. State-directed credit and long-term, low-interest loans invested into critical areas of the economy, such as infrastructure, are indispensable for the growth of a manufacturing sector. Witness previous successful periods of economic growth in the U.S. (and in China today); these were accomplished through public credit, not hedge fund speculators and Wall Street day traders.

The most valuable natural resource of Africa, is not its mineral wealth, which is the target of the financial and mining/commodity predators. Rather, its greatest natural resource is its immense quantities of arable, yet to be cultivated land, along with the abundant water sources in its numerous lakes and river systems.  Africa is capable of feeding its people and eliminating hunger. It can also potentially help feed Asia, if properly developed with a manufacturing sector, and food-processing industries, coupled with a massive expansion of infrastructure.

What Does China Know About Africa That the U.S. Doesn’t

Over the last thirty-five years, China has lifted over one-half billion of its citizens out of poverty. This has been accomplished by massive state-directed investment into essential categories of infrastructure, along with its deep commitment to advance its economy through attaining new levels of science and technology. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have publicly stated their desire to help African nations eliminate poverty. This universal mission by the leadership of China, expressed concretely in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” has led to a revolution in joint infrastructure projects in Africa. New railroads are being built across the continent, replacing colonial locomotives and tracks built over one hundred years ago. On the East Coast, an entry zone for the Maritime Silk Road, new and expanded ports, with connecting rail lines vectored westward into the interior of the continent, are creating the potential for a fundamental transformation of the economies of several African nations including; Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti.

The “ChinaPower Project” reports that between 2000 and 2014, China funded 2,390 projects across Africa totaling $121.6 billion, just over one-third of China’s total global financing. In Africa, 32% of the financing went for transportation projects and 28.5% for energy.

“Dance of the lions and dragons” a study completed by McKinsey & Company in 2017, analyzed privately owned Chinese companies operating in Africa. They estimated that there are 10,000 such private Chinese businesses that have committed $21 billion to infrastructure, which is more than combined total of the African Development Bank, European Commission, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the G-8 nations. And 31% of these companies are involved in manufacturing which accounts for 12% of Africa’s industrial production—valued at $500 billion.

Conclusion

The U.S., along with the other Western powers, virtually abandoned the nations of Africa as soon as they had overthrown their colonial masters. President John F. Kennedy stands out among U.S. presidents, following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, as a champion for the newborn African nations. His collaboration with Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s to construct the Volta Dam Hydro-electric Aluminum Smelting Complex is a singular moment in U.S.-Africa relations over the last six decades.  America lost its vision for development, resulting in its refusal to build the power plants, dams, railroads, and ports that Arica needs. China has made a commitment to Africa and now is contributing to the most expansive building of new infrastructure the continent has ever seen.

President Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) is totally hypocritical: it attacks China for becoming Africa’s largest partner, and accuses China of undermining “Africa’s long-term development.” Trump’s NSS expresses the same old British geopolitical mentality of winners and losers competing in a zero-sum war for global hegemony.

Throughout my travels in Africa, I have found expressions of affection for America and its ideals; even among those nations that the U.S. has abused. That positive attitude is beginning to wane. However, it is not too late for the U.S. to chart a new course, one of cooperation with China and Africa to transform the continent.  Saving Lake Chad from extinction and transforming the Lake Chad Basin, is an urgent task for such a tripartite cooperation.

Read Oriental Review: President Trump
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“Donald Trump’s “Win-Lose” Model Versus Xi Jinping’s “Win-Win””

This is an interesting and insightful article contrasting the different policy orientation between US President Trump , and China President XI. The excerpts below highlight the possibilities for economic progress, if  the US would collaborate with China’s  on new “Silk Road.”

Adam GARRIE, September, 2017, OrientalReview.org

A joint venture of US and Chinese investment could have been used to create new land highways and corresponding maritime routes across the Americas–on either side of the Panama canal. In turn these belts and roads could be strategically linked to China’s Pacific belts and roads with the US ports in Los Angeles being a natural hub. Furthermore, joint US-Chinese investment schemes could have poured investment into US ports such as those in Los Angeles to bring them in-line with some of the modern ports in China which are far more technically advanced.

