Analysis

The New York Times Is All Wrong About Africa

Lawrence Freeman

August 3, 2017

     The July 30th Sunday edition of the New York Times, published an article by its Africa reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, entitled, “Loss of Fertile Land Fuels ‘Looming Crisis’ Across Africa.” The analysis, and conclusions of this article are all wrong, because they are based on false and ideologically driven axioms regarding the development of Africa.  Essentially, Gettlemen and the New York Times are steeped in the “Zero Growth” culture which became prevalent in the United States and the West in 1970s.

     In the aftermath of the 1963 assassinations of President John F Kennedy and the ensuing “rock-drug-sex” counterculture, the groundwork was prepared for the onslaught the environmental movement. With its no-growth, anti-science, anti-industrialization outlook that dominated the thinking of the baby-boomer and succeeding generations, cultural pessimism became pervasive. This ideology combined with the looting of Africa’s natural resources by the financial predators of Wall Street and the City of London resulted in a policy of no development for Africa that has continued to the present. 

     Today Africa has the largest deficit of infrastructure per capita and per square kilometer on the planet. The lack of electrical power, railroads, water management, and modern highways is literally responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans each year.  Only since the entrance of China into Africa in the past decade with its commitment to build physical infrastructure, have we witnessed a change in the dynamic on the continent.

Economic Science

     It is no accident that the US and Europe have not contributed to the construction of vital infrastructure projects; it’s their flawed policy. Infrastructure is not just one of several possible good ideas; rather it is an indispensable, irreplaceable ingredient to the success of any agro-industrial economy.  Infrastructure drives an economy forward and upward by incorporating new scientific advances in technology that improve the productive powers of the workforce, yielding increased economic output of wealth for society. The most wicked and pernicious feature of the Zero-Growth ideology is the denial of the unique creativity of Mankind. For thousands and millions of years Mankind has transformed his surrounding environment to make it more propitious for human expansion.  Like the discovery of “fire,” a million years ago, the Neolithic revolution 12,000 years ago was a revolution in Mankind’s knowledge of the universe and led to a population explosion. This non-linear growth pattern has been repeated many times over the last 10,000 years, as a result of the unique power of discovery by the human mind.

     The essential underlying cause of the problems in Africa today is not over population, or loss of arable land, but underdevelopment.   The failure to grasp this elementary concept by the New York Times and others is the reason for the abysmal conditions of life in Africa’s that contributes to the easy recruitment to terrorist movements like Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region.

False Axioms

     For example, Gettleman cites the:

 “overwhelming degradation of agricultural land throughout Africa, with one recent study showing that more than 40 million Africans are trying to survive off land whose agricultural potential is declining.” He continues, “More than in any other region of the world, people in Africa live off the land. There are relatively few industrial or service jobs here. Seventy percent of Africa’s population makes a living through agriculture, higher than on any other continent, the World Bank says. But as the population rises, with more siblings competing for their share of the family farm, the slices are getting thinner.”

     Why is agricultural potential of the land declining? Why are there relatively few manufacturing jobs? Why are the slices of land getting thinner?

     The answer is not the Malthusian argument that Africans breed too fast and that this huge continent – almost three times the size of the continental US- has too many people trying to exist on a shrinking pie of arable land. The proper question to ask is; why after half century since the “Winds of Change” liberation from the colonial powers, Africans still do not enjoy the fruits of modern industrialized economies with a modern standard of living, instead of large pockets of abject poverty? Any poor-quality farm land, even the Sahara Desert, can be made productive with water. Less than 5% of cultivated land is irrigated In Africa. With manufacturing plants to build the irrigating machinery and sufficient energy to pump the water, millions of hectares of arable land can become fruitful. Nuclear powered desalination could provide fresh water from the Mediterranean and Red seas to the North African deserts. US farmers, among the most productive in the world, experienced huge increase in yields of food production including in the former desert of southern California by utilizing new technologies, fertilizers, irrigation, and abundant energy under President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic recovery.

     Why has the US and the West not assisted African nations in acquiring the necessary infrastructure and new technologies to expand its cultivated land and build a substantial manufacturing sector as part of an integrated modern economy. In his brief Presidency, John F Kennedy collaborated with President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to build the Volta Dam hydro-power and industrial smelting complex. This what we should have continued to do over the last 50 years, and if we had, Africa would look completely different than it does today.

Population Reduction Is Not the Solution

     In the concluding section the article, the New York Times and its reporter reveal the depraved thinking of the Zeitgest of western culture; we have too many people using up the fixed natural resources of our planet.

“Africa’s land pressures may seem overwhelming, maybe even unstoppable. But scientists say there are solutions within reach. For example, the continent has the highest fertility rates in the world, but more African governments are pushing contraceptives, saying the best answer for densely populated countries is smaller families.

‘The problem is too many people, too many cattle and too little planning,’ said Iain Douglas Hamilton, a wildlife activist in northern Kenya.”

   This view echoes Henry Kissinger’s infamous “National Security Study Memorandum 200,” written 1974-1976, which advocated reducing the population for “Third World” nations to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of vital natural resources to the West. For centuries, the British raciest imperialist school has targeted Africa’s population as inferior and as an impediment to their access of Africa’s precious minerals.

