Time to End Clap-Trap About ‘Debt-Trap Diplomacy’ in Africa!

While China is Africa’s biggest bilateral creditor, most of the continent’s debt is due to private Western holders of African debt, according to a new study. Photo: PowerChina

June 14, 2022

Africa’s Bigger Worry Is Western Bondholders-Study Finds, an article in the South China Morning Post (see below), is yet another refutation of the baseless ‘debt-trap diplomacy.’ Western propaganda accuses China of  deliberately driving African nations into debt, in order to seize their assets upon default on their loans. These charges have been disproved again, and again, including by the China-Africa Research Institute-CARI, Johns Hopkins University Washington DC. Not to overlooked: not one African asset or project involving China has been seized!

“Contrary to the debt-trap narrative, if a wave of African defaults materializes in the near future, as IFI officials have been fearing since at least 2015, it will be catalyzed more by private-sector maneuvering and intransigence than by Chinese scheming,” the study said

These false allegations against China and its Belt and Road Initiative, have been repeated without a scintilla of evidence, by leaders of  Western governments including several U.S. Presidents, members of Congress, and State Department officials. The motivation for the mindless repetition of what is a blatant falsehood, is the perverted geopolitical doctrine. The followers of this geopolitical mindset insist that for the U.S. led West, to maintain their supremacy in the world, they must suppress and weaken other superpowers, to prevent them from challenging the U.S.-West hegemonic status. Sadly, from the ideology of western geopolitics, the African continent is seen as a mere chess board with African nations as mere chess pieces to counter China’s emergence. To China’s credit they have collaborated with African nations to build vitally necessary infrastructure, while for the last fifty years, the West has refused to make these long term investments.

 As I have documented on this website for years, Africa’s infrastructure is so huge, that the demand for capital investment cannot be satisfied by one nation alone.

There is a harmony of interest for the U.S. and China to cooperate with African nations to eliminate poverty and hunger, which I know can be done within one generation. Let us jettison the relic of geopolitics and adopt a mission that is in the shared-common interest of humankind.

Africa’s Bigger Worry Is Western Bondholders-Study Finds

Chinese debt traps in Africa? The bigger worry is bondholders, study finds

•China is the continent’s biggest bilateral creditor but most of the debt is due to private Western holders of African debt, according to a new report

•Private-sector manoeuvring rather than Chinese scheming more likely to induce a wave of defaults, researchers say

Jevans Nyabiage, June 6, 2022

The rise in African debt due to Chinese lending pales in comparison with the debt burden created by private creditors in the last decade, according to a new report taking aim at accusations that Beijing engages in “debt-trap diplomacy” on the continent.

The study – by Harry Verhoeven from the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, and Nicolas Lippolis from the department of politics and international relations at the University of Oxford – says the debt-trap narrative is a function of China-US strategic and ideological rivalry rather than a reflection of African realities or perspectives.

“What keeps African leaders awake at night is not Chinese debt traps. It is the whims of the bond market,” the report says.

Debt-trap diplomacy involves extending loans to countries and taking control of key assets if the debtor defaults on repayments.

While China is the continent’s biggest bilateral creditor, most of the debt is due to private Western holders of African debt, according to the researchers. Capital, in the form of debt repayments, thus continued to flow from Africa to Europe and North America, the study said.

Verhoeven said the percentage of African debt owed to China was less compared to that borrowed from private creditors.

“[Chinese debt] is not the most rapidly growing segment of debt. Other credit lines have grown a lot more in recent years, especially those towards commercial creditors,” said Verhoeven, co-author of the report “Politics by Default: China and the Global Governance of African Debt”.

“These are bondholders, people from London, Frankfurt and New York who are buying African debt. That segment in the last couple of years has grown much faster than any liabilities that African states owe other creditors.”

The report cited confidential estimates of international financial institutions (IFIs) that showed sub-Saharan Africa’s government debts to Chinese entities at the end of 2019 totaled around US$78 billion. This was about 8 per cent of the region’s total debt of US$954 billion and 18 per cent of Africa’s external debt.

Continue reading the entire article: Africa’s Bigger Worry Is Western Bondholders-Study Finds

Read my earlier posts:

Africa’s ‘poverty trap’ more dangerous than so-called debt trap

Chinese ‘Debt Trap” is a Myth-Biden Would be Wise Not to Continue Trump’s Attacks on China in Africa 

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the 0blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

U.S. Geopolitics Exposes Itself in CFR report on China’s Belt and Road-Will Africa benefit?