2017 should have been the year that the US decided to embrace the win-win model. This is not to say that the US would have or should have become China. The Chinese model is highly flexible in this sense. Donald Trump could have created a kind of Trans-American Belt and Road with US Characteristics for a New Era. Instead, Trump has opted to Make America Lose Again.

continue reading

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Interview with Lawrence Freeman: U.S. Deployment of Armed Drones in Niger is not the Solution; Long Term Strategy Missing

December 3, 2017

Below are excerpts from an interview with RT TV on the recent agreement between the U.S. and Niger to allow armed drone missions in the Sahel. 

Africa affairs analyst Lawrence K Freeman says that drone strikes alone will be unlikely to change the region’s jihadist landscape, which is being driven by more than just a handful of key operatives.

   “So, this is a big problem for the Niger government, for West Africa, and for all of Africa – [that Niger] is now allowing the US to carry out these kind of military attacks,” Freeman told RT. “What is missing from this, is a strategy.
   “There has not been a strategy now for many, many years through several presidential administrations, including the current one.”
   “The thinking in Washington is that by taking out key figures in the terrorist chain of command, this will help bring down the whole network. This approach has worked against some militant groups in the past but is unlikely to work here, Freeman said.
   “The Sahara Desert itself, which goes all the way up to the Mediterranean, this is larger than the US. The Sahel desert stretches from the east end to the end of Africa. It is impossible to patrol all these areas. Therefore, you might pick off a few people here and there, which is useful, but you’re not going to stop the problem of terrorism.”
  “If you take northern Mali, Niger, Chad – I have been in Chad, I have been in northern Nigeria – these places are totally undeveloped. Therefore, they are perfect further bases for Boko Haram, for al-Qaeda, for ISIS (Islamic State) and others to operate, recruit and establish bases.
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President Trump’s US-Africa Policy Criticized

This article points to a weakness in President Trump’s Africa Policy: the lack of a full throttled commitment to economic development. The author correctly highlights in the final two paragraphs, the limitation of relying on the “market” and private sector when it comes to “large investments and long payback periods.” Africa needs infrastructure on a scale that requires public credit and long term-low interest financing that is beyond the capability and capacityof the private sector. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt demonstrated through his successful transformation of the U.S. economy that government directed credit for infrastructure works.

“Shift in US aid to Africa signals emphasis on politics”

By Song Wei-Global Times Published: 2017/11/19

The US House of Representatives held a hearing on appropriations for US aid to Africa in October. The Donald Trump administration requested $5.2 billion for Africa in fiscal 2018, which would be close to 35 percent less than in 2015. Of the total, $3.7 billion, or 70 percent, will be allocated to 10 countries in line with US strategic interests including Kenya and Nigeria.

The hearing reflected the focus and direction of Trump’s African policy, as well as the discrepancy between the US Congress and its Department of State, which exposed the political logic and moral risk of the US foreign aid management structure.

Cheryl Anderson, the acting assistant administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for Africa, attended the hearing and mentioned the importance of supporting development in Africa. Disease and conflict have no borders, she said, so underdeveloped markets can limit potential global economic growth. Supporting economic development in Africa not only creates jobs that increase economic growth and political stability in Africa; it also provides economic opportunities for US companies and workers.

There are four policy priorities for Trump administration when it comes to allocating Africa budget. First, advance US national security interests in Africa through programs that support partners fighting against terrorism, advance peace and security, and promote good governance. Second, ensure programming asserts US leadership and influence in the continent. Third, design programs that foster economic opportunities and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment arrangements for the American people and African partners. Fourth, focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability to the American taxpayers.

The budget cut is a compromise between maintaining US strategic goals and promoting efficient spending. According to Donald Yamamoto, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Africa is emerging, which forms the foundation of US-Africa relations. The assistance will go to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the US. To mitigate the impact of reductions, the US will use its programs to leverage more private-sector funding while encouraging countries and donors to make more contributions.

The budget proposal encountered much criticism during the hearing. Democrat Karen Bass described the budget as shortsighted, highlighting several contradictions such as touting peace while cutting peacekeeping and development efforts. Democrat Joaquin Castro warned the cuts will reduce US influence and open political opportunities for rival powers.

Can a US budget for foreign aid guided by national strategy go far? US foreign aid is decided by the Department of State, which is responsible for foreign affairs. The Africa budget is drawn up by USAID and the Bureau of African Affairs. Trump’s “American First” ideology has placed Africa at the bottom of US strategy. The budget reflected its policy.

