China Remains Committed to Africa’s Development

Jan. 14, 2018–Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Rwanda and Angola over the past two days, the first of four African nations he will visit on his first trip abroad in 2018. With Rwanda assuming chairmanship of the African Union for 2018 at the end of January, Wang discussed with Rwandan Foreign Minister  Mushikiwabo and Pres. Paul Kagame, preparations for this year’s summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The aim of the summit will be to “dovetail China’s Belt and Road Initiative with African countries’ development strategies, thus boosting industrialization and modernization, and raising the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Africa to a new level,” Xinhua reported as Wang’s message.

FOCAC, joining the 52 African nations, China and the African Union, has held a summit every three years, alternating between Beijing and an African capital, since its founding in 2000. A three-year action plan between China and the African countries is adopted at each summit. Beijing hosts the FOCAC summit in 2018.    At the conclusion of his visit to Angola today, Wang told a joint press conference with Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel  Augusto, that China will continue to support Angola in its efforts to diversify and modernize its  economy through “accelerated industrialization … on behalf of peace and unity on the African continent,”  Angolan media reported.  Wang also stressed that China is not concerned about Angola’s debt, and Domingos Augusto reported that they had discussed mechanisms to make the debt sustainable without interrupting current and future projects which require a financial cushion.

Angola’s foreign debt is over $40 billion now, much of it owed to China. With the price of its major export, oil, still low, Western bankers talk of Angola’s “debt crisis.”

Xinhua reported that Wang discussed the debt in response to a reporter raising the Western canard that “China’s financing has increased the debt burden of African countries,” and carries political conditions attached. Wang was blunt: “Such a claim, which is made with ulterior motives, is an outright false accusation…. China’s financing is in response to Africa’s demands for self-development. A country has a huge need for capital in its primary stage of economic take-off and industrialization and Africa is no exception,” he said. He added that “China also passed through this process; these are temporary problems,” as reported by Angolan media.

Furthermore, China does not attach political conditions. “Like African countries, China also had memories of a bitter past when, with its economic lifeline controlled by foreigners, it was unfairly treated and even exploited and oppressed. Therefore, when providing aid to and engaging in cooperation with Africa, China will not repeat what Western countries did and will never impose its own views on others.” China follows the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results, Wang stated.

China will continue to do its part in helping Africa develop itself, Wang concluded, citing two Chinese sayings: “only the feet know if the shoes fit,” and “people have a sense of natural justice.” The African people are in the best position to decide who is Africa’s true friend and most reliable partner.

In its Third Year, AIIB Will Expand Lending to African and South American Nations

As the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) enters its third year of operations, its President Jin Liqun explained in an interview with the {South China Morning Post} that in the coming year, it intends to expand lending and operations to South American and African nations, as well as further into the Middle East as soon as that is possible.

Jin noted that with “quite a number” of South American nations joining the Bank, it will be a good idea to finance some middle-income projects in South America to “bring South America and Asia together,” and reduce transaction and shipping costs.

But, he stated, “I would also pay attention to supporting African member countries. Asia is developing quickly, but it cannot sustain itself well without collaborating closely with African countries.” Jin emphasized that the  geographical scope of the Bank’s activities makes clear its role “in pushing broader-based social and economic development in the member countries in which we invest.”

Responding to the claims from some quarters that the Bank is merely an instrument of China, Jin said quite the contrary is true. China “is committed to building the Bank into a multilateral development institution with 21st Century governance.” The AIIB is separate from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said, but that it is inescapable that some projects in which the AIIB is involved would be connected to the BRI, simply because of the scale of this global development project, which covers 60 countries across multiple land and maritime corridors.

Jin Liqun was emphatic that China strictly adheres to the Bank’s principle of multilateralism and internationalism. “There has never been any interference by the Chinese government in the decision-making process.”

Donald Trump’s “Win-Lose” Model Versus Xi Jinping’s “Win-Win”

This is an interesting and insightful article contrasting the different policy orientation between US President Trump , and China President XI. The excerpts below highlight the possibilities for economic progress, if  the US would collaborate with China’s  on new “Silk Road.”

