Despite Claims From the West: Report Reveals That China’s Africa Infrastructure Projects are Reducing Economic Inequalities

 

China’s New Silk Road/Belt Road Initiative is developing many parts of the world with infrastructure that are yielding positive economic results .

Chinese Investments in Developing Sector Decrease Inequality

December 12, 2018

A study done by the AidData institute at William and Mary College in Virginia showed that China’s investments in the developing sector between 2000 and 2014, unlike many western investments, reduce economic inequality in the targeted countries.

Financed by the UN, the Singapore Ministry of Education, the German Research Foundation, USAID, and several other foundations, the study collected data on Chinese projects in 138 countries, concluding: “We find that Chinese development projects in general, and Chinese transportation projects in particular, reduce economic inequality within and between sub-national localities,” and “produce positive economic spillover that leads to a more equal distribution of economic activity.”

“Beijing has demonstrated that it is  both willing and able to address the unmet infrastructure financing needs of developing countries. These development projects—in particular, investments in highways, railways, roads, bridges, tunnels, and ports—could strengthen economic ties between rural and urban areas and thereby help to spread the benefits of economic growth to more remote and traditionally disadvantaged areas.”

“The findings from the study are encouraging: Chinese development projects—in particular, “connective infrastructure” projects like roads and bridges—are found to create a more equal distribution of economic activity within the provinces and districts where they were located.”

Read the article with a link to the report

 

 

Science and Technology Will Transform Africa: Ethiopia to Launch New Satellite in 2019

Finally, in recent years African nations and the African Union have embarked on the exciting and necessary use of space technology to advance their societies. Science and technology are the most fundamental drivers of economic growth. It is the discovery of new scientific principles of space that lead to breakthroughs in new technologies to transform the continent. For too long, Africa has been denied the “right” to use space science, and it no surprise that Ethiopia is in the leadership of this effort.

Ethiopia Will Have Its Own Remote Sensing Satellite, with Help from China

Nov. 27, 2018

Dawn breaks over a radio telescope dish of the KAT-7 Array pointing skyward at the proposed South African site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope near Carnavon in the country's remote Northern Cape province in this picture taken May 18, 2012. South Africa is bidding against Australia to host the SKA, which will be the world's largest radio telescope when completed. Picture taken May 18, 2012.

As reported yesterday by Reuters, the government of Ethiopia announced that Ethiopia would have an Earth remote sensing satellite built in China and launched in September 2019.

China would pay $6 million for the design and construction of the satellite and the launch, toward the $8 million total cost. {The EastAfrican} weekly newspaper and on-line site reported that the satellite will be launched from China, but the command and control center will be based in Ethiopia.

Although according to the Reuters wire, the satellite will be used for “climate and related phenomena,” in fact, the data will also be used for agriculture, land use, and other necessary monitoring for the economy.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology released a statement on the future of the country’s space plans, and mentioned a number of African space projects. One of these involves China granting $550 million to Nigeria to purchase two satellites according to Quartz Africa multimedia website, which explains that China has “deepened its place in all spheres, economic and political. Conquering the space business and providing space mapping services is part of Beijing’s globe-spanning Belt and Road Initiative, with both state-run and private Chinese space companies selling made-in-China satellites abroad.”

Quartz Africa reports that “as satellites get smaller and cheaper, an increasing number of African nations are declaring their plans to look skyward. The African Union has also introduced an African space policy, which calls for the development of a continental outer-space program and the adoption of a new framework to use satellite communications for economic progress. The demand for satellite capacity is expected to double in the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Undoubtedly, as part of the “Space Silk Road,” China will be playing a leading role in bringing space technology to Africa.

Read: China to Help Launch Ethiopia’s First Satellite in 2019 

 

‘Investigate or Legislate’: What Will the Democrats in Control of the House of Representatives Do?

With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation.  Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.

President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA.  However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.

Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.

Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects. 