China’s Belt and Road Initiative- BRI (Courtesy of dailysabah.com)

February12, 2022

Lawrence Freeman

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) March 2021 report: China’s Belt and Road: Implications for the United States, would be humorous, if it was not so pitiful. In the course of almost 200 pages, the CFR, the premiere think tank of the U.S. Establishment, maligns China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), but admits that the success of the BRI is the result of a failure of U.S. policy. The entire analysis is inherently flawed from the beginning because it proceeds from the axioms of the diseased doctrine of geo-politics, which views the world as a zero-sum game. Rather than understanding that the world is composed of human beings and sovereign nations who share a common interest, Anglo-American devotees of geopolitics only see two sides. In this case, China, and the U.S., where “an advantage to one side is a loss to the other.”   

The CFR report is replete with a compilation of:

  • Contradictions
  • Speculation that BRI nations debt to China “might” or “could” lead to economic distress
  • China is not playing by the international rules imposed by Western international financial institutions
  • Recommendations that do not address the reasons for the success of the BRI, but instead propose new forms of political-economic warfare to undermine China.

The report’s Executive Summary bluntly states:

“U.S. inaction as much as Chinese assertiveness is responsible for the economic and strategic predicament in which the United States finds itself. U.S. withdrawal helped create the vacuum that China filled with BRI…it [the U.S.] has not met the inherent needs of the region.” (emphasis added)  

US Infrastructure Investment?

US stopped loaning money to Africa for infrastructure for several decades

It is well known that beginning in the 1970s, the U.S. moved away from investing in hard infrastructure. Hard infrastructure is essential to the growth of the physical economy. It is irreplaceable in providing a platform that is the foundation of a healthy economy. The U.S. abandoned the needs of the majority of the nations of the world and foolishly sabotaged the U.S. economy as well.

According to estimates by the World Bank sited in this report:

“…$97 trillion needs to be spent on infrastructure globally by 2040 in order to maintain economic growth and to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals, but an $18 trillion gap exists.”

The report acknowledges that Western financial institutions and governments do not fund hard infrastructure.

Should BRI nations be punished for trying to improve the lives of their population by accepting China’s financing help? The African continent, which has the largest infrastructure deficit in the world, encounters a gap upwards of $100 billion a year for essential infrastructure investment.

The report itself admits the global benefits of the BRI:

“Since BRI’s launch in 2013, Chinese banks and companies have financed and built everything from power plants, railways, highways, and ports to telecommunications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables, and smart cities around the world…BRI has the potential to meet long-standing developing country needs and spur global economic growth.” (emphasis added)

 Geopolitics Governs Western Thinking

If the CFR were genuinely concerned about addressing the huge lack of hard infrastructure that is keeping nations underdeveloped and forcing  billions of people around the world to live in poverty, they would propose the U.S. collaborate with the BRI. However, they are more concerned in trying to maintain U.S. unipolar dominance.

For those of you who do not know, the Council on Foreign Relations is a 100 year old arm of the Anglo-American establishment. Founded in 1921 as the American branch of the British Royal Institute for International Affairs, otherwise known as Chatham House, which was createdtwo years earlier. Chatham House was created by Lord Alfred Milner, then acting as Secretary of State for the British Empire’s colonies, through a vast trust funded by the estate of race-patriot Cecil Rhodes.

(Courtesy of slideshare.net)

The CFR report makes clear their fear of China usurping the U.S. as the one and only world superpower when they write that the BRI will “enable China to lock countries into Chinese ecosystems…“The report attacks China for the crime of violating the so called free-trade system by subsidizing “state-owned and non–market oriented Chinese companies” and that the BRI is “undermining world macroeconomic stability.”

Nevertheless, the report states: The United States, even if not formally part of BRI, would likely benefit in some ways if BRI builds infrastructure that accelerates global economic growth.” (emphasis added)

The actual threat for the Western financial system, overburdened with quadrillions of dollars of derivatives and unpayable debts, is that it will be outperformed by China, dislodging the U.S. from its perch as the sole economic superpower.

No Debt Trap, Debt Crisis Instead

The CFR report is forced to admit there is no Chinese debt-trap, and no asset seizure.

“Although not setting explicit debt traps, China’s lending practices contribute to debt crisis along BRI.” However, “there has yet to be a case in which China has taken control of other countries’ infrastructure.”

Revealing their real concern, the report speculates, “the risk is clear that countries unable to repay their debts to China could become clients of China, deferring to it on political or strategic issues.”

The CFR report, while explicitly acknowledging multiple times that there is no debt-trap, argues that Chinese BRI loans are driving the “emerging debt crisis,” threatening todisruptthe global financial system. They write: “When these emerging debt crises in BRI countries materialize, they will undermine global economic growth and macroeconomic stability…”

They also allege that: “BRI participants [will be forced] to choose between meeting debt-service requirements to China or funding local economic recovery and critical medical services at a moment of historic crisis.” Isn’t that precisely what the World Bank and International Monetary Fund have been demanding of developing nations for the last several decades?

China dwarfs the West in infrastructure investment

Gyude More, the former Minister of Infrastructure in Liberia, has on multiple occasions pointed out the fallacies of claiming that China is causing debt distress in African nations. He estimates that Africa’s debt to China is between 20-23%, with a handful of African nations responsible for the majority of the debt. Approximately 80% of the continent’s debt is owed to multilateral Western financial institutions, the private sector, and hedge funds.

Moore cogently points out that prior to China’s involvement in the continent, African nations were forced to pay debt service and arrears on unpayable Western loans. Africans also received no benefit from multi-billion dollar Western extractive mining interests that looted Africa’s resources, contributing little or nothing to improving the conditions of life for Africans. With China there is a new “win-win” model. Moore explains that natural resources are instead used to secure loans from China to actually build vitally needed infrastructure that benefits the lives of Africans. Why should African nations reject this arrangement, which also comes with no demands for political of financial reform of the host nation? The West “doth protest too much, methinks.”

CFR Proposals: Impotent or Geopolitical?

The recommendations of the CFR report are a combination of impotency and geopolitical idiocy, arrogantly displaying no respect for the sovereignty of BRI nations. However, the report itself affirms that China’s BRI is a reality across the globe, and it is here to stay. All of the recommendations in this report avoid addressing what the BRI is providing; government subsidized credit for the construction of hard infrastructure. Instead, they recommend for the U.S. to menacingly wage geopolitical propaganda war against China and the BRI. Their suggestions include for the U.S. to; raise awareness of BRI risks, fund investigative journalism in BRI countries, champion anticorruption, work with IMF and World Bank to assess debt sustainability for BRI nations, and prepare for a conflict with BRI countries.

Notice the glaring absence of a positive development policy that promotes real economic growth around the world, demonstrating the bankruptcy of U.S. foreign policy, as well as the CFR.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

Africa’s ‘poverty trap’ more dangerous than so-called debt trap

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend the completion ceremony of the Chinese-built oil terminal at the port of Mombasa in Mombasa, Kenya, January 6, 2022. /Xinhua

Lawrence Freeman

CGTN, January 24, 2022

Editor’s note: Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst on Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In his visit to Kenya on January 6, 2022, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, emphasized China’s support for economic progress in Africa, and in particular, the Horn of Africa.

Wang was continuing China’s 32-year-old tradition of having their foreign minister begin each year with an overseas trip to Africa. In the first week of January, Wang met with officials in Eritrea, Kenya and Comoros. Both Eritrea and Kenya are located in East Africa, a region where Ethiopia, the second most populated nation in Africa, is engaged in a 14-month war to defeat an armed insurrection led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Kenya, an important ally of China, is a key nation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Maritime Silk Road.

Eliminating poverty

Wang, in his press conference, focused on the number one challenge facing Africa: poverty and the extremely low standard of living affecting the majority of its 1.4 billion people.

He polemically stated,”If there is any trap in Africa, it is the trap of poverty and the trap of backwardness,” which he counterposed to the so-called debt trap that he referred to as a “speech trap” created by the West. China speaks with authority, which has accomplished a modern day miracle in lifting over 750 million of its people out of extreme poverty and has pledged to help Africa do the same.

A woman fills up her water jerrycan in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, January 1, 2022. /VCG

China’s approach to the current challenges in the Horn of Africa is in stark contrast to that of the U.S. Instead of punishing Eastern African nations with sanctions and economic warfare, China is promoting peace and economic development. According to Wang, China will appoint a special envoy for the region, with the goal:

“To support the Horn of Africa in realizing lasting stability, peace and prosperity, China is willing to put forward the ‘Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa’ and support regional countries in addressing the triple challenges of security, development and governance.”

Emphasizing China’s infrastructure-led economic approach, Wang encouraged nations of the region to “accelerate regional revitalization to overcome development challenges,” adding that “the two principal axes, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, should be enlarged and enhanced with the aim of expanding to neighboring countries at an opportune moment.”

