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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Western Institutions Need to be Reformed

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

The steady demise of the Group of Seven

OPINIONS
By William Jones
2018-06-07

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

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

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

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Russia into the G7 “club”, at least into their political discussions, lasted only a short amount of time before it was rescinded.

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

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

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

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

Washington Post on June 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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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China’s Progress and ‘Belt and Road’: New Global Dynamic

“When China Eliminates Poverty in 2020, Beijing Will Have Proved That the Developing World Doesn’t Need US “Aid”

June 3, 2018

“No country in history has lifted as large a number of people out of poverty as China has done, beginning in the late 20th century. At the turn of the 1980s, over 88% of all Chinese were living in poverty according to the international definition of having an average daily income of $1.90 or less. Today, China’s poverty rate hovers around 2% of the entire population or 30 million people. This poverty is now entirely confined to rural areas. By contrast, in the United States, poverty while mostly in rural areas, is also spread among impoverished inner-cities…

“While some remain skeptical about China’s ability to eliminate poverty by the end of 2020, the record clearly shows that when it comes to tackling issues of extreme poverty in an extremely short period of time, China is not only able to achieve its goals but is able to do so in ways that put other countries to shame. While the poverty rate in the US has stagnated for decades, with the rate being 12.4% at the end of the 1970s with a slight increase to 13.7% at the end of the 1980s, China has dramatically gone from a state of near total poverty to the brink of eliminating all poverty in that same period.

“With China lifting an average of 13 million people out of poverty each year in the last five years, President Xi’s goal of progressively eliminating poverty for 10 million rural poor each year until poverty is fully eliminated at the turn of 2021, is ultimately a realistic goal, albeit one with seismic implications.”

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African Countries Meet On Using Yuan as Reserve Currency

May 30, 2018–A meeting of seventeen central bank and government officials from 14 countries in eastern and southern Africa met in Harare, Zimbabwe on May 29-30 to discuss the possibility of using the yuan as a reserve currency, Xinhua reported on May 29. The meeting was sponsored by the Macroeconomic and Financial Management Institute of Eastern and Southern Africa (MEFMI). They quote Gladys Siwela-Jadagu, spokesperson for MEFMI, saying that most MEFMI countries have received loans or grants from China and it would “make economic sense” to repay them in yuan. She said that the yuan has become a ‘common currency’ in trade with Africa.    Xinhua notes that China’s trade with South Africa surged by 14.7 percent on a yearly basis in the first four months this year

UN Official Lauds Belt and Road as `Grand Design for the Future’

May 29, 2018 — UN Under-Secretary Shamshad Akhtar, speaking to {China Daily} May 28, praised the Belt and Road Initiative of infrastructure great projects as “an initiative on a more integrated frame, [and] of a scale, that no one has talked about before.” Akhtar is executive secretary of the UN’s Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific.

“China leads the regional cooperation and the integration of Asia, with its Belt and Road Initiative strengthening intra-and intercontinental ties,” she told {China Daily}, on the sidelines of the Shanghai Forum at Fudan University. “It’s a grand design. Moving the Belt and Road Initiative forward not only connects Asia internally, but bridges it closer to Europe and Africa.”

She said, “Over the years, China’s shift from quietly forging bilateral relationships, to building multilateral and broad.”-based diplomatic structure has underscored its commitment to deepening its footprint in regional cooperation and integration.

 

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)
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Read entire report

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Zimbabwe Joins China’s Silk Road

“Zimbabwe embraces ample cooperation opportunities following Mnangagwa’s trip to China”

Source: Xinhua   2018-04-10

By Zhang Yuliang, Gretinah Machingura

HARARE, April 9 (Xinhua) — Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa concluded his five-day state visit to China last Friday, giving substantial impetus to future cooperation between the two nations.

The trip was Mnangagwa’s first outside Africa since taking over from former leader Robert Mugabe last November, and resulted in the two countries deepening political and economic ties.

During the visit, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his counterpart Mnangagwa agreed to establish comprehensive strategic partnership of cooperation between the two countries.

Xi said the Zimbabwean people have started a new journey in building their country since Mnangagwa took office last November.

“As a good friend, partner and brother of Zimbabwe, we are glad to see that,” Xi told Mnangagwa.

When meeting with Mnangagwa, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Zimbabwe is an important partner of China in Africa and China will continue to uphold the principles of sincerity, friendship and equality, and bring new vitality to the traditional friendship between China and Zimbabwe.