A New Opportunity for a National Infrastructure Agenda?

Nov. 7, 2018—One thing is definitive about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections: Neither political party put a solution to the country’s economic and financial disaster on the national agenda.  That doesn’t mean that many of the new Democratic members of Congress don’t have a strong commitment to address the economic crisis, however. They can potentially galvanize the veteran Congressmen into action. The question is, will competent, workable proposals be put on the table in the 116th Congress?

Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.

Rep. DeFazio in his campaign photo.

More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from  raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.

“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”

The Issue of Funding

The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.

The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.

Moving ahead on Gateway would be a good place to start.

Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do?  Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.

So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects.  These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters.  If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.

For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here

 

Don’t Listen to Propaganda & Gossip. Follow the Facts: China is not Creating a ‘debt-trap’ for Africa

A useful report, “Africa’s growing debt crisis: Who is the debt owed to?” by the British based Jubilee Debt Campaign, again belies the propaganda and gossip that China is manipulating African nations into a ‘debt-trap.’  This report excerpted below, using figures from the World Bank, and the China Africa Research Institute-(CARI) at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington DC, shows the percentage of debt owed to China by African nations is not the cause of a debt crisis. In fact, in many cases the debt owed to China is less than the total owed to Western nations and financial institutions.

It is clear that for strictly geo-political reasons many Western think tanks and various media have gone into overdrive demonizing China with false claims of a new ‘debt-trap.’ This has also led to increased attacks on African leaders, portraying them as weak and not acting in the interest of their citizens. They have been accused of succumbing to China, which has been dubbed, the new imperial power. Sadly, many Africans have been duped, or simply out of frustration and anger, joined this western orchestrated chorus.

Of course, the truth of the matter is quite different. From the early 1980s on Western financial intuitions such as the IMF, World Bank, and Paris Club, loaded up African nations with so much debt that they were unable to service the debt, forcing them into unpayable arrears.  The vicious irony, is that several hundred billion dollars of debt lent by the West was never meant to actual develop African economies. It was in fact, intended to create a real ‘debt-trap’ for Africa. It has only been in the last ten years that Africa’s huge deficit in infrastructure is being addressed in collaboration with China’s non-western model of development. As I have written over many years, debt is not the problem when it is used as credit to improve the productive powers of a society to increase its physical wealth. Technologically advanced infrastructure is an excellent, if not the premiere method to drive an economy forward. This is exactly what China is accomplishing through its Belt and Road Initiative, and is at the heart of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC).

Unfortunately, the dominance of the “geo-political” ideology since the death of Franklin Roosevelt has thoroughly contaminated the thinking of Westerners and Africans alike. Creating a culture (with few exceptions) of people unable to think strategically, and who cynically reject the idea that a powerful nation would extend itself to actually assist other nations. China, according to all accounts, has lifted 700 million of its people out of poverty. President Xi Xinping has pledged to help eliminate poverty in Africa, the continent with highest rate of poverty in the world. Yet, many Africans reject this offer as insincere, suggesting a sinister motive lurking behind China’s offer. This attitude, is in part, the result of today’s political culture, which has failed to understand one of the most profound universal principles: all mankind shares a common interest in the development of the creative potential of each and every human being.  

Let us all agree, now, that we will all act on the this principle of the common good, and affirm as did the Treaty of Westphalia, that the interest of the other is also the interest of thy self.

 

Forum On China-Africa Cooperation, Beijing, September 3-4, 2018

“Africa’s growing debt crisis: Who is the debt owed to?”