Adam GARRIE, September, 2017, OrientalReview.org

A joint venture of US and Chinese investment could have been used to create new land highways and corresponding maritime routes across the Americas–on either side of the Panama canal. In turn these belts and roads could be strategically linked to China’s Pacific belts and roads with the US ports in Los Angeles being a natural hub. Furthermore, joint US-Chinese investment schemes could have poured investment into US ports such as those in Los Angeles to bring them in-line with some of the modern ports in China which are far more technically advanced.

2017 should have been the year that the US decided to embrace the win-win model. This is not to say that the US would have or should have become China. The Chinese model is highly flexible in this sense. Donald Trump could have created a kind of Trans-American Belt and Road with US Characteristics for a New Era. Instead, Trump has opted to Make America Lose Again.

continue reading

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.

continue reading

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.

continue reading

Industrialization of Ethiopia With Chinese Cooperation

Below are excerpts from a speech by Mr. Mehreteab Mulugeta Haile, Consul General of Ethiopia , reporting on the progress that Ethiopia has made to develop its nation, with its emphasis on infrastructure.

Ethiopia is one of the largest Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of about 100 million people. After suffering economic stagnation for decades, its economy began to grow in the mid-1990s after a new administration led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took the helm of government.

For the last 15 years, Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of about 11% per annum. To continue with this rapid economic growth, the Ethiopian Government rolled out in 2010, an ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This plan aims to attain a lower-middle-income status by 2025. Currently the country is implementing the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which is built on Sectoral Policies, Strategies  & Program and Lessons drawn from the first GTP and the post-2015 “sustainable development goals” (SDGs). It has also taken into account global and regional economic situations having direct or indirect bearing on the Ethiopian economy.

Expanding the manufacturing sector will focus on identifying new investment areas such as biotechnology, petrochemicals, electricity and electronics, information and communication technologies (hardware and software production industries).

In the infrastructure sector, the overall strategic direction is to ensure the creation of infrastructure that supports rapid economic growth and structural transformation. This direction will create mass employment opportunities, an institution having strong implementation capacity, ensure public participation and benefit, construct decentralized infrastructure development systems, solve financial constraints, ensure fairness and profitability, and ensure integrated planning of infrastructure development.

Within infrastructure overall, rural roads are given high focus to help reduce poverty by facilitating easy access of agricultural products, at low transportation cost, to the market, improving access to basic socioeconomic services, and strengthening rural-urban linkages.

If we take my country, Ethiopia, as an example of Chinese cooperation and involvement in Africa, we find that what has been said above is false. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation in the 2012-2017 period, are on top of Ethiopia’s investment landscape, both in number and financial capital. Among these companies, 279 were operational with projects that are worth over 13.16 billion Ethiopian birr (over 572 million U.S. dollars) during the reported period, while the remaining 100 are under implementation.

In terms of employment creation, Chinese companies have created more than 28,300 jobs in various sectors in Ethiopia during the reported period, of which over 19,000 were created in Ethiopia’s manufacturing, as it is the leading sector in attracting companies from China. China brings not only investment, knowhow, and transfer of technology, but also skills and entrepreneurship.

continue reading

Saving Lake Chad with Transaqua: An Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project

The excerpts below are from a speech by Mr. Franco Persio Bocchetto, Foreign Director for Bonifica, S.p.A., Italy, the engineering firm that designed the Transaqua proposal in  the1980s. It is an excellent presentation on a transformative infrastructure project to save the shrinking Lake Chad and develop the African continent.

We can be very optimistic, but due to the growth of the population, the long-term measures cannot be other than to think how to transfer large volumes of water from the  Congo River Basin to Lake Chad.