US foreign policy is influenced by pragmatism. Development issues have become important topics of global governance, so a depoliticization trend is inevitable. But US is linking its strategic goals in Africa to development funding, with a compromise between resource allocation and strategic interests. The pragmatic method goes against the essence of development.

US policy contradicts its goal. The evaluation of global development assistance has shifted from “aid effectiveness” to “development effectiveness”. The national strategic goal of the donor is seldom included when evaluating the effectiveness of a program. Prioritizing America’s important partners shows the misalignment between the declared development assistance and actual resource allocation.

Leave the “development issue” to the market. With geopolitical thinking, the US focuses more on its business interests in Africa. As a result, the Trump administration is trying to leverage more private investment through public-private partnerships, generating economic opportunities for US companies.

But development assistance is meant to provide public goods that support the development of recipient countries. This means large investments and long payback periods. Whether this is compatible with business motives is still unclear.

The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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“ARGUMENT:Trump’s Dangerous Retreat from Africa”

Below are excerpts from the blog of John Campbell reviewing the Trump administrations’ policies for Africa during his first nine months in office

Noveember 3, 2017

An Africanist Donald Trump is not. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, who had signature initiatives on the continent, the U.S. president has shown little interest in Africa and had minimal contact with its leaders. But the deaths of four American soldiers in Niger and the inclusion of Chad, a key U.S. counter-terrorism partner, on the latest iteration of Trump’s travel ban have made Africa increasingly difficult for the administration to ignore. These events have also exposed the administration’s startling lack of expertise when it comes to the continent and its reticence to tap the knowledge of career diplomats and analysts in the executive agencies–missteps that have already cost the administration and which could have additional consequences down the road.

Trump’s disinterest in Africa appears to be shared by many in his cabinet, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who at an hour long meeting with State Department employees on Aug. 1 embarked on a “little walk … around the world” that did not mention Africa and its 1.2 billion inhabitants — roughly 17 percent of the world’s population. The administration’s political point person for Africa seems to be U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, who had little foreign experience prior to her appointment. Last month, she visited Ethiopia, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the most senior Trump administration official to have set foot on the continent thus far.

Making matters worse, the Trump administration has shown little respect for the expertise that resides at the departments of State and Defense, within the intelligence community, and within the academic and policy communities. Important African diplomatic posts remain unfilled, and domestic positions concerned with Africa have been filled only very slowly. For his meetings with African heads of state on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly, career State and Defense officials were not invited to be present.

The Trump administration’s freezing out of State, Defense, and intelligence community expertise predictably results in mistakes. The most costly to date was the inclusion of Chad — a major U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism — on Trump’s travel ban, which also targets travelers from seven other countries. Not long after the latest version of the ban was announced on Sept. 24, Chad shifted troops from Niger, where they had been involved in operations against Boko Haram, to its border with Libya. A reported upsurge in jihadi activity followed the troops’ departure.

The travel ban blunder may yield additional negative consequences that are difficult to predict. The current chairman of the African Union Commission is Moussa Faki Mahamat, a Chadian. And to the extent that the travel ban is interpreted as a Muslim ban, it’s not just Chad that the administration risks alienating. Islam is the majority religion in some 22 African countries, 13 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. In certain parts of Africa where the rivalry between Muslims and Christians is acute, some Christians, especially of the Pentecostal tradition, are welcoming and exaggerating what they see as the Trump administration’s anti-Islam policy. If African elites perceive Trump’s immigration and refugee policies as part of a larger “war on Islam,” then a general hostility to the United States is likely to grow.

While there is still no permanent assistant secretary of state for African affairs, Donald Yamamoto, a career diplomat and former ambassador with deep knowledge of Africa, has been appointed as an interim secretary with a term of up to one year. The defining feature of the administration’s Africa policy so far is its ramping-up of military and counterterrorism engagement, a trend that began before Trump took office. In a recent conversation with senators, Defense Secretary James Mattis indicated that the U.S. military presence in Africa is set to increase, with continuing training, reconnaissance, and air support missions that accelerated under Obama (though from a very low baseline).

This shift is also reflected in the administration’s budget proposal, which may end up having the biggest initial impact on U.S. policy toward Africa. The Defense Department budget would swell by roughly 9 percent, enabling it to increase its presence in Africa, while the State Department would see a roughly 30 percent cut, if the administration gets its way. Included in that cut would be USAID, meaning that almost all development assistance would be eliminated, as would many health-related programs. Africa would be disproportionately affected; at present roughly one third of USAID funds go to the continent. Trump’s budget would also nearly halve the U.S. contribution to U.N. peacekeeping operations, more than half of which are in Africa.

