China Investing in Africa’s Future, Why Isn’t the US?

January 5, 2019

In the article below you can read about China’s strategic investment in making Djibouti’s port a major port in Africa and the Middle East. The West can criticize as much as it likes, but China, not the US and Europe, is building vitally needed infrastructure in Africa. Without infrastructure Africa will not develop and progress. U.S policy known as  “Prosper Africa” is cynical joke.

NEWS

In strategic Djibouti, a microcosm of China’s growing foothold in Africa

By Max Bearak
December 30, 2019

Excerpts:

DJIBOUTI — Above ground in this tiny but strategically located country, signs of China’s presence are everywhere.

Chinese entities have financed and built Africa’s biggest port, a railway to Ethiopia and the country’s first overseas naval base here. Under the sea, they are building a cable that will transmit data across a region that spans from Kenya to Yemen. The cable will connect to an Internet hub housing servers mostly run by China’s state-owned telecom companies.

Beijing’s extensive investments in Djibouti are a microcosm of how China has rapidly gained a strategic foothold across the continent. Western countries, including Africa’s former colonizers, for decades have used hefty aid packages to leverage trade and security deals, but Chinese-financed projects have brought huge infrastructural development in less than a generation.

The construction is fueled mostly by lending from China’s state-run banks. Spindles of Chinese-paved roads have unfurled across the continent, along with huge bridges, new airports, dams and power plants as part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 152-country Belt and Road Initiative.

Overall, Chinese companies have invested twice as much money between 2014 and 2018 in African countries as American companies, spending $72.2 billion, according to an analysis by Ernst & Young.

“The Chinese are thinking far into the long-term in Djibouti and Africa in general,” said David Shinn, a former U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia who was also the State Department’s desk officer for Djibouti as far back as the late 1960s. “Djibouti is one node in an economic chain that stretches across the northern rim of the Indian Ocean, from ports in Cambodia to Sri Lanka to Pakistan. They have a grand, strategic plan. We don’t.”

In Djibouti, that strategic plan is all the more evident because of the country’s location at the entrance to the Red Sea, where about 10 percent of oil exports and 20 percent of commercial goods pass through the narrow strait right off Djibouti’s coast on their way to and from the Suez Canal.

That location has made it a crucial way-point for undersea cables, which transmit data between continents. China’s investment in Internet infrastructure here comes as the region surrounding Djibouti is just starting to come online, including some places that are entirely reliant on Djibouti as a transit point for data transmission…

“Yes, our debt to China is 71% of our GDP, but we needed that infrastructure,” Mahamoud Ali Youssouf, Djibouti’s foreign affairs minister, said in a phone interview on the sidelines of a meeting in New York earlier this month, where Djibouti was pushing to gain a non permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

“It was quite natural that we raise our partnership with China. Neither Europe nor America were ready to build the infrastructure we needed. We’re projecting our country into the future and looking after the well-being of our people. Even the United States has trillions of dollars in debt to China, you know,” Youssouf said.

The most significant investment China has made in Djibouti is Doraleh Port, Africa’s biggest and deepest. As with Internet through the data center, a full 90 percent of landlocked Ethiopia’s imports now transit Djibouti, giving the minuscule country, with a population of less than a million, leverage over its gigantic, 100-million-strong neighbor.

Read the full article

In the Next Decade, Nuclear Power for Africa Is A Necessity, Not An Option

Image credit: IAEA

12/28/2019

In the next decade, beginning on January 1, 2020, African nations must pursue nuclear energy. This is necessary to provide energy to the continent, which is suffering from a huge deficit in electricity, but nuclear technology has many additional benefits to African economies.  This includes creating large amounts of potable water. With nuclear power plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea, the equivalent of a “second Nile River” from desalination through nuclear powered desalination would transform the nations of the Nile Basin. Constructing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors-SMRs (see below) in every African nation would be a important first step towards ending poverty and industrializing the continent.  Let me bluntly state: without abundant, low cost energy, Africa will not develop, and its people will suffer. Energizing Africa is not an option, it is a life and death necessity!

{Sustainable Times} published a valuable article on December 23, 2019: Can Nuclear Unlock Africa’s Development?