Well, water transfer to drying up endorheic lakes is not merely a “nature conservation measure.” Environment and wildlife deserve to be protected—human beings, too. A drying endorheic lake is proof that the water resources in its catchment area are overexploited with respect to incoming run-off. transferring water from adjacent river basins that have surplus water flowing into the sea, is a way of increasing water availability, especially for agriculture, in the context of the increasing population and declining rainfall, and to restore wildlife.

When water is in short supply in a given place, either you bring it there, or people will migrate elsewhere. Near Lake Chad, there is an immense, scarcely populated
river basin, which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean an average of 40,000 cubic meters/second—the equivalent to 1,250 billion m3 /year. That discharge is 200 times the discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely diverted into Lake Chad has yet to be studied.

Can we think of a “win-win” project, where all countries involved have their advantages, which is perhaps, one of the basic conditions for developing this project?
Bringing water from the Congo River Basin to the thirsty Chad region and increasing irrigated agriculture, restoring the lake, producing hydropower and improving inter-African transport and commerce, is the vision of this Transaqua Project.

A canal would have to intercept part of the discharge of the right-hand tributaries of the Congo River, and convey them across the watershed between the Congo Basin and the Chari Basin. The diverted flow would reach Lake Chad through one of the Chari tributaries, properly reshaped. A very preliminary estimate gives an amount up to 100 billion m3 /year could be diverted. That this less than 8% of the Congo discharge, ensuring thus the restoration of Lake Chad and irrigation of up to 3 million hectares.

In its fall toward Chad, the diverted flow could be used for hydropower production. Along the canal, a road should be built which would become the backbone of inter-African land transport. The hypothes is that the canal could also be suitable for navigation has been made. Those ideas stemming from the early 1920s, have been studied by Bonifica, and are presently being considered by the Lake Chad Basin Commission as a possible project for the future.

The idea of Bonifica is to transfer about 100 million cubic meters of water per year from the Congo River Basin to the Lake Chad and Sahel district. This is the Congo Basin as you can see in red, which is the alignment more or less of the canal. You cross the watershed and you go into the water catchment area of the River Chari.

What is important to note is that the Transaqua formula is not simply to replenish Lake Chad, but to give access to drinking water, revive agricultural activity, irrigation, fish farming, a navigable waterway, trade, transport, regulate flows, produce electric power, river ports, commerce, and road connections—thus creating an economic development system along the Transaqua waterway

continue reading

He Wenping-The Belt & Road: China Shares Its Development with Africa & the World

Below are excerpts from a speech by Prof. He Wenping discussing “President Xi’s Perspective for the Year 2050 and the Perspective of African Development.”

Germany, November 25, 2017

The Industrialization of Africa 

      “Let’s quickly go to the One Belt, One Road: This is just what I call—this is not official, it’s what I call it—I think this is a 1.0 version of One Belt, One Road, because all those things you see, the Maritime one and the Silk Road continental one, go through 64 countries. In this 1.0 version, only Egypt is from Africa, among these 64 countries. But now, I think One Belt, One Road is entering 2.0 version—that is, now facing all the countries in the world. As President Xi Jinping mentioned to  the Latin American countries, “you are all welcome to join the Belt and Road.” In the Chinese “40 Minutes,” Xi said, all the African continent is  now on the map of the One Belt, One Road, the whole African continent, especially after the May Belt and Road Summit in Beijing had taken place. 

      “So now, its face is open to all the countries in the world, now it’s inclusive. Any country that would like to join, I would like to say. You see, these are two leaders in the world: People are saying “America First” is the idea. You see from abroad, Trump in the White House saying, “America First.” If anything is not too good for America, it’s not good at all. But, for President Xi Jinping, the One Belt, One Road is to make the world better. It’s not, “make China better,” because with all this Belt and Road, the Chinese foreign exchange reserves, we’re now enjoying the number-one highest foreign exchange reserves in the world.

      “So, we’re going to use those foreign exchange reserves to build all those roads—connectivity! Connect China and other countries to join together, to build trade. And there are three connectivities we are talking about: First is the policy connectivity, China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant to countries, their own development strategy. For example, Ethiopia.   Ethiopia has now been named as the “next China” on the African continent. It’s not my invention, these words—many scholars have been published talking
about which country in Africa is going to be the China in Africa, which means, developing faster! Faster and leading other countries forward. Most of them refer to Ethiopia.