China is ready to work with Zimbabwe to give full play to the complementary advantages of both economies, innovate cooperation methods and deepen cooperation in infrastructure construction, agriculture, production capacity and human resources, said Premier Li.

On the economic front, China and Zimbabwe managed to strike deals worth billions of U.S. dollars for implementation of various infrastructure development projects in energy, water, transport, tourism and telecommunications, among other sectors, Chinese economic and commercial counsellor to Zimbabwe Li Yaohui told Xinhua.

The two countries also signed numerous agreements to advance economic cooperation, skills development, education and other facets of the economy, the counsellor said.

Among major deals Zimbabwe finalized with China is the expansion of Hwange Thermal Power Station by 600 megawatts by China’s Sinohydro.

Funds for the 1 billion U.S. dollars project, which has been in pipeline for some years now, are expected to be released immediately, the counsellor said.

With this latest deal, China is emerging as the top investor in Zimbabwe’s energy sector after the government, two weeks ago, commissioned another Chinese-built-and-funded power expansion project at Kariba South Hydro Power Station.

The expansion project, which added two 150-megawatt units to the power plant, was also done by Sinohydro at a cost of 533 million dollars.

The expansion lifted Kariba’s installed capacity from 750 MW to 1,050 MW, making it currently the country’s biggest power plant.

The completion of Kariba expansion and implementation of the vast Hwange Thermal Power project will greatly boost Zimbabwe’s power supplies and help the country, which faces perennial power shortages, be energy self-sufficient.

Li Yaohui said that other mega projects sealed by Mnangagwa in China are for the expansion of Harare Robert Mugabe International Airport, construction of a new parliament building, network expansion for Zimbabwe state-owned mobile firm NetOne, refurbishment of Harare’s water treatment plant and construction of a pharmaceutical warehouse, among others.

The two countries also signed a tourism memorandum of understanding and an economic and technological cooperation agreement.

During his stay in China, Mnangagwa also visited Anhui and Zhejiang and met with the political leadership and business communities from the two provinces, Li Yaohui said.

Mnangagwa, who was accompanied by several cabinet ministers and business leaders, said a lot of achievements were made from the state visit. He described the China trip as historic and a resounding success.

“Today, I conclude my first historic visit which will help bring further crucial momentum to our economy. We had many fruitful discussions with political and business leaders in China, including President Xi Jinping, and secured a host of deals which will make a real difference to the lives of Zimbabweans,” he said in a Facebook post at the end of his visit last Friday.

“They will focus on road, rail, air and dam construction projects…” he said.

In its editorial comment Monday, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said Zimbabwe-China ties had hit a new high following Mnangagwa’s visit.

“Major milestones were reached during President Mnangagwa’s meeting with Chinese officials. What is most important is that relations between Zimbabwe and China were elevated to comprehensive strategic status, a move that is set to change the bilateral cooperation between the two nations,” the newspaper said.

Another major milestone that came out of the Beijing visit was the incorporation of Zimbabwe into the Belt and Road Initiative where Zimbabwe stands to reap huge benefits by being part of the select group of countries that China is dealing with under the initiative, the paper added.

“Zimbabweans should celebrate President Emmerson Mnangagwa for convincing the Chinese to make the country a part of such a huge investment that is set to change the face of the world,” the newspaper said.

The trip bolstered Zimbabwe’s efforts to attract foreign investment to revitalize the economy that has been in the doldrums for many years.

Zimbabwe Opposition Campaigns with Anti-China Line

Zimbabwean opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is campaigning for the upcoming elections on an anti-Chinese line. This is not surprising, since on May 8 he will be the featured guest at Her Majesty’s Chatham House/Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. Chamisa tried to say that the Queen personally had invited him to London, which was immediately denied by the British Embassy in Harare.

Chamisa, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is quoted in the {Zimbabwe Mail} as saying: “We have seen the deals by Ngwenya [President Emmerson Mnangagwa] and with the Chinese and others. They are busy asset stripping and looting our resources, so I said, beginning September when I get into office, I will ask the Chinese to come in a queue, and interrogate their deals. We will send away all those with bad deals for Zimbabwe. We want genuine investment which will bring benefit for the people, not for the leadership only.”

The {Mail}, however, also quoted China-Africa analyst Cobus van Staden of the South African Institute of international Affairs telling Voice of America: “We’ve seen that kind of populist, anti-Chinese agitation in other African countries, too. The most famous one was in Zambia a few years ago, when [the] late President Michael Sata was campaigning under a similar kind of nationalist, anti-Chinese kind of message. But then, interestingly, after he came to power, that changed very quickly.