Finally, while the administration’s budget proposal explicitly states that it will be “continuing treatment for all current HIV/AIDS patients” under PEPFAR (which provided life-saving antiretroviral drugs to 11.5 million people last year), the proposal would lower the yearly contribution by 17 percent, or about $800 million. Congress is likely to oppose many of these cuts, however, and in the end they are unlikely to be as deep as Trump’s budget proposal would indicate. Even so, cutting just half of what the president has proposed would significantly reduce the scope of department and agency activities, with the exception of defense. So far under Trump, U.S. foreign engagement is declining with respect to Africa. China and India have already begun to fill the void by steadily increasing their political and economic activity, as have Turkey, the Gulf states, and Iran. Larger African states, notably Nigeria, South Africa, and Ethiopia, may also assume a more significant role than in the past.

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Trump official visits Khartoum as US seems poised to end Sudan sanctions

Joseph Hammond, Special to Al Arabiya English

Despite a delay, Sudanese officials are broadly optimistic that more than 20 years of US sanctions against Sudan will soon end. Though the United States decided to delay the full lifting of economic sanctions against Sudan until September 12, a number of signs suggest improving relations.

Alexander Laskaris, Deputy Commander of US Africa Command, visited Khartoum last week to discuss joint counter-terrorism concerns and other issues.  The visit comes as the two countries have already agreed to a resumption of defense attaches for the first time since the 1990s this summer.

“The last three years have been very busy but, in the long term, we expect things with the Trump Administration to continue the policy of Obama towards Sudan,” said Sudan’s ambassador to the United States Ambassador Muawiya Othman Khalid. Khalid previously held diplomatic positions in Cairo and Doha.

Cooperation on counterterrorism

In his last month in office, President Obama removed sanctions on Sudan contingent on certain conditions. The demands include cooperation on counterterrorism as well as sincere Sudanese efforts to end internal conflicts.

“Times have changed in the Sudan, it’s a different country than it was in the early 1990s when it was a known sponsor of terror and the removal of sanctions is a logical consequence of improvements from Sudan,” said former US Senator Robert Torricelli (D-New Jersey) who in the early 1990s as a US congressman worked on legislation tied to Sudan.

Sudan has focused significant diplomatic resources on persuading Washington in recent months. Sudan’s officials and diplomats have been frequent visitors to Washington. They have been consistently making the case to the new administration that Sudan is a strong partner in the war on terror and regional security concerns.

In June, the government hired the public relations firm Squire Patton Boggs to lobby on behalf of Khartoum. Sudan’s Finance Minister and Speaker of the Parliament and a host of other officials have visited Washington in recent months to make their case.

Some remain unconvinced

Those supporting continued sanctions include an unlikely alliance of lobbyists, evangelical Christian groups, and Hollywood stars like George Clooney and others who remain unconvinced with Sudan’s shift in policies is enough to warrant the end of sanctions.

The United States isn’t the only country which is experiencing a new political leadership.

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has announced plans to step down from office in 2020 as part of a slow shuffle towards a more inclusive and multi-party political system. This year Sudan named Hassan Saleh its first Prime Minister in 28 years, and a cabinet reshuffle brought new faces to his cabinet.

The reforms are part of a National Dialogue and peace process which began in 2014 and have mostly ended the conflict in Darfur. But in the Nuba mountains, despite peace efforts, conflict still simmers.

As a result of these reforms, Ibrahim Ahmed Omer who served as Sudan’s speaker of parliament for over a decade was made to retire by the ruling National Congress Party. In a swan-song appearance at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., Omer pointed out that sanctions mean the United States is missing out on economic opportunities in Sudan.

“Capitalism, as they say, is a court investor and won’t come unless money is safe and the experience of these other countries show that the money is safe,” he said. “…the West should lift all sanctions on the Sudanese people in order to end poverty and improve the economic situation it is losing,” he said. Omer noted that despite sanctions, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia and Arab countries have been investing in Sudanese the gold, precious minerals, and oil sectors for years.

Sudanese officials have grown tired of working closely with Chinese officials. According to one source, Chinese officials have vastly under-reported gold excavations in Sudan to avoid paying certain taxes.

The decision to continue the review period for a further three months is frustrating for Sudan. As made clear, the country has worked hard to fulfil the American demands and believes it is in full compliance with the demands to lift sanctions.