October 2018

(excerpts follow)

Summary
• African government external debt payments have doubled in two years, from an average of
5.9% of government revenue in 2015 to 11.8% in 2017
• 20% of African government external debt is owed to China
• 17% of African government external interest payments are made to China
• In contrast, 32% of African government external debt is owed to private lenders, and 35% to
multilateral institutions such as the World Bank
• 55% of external interest payments are to private creditors

Minimum amount of African government external debt owed to China as percentage of total debt is 18%

Creditor grouping, total debt owed, percentage of external debt owed, are as follows:
China $72 billion 18%
Paris Club $40 billion 10%
Other governments $18 billion 4%
World Bank $66 billion 16%
IMF $18 billion 4%
Other multilateral institutions $61 billion 15%
Private sector $132 billion 32%
Total $407 billion 

Maximum amount of African government external debt owed to China as percentage of total debt is 24%

Creditor grouping’Total debt owed, percentage of external debt owed, are as follows:
China $100 billion 24%
Paris Club $40 billion 10%
World Bank $66 billion 16%
IMF $18 billion 4%
Other multilateral institutions $61 billion 15%
Private sector (excl. Chinese
private sector)
$132 billion 32%
Total $417 billion

Checking these figures through country cases

Another way of identifying how much African government debt is owed to China is to look bottom-up at the individual data available by each government.

Of these 16 countries, 14 have figures on how much debt is owed to China (for the full analysis see Appendix 1.). Of these 14:

• 11 owe less than 18% of their debt to China (Burundi, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe).
• Three owe more than 24% -Djibouti (68%), Zambia (30%) and Cameroon (29%).
• The mean average amount owed to China is 15% of a government’s external debt, and the median average is 8%

Read Complete Report: Who Is Africa Debt’s Owed To?

Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa Should NOT Have the Majority of Poor People.

This  is absolutely unacceptable. There is no objective reason for Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa to have the highest percentage of poor people in the world, with all its natural resources and people. This is the result of failed policies that began with the so called “Washington Consensus” beginning in the 1980s. Under the International Monetary Fund’s diktats and Structural Adjustment Programs(SAPs), the economies of African nations were destroyed and many have still not recovered.  African nations are beginning to follow a different model in collaboration with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The IMF and World Bank models which measure statistical monetary aggregates ignore the most essential ingredient necessary to create economic growth: technologically advanced infrastructure platforms, integrating rail, energy, water, and roads. Only in the last ten years is infrastructure finally being built, after it was outlawed under colonialism and neo-colonialism, (except for roads and rail for resource to port and transporting colonial soldiers).  For example, the Sudanese people are suffering terribly from a lack of economic growth, because Sudan has been threatened not to deviate from IMF dictated macro-economic parameters. The Sudanese people will rebel, if Sudan continues to adhere to the murderous policies of the so called “free market.”

It is time for African nations to over throw the old model and break free from the monetarist grip of the IMF and WB. Inclusive growth, as it is called, will only happen when there is improvement in the real-physical economy. 

It is projected that by 2050 Nigeria will have 400 million people and Africa as a whole 2.4 billion. Despite the hysteria of the “zero-growthers,” Nigeria and Africa are not suffering from over population, but underdevelopment of its vast wealth. Each new human born can be a new source of wealth, if their creative potential is nurtured and developed. Thus, the Africa continent  with its projected large population, should become the center development (not poverty) of world economy, if we act now to massively expand infrastructure across the continent.

Nigeria to host 90% of extremely poor by 2030, says World Bank

The Debate On China’s Role In Africa; A Different Point Of View

The Council of African Security and Development-CASADE has published my article regarding the debate over whether China is forcing African nations into a new ‘debt trap.’ Despite the propaganda from some Africans and Westerners, China is not the new imperialist in Africa. You can read my analysis below.