Because I think once one is power and one faces the reality of the investment environment and the relative influence of China in the whole world, then it becomes very difficult. That’s kind of campaign talk, I think, more than governing talk.”

Africa Advancing With Kenya’s New Mega Infrastructure RR

Kenya`s New Mega Infrastructure, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway

 

Below is my current course at Frederick Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County. I also teach a course, “Africa the Sleeping Giant” and will be teaching another course in the Fall, “The Legacy of 500 years of Slavery and Colonialism in Africa.”

“Eight Nations Vital to sub-Sahara Africa: Past & Present

“Learn about the important histories of eight African nations that helped shape the sub-Sahara continent including; Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe and South Africa, from slavery to the present. Students will learn how their unique history is reflected in today’s political-economic life of these nations.”

 

East-West Railroad Would Transform African Continent

This is an interesting and useful article. I have stressed for decades the urgent need to construct both an East-West and a South-North Railroad. A high-speed transport grid that Africa should have completed decades ago, is essential for the well-being and economic growth of Africa. Such a transportation network, integrated with several hundreds megawatts of electrical power, would create an infrastructure platform that would be transformative; producing the conditions for African nations to finally eliminate hunger and disease. These projects are possible now with the expansion China’s New Silk Road, initiated by President Xi Jinping, which has changed the strategic geometry of the world. For example. At the February Abuja conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’ at which I participated, the Head of States endorsed the mega Transaqua project; an inter-basin water transfer proposal to recharge Lake Chad. The Transaqua concept had been in circulation for over thirty years, but with no progress until ChinaPower become involved.  As I advised the participants at this conference: now is the time for Africans to think big!   

Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

The Jamestown Foundation-Publication: China Brief Volume: 18 Issue: 6

Map of a proposed trans-Africa highway network, ca. 2003 (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

African development hinges on a maddening paradox: its greatest asset—the sheer size and diversity of its landscape—is also the greatest barrier to its development. Landlocked countries are cut off from ports, and the difficulty of moving goods from country to country weighs down intra-continental trade (only 15% of African trade is within Africa. (African Development Bank, 2017) African consumers bear the brunt of these difficulties. [1]. Costs are driven up by a host of factors: tariffs, border delays, corruption. But the biggest challenge is that no streamlined transport route exists between West and East Africa – only a decaying and underdeveloped road and rail system which pushes up costs and drags down efficiency.

Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa’s east and west coasts, some of which are closer to full realization than others. Most notable in this respect is a plan to expand the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5) into a true cross-continental road and rail link, the early stages of which China has helped bring to fruition where Western consortiums failed. Likewise, Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may help create expanded sub-regional linkages, particularly in East Africa, that could help facilitate the emergence of an eventual, true East-West link in the long term. However, in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China’s involvement will be a panacea.

Read entire article: Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

Africa Updates: Ethiopia Attacked by US; Zimbabwe; Uganda; China; the Great Green Wall

US Congress Disgraces Itself in Vote Against The Nation of Ethiopia

–The US Congress displayed short-sightedness, and a lack of understanding about Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular when it foolishly voted up HR 128, condemning Ethiopia. Though it is only a resolution with no lawful consequences, it demonstrates how easily the US Congress can be manipulated, and how little they know about the progress Ethiopia has made in achieving significant levels of economic growth that benefit all its citizens. The irony is the that one week before the Congress embarrassed itself, the ruling EPRDF conducted a voluntary peaceful transition of government by selecting Abiy Ahmed from the Oromo community as their new young Prime Minister. There is no doubt that Ethiopia will remain a strong ally of the US, and will continue to pursue policies that have made Ethiopia a leader in economic growth on the Africa continent as they struggle to balance human rights with economic and social rights. (I will be writing more on this subject in the near future.)

Read about Ethiopia’s progress in providing jobs and growth for its people: Ethiopia Stands Poised to Lead an African Industrial Revolution

Ties between Zimbabwe and China Hit a New High, ‘Comprehensive’ Partnership Stressed

— An editorial in the Zimbabwe {Herald}, a daily that speaks for the government, hailed the “new high” in China-Zimbabwe relations following the official visit of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to China last week, where he met with President Xi Jinping as well as other Chinese officials.

The same vision was expressed to CGTN, April 8, by Ms. He Wenpeng, Africa Studies Director at the China Academy of Social Sciences, who said it marks a new era for Zimbabwe and Africa.

Last November, at a Schiller Institute international conference in Germany, He outlined what is ahead for Africa in linking up with the Belt and Road Initiative.