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Obama’s Legacy: Keep Africa in the Dark

August 10, 2016

Lawrence Freeman

In his two terms as Presidential Obama, in attempt to fashion a legacy, has made multiple trips to Africa, yet his polices have become a complete failure. He has done nothing to reverse the genocidal levels of death due to war, poverty, hunger, and disease. In fact, President Obama’s regime change policy that led to the over throw of Muammar Kaddafi in 2011 has had catastrophic consequences for the people of Sahel that continues to this very day. Boko Haram would not have the capacity today to deploy its murderous rampage in Nigeria if not for the elimination of Kaddafi.  President Obama’s so called signature initiative, “Power Africa,” which he trumpeted again recently in his trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, was a fraud from its very inception, and has failed to deliver a single megawatt of electrical power to the Dark Continent.  Abject poverty pervasive across the African continent is the primary cause driving thousands of Africans to risk their lives attempting to escape to Europe. Thus belying the propaganda of Africa being home to the six of the fastest growing economies in the world, through the use of intrinsically false “monetarist” statistics churned out by the IMF and World Bank.  To immediately begin to reverse the miserable wretched living conditions that the majority of Africans are forced to suffer from daily if not hourly, the continent must be transformed through the creation of new integrated regional and transcontinental infrastructure platforms including the construction of high speed rail lines, abundant and accessible energy/power, and water management.

The United States, Western European countries, and their Trans-Atlantic institutions have made abundantly clear to that they will not finance infrastructure projects that are necessary to transform the productivity of African economies, empowering their people to finally “eradicate poverty.”  The Ethiopian leadership rightly insists their policy priority is “eradicating poverty” and has been identified as the number one enemy of their country.

China’s commitment building vitally necessary infrastructure in Africa, which the West has refused to do for over five decades, is a game changer for the continent. President Xi Jinping launching of the New Silk Road almost two years ago is already changing the global economy. With the emergence of the BRICS, and the now operational New Development Bank, together with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, there now exist a viable alternative to Wall Street and City of London dominated western financial system which can potentially explode in a  2007-2008 style like collapse at any moment. This is reason why the European monetary system, run by the Troika in Brussels is so desperately attempting to prop up the $360 billion of debt in the Greek banks, but could not care less about the welfare of Greek people.

Obama Powerless Africa

Among all the underdeveloped regions of the world, Africa dominates in rich natural resources, yet has the largest deficit in infrastructure. According to  PIDA-The Program for Infrastructure Development of Africa- “The road access rate in Africa is only 34% compared with 50% in other parts of the developing world, while transport costs are 100% higher, Only 30% of Africa’s population has access to electricity, compared 70-90% in other parts of the developing world. Water resources are underused with 5% of agriculture under irrigation.”

Suffocating the enormous potential for African nations to experience real economic growth measured in the creation of physical wealth, is the enormous deficit in the production of electrical power. With over 1 billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa, over 600 million have no daily access to electrical power. This is an immoral crime. Over two years ago, Obama bombastically lied when he said from the University of Cape Town in South Africa that he would double access of electricity in Africa, in no less than five years, this minimally meant bringing electricity to at least 400 million more Africans. When Obama originally launched his Powerless Africa initiative he promised to provide (a mere) 7-10,000 megawatts for six African countries; Nigeria, Liberia, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Kenya, (out of 54) through loan guarantees and incentives for U.S. companies. Since then the new claims are that Powerless Africa will somehow produce 20,000-30,000 megawatts. While there is no evidence that this has the slightest chance of occurring in the near future, even by their own estimates it would make electricity available to 60 million Africans-roughly 15% out of 600 million, still leaving 540 million Africans without power. When an administration official was confronted by this author with the obvious discrepancy between the goal of doubling access and a mere several thousands of megawatts, the response was that these goals are “aspirational” i.e. we lied.

The cruel truth is that Obama’s Powerless Africa initiative has not produced one single physical megawatt of electricity and is not expected anytime soon, if ever, while the number of Africans without access is growing. Ron Nixon, in his article for the New York Times on July 21, 2015, “Obama’s Power Africa Project Is Off to a Sputtering Start,” quotes from Obama’s 2013 speech in South Africa where he boasted his program would provide ‘a light where there is currently darkness, the energy needed to lift people out of poverty’ then goes on to report: “Two years later, as Mr. Obama prepares to visit Africa again, the reality of Power Africa’s promise bears little resemblance to the president’s soaring words. It has yet to deliver any electricity.”