CASADE: COUNCIL ON AFRICAN SECURITY AND DEVELOPMENT

 

 

 

The New Silk Can Create A New Global Paradigm

Excerpts from a presentation by Schiller Institute founder and President Helga Zepp-LaRouche in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 17. It was titled, “The New Silk Road and the End of Colonialism: A New Shared Future for Humanity,

…Now, ever since Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in Kazakhstan in 2013, about 100 countries have joined this effort. There have been investments in all of these countries, 12 times the size of the Marshall Plan, and all based on “win-win” cooperation. An enormous amount of infrastructure corridors, industrial parks, power plants; various agricultural projects have been built. And in the recent time, you have the building of a completely new system of international relations based on the respect for the sovereignty, and respect for non-interference in  the affairs of the other country, respect for the perspective of a different social system, and this has created a different dynamic in the world.  This has, for example, recently led to the integration of the Shanghai Cooperation organization(SCO) with the Belt and Road Initiative.  There is a new formation of South-South relations which became very apparent at the recent annual BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, where you had the formation of Global South, which was practically all the organizations from the developing sector, the G77, the Organization of Islamic Countries, Mercosur, the African Union, many regional organizations.  And then, subsequently, you had the very big Africa-China summit, FOCAC [Forum on China Africa Cooperation] in Beijing at the beginning of September, where you had about 48 presidents and 5 heads of state of governments participating from Africa, announcing a new age in the friendship and historic relationship between China and the African continent

Now, Putin at the BRICS summit, had already promised that Russia would light up Africa in providing electricity, not from oil and gas, but through helping African nations to build nuclear power.  And Xi Jinping at the same meeting, had said that Africa, of all the places in the world, has the biggest development potential in the world.

The New Silk Road Spirit, which has captured this dynamic is transforming geopolitical conflicts in many parts of the world. For example, the very successful developments around North and South Korea, who are now fully on the way to possibly announce a peace treaty before the end of the year, going in the direction of unification. This is definitely one of the great successes of President Trump, who at the Singapore summit where he met with Kim Jong-un, is promising to help the make North Korea a prosperous country if  denuclearization continues to proceed. And China has promised to integrate the Koreas into the Belt and Road Initiative.  Russia has promised to help the economic prosperity in North Korea. This is a model, where you can see how this new spirit is helping to transform previous crisis situations into real miracles.

A similar thing is happening in the Horn of Africa, where as a result of the construction of the fast railway between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, you have now Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia developing new diplomatic relations and cooperation which was unthinkable a very short period before.

Now, the biggest breakthrough in this development was the signing of a MOU-Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian government and the Lake Chad Basin Commission on the realization of the Transaqua project. Transaqua is a project which the LaRouche organization has been fighting for, for over 30 years, and the fact that it is now agreed upon between China, Italy and six African nations to build is a game-changer for the entire African continent. Transaqua is the idea that you refill Lake Chad, which is now down to about 10% of its previous volume, bringing 3-4% of the water from the tributaries of Congo River, from about 500 meters high, through a system of canals into Lake Chad.  And this will provide an inland waterway for participating countries: It will provide hydro-power, it will provide huge amounts of water for irrigation, it will fill up Lake Chad, and it will still provide for a large areas in the Sahel zone to be irrigated: And that way you can really improve the life about 40 million people who are living there.

This is a tremendous breakthrough, and I think this is really the kind of project which can happen around the world everywhere. Now, in the context of the New Silk Road, there have been also an enormous amount of strategic realignment of countries which previously, for historical reasons and past wars, were at complete odds.  For example, now there is a new cooperation between Japan and China, where both of them said that there is the possibility of joint projects in Africa.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, just two days ago, said that Japan and China can cooperate in third countries and the pivot of it could be Thailand.  And as we have been fighting for another great project, also for more than 30 years, the Kra Canal, there has been recently a conference putting that back on the agenda:  And that would be a game-changer for the entire transport route in Southeast Asia.

A wonderful example of cooperation with the New Silk Road is Austria, where Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will conduct a big forum, a Europe-Africa Forum, before the end of the year, because Austria has the presidency of the European Union for this present half-year; and many institutions in Austria and Vienna are completely enthusiastic.  For example, the head of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce [WKW] is pushing for the complete integration of Austria into the New Silk Road.  And he said the New Silk Road is very easily explained:  It is our economic future.  The Mayor of the city of Linz called the connection of Austria to China the “Trade Route of Creativity.”