    ” Ethiopia has now reached an GDP growth rate, last year, as high as 8%, but the whole rest of the continent, especially the oil rich countries, are suffering from lower oil prices. So they have developed an industrialization strategy; their strategy and the China strategy should be connected. One is called the policy connectivity

continue reading

Trans-Saharan Railway Progressing: Great News for Africa

This rail project is vital not only for Sudan, but for the African continent. Sudan is located strategically to be the nexus for the East-West and North-South rail roads that when completed would transform the entire African landmass. Imagine the revolution in economic development when the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are connected across the girth of Africa, and also linked to the Mediterranean Sea and oceans surrounding South Africa. Port Sudan and Kenya’s port of Mombassa are part of China’s Maritime Silk Road. Ethiopia and Kenya have completed new rail lines with the assistance of China as part of the Spirit of the New Silk Road. Most people cannot even dream of how life for over one billion Africans would be changed by an industrialized and connected Africa, Yet, not only is it possible, but we can make it happen.

China signs agreement to begin planning 3,400km trans-Saharan railway

8 November 2017 |

By Global Construction Review Staff

Two Chinese companies will start planning a railway across the Sahara Desert linking Sudan’s Red Sea coast to landlocked Chad after an agreement was signed yesterday with the Sudanese government.

China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company (FDDC) inked the deal with the Sudanese Railways Authority.

They now have 12 months to complete a feasibility study on the construction of the 3,400 kilometre-long railway from Port Sudan to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena.

Makawi Mohamed Awad, Sudan’s minister of transport, said that his ministry’s strategic aim was to link Port Sudan with all its landlocked neighbors. The Chad line, from its capital, N’Djamena, would join Sudan’s network at Nyala across the border. 
 

The Chad line would join Sudan’s network at Nyala, state capital of South Darfur

Plans for a Sahara railway go back some years.

In 2014, Sudan reached a political agreement with Chad to link their capitals with Port Sudan with a later extension to the Atlantic Ocean ports of Cameroon. Although both countries pledged to stop supporting each other’s rebel movements, continual instability delayed implementation. 

Further back in March 2012, Chad reached agreement with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build its portion of the line to the Sudanese border, after which it would join the Sudanese system at Nyala. The estimated $5.6bn cost of the line was thought likely be met by the Import Export Bank of China. 

The lines are to be built to standard gauge and will be allow trains to run at 120 km/h.

CRDC carries out preparatory work for railway construction. It has been a major player in the development of China’s domestic high-speed system, surveying some 7,500km of it. 

FDDC is a state-owned developer that carries out turnkey infrastructure projects outside the domestic market. 

 

Sudan: Sanctions Lifted, Now Development Is Imperative

Lawrence Freeman

October 24, 2017

            On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens. 

According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan.  Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.

This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation.  Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people.  Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward. 

However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).

Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.

Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road

Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.   

The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.

The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.

 Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.

Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies  

Sudan Is Open for Business

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism.  He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.

For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen.  As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays.  Economic development is the agenda.

 

Sino-Sudanese Strategic Partnership Could Make the Sudan Great Again

 The historic and successful visit of the Chinese Vice- Premier of the State Council Zhang Gaoli to Khartoum, marked and emphasized the deep ties of friendship and cooperation between the two friendly countries, and shall give further impetus to their embedded mutual coordination in regional and international forums.

Submitting a message to President Al-Bashir form his Chinese counterpart, the senior Chinese official put it clearly that China’s selection of Sudan as strategic partner, was notva random or arbitrary decision, but rather an option carefully calculated and studied.

That is why the said visit was highly celebrated in Khartoum, both in form and substance, as the most important visit of a senior Chinese official, perhaps since the visit of the Chinese presidentHu Jintao to Sudan in 2007, which brought the long standing cooperation between the two countries to yet a new level.