Excerpts:

“Combining renewables with nuclear power, however, makes the task of powering Africa’s growing economies more viable – not to mention the other useful and often overlooked aspects that nuclear can contribute to development. Although South Africa is the only country on the continent currently operating a nuclear power plant, the technology is being increasingly considered by African leaders. For example, works are set to begin on a new 4.8GW plant in El Dabaa Egypt next year, which is being developed by Russia’s Rosatom.

“Other countries including Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana also have memorandums of understanding with Rosatom that pave the way for nuclear development. South Korea are also looking to invest in the continent’s energy industry, while Chinese nuclear firms have entered into agreements with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Energy is a key driver for development. In Ghana, for example, nuclear is seen as the obvious way to provide reliable energy for bauxite refineries which would increase jobs and export capacity.

Technology beyond electricity

“But nuclear technology provides more than just energy: many advanced nuclear designs produce high-temperature process heat for uses in desalination plants, chemical production and even district heating systems. These subsidiary features would allow nuclear technology to benefit society beyond the generation of electricity – and potentially accelerating its deployment.

“Nuclear technologies are already being used in agriculture, for example, where isotopes and radiation techniques are harnessed to combat pests and diseases or to increase livestock and crop production. For instance, farmers in Benin have increased their maize yields by 50 percent, while simultaneously reducing the amount of fertiliser used by 70 percent, thanks to the deployment of nuclear-derived nitrogen-fixation methods – the same techniques that are allowing Maasai farmers in Kenya to double vegetable crop yields with half the irrigation of traditional methods.

“By contrast, nuclear desalination could use the excess heat from new reactor designs like Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) to produce thermal and electrical energy without emitting greenhouse gases, which then transforms seawater into freshwater. While capital costs for nuclear plants are initially high, fuel costs are low and stable: a doubling in the price of uranium would result in only a five percent increase in the total cost of energy generation. In contrast, an equivalent increase in oil would cause freshwater production costs to surge by 70 percent.”

 Read: Can Nuclear Unlock Africa’s Development?

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Progress for Small Modular Reactors

December 13, 2019—There’s some real good news for the U.S. economy today.  NuScale, an Oregon company that is developing a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR), has passed the next stage of review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Progress for Small Nuclear Reactors

Cross-section of NuScale small modular reactor (world nuclear news)

As this blog has reported before, the mass development of nuclear power is a critical component to bringing the productivity of the U.S. economy out of the doldrums, and thus bringing us into a new era of prosperity.  High-speed rail, modernized water systems, the space program, and many other components of an economic recovery program depend upon generating huge amounts of electricity that are way beyond our current capacity.  Nuclear represents a leap in productivity that will allow us to get there, as well as a step on the way to the development of thermonuclear fusion.

NuScale’s design for an SMR has now gone through four phases of review. It still has to go through stages 5 and 6. According to the company’s press release, the Oregon-based company is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as other companies. It has received support from Congress.

As I outlined in a post approximately one year ago, the promise of SMRs lies not only in their safety design, but in the fact that the United States still has the industrial capacity to produce them assembly-line fashion. Over the past 40 years, the heavy industrial capability for producing a standard-sized nuclear reactor (measured in hundreds of megawatts or over 1000) has been dismantled. But a small reactor of 12 to 50 megawatts could be produced in assembly-line fashion, and provide a flexible means of providing power outside major urban areas, including hard-to-reach regions.

The United States is not the only country working on SMRs, and some in the industry are seeking to motivate investment in NuScale on the basis of “beating the competition.”  Such peaceful competition has a huge positive payoff for the human race, and can only be encouraged. Thus NuScale’s progress with the NRC is most welcome news.

The NuScale press release can be read in full here.

Chinese ‘debt-trap’ Propaganda Exposed-Time to End Ignorance & Prejudice Against China in Africa

(Courtesy of Quartz Africa)

December 24, 2019

Deborah Brautigam, an expert on China-Africa relations, exposes the fraud of China’s debt-trap diplomacy in her report: A Critical look at Chinese ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ Brautigam, who is director of the Johns Hopkins Center for China-Africa Research Initiative, writes unequivocally that there is no evidence of an intentional effort  to trap African nations into owing debt to China. China is not manipulating African nations in an attempt to control their resources. Ironically this is what the Western institutions did to African nations  following their independence from colonialism. Whether out of ignorance and/or prejudice, Africans and Westerners have been repeating unfounded propaganda that China is the new colonizer of Africa. It is time to finally end this malicious mantra.