Sam Amadi , chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission is quoted in by Nixon in the same article, “I am not aware of any concrete plans for power plants that have emerged as a result of Power Africa.”

Infrastructure Powers Economic Growth

Inundating Africa with grids of infrastructure is not simply a good idea to work for, or an option; it is vitally necessary if African nations are going eradicate poverty, end disease and starvation, and defeat terrorism.  A crucial error in understanding the role of infrastructure is expressed in the report by PIDA-(Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa) entitled, “Interconnecting, Integrating and transforming a continent.” In the introduction, “Africa’s time for action,” where it says that: “…continuing growth and prosperity will swell the demand for infrastructure…”  Real physical economic growth, as opposed to monetarist figures, not only depends on infrastructure, but economic growth is driven upward by infrastructure. The history of the United States, China, and other Asian nations documents this principle. Every farmer, every worker, every business and industry is made more productive by being surrounded by infrastructure grids in road, rail, electrical power, etc. The productive powers of society are increased by a rich environment of dense infrastructure.

In addition to roads for farmers to transport their products, think of the impact of high speed railroads crisscrossing the continent, connecting the capital cities of Africa’s 54 nations as proposed by Chinese Premiere, Li Kiyang and supported by Chairperson African Union Commission, Dr.  Chairwoman Diamini-Zuma at the most recent AU Summit in South Africa. This would cause a revolution, uplifting a billion plus Africans; creating a bright and hopeful future for their children and grandchildren. It would also produce a trained and educated “working army” from the hundreds of millions of unemployed, especially of Africa’s youth whose lack of opportunities to live a productive life is a ticking time bomb throughout the continent.

We Must Electrify this Dark, Dark Continent

Estimates are that sub-Saharan Africa with over 1 billion people has 90,000 megawatts of on line capacity, with half of that total-45,000 MW in one country, South Africa. In contrast, South Korea has approximately the same on line capacity as sub-Saharan Africa, but for a little over 50 million people–5% of the sub continent’s population

The average American uses about 13,200 kWh-(kilo watt hours). That translates into per capita consumption of 1,500 watts or 1.5 kilowatts of power, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The estimated per capita use of electricity in for a Nigerian is 149, kWh or 17 watts, two orders of magnitude-almost 100 less than their US counterpart. Nigeria has between 4,000 to 6,000 MW of on line capacity, depending on who is doing the counting, but only 2,500MW or less is available per day for almost 180 million people, of which 50% have no access to the nation’s power supply. For those Nigerians who can afford it, they survive by the extensive use of personal generators at great costs, which may account for as much as another 25,000MW often storing the energy in larger batteries for later use.  However only electricity from the nation’s grid is powerful enough to maintain the functioning of air conditioners and refrigerators.

Another pernicious feature of Obama’s Powerless Africa is a program to attract investments of one billion dollars for small scale “off grid” gimmicks aimed particularly at rural areas, where the majority of Africans live, but whose net effect is to keep them economically backward. A solar panel on one’s roof may be enough to light a few 60 watt bulbs, and recharge a cell phone, but it can’t power a refrigerator, a water pump, an air conditioner, or advanced machinery, all necessary for a decent standard of living.

All Africans have a right to universal access to the most scientifically advanced forms of energy to power their economies. So called renewable energy like solar and wind, which are technologically inferior modes of energy production are being imposed on Africa (and all countries) under the guise of the anti-scientific and silly argument that we need to reduce our human carbon footprint or the world will come to an end. To accept the argument of the “green movement” is to deny the unending potential of technological progress unique to human beings.

Energy is realized by the effect of its application to transform the universe for the increase of the quantity and quality of human beings. We measure the efficiency of a mode of energy by its “energy-flux density.” Solar energy has a low energy-flux density, but is uniquely suitable for growth of plant life through the synthesis of chlorophyll, but is useless to power a modern society. No nation has ever developed advanced industrial and agricultural sectors through the application of solar power: it is physically impossible. Windmills, additionally are also unreliable, and cost ineffective. Those nations committed to progress, which includes the BRICS nations are increasingly investing in production of fission based nuclear energy, whose power source has an energy-flux density orders of magnitude higher than solar

African leaders should not accept for their nations the application of these inferior technologies; Africans should not be treated as second class citizens or less. The failure to reject so called renewables of solar and wind as power sources will condemn Africans to continue to suffer genocidal rates of death. Why should Africans not demand the same standard of living as the West; is it not their right as human beings? For sub-Saharan Africa to achieve an equal level of energy consumption with the US would require the production 1,600 gigawatts –(billions of watts). Nigerian alone would need over 200,000 MW to meet the needs of the largest population on the continent.