From historical perspective, it goes down in history, that Sudan was the fourth country in the continent, to have established full diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China on 4th February 1959. Since then, China has continued to maintain good and exemplary relations with Khartoum to meritoriously culminate in the year 2015, into strategic partnership, when the Sudanese President Al- Bashir was accorded a red carpet treatment during the latter’s historic and landmark visit to Beijing.

The win-win formula was the impetus and the driving force behind Sino-Sudanese rapidly evolving relationship. As a matter of fact, If China’s contribution in the development of Sudan’s oil sector continues to be envisaged as highly significant to Khartoum, nevertheless, such engagement could not have easily streamlined without China’s own receptiveness to the prospect.

Likewise, Khartoum with its timely adoption of its Look East strategy at that time was at the right time of history; Sudan in particular was equally important to China’s efforts to develop its oil sector. No surprisingly, Sudan acted as China’s gateway to Africa.

In other words, China’s involvement in Sudan spans an important phase in the restructuring and expansion of china’s own national oil companies overseas; China’s aim at that time was to build internationally competitive firms and to enhance China’s security in regard to an energy supply.

Arguably, the most important characteristic of the historical relations between Sudan and China is that alongside the economic interactions, it was solidly based on mutual trust and respect. Hence, geographical dimension and the language barriers did not preclude the extension of the relationship on all cultural and social levels. In other words, Sino-Sudanese is a showcase for relationship based on the exchange of mutual interests and benefits and devoid of ulterior or hidden agendas.

What further features and signifies the visit of the senior Chinese official to Khartoum is the fact that it comes in the framework of China’s 900 billion dollar’s Silk Road Vision, which was recently kicked off by Chinese President Xi Jinping. It has been globally perceived as absolutely the most ambitious development and infrastructure project, with the aim of building a modern version of the ancient Silk Road.

In light of the pressing problems and challenges currently facing humankind almost all over the world, the Chinese “Belt and Road initiative, represents a glimmer of hope that will surly benefit the people all over the world, particularly the third world. The initiative firmly predicated that civilisations by and large, thrive with openness and nations prosper from trade exchange.

Not surprisingly, Sudan was among the first African countries which hailed and blessed such historic, extraordinary and momentous project. In fact,

Sudan has every reason to wholeheartedly support the Chinese initiative; taking into cognizance that Sudan historically, and due to its geographical location, was a link between the Arab world and Africa. Besides, perhaps since time immemorial, the ports in Eastern part of Sudan have been the meeting-point for convoys coming from China to Africa.

Sudan has always maintained its desire to encourage more African countries to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation with China under the framework of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. In fact the package of projects planed in the womb of this initiative, represent the main starting point for the advancement of developing economies like the Sudan. Luckily enough, Sudan and China are currently putting the final touches and understandings to embark on a number of vital projects in the fields of transportation, energy and agriculture. To that effect, Mr. Zhang stressed the need to create synergy between the Belt and Road Initiative and Sudan’s development strategy and boost bilateral cooperation in some new areas such as agriculture, mining and port construction.

Perhaps the most ambitious developmental project in the initiative is the modernization of the railway network at the regional level; taking advantage of Chinese expertise and funding, China plans to finance and build a railway connecting Ethiopia to Sudan in the footsteps the Ethiopia-Djibouti recently constructed railway line, which besides providing Ethiopia with yet a new sea outlet for the Red Sea, shall further cement consolidate the already evolving Sudanese-Ethiopian bilateral ties in all fields of mutual benefits ..

By the same token, a similar giant project in the pipeline, is the railway line linking Sudan with Chad and Cameroon to the west, which will form the basis for the completion of the African ambitious dream of linking and connecting Africa by trains from South Africa to Egypt in the north, and from the Red Sea in the east to Senegal and the Atlantic Ocean in the west.