Also the Italian government, the new government, which is being attacked by the mainstream media practically every day, is practically going for a full strategic alliance with China. Various cabinet ministers, Michele Geraci and Giovanni Tria were just on trips to China making huge deals, inviting China to rebuild the Italian infrastructure.  And the substitute commerce minister, Paolo Savona, who made a wonderful speech in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, calling for the new economic plan of Italy is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and he advocated the cooperation of China and Italy in Africa.  And in the Transaqua memorandum of understanding, there was previously  memorandum of understanding between China and Italy to engage in this great project:  So this can be a model of any Western country….

There is a new concept of great power relations, developed by China, and proposed to the United States.  The {Global Times}, a government-related newspaper recently, in light of the tensions between China and the United States, asked the question:  What should the relations be between China and the United States in 30, 40, 50 years from now, or even towards the end of the century?…

And I would like to remind you of what Friedrich Schiller, [a great German poet] said, in “Why We Would Study Universal History,”- and I’m saying it now in my own words:  We should look at the long chain of generations before us, who gave us the tremendous heritage. And should it not be our proud and passionate desire to connect our ephemeral life to that long chain of human generations, and contribute with our own life, that soon that generation will be living a better life as a result of what we have done?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

US-China ‘Trade War’: What Implications For Nigeria?

My comments on the potential effects for Nigeria and Africa from a trade war between the US and China are quoted below in an article by “The Herald” a national Nigerian newspaper. (Not all of my comments are reported with complete accuracy)

The Herald Nigeria

US-China ‘Trade War’: What Implications For Nigeria?

The escalating trade disputes between the United States (U.S) and China have kept the global markets on their toes with uncertainties pervading the global economy and implications for other countries.

Analysts say the trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies portend consequences in commercial relations among countries as it has repercussions in differing degrees for some of these countries.

China constituted U.S. largest supplier of imported goods worth more than 500 billion dollars in 2017 while U.S. exports to China was approximately 185 billion dollars at the same time

However, U.S. President Donald Trump imposed varying degrees of tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese products starting early 2018 and China also retaliated with its own tariffs on U.S. goods.

Since then, both countries have engaged in full-blown tit-for-tat measures that have unsettles the global markets in different degrees, which is gradually manifesting to a full-blown trade war.

Political-economists express concerns that African countries could be hit because of the global network of economies in that what affects the U.S. and China’s economies affects the entire global economy.

They say for instance, the impact was largely felt on the stock markets in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa – with Nigeria and South Africa being the two largest economies on the continent.

Mr Lawrence Freeman, a U.S.-based Political-Economist Analysts for Africa, said that the trade war brewing between the two world superpowers could have dire economic consequences for Nigeria.

Freeman said: “If President Trumps precipitates a full-blown tariff war; it could disrupt the world economy, inflict financial penalties on China, and undermine China’s currency.

“This could lead to harmful effects for Nigeria, since both nations are coordinating currency transfers and have worked together to improve, Nigeria’s agriculture with billions of dollars of investment’’.

He opined that Trump’s trade war with China has serious political, economic, and even military implications for all nations of the world, alleging he {Trump} has little understanding of how an economy functions, and how to achieve real economic growth.

Trump is a follower of the myth of free-trade “buy low-sell dear” without regard for the economic security of a nation.

“For example, in the most recent meeting between Presidents Trump and Muhammadu Buhari, Trump proposed increasing the sale of U.S. agricultural products to Nigeria.

“This is the absolutely wrong approach. Nigeria should be reducing the amount of food imports by building up its agro-manufacturing sectors,’’ Freeman said.

Freeman also said that China, on the other hand, has embarked on an economically healthy policy of investing in infrastructure in Nigeria and Africa to drive economic growth, as evident in the Belt and Road Initiative.

According to him, Nigeria, like the rest of the African, needs massive investment in hard and soft infrastructure.

He noted that in collaboration with China, Nigeria is building railroads across the country for the first time since colonialism, observing further that this, with increasing energy production, “is essential for Nigeria to develop and achieve stability.

“President Trump should be more thoughtful in helping Nigeria overcome its huge infrastructure deficit, by joining China in expanding the BRI in Nigeria and across Africa.

Continue reading

Final Call: IMF and World Bank real culprits in Africa’s debt crisis

This article debunks the myth of China colonizing Africa through a “debt trap” policy. It also has quotes from me on this subject. You can read more comments from me with this link to my post: A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

africa_watch_logo_18.jpg

FINAL CALL: IMF-and-World-Bank-real-culprits-in-Africa-debt-crisis.

BY JEHRON MUHAMMAD |  SEP 12, 2018 

Many Western press outlets, including CNN, have repeated a recent claim presented to the U.S. State Department that the “Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debt to gain political leverage with developing countries.”

The phrase they use to accuse China is “debt book diplomacy,” a play on the past usage of the term “gunboat diplomacy” about U.S. policy. They accuse China of miring Africa in debt and “undercutting their sovereignty.”

rwanda_kagame_china_xi-jinping.jpg

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with African Union Chair Paul Kagame who is President of Rwanda at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Not to be outdone, ABC News chimed in: “China’s commercial presence in Africa has prompted complaints in some countries that the continent gets too little from the relationship. Africa is a major target of Beijing’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to build ports, highways and other trade-related infrastructure, but some critics in Tanzania, Kenya and other countries say they leave hosts with too much debt.”Pushing back, China claims to be helping African development, not piling up debt, one top China government official said.

“If we take a closer look at these African countries that are heavily in debt, China is not their main creditor,” its special envoy for Africa Xu Jinghy said, during a news conference. “It’s senseless and baseless to shift the blame onto China for debt problems.”

Claims that China is an “economic predator” in Africa, pillaging natural resources and dragging it into debt crisis are “as false as they are sensational,” the Xinhua official Chinese news agency said in a commentary.

According to African economic and political analyst Lawrence Freeman, “It is more than ironic that the West is complaining about Africa’s debt to China. Since the 1960s, Western nations, the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, etc., have ‘looted’ Africa of hundreds of billions of dollars in bloated debt payments and through the manipulation of currencies, and terms of trade.

Of note is the fact that the anti- China accusation is fairly recent. An April 18 Financial Times article, headlined “African nations slipping into new debt crises,” did not mention China one time as the source of the continent’s debt crisis.

In fact the FT’s piece is critical of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “The increase in debt should have raised all sorts of flags and triggered triage, but it didn’t. Neither the International Monetary Fund nor the World Bank sounded the alarm,” the London-based financial paper reported.

In addition, the FT claimed some African countries were hit because “they borrowed in foreign currencies and were finding debt hard to finance after a significant depreciation.”

In 2017 Quartz Africa reported, again not mentioning China, that “African eurobond debt is growing to risky levels.” A eurobond, also referred to as sovereign bond, is a debt security issued by a national government and is denominated in a foreign currency, usually dollars, rather than the euro that its name implies.

This debt crises have been cyclical. Africa’s debt of the 1980s mushroomed to $270 billion and had many factors, according to Quartz, “depending on which side of the fence you’re on.”

Those events came full circle. Even though Quartz recognized the repeating “hallmarks” of unchecked corruption, poor governance, and political mileage investment, the “single catalytic factor to trigger debt unsustainability in Africa has always been the crash of commodity prices on the global market.”

The news service Reuters reported in May of 2017 that “most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive.”

The United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa’s external debt rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated loans and bonds. But since then sharp currency devaluations across the continent have pushed up the cost of servicing this debt pile, which continues to grow, the agency said.

It’s no wonder over 50 African heads of state attended the Sept. 3-4 Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing. During the forum China president Xi Jinping announced a hefty $60 billion package to compliment another $60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

This breaks down, according to press reports, to $15 billion in grants and interest free loans, $20 billion in credit lines, a $10 billion fund for development financing, $5 billion to finance imports from Africa and waving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

On top of President Jinping letting the numbers speak for themselves he had words for China’s detractors: “Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well … . No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculations.”

The African Union chairman, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has been heard to call Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa “deeply transformational” and respectful of the continent’s global position.

He said FOCAC had grown into a powerful engine “of cooperation fully aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and sustainable development goals.”

“Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. The gains are enjoyed by all who do business with us. Building the capacity of African institutions to transact and monitor more effectively is what will make the biggest difference,” he said.

Follow @jehronmuhammad on Twitter

A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

Lawrence Freeman

September 20, 2018

The world is witnessing an increase in attacks on Africa’s relationships with China in various articles, as well as low-level, unthoughtful, messages on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Not only does that content intend to demonize China as the new colonial empire of Africa, but it also includes vulgar demeaning caricatures of African Heads of State.

Could the reason for the uptick of these kinds of diatribes be related to the successful September 3-4, Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, attended by leaders from almost every African nation? China has reached out to Arica and formed a special relationship which is being embraced by African Heads of State. It should be clear to any intelligent historian, that China is not acting as an Imperialist manner towards Africa.

However, what has been conspicuously, egregiously omitted from this unsubstantiated vilification of China, is the history of Western nations and institutions, which have acted as an Imperialist power towards Africa. The latest accusation is that China is deliberately entrapping African nations into unpayable debt. However, this is precisely what the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, along with their allies in the City of London and Wall Street did to Africa immediately following the “Winds of Change.”

The motivation for this propaganda barrage is that China via FOCAC and the Belt & Road Initiative is offering African nations a pathway toward growth uncontrolled by the financial predators in the City of London and Wall Street. Contrary to the myth that China is stealing African resources; which the Western powers did first under slavery, then under colonialism, and have continued under neo-colonialism, China is actually providing credit for physical infrastructure; the sin qua non to spur economic growth.

Debt and Credit for What?  

A pervasive and quite serious problem affecting well-intentioned individuals from all corners of the globe is the lack of understanding of what actually creates economic growth. Neither money, nor financial transactions, nor derivatives, nor speculation, nor rising stock markets, nor the market place are the cause of growth or synonymous with real economic growth.

Credits issued for infrastructure; water, energy, rail, roads, healthcare, and education, identifying the most vital categories, if properly organized, leads to an increase in the productivity i.e. the economic power of the society. This is measured by the ability of society to increase its physical output from one production cycle to the next. By utilizing advanced technologies embedded in new capital equipment, including infrastructure, farmers and workers can produce more efficiently. Simply providing abundant energy, high-speed railroads, and water inputs to an African nation would lead to a jump in economic output.  Shortly after the death of President Kennedy, the US ceased its commitment to assist Africa nations in expanding their infrastructure.

China is committed to lending, issuing credit-yes creating a debt to fund long-term investment in infrastructure. Credit directed in this way is good debt. With non-usurious interest rates over 15-20 years, the loan can be retired from the profit it generates to society. This form of debt is not equivalent to the hundreds of billions of dollars African nations were forced to pay to the financial capitals of the world for loans to cover rigged terms of trade, and currency devaluations.

If you study the American System of Political Economy with its cornerstone; Alexander Hamilton’s national credit policy, you will realize that China is emulating the best of America’s past. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt, who successfully applied Hamilton’s principle  to rebuild the Depression riddled US with state issued credits, would have little trouble understanding the principles of President Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road.

Economics and the Common Good

There is a deeper level to comprehending economic growth. Every human being is united by a universal principle often expressed as the “common good of mankind.” Yes, all human beings regardless of religion, color, ethnicity, or place of birth, share a “common interest.” We are all created with the power of creativity. Not logic, not deduction, not induction, but the power to hypothesis new ideas. The power of discovery, to discern new principles of the universe that we previously did not know but were there waiting to be revealed to the human mind. These scientific discoveries spawn new technologies which are the primary source of economic growth. Thus, it is the responsibility, nay the obligation of every society to nurture and develop that creative potential innate in all its citizens from birth to death.

For all citizens to realize their potential, live productive lives, and raise their families without fear of hunger and security, a nation must have the economic means to expand the total physical wealth of society over succeeding generations.  An advanced industrialized nation requires a healthy manufacturing sector, which is also an essential component of a productive agriculture sector.  The absence of robust agro-manufacturing economies in Africa is crime along with its huge deficit in infrastructure.

Sadly, the West does not have the vision to assist African nations in overcoming these deficiencies. China in all, but name has launched the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for Africa.

Among the eight major initiatives that President Xi laid out at the Africa-China Summit, China will:

1.Promote industrialization; 2. Support agricultural assistance programs; 3. Work with the African Union (Agenda 2063) to formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation program; 4. Increase its imports from Africa, in particular non-resources products; 5. Train 1,000 high-caliber Africans for training in innovation sectors; provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships; and sponsor seminar and workshop opportunities for 50,000 Africans and invite 2,000 African students to visit China for exchanges.

China has come to understand that it is the common interest of its own country, and in the fact all nations, is to help Africa develop productive industrialized societies not dependent on revenue from one resource or one crop. Under these improved conditions, hunger and poverty, the underlying causes for conflict, can be eliminated. Great progress can be accomplished in Africa and the world, if the US and Europe acquire the wisdom to join China’s Spirit of the Belt & Road

Below are three articles with excerpts that provide useful background to understanding Africa’s productive relationship with China.

“The recently concluded China-Africa Summit offers a new deal for Africa’s recovery. The Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has the making of a 21st century equivalent of the Marshall Plan, America’s massive economic rescue programe that President Harry Truman unveiled for Europe on April 3, 1948.

AFRICA’S INDUSTRIALISATION

On its part, China is taking a Pan-African approach targeting projects with regional impact such as Kenya’s standard gauge railway.   Like the Marshall Plan that prioritized the reindustrialization of Europe after the war, China is laudably giving a pride of place to Africa’s industrialisation.

Industrialization was top on the list of President Xi Jinping’s eight-point plan to guide Chinese aid to Africa in the next three years. Recipients of Marshall Plan had to invest 60 percent of these funds in industry. The funds also involved Technical Assistance Programes to create a skilled labor force to drive industrialization.”       Read: China’s Marshall Plan for Africa-Debt or New Deal ?

________________________________________________________

“Speaking as the Chairman of the African Union, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, expressed the will of Africa very clearly: “Africa wishes to be a full and integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative.” And in spite of the myriad attacks in the Western media regarding the Belt and Road’s alleged “debt trap”—and its description of China’s extensive involvement in Africa as a “new colonialism”—this “fake news” has not blurred the vision of Africa’s leaders, who have stayed focused on the future of the continent.

Ramaphosa also praised the work of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “Why do we support the Belt and Road Initiative?” “Because we are confident that this initiative, which effectively complements the work of FOCAC, will reduce the costs and increase the volume of trade between Africa and China.  It will encourage the development of Africa’s infrastructure, a critical requirement for meaningful regional and continental integration.” Read: FOCAC Summit: Turning Point in History

__________________________________________________________

“It can be said that this sentiment is near universal among the African nations now participating in the BRI. Indeed the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit, “Let me be very clear that Africa has absolutely no debt crisis; African countries are desperate for infrastructure. The population is rising, urbanization is there, and fiscal space is very small.” The AfDB president added, “They are taking on a lot more debt, but in the right way.” Read: Changes Underway as FOCAC Convenes