It Can Be Done

Through American System methods of political economy President Franklin Roosevelt not only lifted the US out of the Great Depression, but he also provided universal access to electrical power. In sections of rural America only 10% of the population had access to electricity in their homes. President Roosevelt transformed the US by applying the constitutional powers of federal government to create new government supported authorities and issuing public credit at low interest rates to put the millions of unemployed people to work building massive amount of new infrastructure projects, including energy production and transmission lines. China is emulating the American System today and is leading the world in the construction of high speed railroads and nuclear power plants. President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has successfully mobilized the Egyptian people to complete the expansion of the 169 year old Suez Canal in one year. Not only was this magnificent project completed two years ahead of schedule, but it was financed by the Egyptian people themselves. South Africa, a member of the BRICS is the only African country utilizing nuclear energy, and is presently negotiating a deal to build several more nuclear power plants with a capacity to generate 9,600 MW of  electricity.

President Roosevelt defeated his opponents and won over the American people through his dedication to the principle that the federal government is obligated to provide for the general welfare of its citizens as stated in the preamble of the US Constitution. President Roosevelt would not and did not allow the survival of the US to depend on the so called market place or the banks that caused the economic crisis he inherited. Instead he used the authority of the state to rebuild our ailing nation. It is the reasonability of government to insure that advances in science and technology are utilized to increase the productive powers of their citizens through state sponsored infrastructure. African leaders should do no less than President Roosevelt, a great leader who left a lasting legacy for the world.

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US Policy For Africa Grossly Deficient

Lawrence Freeman

February 15, 2016

The most glaring deficiency in US policy towards Africa is its lack of understanding of the absolute importance of infrastructure development for Africa, not just for economic reasons, but as the core of a proper country to country relationship. This should include such vital categories of hard infrastructure such as energy, rail transportation, and water management, and primary soft infrastructure categories of education and health care. A massive investment in infrastructure projects for Africa is not optional, but rather a matter of live and death for over one billion people living on this vast undeveloped continent. All honest African analysts will have to admit that the US ended any significant commitment to fostering government assisted investment in building infrastructure in Africa by no later than the mid 1970s. The Millennium Challenge Account, which works with a very few countries for small water, and sanitation projects, and the like, is totally inadequate as well as USAID.  President John F Kennedy’s cooperative relationship with President Kwame Nkrumah in constructing the Volta Dam industrial projects was a high point in US relations with Africa that has not been emulated in the last half century.

The goal of US policy should be, as it should have been since the “Winds of Change,” is assist African nations as rapidly as possible in developing their industrial-manufacturing –agricultural sectors to provide for an improved quality of life for their citizens. Not only can starvation be ended, and the consequences of droughts be managed, but Africa with its abundance of fertile land and water systems can and should become a net food exported to countries in Asia. To create a density of infrastructure in Africa such as high speed rail line connections between the capitals of Africa, we have to go beyond believing that the US private sector will be capable of making the necessary investments required to drive African economies forward. Sufficiently large government credit is required. China’s Silk Road Fund, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank-(AIIB), and the BRICS’ New Development Bank are example of “credit institutions” designed to fund large scale energy projects. The US has refused to join the AIIB and has removed itself from any serious effort to help Africa overcome its huge infrastructure deficit that is literally killing Africa.

The United States has for 200 years successfully used the Army Corps of Engineers to not only build and maintain our infrastructure, but also as an excellent means to provide education and scientific training.

Electrical Power Is Essential

Without abundant, on-line electrical power Africa will continue to suffer deadly rates of poverty and mortality that can be avoided, i.e. these conditions are not objective. Presently the mere 90,000 megawatts of power available for sub-Saharan Africa reveals the ugly truth of what is holding Africa back. There will be no substantial change in conditions of life in Africa, unless hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of electrical power are provided to the nations of Africa. We are now approaching the third year anniversary of President Obama announcement in South Africa that the US would double electrical power in Africa. In hard terms, that means connecting another 400 million Africans (above the 400 million today) to on-line electricity. Solar power and wind mills will never power an industrial- manufacturing based economy. I am sorry to report, that as I knew at the time of the creation of Power Africa, this program is a total failure, having not produced a single megawatt of power. I can assure you that Power Africa will not in your life time or in your children’s life time ever double access to electrify in Africa

As all military specialists know, terrorism cannot be defeated by military means alone, as we witness in the fight against Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin. Without economic progress, the jihadists extremists will also continue to have a fertile recruitment potential where youth are poor, alienated from society, and see no hope for their future.

In addition to economic component emphasized here, the US should give unconditional support financially and militarily to Nigeria and the joint task force combating Boko Haram.

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Not Fit For Public Office: Defeat Susan Rice For Her Genocide in Africa

Lawrence Freeman

December 1, 2012

This article was widely distributed to defeat Susan Rice from becoming President Obama’s Secretary of State. The article below is a more through presentation of Rice’s background.

Two of the clearest cases where Rice’s policies led to the deaths of millions, the weakening of nations’ sovereignty, are the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.), and Sudan, the two largest nations on the continent, before the break-up of Sudan in 2011. Rice’s policies resulted in permanent destabilization of the Great Lakes region and parts of the Horn of Africa.

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Why Do We Call Susan Rice A Racist? Because She Is One

Lawrence Freeman

December 25, 2009

For years, there was more than speculation that a rogue operation in the U.S. government was supporting the 1996 invasion of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) by rebel movements sponsored by Rwanda and Uganda. This was while Rice was serving as Special Assistant to the President, and Senior Director for African Affairs at the NSC. Howard French, writing in the New York Review of Books (Sept. 24, 2009), confirms Rice’s involvement in violating the D.R.C.s sovereignty, quoting her, saying that, “Museveni [of Uganda] and Kagame [of Rwanda] agree that the basic problem in the Great Lakes is the danger of a resurgence of genocide [referring to the Hutus who fled to the D.R.C. after Kagame took over Rwanda—LKF], and they know how to deal with that. The only thing we have to do is look the other way.” Rice’s “looking the other way” was followed by a decade of killing in the D.R.C., and the looting of its natural resources by Rwanda and Uganda.

For five years, from 1996, until weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the United States, the Sudan government had tried repeatedly, but without success, to share with U.S. intelligence services its own intelligence files on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Even when the FBI and others wished to accept these offers, they were overruled by Secretary of State Albright and Assistant Secretary forAfrica Rice. Rice had politicized the intelligence by her hostility to any collaboration with the Sudanese government. Various back-channel efforts were also stymied by Rice. When the U.S. intelligence community finally succeeded in getting the Clinton Administration to send a joint FBI/CIA team to Sudan in May 2000, despite resistance from Rice, they found no terrorist training camps or sanctuaries, and gave Sudan a clean bill of health.

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The Fight for an American Development Policy for Sudan

Lawrence freeman

June 26, 2009

There is a fight going on in the Obama Administration over what will be the future U.S. policy for Sudan. Essentially, it comes down to this: Either we continue to support British-led destabilizations of African nations, or we move forward with a genuine American policy of assisting in the economic progress of the less developed nations, as President Franklin Roosevelt intended after World War II, and President John Kennedy was inclined to follow.

Gration, on June 17, at his first press conference since taking over asspecial envoy, make clear that there was no ongoing genocide. This immediately produced howls of protest from Rice and the Save Darfur crowd, but Gration stuck to the truth:There is no ongoing genocide in Darfur. The UN reports that there are more tribal killings in Southern Sudan than in Darfur, where 150 die each month, mainly from tribal and inter-tribal conflicts.

Gration’s final remarks at the USIP forum were optimistic. He said, “Yesterday’s enemies are today’s friends,” adding that he believed Sudan could become a politically stable, prosperous nation, at peace with its neighbors.

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Will Rice Mislead the U.S. Into Another Attack on Sudan?

John Prendergast and Susan Rice lie about genocide in Darfur

Lawrence Freeman

March 14, 2009

How the United States o fAmerica, under the leadership of President Barack Obama, responds to this blatant British effort to use the ICC to break up the nation of Sudan—into multiple ethnic, religious, and tribal entities at each others’ throats—is of the utmost importance, for the future of Sudan, the Horn of Africa, and all sub-Saharan Africa, as well as the very existence of the United States.

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