These promising projects shall heavily boost the Sudanese economy and multiply its innumerable investment opportunities. As a matter of fact and with regard to the energy projects, Sudan has already begun to benefit from the Belt and Road initiative, unleashing serious negotiation for the establishment of the first Sudanese nuclear plant for peaceful purposes in cooperation with Chinese companies. In the same context, Sudan is currently seeking to discuss opportunities for financing solar power stations as well as constructing more dams for irrigation and electricity projects.

As referred to in the beginning of this article, Sudan enjoys a long two – decades of cooperation with China in the exploration, production and export of Sudanese oil. During his recent visit, the Chinese senior official, Mr. Zhang reiterated that the two countries need to strengthen cooperation in oil and gas exploration and development, and work actively to explore new cooperation areas under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.

In agriculture, taking stock of Sudan’s huge natural resources, Sudan will be one of the largest beneficiaries from the Chinese initiative. Perhaps the giant strategic projects shall include inter-alia, the implementation of a big and exemplary slaughterhouse for the export of Sudanese meat, such promising and long awaited project, shall warrant the influx of additional hundreds of millions of dollars to the Sudanese treasury, in the form of added value of livestock and carcass waste.

Moreover making use of Chinese extended expertise and technology, the two old friends are currently engaged and planning to join hand in hand, to boost Sudan’s huge potential in cotton production, with the ultimate goal of making the Sudan great again in the field of textile industry, both regionally and internationally.

On the political level, the belt and road initiative is projected to play effective role in the establishment of further pillars of stability and peace in the Sudan; via its huge development projects, the initiative shall directly address the remnant root causes of poverty and conflicts in a country like the h the Sudan.

The initiative is anticipated to play a major role in promoting and consolidating the chances of peace and stability, taking into consideration that, the initiative-per se- can and can only succeed and flourish in a framework of love, coexistence and peace. Mr. Zhang reaffirmed in Khartoum that China will, as always, support Sudan’s efforts in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as achieving domestic peace and stability.

China Daily: Refill Shrinking Lake Chad with TRANSAQUA Project

Chinese, Italian firms reach deal to refill fast-shrinking Lake Chad

By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong (People’s Daily Online)    17:51, August 21, 2017

Fishing is a major source of livelihood for millions of people in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: LCBC

Hopes have been revived for the 40 million people who depend on Lake Chad for their livelihoods following the signing last June in Hangzhou, China, of a deal between Chinese construction giant, PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica Spa. However, the news was only made public at the beginning of this month. 

Huge water transfer project

The agreement concerns the carrying out of feasibility studies on transferring 100 billion cubic metres of water per annum from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, to replenish the fast shrinking Lake Chad, a distance of 2,500 km. The project is also known as Transaqua. According to the website of Executive Intelligence Review, EIR magazine, the letter of intent was signed at a meeting between the executive of the two companies in the presence of the Italian Ambassador to China, Gabriele Menegatti

The recent deal between PowerChina and Bonifica Spa is sequel to the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, signed between PowerChina and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on December 13, 2016. LCBC is made up of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, CAR. The MOU is for a period of four years, but can be extended after renegotiation by both parties.

The Transaqua project seeks to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad. Map by Schiller Institute

The agreement is “with a view to setting forth the principles of a technical and financial assistance arrangement towards the actualization of water transfer from the Congo Basin to Lake Chad,” LCBC website reported. PowerChina will fund the studies at the cost of 1.8 million US dollars, while LCBC will provide all necessary information and assistance.

Linking Central and West Africa

The MOU is to establish the basis on which the parties shall carry out further research on the Lake Chad Basin Water Transfer Project and other future projects in accordance with the Lake Chad Basin Water Charter, national legislations, regulations and practices of member countries. Additional research will be needed to strengthen climate change resilience in the Sahel and to raise the project into a continental infrastructure by opening up a new development corridor to link Central and West Africa.

The terms of the agreement between PowerChina and LCBC include the potential transfer of 50 billion cubic metres of water per annum to Lake Chad through a series of dams in DRC, Republic of Congo Brazzaville and the Central African Republic. There is also the possible generation of 15,000-25,000 kilowatts of hydroelectricity through the mass movement of water by gravity.