The {Herald} stressed that two major milestones were reached by the visit of the Mnangagwa delegation, which included 10 cabinet members as well as 80 businessmen. The first is that bilateral relations were elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Status, meaning that “China is demonstrating its willingness to boost trade with Zimbabwe and stimulate the country’s economic growth.” Zimbabwe will now profit by more Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure in which the Chinese have become experts.

The second milestone was the “incorporation of Zimbabwe into the Belt and Road Initiative. Not many people have cared to examine the benefits of this initiative, which is part of President Xi’s thought on the new economic trajectory China is taking. We reckon that Zimbabwe stands to reap huge benefits by being part of a select group of countries that China is dealing with under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

The editorial continues, describing the BRI as “the largest infrastructure development project, which will see more than a trillion dollars being invested across the globe…. Under this initiative, China will build massive infrastructure that will connect it to many countries around world, including Zimbabwe.

This will help facilitate trade and the transfer of capital, technology and expertise.

“The project is meant to create an economic cooperation framework with the countries involved that will bring real benefits to the people, making it ‘a belt of new opportunities.'”

The editorial urges Zimbabwe to take steps to “come up with laws, rules and regulations that govern foreign investment.” This new legislation should be clear and without “shifting of goalposts.”

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa: China Helps African Nations To Develop Faster

–In an interview, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with China’s CGTN Africa senior correspondent Tian Wei, in which he praised China’s effort to develop Africa and responded to some Western critics of China’s Africa policy. By building infrastructure, China increases connectivity among African economies, and thus it helps such economies to develop faster than their individual national efforts would allow, he said. To the specious criticism, raised by the West, that China is driving African nations into debt, President Mnangagwa laughed. “We got so many grants from China,” he first said. Then he explained that China is giving credit for capital investments which are accounted for in a capital budget and therefore do not increase national debt.

Asked what his political goal is, Mnangagwa replied that it is to lead his country to become a middle-income nation by 2040 and even an advanced country. At his next meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the China Africa Summit later this year, some of the projects they discussed will already be underway, so that they can talk about them, he said.

“For me as Zimbabwe’s President, national interest comes first: There is nothing China has done that threatens the independence or national interest of Zimbabwe. But Western countries have done a lot of things to threaten our unity and political economic sovereignty,”  Mnangagwa told her. Excerpts of the video interview:
https://eblnews.com/video/interview-emmerson-mnangagwa-371574

Uganda Plans To Develop Its Uranium Reserves, and Go Nuclear

–A six-man delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency has been in Uganda at that country’s request, to conduct a Site and External Events Design, or SEED mission. This inspection and consultation is designed to assist member states at different stages of nuclear development. The focus of the IAEA experts’ trip, is four uranium-rich districts in the country, which the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has identified for possible exploitation. Uganda’s Atomic Energy Council has developed a Nuclear Power Roadmap, which the government approved in 2015. Further down the line, an MOU has been signed with Russia for the peaceful application of atomic energy, and the country’s plan is for its first nuclear power plant in 2026.

The Uganda daily {Observer} reports that President Yoweri Museveni met with IAEA Director General Yuiya Amano in January to discuss Uganda’s nuclear ambitions, including in health, energy, and agriculture. Museveni, the article reports, has had to defend Uganda’s nuclear plans against critics, including at the UN Security Council, assuring them that countries like his will utilize their uranium reserves only for peaceful purposes. IAEA head Amano has been on a multi-nation tour of Africa, offering the IAEA’s assistance in their new nuclear programs.    Uganda is one of the 45 countries, including others in East Africa, including Kenya and Tanzania, that are planning to develop their uranium resources for nuclear power generation.

China Will Help Africa Green Its Deserts

–China has approved a project to offer technological support for the construction of Africa’s Great Green Wall, the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday. Proposed by the African Union in 2007, Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative aims to reverse desertification spreading drought, famine, and poverty through the Sahel region.

According to Lei Jiaqiang, director of the XIEG, China will cooperate with Mauritania, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, among other African countries, to systematically diagnose desertification and the technical needs in the region.

The project will bring China’s desertification-prevention and -control technologies, materials, and products to Africa, and conduct environmental adaptability assessments. It will also include personnel training and capacity building on anti-desertification measures in African countries. Some Chinese enterprises dealing with prevention and control of desertification will also participate in the project.

“We hope to bring China’s wisdom in anti-desertification to Africa and help enhance the capability of desertification prevention in African countries along the Great Green Wall,” Lei said.