Excerpts:

“The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies curates a database on Chinese lending to Africa (Brautigam & Hwang, 2016). It has information on about more than 1000 loans and, so far, in Africa, we have not seen any examples where we would say the Chinese deliberately entangled another country in debt, and then used that debt to extract unfair or strategic advantages of some kind in Africa, including ‘asset seizures’. Angola, for example, has borrowed a huge amount from China. Of course, many of these loans are backed by Angola’s oil exports, but this is a commercial transaction. China is not getting huge strategic advantage in that relationship. Similarly, others have examined Chinese lending elsewhere in the world – some 3000 cases – and while some projects have been cancelled or renegotiated, none, aside from the single port in Sri Lanka, has been used to support the idea that the Chinese are seizing strategic assets when countries run into trouble with loan repayment (Kratz, Feng, & Wright, 2019).

The evidence so far, including the Sri Lankan case, shows that the drumbeat of alarm about Chinese banks’ funding of infrastructure across the BRI and beyond is overblown. In a study we conducted using our data on Chinese lending and African debt distress through 2017, China was a major player in only three low-income African countries that were considered by the IMF to be debt distressed or on the verge of debt distress (Eom, Brautigam, & Benabdallah, 2018). A similar country-by-country analysis that included use of our data shows that the Chinese are, by and large, not the major player in African debt distress (Jubilee Debt Campaign, 2018). Therefore, the role of China in African debt distress was limited when one remembers that there are 54 countries in Africa.”

Read: A Critical look at Chinese ‘debt-trap diplomacy’

Ethiopia Celebrates Launch of First Satellite-Science is the Driver of Economic Growth

Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space from China
Ethiopia’s satellite orbiting the earth. (courtesy of africanexponent.com)

December 22, 2019

Space exploration is an essential driver of economic growth. Mankind’s discovery of new physical principles of the universe leads to the creation of new technologies, which transform economies to higher levels of production of physical wealth.  It is science and assimilating new technologies like fission and fusion energy that are the  engines of real economic growth; not money or stock values. Exploration of space stimulates the mind and breeds optimism.  

“Ethiopia’s first satellite was sent into space on Friday, a landmark achievement for the ambitious country that also caps a banner year for Africa’s involvement in space.

“A Chinese Long March 4B rocket hoisted the first Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) aloft from the Taiyuan space base in northern China.

“Scores of Ethiopian and Chinese officials and scientists gathered at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre outside the capital, Addis Ababa, early Friday to watch a live broadcast.

“The 70-kilogramme (154-pound) satellite was developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology with the help of 21 Ethiopian scientists, according to the specialist website africanews.space…

“For us as a society, we are valuing this launch as something which lifts our national pride,” Paulos said.

“You know, this is a very poor country. Many in the younger generation don’t have big hopes of reaching space. But today we are giving this generation hope, helping this generation to think big and have self-esteem.”

Read: Ethiopia Celebrates Launch of First Satellite

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Nuclear Energy is Necessary for Africa’s Growth

Russia’s Rosatom already is building a $29 billion nuclear plant complex for Egypt, and the company is also helping Nigeria, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda establish nuclear facilities. The El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant in Egypt will have four VVER-1200 reactors, or water-water energetic reactors, which are Russian-designed Generation III+ reactors. Russia is financing 85% of the project with a loan of about $25 billion to Egypt, and Egypt is paying the remaining 15% over a period of 13 years, wrote Darrell Proctor in Power on Dec. 2.

Africa’s only current operating nuclear power plant is the 1.8 GW Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, north of Cape Town, which is owned and operated by Eskom, South Africa’s power utility. The plant recently had its operational period extended for another 20 years from 2024 when it was originally supposed to be decommissioned.

African nations are trying to increase their power generation capacity on a continent that has long struggled to sustain reliable power. The International Energy Agency recently reported that 57% of Africa’s population still does not have easy access to electricity, and those with access to power deal with frequent power outages.

African nations desperately  need nuclear power for their survival. Without access to plentiful energy,  people will die and nations will not develop.

 

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: Nobel Peace Prize

Image result for nobel peace price abiy ahmed
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali receives the the Nobel Peace Price on December 10, 2019. (Courtesy of allthingsethiopia.com)

December 17, 2019

In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed discusses the importance of the philosophy of the Medemer in achieving peace in the Horn of Africa. Prime Minister Abiy is applying the philosophy of the Medemer in transforming Ethiopia.

“This humanity I speak of, is within all of us. We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance. When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace. Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

“Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny. Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life. I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

“In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility. At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

“It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.”

Read: PM Abiy’s Acceptance Speech of the Nobel Peace Prize

 

 

Trump, Impeachment, and the Future of the U.S.–CGTN

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (1st R) speaks at a news conference to announce articles of impeachment against U.S. President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., December 10, 2019. /Xinhua Photo

On the week that the Judiciary Committee is determined to vote for the impeachment of  President Donald Trump, CGTN published my analysis on the invalidity of this impeachment process. 

Trump, impeachment, and the future of the U.S.

Lawrence Freeman, December 11, 2019

“This week the Judiciary Committee concludes the impeachment proceedings against Donald J. Trump, the 45th President of the United States. This committee, controlled by the Democrats, is likely to approve articles of impeachment within the week.

“It is anticipated that the majority Democratic Party in the House of Representatives will vote for impeachment before the Christmas Holiday break.

“Therefore, it is quite possible that when the Congress returns to Washington. D.C. in January, the first order of business will be a trial of President Trump in the U.S. Senate. Thus, America, and indeed the world, will begin the new year of 2020 with a dangerous strategic destabilization caused by a weakening of the U.S. Presidency. Regardless of the outcome, this course of events bodes ill for the future of our U.S.

“For me, a lifelong Democrat, who has been involved in American politics for over half a century, this impeachment process, driven by the leadership of the Democratic Party, is not legitimate. Removing a U.S. President, elected by the American voters is the most serious and extreme measure allowed under the U.S. Constitution.

“A President should not be removed from office without overwhelming and provable evidence, that she or he is endangering the security and existence of the U.S. No such evidence has been provided. I fear for my country when a partisan majority has the power to remove a President between national elections (as was the case of the impeachment of President Clinton, which I also opposed).”

Clash over foreign policy

“Once you get past the headlines of Russia-gate, followed by allegations of obstruction of justice, and now, the so-called quid quo pro in Ukraine; examine the real underlying issue of conflict between President Trump and the establishment. He disagrees with Washington’s anti-Russia policy…”

Read the entire article: Trump. Impeachment, and the Future of the US

Amb Arikana Chihombori-Quao Refutes African Union Allegations

Former Ambassador from the African Union to the US, Arikana Chihombori-Quao with Lawrence Freeman. December 5, 2019

December 8, 2019

You can read in the press release below the rebuttal by Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao to the allegations against her by the African Union.

“In summary, I took a virtually unknown Mission that had been relegated to a Protocol Office and turned it into a vibrant well-respected Mission, not only in Washington DC but around the world. I accomplished all this with limited staff…and very limited resources. I worked tirelessly, an average of sixteen-eighteen-hour days, seven days a week during my tenure. I attended as many meetings and events as I could promoting Africa and the African Union not only in the United States of America but also in other parts of the Americas. I realized that this is what it took to bring awareness to the people of an entity that was otherwise unknown.”

Read: Press Release and Rebuttal by HE Ambassador Chihombori Quao

 

History Course: “Africa The Sleeping Giant” Amb. Arikana Chihombori Lectures Students On The Berlin Conference

Former African Union Ambassador, Arikana Chihombori-Quao, speaking to Lawrence Freeman’s class at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Montgomery County Maryland on the Berlin Conference. December 5, 2019

December 7, 2019

At the fifth week of my African history course (outlined below), 80 students heard Amb Chihombori-Quao discuss the effects of the Berlin Conference on the people of Africa today. This provocative presentation lead to many questions.   

“Africa: The Sleeping Giant” 6 week-12 hour course syllabus by Lawrence Freeman

The instructor’s intention is to provide the class with broad overview of the development of the African continent over millennia and centuries, coupled with insights to understand the present. The instructor believes that it is impossible to know current events in Africa today, beyond the misleading media headlines, without a full knowledge of Africa’s unique and at times tragic history.

Week 1–“Introduction”: In this class we discuss the great diversity of the continent. This includes its size, climates, geographical characteristics, deserts, rivers, lakes, and historical facts regarding Africa’s many nations, its economic condition.

Week 2–“Man Is Not a Monkey”: This class traces mankind’s emergence to what we call modern man-homo sapien sapien-over millions of years by examining the effects of man’s powers of reason, that did not evolve from the apes, and mankind’s exodus from the African continent.  We will then discuss a few of the early civilizations in East and West Africa, concluding with the great Bantu internal migration that transformed the continent.

Week 3–“Early African Civilizations-Slavery”: In this we class we continue examining early civilizations in Africa, iron making, and population growth. We will then leap ahead to the “discovery” of Africa by Europe and roots of slavery.

Week 4–“Slavery to Colonialism”: In this class we examine the seamless transition from slavery to colonialism, which in total encompasses 500 years, leading to destruction of the cultural and physical evolution of the African people.

Week 5–“European Empires Carve Up Africa”: This class focuses on the hideous Berlin Conference that divided up Africa in accord with Europe’s geopolitical Imperialist view of Africa and its people.

Week 6–“Africa’s Post Independence”: We leap ahead to the liberation of Africa from colonialism circa 1960. We discuss current and changing conditions in African nations, especially as the West abandons the continent and China supports Africa’s economic growth by building and funding infrastructure projects across Africa.

Fruitful Cooperation: Ethiopia and China’s Belt and Road

Celebrating the inauguration of the new Addis Ababa to Djibouti railway on October 6, 2016, which I attended

 

China-Ethiopia dialogue highlights sustainable investment under BRI

BEIJING, Dec. 1 (Xinhua) — Ethiopia is hoping to attract more sustainable investment from Chinese enterprises as fruitful cooperations have been carried out under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

At the China-Ethiopia High-Level Dialogue on Sustainable Investment held in Beijing on Friday, both Chinese and Ethiopian officials expressed their hope to consolidate collaborations to boost the achievements of sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Aschalew Tadesse Mecheso, a senior official with Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC), said Ethiopia looks forward to more investment in the sectors of information and communication technology and light industries so as to create more jobs for young people who account for around 70 percent of the country’s population.

Aiming to facilitate knowledge exchanges and build networks to promote sustainable investment in Ethiopia, the event attracted over 200 participants from governments, industries, development agencies and think tanks.

Guo Xuejun with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs took the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway as an example of the fruitful cooperations between the two countries under the BRI.

Apart from the railway that has significantly shortened the time of transporting goods from Ethiopia to Djibouti, he also mentioned a new economic cluster that is emerging along the railway with the construction and development of several industrial parks.

China looks forward to working with Ethiopia to initiate more connectivity projects that are high-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive, accessible and broadly beneficial, Guo said.

The country is also dedicated to promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, opposes protectionism and aims to make greater contributions to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, he said.

Beate Trankmann, Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in China, said the BRI’s key projects, which focus on connectivity and integration, could help unlock the funding and know-how to fulfill the SDGs, if relevant investments follow sustainability criteria and principles of the SDGs.

At the event, organized by the UNDP and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, China’s embassy in Ethiopia and the EIC, investors also discussed the opportunities and challenges to invest in Ethiopia

The United States’ Economy and Culture Are Shrinking

The article below discusses the physical effects on the US population of the shrinking of America’s economy and culture over many years. The USA was founded on profound principles still valid today. However, the absence of quality leadership, and a population conditioned by news headlines has led to our decline.  America needs a statesman with a bold vision of the future and the will to implement it. Presently, neither exist.

December 1, 2019

Deindustrialization is Killing America