Other benefits are developing irrigated land for crop and livestock farming covering 50,000-70,000 square km in the Sahel zones of Chad, north-eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and Niger; and providing new infrastructure platform for industries and water transport.

The core idea is to increase the water quantity in Lake Chad, improve water flow conditions, alleviate poverty within the basin through socio-economic activities, meet the energy needs of towns and surrounding areas in DRC and Congo Brazzaville, and conduct in-depth environmental impact assessment studies.

Satellite maps show how fast Lake Chad waters have receded over the past decades. Maps by NASA

New Silk Road to Lake Chad

The Lake Chad Basin Commission resolved the issue of funding studies on water transfer by creating a new Silk Road to Lake Chad. PowerChina, one of the country’s largest multinationals that built the Three Gorges dam, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LCBC last December.

PowerChina committed to finance the feasibility studies for the initial stages of Transaqua and eventually to build the infrastructure. The water transfer canal will be a navigable facility 100 metres wide and 10 metres deep, stretching from southern DRC to CAR’s northern border. The waterway will be flanked by a service road and eventually a rail line.

Fast-receding lake

Lake Chad, once one of the greatest in the world, has receded fast in recent years as a result of less rainfall and harmful irrigation practices. Other unforeseen phenomena like the exodus of refugees and displaced populations fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram terrorist group have since arisen.

The recent deals between PowerChina,  LCBC and Bonifica Spa have raised hopes for the 40 million people in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: LCBC

According to experts, only a robust measure like replenishing the lake’s water could spare the wetland – a food basket located between Central and West Africa – from total disappearance. Meanwhile, the impoverishment of the Lake Chad Basin has made it fertile ground for recruiting terrorists for Boko Haram. Although Transaqua offered a viable solution to the lake’s problems since the 1970s, Western nations and institutions showed little interest in funding the project.

Push by President Buhari

A shift occurred in May 2015 with the election of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari. He came to power with a programme to develop national infrastructure, including implementing the water-transfer project for Lake Chad. At several international gatherings, President Buhari made the case for resolving the problems of Lake Chad and requesting Western nations to deliver on promises for financial assistance. He has also strongly oriented his government towards cooperation with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations.

Discussing the groundbreaking water agreement in The Nigerian Tribune newspaper last July 25, Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, noted that a similar project to move water from southern to northern China where some areas are semi-arid has been undertaken by the authorities. The Minister added that Nigeria is working with UNESCO to organize an international conference on Lake Chad in Abuja before the end of 2017 to rally support for Transaqua.

Role of LaRouche

Thanks to the fight taken up by LaRouche organization over the years and the initiators of Transaqua, the project is today becoming reality within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Executive Intelligence Review magazine and Schiller Institute in 2015 arranged the first meeting between LCBC and the brains behind Transaqua. This was followed in December 2016 by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between LCBC and PowerChina, and subsequent contacts between Bonifica Spa and the Chinese company.

The Boko Haram insurgency has led to the displacement of thousands of people, thereby aggravating the problems in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: Nigerian Tribune newspaper

Origin of Transaqua project

Transaqua was first developed by the Italian engineering firm, Bonifica, in the late 1970s.

River Congo is the second largest river in the world with an average 41,000 cubic meters of unused water emptied at short intervals into the Atlantic Ocean. Bonifica then estimated that 3-4 per cent of this quantity of unused water will be enough to replenish Lake Chad.

The project involved building of a 2,400 km canal from the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, (then Zaire) to intercept the right bank tributaries of River Congo through dams and reservoirs, and move 100 billion cubic metres of water per annum by gravity to Lake Chad. The project was given consideration by various stakeholders without much progress because of lack of interest or insufficient funding.

Several meetings were held between PowerChina and LCBC officials. Photo: LCBC

Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, a contributor to People’s Daily Online, is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently a China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellow.