Africa Advancing With Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Long-Term Impact on African Countries

Dr. Alexander Demissie of Ethiopia, an expert in China-Africa relations, spoke in Germany, November 26, 2017.

Below are excerpts from an excellent presentation by Dr. Demissie on the increasingly productive relationship between China and Africa to develop the continent’s infrastructure, which Europe and the Unites States have refused to do.

‘My third point: the BRI is primarily an infrastructural undertaking. We don’t yet have political institutionalization. We have infrastructural ideas. We have corridors, but we don’t yet have political institutions. So, if we talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or the Silk Road Bank, these are just connected
to infrastructure; they are not political ideas.

“Interestingly, this idea fits perfectly into the current African need—infrastructure development. Africa wants infrastructure, going back here to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 strategic framework that has also, coincidentally, been coming up. Together with the BRI, Africa wants a good infrastructure connection, a good internal interconnectivity. So, the idea of the BRI coming from China is perfectly fitting into the idea—actually happening or being discussed—within the African continent.

“China has also been very clear since Johannesburg in 2015 that they want to cooperate more with Africa more on infrastructural projects that create regional connectivity. That is where the BRI comes in. That’s why I mentioned earlier that the BRI is primarily an infrastructure topic.

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Putin and El-Sisi Sign Economic Deals in Cairo; Russia To Build Nuclear Power Four-Plant Complex for Egypt

December 11, 2017–Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement to construct Egypt’s first nuclear plant, which will be followed by construction of three more. Costing $21 billion, the porject is scheduled to be finished by 2028-2029.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They discussed economic matters, energy, and politics, as well as the possibility of resuming air travel between Russia and Egypt, which was suspended in November 2015 after the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai in what is believed to have been an act of terrorism.

President Putin stated, “I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead.”

President al-Sisi responded, “Since the 1950s and ’60s, Russia has always supported Egypt and still supports our country: both with metallurgical plants and the construction of the Aswan Dam, and today we will sign a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant.”

The preliminary agreement between the countries was signed in 2015; a loan from Russia will cover 85 percent of the construction costs. Russia’s Rosatom will service the complex’s four reactors for 60 years, its chairman Aleksey Likhachyov said today, RT reported. Representatives of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation and Russian universities have recently visited Egyptian universities to prepare engineering students to work at the Daba nuclear power plant in the future. The Russian delegation gave a number of presentations at the Russian Center for Culture and Science in Cairo.

One day after Eyptian President El-Sisi and Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of a deal for the construction of four Russian reactors in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, it is reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has already begun a study at the El Nagila site, which takes about three years, to see if it is suitable for the construction of four nuclear plants, according to sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity. The study will be carried out parallel with the construction at the Dabaa site, where the first reactor is scheduled to come on-line in 2026. When that plant is complete, it will become only the second country in Africa, following South Africa, to have a nuclear power plant.

The {Daily News Egypt} reports that Egypt has signed protocols and MOUs with 10 countries for cooperation in nuclear energy, to help with training and the utilization of expertise in reactor management, and security, safety, and the possibility to provide formal advisory services to the EAEA

Africa’s Ports Revolution: Railway Ports of the East

This an informative article written on February 23. 2017, reporting on the exciting potential for the developments of Africa’s East coast ports with railroad connections to the interior of the continent. 

The population of Africa is presently 1.2 billion and growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, more than twice that of any other continent. In two years’ time, it will gain the population of the UK; in 12 years of compounded growth it will gain the population of China.

All these extra people may add dynamism to economies, but only if the increase in labour supply can be matched by an equivalent increase in economic activity; otherwise,  rising population density may destabilise social and political systems – an effect already seen in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This challenge has led to a different pattern of development for ports on Africa’s east coast, compared to the west coast. In the west, the centres served by these ports are close by, sometimes right outside the port gate. In east Africa, by contrast, they are between 500km and 1,000km away, and most of the infrastructure needed to reach them has not yet been built. In the case of the Doraleh container terminal at Djibouti, the goal is the Ethiopian highlands and the valley of the White Nile at Khartoum, a cluster roughly equivalent to the population of Japan. In East Africa, a similar-sized population is grouped in the Great Lakes states, South Sudan and the DRC. All of these centres, with the marginal exception of the DRC, are landlocked.

Their ability to attract investment and benefit from globalisation depends, among other things, on having efficient rail, road and pipeline links to the Indian Ocean “transit  states” of Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

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Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa Moving Forward: What Will US Policy Be?

