BRICS Summit Portends New Era of Cooperation and Development for Africa and the World

July 27, 2018

Lavrov Welcomes South Africa’s Initiative for Africa at BRICS Summit

July 26, 2018–In an article in the South African magazine {Ubuntu}, published by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “we support further strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness….

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dynamically developing region of the planet, which plays a key role in world mineral and hydrocarbon markets, a broad and rapid-growing consumer market, and one of the most attractive investment areas,” Lavrov said, according to Moscow Foreign Ministry website.

Pointing out that BRICS-Africa Partnership that was launched during South Africa’s 2013 BRICS chairmanship is steadily developing, Lavrov said “we welcome special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues in the work of BRICS. This area of work is becoming increasingly important for Russian foreign policy as well. Russia has significantly contributed to decolonization processes and the rise of new independent states on the continent.”

Sergey Lavrov: BRICS a Stabilizing Factor in Global Affairs; Focus on Africa is Key

July 25, 2018-An article published in South Africa’s {Ubuntu} magazine, prior to the BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the symbolism of the BRICS returning to Africa in 2018, the  100th  anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela,– “a prominent political and public figure on a global scale.”

Mandela contributed personally to establishing friendly relations between South Africa and Russia, he recalled, making possible today’s “high-level of a comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Lavrov particularly praised South Africa’s leadership in the BRICS, -“special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues,” that has become especially important for Russia’s foreign policy. “We support  further  strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness.”

Of special importance, Lavrov added, is that BRICS countries will foster cooperation with other associations and consolidate positions in international organizations to present a “united front.” The invitation to Argentina, Indonesia and Turkey, plus other African nations, to attend the July 25-27 summit reflects the BRICS-Plus initiative, he explained. “Thus we will expand the global reach of the Group and establish an outer circle of like-minded countries. In this regard, BRICs has good potential to become a unique platform for linking various integration processes in a flexible way.”

Coordination between BRICS and other major international organizations is crucial, Lavrov underscored, since consolidation of efforts “is a key to ensuring world stability and a way to settle serious conflicts.” He particularly referenced how the BRICS-Africa Partnership has advanced since 2013. At the current summit, “a special
outreach session will be held with the participation of the heads of State presiding over regional organizations of the continent in order to focus on its most relevant issues,” he said.

Why India Is Keen To Invest in Africa with China: An Overview

July 26, 2018–Ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit, China’s President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had embarked on tours through some African countries. Xi, arriving in South Africa on July 24, pledged $14.7 billion of investment in the country. During a less-than-24 hour visit on July 24, Modi pledged $205 million to Uganda. The sum is intended to help the East African country to develop its dominant agricultural sector and electricity distribution infrastructure.

Both Xi and Modi were in Rwanda earlier this week, where a total of over $300 million was announced in loans. The money will develop the tiny, landlocked East African nation’s agriculture, roads and special economic zones, CNBC reported.

In recent years, both China and India, which have been widely labeled in the West as rivals, have brought to African nations their focus on all-round development, investing to improve their infrastructure, agriculture, education, and technological skills, among other areas.

The reasons why they chose to cooperate and collaborate in Africa’s development are many. For instance, the African nations are most receptive to all actual developmental efforts, large or small. Because of the needs of the African nations, which had all along been looked at only as sources for natural resources consumed by developed nations, every bit of investment made in these nations has a positive effect and is welcomed. China and India consider that providing Africa the ability to develop will bring about a sea-change in the direction and magnitude of global trade.

India is keen to expand its economic relations mostly with Southeast Asia and Africa. For China and India, Africa does not pose any geopolitical threat. Moreover, the better understanding developed between Xi and Modi since their Wuhan meeting last April, enables both of them to work in tandem to improve the living conditions in Africa.