     The birth a child can never be a problem for society. Each new human being, by the fact that it is human, intrinsically has the potential to contribute to new discoveries that can change the world, or contribute to the progress of society in more humble manner. Why not take up the challenge of developing the vast continent of Africa with its soon to be multi-billion population, and its rich untapped wealth? Presently we are witnessing the construction of desperately needed infrastructure on the Africa continent, with the assistance of China. Yet, Africa’s requires hundreds of gigawatts of electrical power, East-West and South-North railroads, high speed trains connecting the capital of each nation, and much, much, more. If the US joins the new paradigm of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and collaborates on eliminating poverty and hunger, and expanding Afrfia’s unrealized agricultural potential, the continent will be able to sustain an expanding population at a standard of living commensurate with that of the advanced sector nations.

   Let us act on the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, when he told his son at the Casablanca Conference during World War II, that if we divert water into the Sahara Desert: “It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch.” 

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The New Name for Peace is Development

Lawrence Freeman

June 30, 2017

     Africa’s huge, unacceptable deficit in physical infrastructure is the primary cause for the continent’s problems; not over population, good governance or corruption.  It is this underdevelopment in physical economy that is literally killing millions of Africans, through disease, dirty water (cholera,) starvation, and tribal-ethnic-religious warfare.

     With the population of Africa projected to reach 2.4 billion in 2050-in less than two generations from now, of which approximately 30%-over 700 million will be 35 years of younger; the continent is facing an existential crisis.  With hundreds of millions of youth ready to enter new workforce, unless African nations adopt future oriented polices now to grow healthy economies and provide them with meaningful-productive jobs, they face a potential catastrophe. To accomplish this task, governments must initiate planning and investment today for hard infrastructure in the vital categories; of energy, road, rail, and water, and soft infrastructure in health and education to create a platform for robust economic growth. Statesmen should guide their nations with a vision in their mind’s eye of how their economy should be function one to two generations into the future. 

     In Africa most especially, there is no substitute for infrastructure and grand-transformative projects, such as Transaqua, and East-West/North-South railroads, to ensure the survival and well-being of its soon to be billions of citizens. As a result of the Chinese One Belt-One Road policy, championed by President Xi Jinping, Africa has an opportunity to construct the infrastructure that should have been built a half century ago following the “Winds of Change,” if not earlier. With China’s assistance new railroads have been built in Ethiopia and Kenya for the first time in a century, but Africa needs much, much more. Today’s mere 100,000 megawatts for sub-Sahara Africa is a virtual death sentence. Africa needs hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of power along millions of kilometers of railroad track for passenger and freight, and this is just the beginning of what can and should be done to lift all Africans up to a 21st century standard of living.

     Like the African proverb says: The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is today. Let’s get on with it!

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UN Adviser Prof Ibrahim Gambari, Tells The Truth About Africa

Lawrence Freeman

March 1, 2002

     The most urgent challenge facing Africa is “poverty prevention and development,” according to Gambari, who provides the following facts and figures. “Over 42% of Africa’s population lives on less than $1 a day, and 40% in inhuman poverty. Out of 700 million Africans, 120 million women are illiterate, and 150,000 die every year as a result of complications related to pregnancy. Even worse is the death [in the last decade] of 22 million children who die before they reach their first birthday.” This misery is concentrated in Africa’s Sub-Saharan region.

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Ghana Amb Dr. Kofi Awoonor: ‘The United Nations has lost its moral authority’

Dr. Kofi Awoonor is the ambassador and permanent representative of Ghana to the United Nations. In 1991 he was chairman of the Group of 77, which represents the more than 100 developing sector nations.

Interview-July 2, 1993

    ” You don’t know what we are going through, in the developing countries, after suffering so many years of colonial exploitation. We did say that in the Non- Aligned Africa’s position has been buttressed very strongly, since we are weakest link in the economic chain, by countries that are developing strong economies ; countries in Asia in particular, by Malaysia, by Indonesia, al1d so on. These countries have seen a concerted attack, a conspiracy to undermine their own development efforts by a singularly austere focus on the liberal aspect of human rights.
     Of course, the NGOs-we are a little worried sometimes about the NGOs. I had a lot of problems with the NGOs when I was chairing the G-77 , on the environmental issue. I remember addressing the entire NGO group at one of the preparatory meetings in Geneva. And I said to them: “For God’s sake, you cannot make environmental work part and parcel of some kind of almost dilettantish attachment to whales and elephants, and such wonderful species that we have here. Human beings are imperiled. “Some of them seemed to understand it. But you see many of them are coming from this intellectual, emotional, psychological tradition of the West, which has perfected the habit of separate things.”

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Ghana Amb Dr. Kofi Awonoor: ‘By a stroke of the pen, cancel all debts’ 

Interview-October 22, 1991

Dr. Kofi Nyidevu Awoonor is the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ghana to the United Nations. He is also chairman of the Group of 77, which represents the more than 100 developing sector nations

When the question of the environment was put on the international agenda a few years ago, we were enthusiastic supporters of this issue, because we share a common planet and we must be concerned as to its fate. But suddenly, when we, the developing countries, insisted upon the question of development being an intrinsic aspect of any effort to deal with environmental degradation on a global scale, we were being told that we were introducing an irrelevant issue. And we said: It’s not only a question of keeping the world green, or protecting the flora or the fauna of this planet, but the human beings which are the makers or unmakers of this planet. A great percentage of that human population lives in a state of abject poverty. In our parts of the world, poverty is the cause of environmental degradation, if it is not in the developed parts of the world, where over consumption is ..

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