UN Envoy Haley Off to Africa While McCain and Graham Thump for More War

October 21, 2017–In all the controversy that has arisen around the deaths, earlier this month, of four U.S. Green Berets in Niger, the question that nobody seems to be able to answer is what is U.S. policy in Africa. The Trump Administration hasn’t spelled out a strategic concept, beyond giving U.S. military forces looser rules of engagement to go after terrorists. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will be the first member of the Trump Administration to actually visit Africa when she travels to South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo next week. Her mission, announced by President Trump last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, is officially to review UN peace-keeping activities on the continent, but she may go ‘off-mission’ and freelance on policy.

       Back in Washington, the Senate Armed Services Committee is growing increasingly frustrated with what they say is a lack of information flowing from the Pentagon on the Niger attack, but the Committee clearly has war-making on its mind as well. Members of the Committee met with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, after which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the Trump Administration plans to step up its counter-terrorism operations and loosen its military rules of engagement. “The war is morphing,” Graham said, reported {Politico}. “You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House, but out in the field, and I support that entire construct.

       “So the rules of engagement are going to change when it comes to counter-terrorism operations,” he said

Ethiopia to Inaugurate Two Industrial Parks

October 21, 2017 – The Adama and Dire Dawa industrial parks, whose construction was launched in 2016, will be inaugurated at the end of this month, reports Ethiopian News Agency. The industrial parks will specialize in textile, apparel, and agro-processing and will increase the number of parks with similar sector to five next to Hawassa, Mekele and Kombolcha, according to Ethiopian Investment commission.

The industrial park in Hawassa, which was inaugurated last year, started operation. Companies have also shown keen interest to open shop at the recently inaugurated industrial parks in Mekele and Kombolcha.

The government spent about USD 315 million to develop the two industrial parks, deputy commissioner in charge of Industrial Parks, Belachew Mekuria  (PhD), said.

As Adama and Dire Dawa are in close proximity to the Port of Djibouti, it expected that they will contribute to the facilitation of foreign trade for the country.

The parks are expected to further strengthen industrial development in the country by facilitating the way in fulfilling its vision of becoming manufacturing hub in Africa.

Nigeria Should Join the AIIB to Muster Funds for its Infrastructure Development

October 19, 2017–Addressing a forum organized by the Center for China Studies to mark the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and its implications for the Sino-Africa cooperation, held in Abuja, Nigeria, on Oct. 18, Director of the Center for China Studies, Charles Onunaiju urged the Nigerian government “to become a member of the AIIB, as many countries of the world, especially in developing countries, have accessed funds for infrastructure development from the bank,” {Business Day} reported. He also pointed out that there is a desperate need for infrastructure development in Nigeria, and lack of funds is a major reason why the country’s infrastructure has remained inadequate.

          Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by Mohammed Usman (APC-Kaduna), said, “China today is our important partner that has been supporting us, and indeed Africa, in our development strides. Nigeria and China have been cooperating in numerous areas such as in agriculture, education, finance, infrastructure and solid minerals,” Business Day reported.

          “It is in the light of this that we believe the 2017 National Congress of the Communist Party of China will most assuredly provide another opportunity to consolidate on the gains of the on-going bilateral relations between Nigeria and China in particular and Sino-African Relations [in general],” the Speaker said

South African President Zuma Appoints Mahlobo as Energy Mininster To Push His Nuclear Power Generation Plan

 October 17, 2017– In a major cabinet reshuffle, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has appointed his confidant David Mahlobo to head the Energy Ministry, raising speculation that Zuma will push through the nuclear deal before his second term ends in 2019, Reuters reported today. Mahlobo was the former state security minister. South Africa is preparing to add 9,600 MW of nuclear capacity — equivalent to up to 10 nuclear reactors — in a contract that could be worth tens of billions of dollars and would be one of the biggest nuclear deals anywhere in decades.

          Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, including bringing in Mahlobo as the new Energy Minister, Lawson Naidoo of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) said: “This is all about the nuclear deal. Mahlobo has accompanied the President on visits to Russia, presumably to lay the ground for the Rosatom nuclear deal,” according to coverage by Fin24 business site. CASAC is a private outfit which is critical of Zuma and his politics.

          What agitated the anti-nuclear cabal in South Africa further were two events occurring within days. These were: Last Friday’s nuclear site authorization and now today’s cabinet changes, including Energy Minister Mahlobo. On Friday, Oct. 13, Department of Environmental Affairs approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Nuclear-1 Power Station and its associated infrastructure, and has authorized the South African electricity utility Eskom to proceed with the construction of new 4 GW nuclear power plant complex at Duynefontein in the Western Cape.

          Nuclear reactor makers including Rosatom, South Korea’s Kepco, France’s EDF and Areva, Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and China’s CGN are eyeing the South African project, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars, Reuters reported