Putin BRICS Remarks Imply Need for New Monetary System

July 26, 2018–Very brief remarks delivered by Russia’s President Putin at the Johannesburg BRICS Summit today (apparently after a leadership meeting), implicitly point to the need for a new monetary system, and the basis which has been created for such a system in the cooperative banks, funds and institutions created by the BRICS, the Belt and Road and China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Putin’s statement dealt with this. He said:

“We view positively the activities of the [BRICS] Council to implement joint multilateral projects. It is necessary to conduct these activities in close cooperation with the [BRICS] New Development Bank. It is important that the business community should help enhance the Bank’s loan portfolio. “The New Development Bank has considerably expanded its operations as of late. Members of the Board of Directors have approved 21 projects worth over $1 billion, including five that will be implemented in Russia.

“We support the idea of opening regional offices of the Bank. Talks are underway with Brazil on this issue. Hopefully, the possibility of opening the Russian office will be discussed after the talks.

“The establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement [to support countries under balance-of-payments pressure] deserves praise, and this has become an important mechanism for the prompt financing of our countries’ banking sector…

“In 2017, we met in Xiamen [China] and decided to establish the BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund. This is very important for the development of the financial systems of our states. Therefore, the Fund’s timely initial operations, due to commence in 2019, serve the interests of BRICS.”

BRICS Could be an Alternative Model of Development to Western Dominance

July 25, 2018–In a July 25 article published on the website of the Valdai Discussion Club, entitled “Brics and the World Order,” Georgy Toloraya suggests that the current BRICS grouping, plus other nations that form part of the “BRICS-Plus” structure (not official members) could offer the world “an alternative model of socio-economic development, differing from the West” that is based on “mechanisms of a liberal market or profit gaining…that assumes the dominance of the West.”

Toloraya is the Executive Director  of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research. He debunks arguments that the BRICS is just a “China-centered structure,” intended only to promote China’s interests or its Belt and Road Initiative. These accusations, he notes, “are very sly statements. The Chinese factor is only one of the BRICS development facets.”

In today’s “turbulent global situation,” Toloraya adds, it is especially important that the BRICS “common denominator” grows. Why? In contrast to the G7, BRICS expresses a “touching unanimity, which is not faked. This is not a mutiny on the ship we see with the G7, when the captain led to one direction while the crew wants to go to another one.” By the time Russia takes over the chairmanship of the group in 2020, he notes, BRICS “could become a united center of the multipolar world…Now BRICS creates its own structure of global governance, and it must develop in that direction. I do not know, whether that could be accomplished in the context of growing counteraction from the West, but we have to keep working.”

Because the BRICS is a global organization, Toloraya concludes, “these five leading ascendant powers could create a world order that will be more just and balanced than what we see now.” It may not expand yet, but “what we see in the BRICS+ format, which is involving the largest countries that are not the group’s members, but show interest in it, is a significant step towards increasing the BRICS value and making this union a representative of the greater part of humanity.” On the eve of the Johannesburg summit, he concludes, BRICS is not {against}, but {for}: for just economic development conditions, for sustainable development concept centered on human beings.”

Transaqua: Pan-African Project “Necessary to Restore Peace and Security in the Lake Chad”

“China’s deal with Italian firms will rescue Lake Chad”

What is Transaqua?

Last June, in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Chinese construction giant PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica SpA signed a deal about a regeneration project of Lake Chad.

The agreement includes carrying out feasibility studies on transferring water from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo to replenish Lake Chad.

Due to less rainfall and increased irrigation, the Lake’s area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometres to just 2,000 square kilometres. Other factors, include an influx of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram, have contributed to increased demand.

The proposed major water diversion scheme would involve channeling a small percentage of water from River Congo towards the north via a navigable canal.

Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission explained that the Pan-African project is “necessary to restore peace and security in the Lake Chad region and for the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin.”

Map showing Lake Chad and River Congo.

Courtesy of Schiller Institute. The Transaqua project aims to move water from River Congo to Lake Chad. Schiller Institute. Schiller Institute Schiller Institute

He also highlighted that the movement of the water could feasibly be used to create hydro-electricity, as well as boosting regional trade, creating new economic infrastructure like river ports, and making new agro-industrial zones.

How is China involved?

PowerChina, a large state-owned enterprise in China that built the Three Gorges Dam, has committed US$1.8 million to finance to research studies for the initial stages of Transaqua.

The canal will effectively create a New Silk Road to Lake Chad and there are plans to have a service road and eventually a rail line run alongside the waterway, creating more infrastructure and access.

This is in keeping with the values of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Wang Hao, from the Chinese Embassy in Germany speaking at the Schiller Institute’s Development of Nations Conference, explained China’s decision to put forward the Belt and Road initiative.

He spoke of how China has learned from its own experience how important transport facilities are for the development of the economy. He quoted the Chinese saying: “To get rich, you must build a road first.” This is at the core of the Belt and Road initiative – infrastructure supports economy recovery and strength.

He highlighted that China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway, with 25,000 kilometres. This infrastructure laid “a solid foundation for the rapid development of China’s economy”.

Facilities connectivity is one of the priorities of the Belt and Road initiative as China believes proper infrastructure is at the basis of economic development. This in part illuminates the reason behind China’s investment into Transaqua.

Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said Africa can become the next China if it invests in the Transaqua infrastructure with the support and partnership of China and Europe.

With investment so far of US$1.8 million from China and US$2.5 million from Italy, this project could “launch Africa on the road to economic growth, human security, industrialisation, peace, development and the attainment of the dreams of Pan-African leaders” such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, who first proposed the project in 1964.

Interview With Lawrence Freeman: The Time is Now For TRANSAQUA-to Save Lake Chad and Transform Africa

Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.

Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman

Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.

You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.

 

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord

L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.

The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.

Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?

L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.

Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.

image: The Schiller Institute

The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

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Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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Chinese Engagement, Investment and Trade With Africa

China’s New Silk Road–Belt and Road Imitative is providing indispensable investment and construction of infrastructure in Africa. Infrastructure development in energy, railways, roads, airports, and water management are critical for African nations to develop their agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Below are excerpts from the report: “The Belt and Road” in Africa 

Read entire report

“China’s close engagement with Africa continued through the succeeding decade and accelerated toward the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s. By 2008, China’s Export-Import Bank was funding more than 300 projects in 36 countries across Africa. The value of bilateral trade increased from US$6.5 billion in 1999 to US$73.3 billion in 2007 (Figure 1). According to the China-Africa Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University, by 2008 it exceeded US$100 billion, and it peaked at more than US$200 million in 2014, before slipping back in 2015 and 2016 in response to poorer global economic conditions. In 2009, China overtook the United States as Africa’s major trading partner. The largest African exporter to China from Africa in 2015 was South Africa, followed by Angola and Sudan. In the same year, South Africa was the largest African market for Chinese goods, followed by Nigeria and then Egypt.”

“In 2015, China investments into African infrastructure projects were three times the sum of those of France, Japan, Germany and India combined (Figure 7). The bulk of Chinese funding has been in the form of government-to-government loans, used then by the borrowing African governments either to develop the project itself, or to leverage it with private capital through a public-private partnership (PPP). As of the date of writing (late 2017), at least 76 PPP projects appear to be in the pipeline in African countries associated with BRI. Not all have values ascribed, but the 14 that do imply a cumulative investment of nearly US$6 billion for them alone. Sixty percent of these projects are in the transport sector.”

 

Nigeria Wisely Collaborating with China in Railway Development

This report by the United States Institute of Peace provides a useful overview of current and future rail projects for Nigeria. Hard infrastructure in rail, energy, and water management provide an essential platform for real economic growth. China understands this principle as demonstrated in the expansion of the New Silk Road across the globe. It is a credit to President Buhari that has taken leadership in collaborating with China to build a modern rail system in Nigeria that will connect the entire nation.

“China’s Role in Nigerian Railway Development and Implications for Security and Development”

April 18, 2018

“The Economic Benefits of Railway Investment”
    “Railway development has been featured in China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative across Eurasia and East Africa. In Eurasia, as in Africa, Beijing emphasizes the contribution of the BRI to peace by promoting the development and prosperity that come from economic connectivity. Railways are an integral part of this formula. The intrinsic advantages of railways over road networks lie in their economies of scale: railways need less  frequent maintenance and have higher speed and efficiency over long-distance routes, making them a highly advantageous low-cost option for freight traffic and offering huge potential for trade promotion.
     “Railway development also has positive spillover effects for complementary industries in upstream manufacturing supply chains, such as steel and construction materials, and generates demand for retail and services, all of which promote employment. A central trunk corridor would open up agricultural and mining industries in the middle-belt and plateau states. Likewise, the development of the western Lagos-Kano corridor would benefit northern  cattle and leather industries, which are currently disadvantaged against cheap imports given the costs of transport.”  (excerpted from USIP report)                              ‘

Read entire report

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Floating Energy Plants Will Help Light-Up Africa

Turkish floating power plant will supply 150 megawatts of power to Sudan’s national energy grid

Turkish floating plant starts power supply to Sudan

By Huseyin Erdogan

ANKARA

Turkey’s floating power plant, the Karadeniz powership Rauf Bey, started electricity production in Sudan, a member of the Istanbul-based Karadeniz Energy Group, Karpowership, announced Tuesday.

The powership, which has 180 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, will supply 150 MW of power to Sudan’s national energy grid.

The plant is important for the stability of the country’s national grid as it caters for the country’s increased energy demand.

The company announced on April 27 that it signed an electricity production and sales agreement with Sudan’s electricity company, STPGC.

Karpowership is the sole owner, operator and builder of the first powership fleet in the world. Since 2010, 15 powerships have been completed with total installed capacity exceeding 2,800 MW.

An additional 5,000 MW of powerships are either under construction or in the pipeline.

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African nations desperately need energy to develop their economies, build industries, and to expand their agriculture and manufacturing sectors. With hundreds of additional gigawatts of power, the continent can be transformed; hunger and poverty can be eradicated . Energy is an essential category of infrastructure that every nations needs to achieve higher levels of economic growth. Africa should have nuclear energy, and floating nuclear power plants can contribute to supplying power to the continent. I have been advocating this idea for decades, and now its time has come!

New Era of Floating Nuclear Plants Begins

May 22, 2018—With great ceremony, the Russian city of Murmansk welcomed the floating nuclear plant Akademik Lomonosov on May 19. The plant had traveled from St. Petersburg where it was built. It will receive its supply of nuclear fuel in Murmansk, and then proceed to the Arctic circle town of Pevek, where it will begin to supply power to the population of approximately 50,000 people in the area next year.

New Era of Floating Nuclear Plants Begins

Russia’s floating nuclear plant, the Akademik Lomonosov

Constructed by the state nuclear power firm, Rosatom, the 144×30 meter, 21,000-ton barge holds two 35-MW nuclear reactors similar to those used to power Russian icebreaker ships. The barge can produce enough electricity to power a town of 200,000 residents, far more than the 5,000 who live in Pevek, Russia’s northernmost town.

Small, portable nuclear reactors have long been employed by the U.S. Navy, and presumably other militaries as well, but previous attempts to produce them for civilian purposes have met with sabotage. The United States actually did have such a plant in operation in Panama in the late 1960s, but it is being dismantled, and plans for production for use off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States were ditched in the 1970s. This, despite the nuclear Navy’s sterling safety record, and the obvious advantages of such plants for isolated areas suffering from a lack of electric power.

Among the obvious places crying out for such a deployment is Puerto Rico, which has now suffered the second-longest electricity blackout in history. (The longest was in the Philippines in 2013.) At least 20,000 homes in Puerto Rico still lack electricity as a result of Hurricane Maria (which hit last September), and a new hurricane season is about to begin. Indeed, the “repaired” system is so fragile that most of the Island was plunged into darkness about a month ago, as a result of a contractor accident.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry actually mooted the possibility of using small modular nuclear reactors to reach remote places in Puerto Rico last fall. But despite a verbal commitment to nuclear energy, the Trump Administration’s embrace of deregulation has so far been unable to halt the whittling away of the mainland nuclear fleet, much less been able to initiate the nuclear renaissance which is needed to move the U.S. economy into the next level of productivity.

The American System of Economics rests firmly on a commitment to constant increases in scientific progress and productivity, of which nuclear fission and fusion are prime examples

The Legacy of British Colonialism in South Africa Today

The article below discusses the problem of the denial of land ownership to South Africans that was imposed by the British Imperialist Empire. A similar British colonial policy of denying land ownership to native Africans existed in Zimbabwe. After the failure by the US and UK to honor the 1980 Lancaster House Agreement to financially support the transfer of land, President Mugabe took matters into his own hands, and gave fertile land held by white Rhodesians to black Zimbabweans. This led to various efforts of regime change against President Mugabe instigated  by the UK. Providing equitable land ownership in South Africa could cause a deeper crisis than in Zimbabwe. The transfer of  farm land under consideration in South Africa does not include the land containing trillions of dollars of valuable mineral resources that are still owned by the London based financial and commodity cartels. 

“This Land Is Our Land”

South Africa’s ruling party has failed to redistribute land to the black majority for over two decades. Can the new president defuse a ticking time bomb?

By Lungisile Ntsebeza-May 3, 2018

For almost 24 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) supported a land reform program that was based on a willing-seller, willing-buyer policy. The policy required the consent of both the seller and buyer for the purchase of the land, with the consequence that sellers, almost exclusively white, would determine which land they wanted to sell. After decades of ignoring criticism of that policy, the ANC’s leadership has changed tack, at least rhetorically. It is now advocating a radical policy of land expropriation without compensation.

The unresolved land question in South Africa is a time bomb. One out of every two South Africans was classified as “poor” in 2015, with the poverty rate increasing to 55.5 percent from a low of 53.2 percent in 2011. This translated into more than 30 million out of 55 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015. Ongoing struggles for housing in urban areas and grazing in rural areas reveal the full extent of the country’s poverty crisis. The ANC government now seems to realize that for both its survival as a ruling party and the preservation of democracy, something drastic must be done to reverse the vast inequalities that plague land ownership in South Africa.

When the ANC came to power in 1994, it inherited a deeply uneven playing field. For more than a century, land ownership, access, and use of land had been determined by race. This was the direct result of European colonialism and the arrival of white settlers who violently dispossessed indigenous black Africans of their land. Early settlers established “native” reserves for blacks and, in 1913, the white-led government of the Union of South Africa passed legislation restricting the black majority to just 7 percent of South Africa’s territory, which by then was already overcrowded and overgrazed. This paltry percentage of the land was increased to 13 percent in 1936, a situation that prevailed until the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994.

Even after being relegated to faraway reserves, black South Africans often did not actually own their land. The state owned most of the land in the rural areas of the former reserves, granting only rights of occupation to its residents, rather than the freehold title deeds that were common for white landowners. While white colonialists
were initially committed to promoting a class of African farmers in the reserves, they changed their minds in the late 19th century, when minerals and gold were discovered throughout the country. They saw rural areas, including the reserves, as reservoirs of cheap labor to stimulate capitalist development. Lacking adequate land, black Africans were forced to sell their labor, cheaply, in the booming gold and diamond mines across the country, as well as on farms and as workers in the emerging white-controlled towns and cities.

Meanwhile, in the native reserves (later rechristened as “Bantustans”) the administration of land was in the hands of compliant state-appointed “headmen.” Having fought wars with tribal chiefs, colonialists appointed headmen as administrators of land whenever they defeated chiefs. With the advent of apartheid in 1948, chieftainship was revived — and only chiefs who were prepared to execute the apartheid government’s policies were appointed.

Although headmen and chiefs did not own the land, colonialists and the apartheid state officials made chiefs and headmen their gatekeepers by giving them land allocation powers and tremendous authority that came with it; no rural resident could be allocated land without the approval of chiefs and headmen….

When Nelson Mandela became president of a democratic South Africa in 1994, this is the deeply unequal system he inherited.

Soon after taking power, Mandela’s ANC adopted a land reform program that had three components: land restitution for those who lost their rights in 1913, land redistribution to redress racial imbalances in ownership of commercial land, and land tenure to protect the rights of farm workers and dwellers, labor tenants and those residing in the of the former Bantustans.

Read  the full article in Foreign Policy magazine: This Land is Our Land

 

 

Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Franklin Roosevelt and Kwame Nkrumah Would Concur

In 1943, after having flown over the Sahara Desert on his way to a Casablanca conference with Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt remarked to his son Elliott, that with the recreation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes?  It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”

Later in the trip, FDR made Winston Churchill apoplectic by discussing plans for anti-imperialist development with the Sultan of Morocco, including mooting American aid in providing the resources to train indigenous scientists and engineers to develop the nation.

FDR’s American System vision for African development was not taken up in the post-war era, but his outlook was echoed by at least two prominent statesmen of the next generation from very different backgrounds—Kwame Nkrumah and President John F. Kennedy. It was no mere coincidence that twenty years later, when Ghanaian President Nkrumah addressed the Organization of African Unity, he would also speak about the “possibility for the Sahara to bloom.” Nkrumah’s vision also would be temporarily crushed.

But today, finally, FDR’s and Nkrumah’s dream is beginning to be realized. A giant step toward greening the desert, and defeating the miserable living conditions which go with it, was taken this February, when a meeting of several African heads of state decided to go ahead with a massive project of water engineering called Transaqua. Although proceeding without American government backing, this project is truly in the spirit of American System development, a long-term investment in transforming the physical environment for the benefit of the general welfare.

It is with that in mind that we present this report by an American who does understand the American System, and has worked persistently for several decades to bring its benefits to Africa.—Nancy Spannaus

The Abuja Conference

After two months, the deliberations from the “International Conference on Saving Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018 are still reverberating, and will continue to do so. This historic conference, the first of its kind to be convened on the African continent, was initiated and sponsored by the Nigerian government in conjunction with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), and supported by the United Nations. It has already begun to change the thinking of what is possible for Africa’s future.

From across the globe, hundreds of water experts, hydrologists, scientists, political leaders, advocates for Lake Chad, the African Union, the Africa Development Bank, and the World Bank, joined the heads of state of the Lake Chad Basin nations for three days of deliberation on the best policy to recharge the contracting Lake Chad.

Having served as an advisor to the LCBC and participated in several discussions with the Nigerian government on the necessity for an inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad, this author was given a prominent role throughout the entire proceeding, addressing the gathering several times in various capacities. (Written remarks by me were also circulated at the conference and to the press.)

Read entire the article: Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur

 

Africa Collaboration With China’s Silk Road Good for the Continent

Nigeria And China Are In Dialogue On The Belt And Road Initiative

–The Round Table Dialogue held recently in Abuja, organized by the Center for China Studies and chaired by Nigeria’s former Foreign Minister and former ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, discussed the strategy of connectivity across countries, and within countries. The Belt and Road Initiative will spawn an elaborate network of land, rail and maritime transport arteries and industrial clusters along its now-inclusive global routes, Charles Onunaiju wrote in his article, Nigeria and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, published in “The Sun” on March 28.

“The dialogue recognized that the core feature of the Belt and Road, which is essentially connectivity, is at the heart of the contemporary challenge of Africa, and therefore urged Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, to play decisive roles in the mechanism of the Belt and Road by appropriate policy engagement.”

The Deputy Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Li Jing, speaking on that occasion, said “the continent’s development agendas are therefore in synergy with the Belt and Road initiative, and there is no doubt that Africa and Nigeria, through appropriate policy facilitation, could align to the central features of the Belt and Road to advance her modernization and industrialization.”

Belt and Road Initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Area Provide Opportunities in Africa, Says a World Bank Officer

–In an article in the “Daily Nation” of Kenya, Peter Warutere, a communications officer for the World Bank based in Nairobi, said the condition created by the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) “presents a window of opportunity for African

countries to transform their economies, achieve rapid growth, and create jobs for their burgeoning youth population.”

He also wrote that “Kenya is well positioned to greatly benefit from the AfCFTA and the development of the Indian Ocean maritime route connecting China with the East African coastline.

The gateway to eastern Africa, Kenya should invest heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and industrial capacity. The window of opportunity for it is to become a vibrant industrial and logistics hub for Sino-African trade, investment and exchange.”

Kenya’s Secretary of National Treasury, Henry Rotich, said his government hopes China will help to make Kenya’s Big Four economic agenda a success. The Big Four agenda consists of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable health care, Prensa Latina reports. “We want the Chinese private sector to participate in projects related with this agenda,” the Secretary said.

‘Nuclear Could Turn Zambia into a Regional Food Basket’

–That is the plan, by the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and the Agriculture Ministry, with help from Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency. An article under that headline yesterday by the African News Agency describes how for Zambia, and most of Africa, nuclear technology can dramatically improve food availability and nutrition on the continent.

An agreement has been signed with Rosatom for the establishment of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology in Lusaka, which will help prepare Zambia for nuclear power in the future. Zambia suffers power rationing between 8 and 14 hours per day when water is low at its hydroelectric dams. But immediately, the application of nuclear science and technology will be in agriculture.

Crops that are resistant to disease, able to withstand environmental stresses, such as drought, and produce higher yields are developed by using nuclear radiation to change the genetic makeup of plants. Zambia is developing new crop varieties with these characteristics, which will not only improve the nutrition of the population, but also the lives of the farmers.

Nuclear radiation will also be used for preserving food, using radioactive isotopes. This will immediately increase the food supply. A large percentage of the food produced, especially

in developing countries, never reaches the dinner table. For example, 40% of the fish produced globally rots before it can be eaten. Zambia will be able to join the 60 nations in the world that currently preserve food through irradiation.

Other applications of nuclear technology in agriculture will be for pest and disease control, inspection of the quality and quantity of water resources, and soil conservation.

The Zambia Agriculture Ministry is running multiple research projects in various fields to up-shift agriculture. With the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, they will have new tools

Benin President Wants China To Build Rail Project

–President Patrice Talon of the West African nation of Benin has asked the French giant Bolloré and a local firm to “withdraw” from a rail infrastructure project so that China could take over the project, according to an interview Talon gave to the French business magazine {Challenges}, published yesterday.

Benin and neighboring Niger have been attempting to link the Benin port of Cotonou with Niger’s capital, Niamey, since 2008.

Talon described the Bolloré offer as “lower-end,” saying that “a private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone.” Talon also said that “China has the necessary financial means” to support the project, expected to cost around $4 billion and pointed out that “China has demonstrated its technical know-how” for building infrastructure in Africa.

Joint Projects Are a Testament to Cameroon’s Trust in China, Says President, Visiting Beijing

–Cameroon President Paul Biya is on a three-day state visit to China, and, as President Xi Jinping

pointed out, he is the first head of state to come to China since President Xi’s reelection. The two presidents met yesterday. President Biya stated that relations between the two countries has stood the test of time, and that China has become one of Cameroon’s strategic development partners. Without listing all of their specific joint projects, President Biya said that they are a testament to the trust that Cameroon has in China.

This afternoon, Biya met with China’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, of the Standing Committee of yhe National People’s Congress, during which they discussed further bilateral relations in the future. Li said China is willing to have more friendly exchanges with Cameroon’s parliament, and expressed hope that both countries would support each other on political issues. More people-to-people exchanges were also discussed.

In turn, Biya “spoke highly of China’s foreign policy,” Xinhua reports, and said he appreciated China’s long-term support for Cameroon.

Africa Should Learn From China, Advises South African Scientist

–Africa should learn from China’s rapid advances in education, science, and technology to solve socio-economic challenges, said South African scientist Neil Turok. He is the founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. Turok made his remarks yesterday at the opening of the Next Einstein Forum, being held in Rwanda. There are about 1,600 participants at the conference, which takes place March 26-28, and at least half are under the age of 42, {xinhua} reports.
“China has invested heavily in education, science, and technology,” the scientist said, “and the results are amazing. China is emerging as a new global science and technology powerhouse.” He called upon all African countries to focus, prioritize, and promote science and technology for solving economic challenges.