Wang announced that China would provide an additional 10 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Kenya which follows President Xi Jinping’s November pledge at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation conference in Dakar, to make 1 billion doses available to Africa.

China’s policy guided by development

The dominant feature of China’s relation to Africa is development, contrary to the Western geopolitical propaganda against China. The infrastructure-driven BRI has made physical improvements in African economies through the construction of railways, roads, power generation capacity, ports and airports. There is not a single Western nation that even remotely compares to China’s level of investment in Africa.

As every African leader knows well, if China were to cease offering loans for infrastructure, there would be no Western nation to address the continent’s huge deficit in the field, and African nations would suffer terribly.

The U.S. has failed to modernize its own rail network and is incapable of building advanced transportation corridors in other countries, while China had constructed around 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail by the end of 2021.

Unlike U.S. officials who travel to African nations, Chinese representatives do not attach political conditionalities or arrogantly dictate what domestic policies must be adopted by their host countries. Instead, China is thoughtful by responding to the most critical and urgent needs of African nations. That is the elimination of poverty, which necessitates massive investments in hard and soft infrastructure.

Africa-s-poverty-trap-more-dangerous-than-so-called-debt-trap

Read my earlier posts:

Chinese ‘Debt Trap” is a Myth-Biden Would be Wise Not to Continue Trump’s Attacks on China in Africa 

China-Africa Debt Trap Refuted Again. Belt and Road Building Infrastructure-Developing Africa

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

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

African Nations Must Have High-Speed Rail Network to Survive and Develop

January 10, 2022

I fully endorse the call by the African Railway Roundtable for the Europe Union to support the African Integrated High-Speed Rail Network. Whether Europe’s Global Gateway Strategy will actually fund this critically important infrastructure project is not clear.

The massive infrastructure deficit existing in all African nations is the greatest impediment to the elimination of poverty. Next to energy, rail transportation is the most vital category of infrastructure necessary for African nations to survive and develop in the 21st century. That U.S. and Europe have not understood this concept of physical economy for the last 50 years demonstrates a major failure in Western policy. That so called human right groups and NGOs have not made this–energy and rail infrastructure–their highest priority in their advocacy is another sign of the ignorance of what is required for African nations to provide for the welfare of their people.

Let Europe and the U.S. join China’s Belt and Road Initiative in bringing vitally required infrastructure to Africa.

Read my earlier posts:

Africa Continental Free Trade Area Must Have An Integrated High Speed Rail Network

The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Link to Europe World Global Gateway

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

China’s Belt & Road is Helping Empower African Nations to Realize Their Economic Potential

November 15, 2021

Please watch my 45 minute presentation to the Special Session on Africa, at the ICG 16 in Qingdao, China, on October 25, 2021, entitled: “How China Is Empowering Africa’s Self Development.”

I discuss as a physical economist the critical importance of infrastructure in developing a progressive pro-growth economy. Expansion of vital categories of infrastructure, such as railroads and electricity is the most essential task for African nations today. I present in detail how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is assisting African nations in developing their economies. The West, dominated by the disease known as “geo-politics” is spreading false propaganda against China’s investment in Africa. I expose their their anti-China propaganda regarding so called “debt-trap” diplomacy. Viewing my presentation will prove valuable to those familiar and those unfamiliar with China’s cooperative relationship wit African nations.

Please watch: Africa-China: Belt and Road

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa: Africa Needs Reliable Energy-Nuclear-to Power Industrialized Economies

Wind turbines operate at a wind farm near Vredenburg, South Africa, Oct. 6. Photo: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg News

The comments below by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, are very timely as G-20 nations convene in Glasgow for the COP26 Summit. President Museveni is absolutely correct. The Green energy movement proposed by the West will lead to more deaths, increase poverty, and impose more misery, and suffering across the continent of sub-Saharan African (SSA). Under the guise of reducing C02, the “Green Reset” supported by all the global financial instructions, will suppress the growth of agriculture, manufacturing and industry in SSA.  The deficit of energy in SSA is killing Africans today and has retarded economic growth in SSA for decades. Over the last several decades Western nations and intuitions have done nothing to address the huge infrastructure needs in Africa. However, now these same institutions are using the Green ideology to prevent Africa from developing. My estimates are that SSA needs at least 1,000 gigawatts of energy. I support burning as much oil, gas, and coal as necessary in preparation to transitioning into economies powered by nuclear energy. Only in the last ten years as we seen minimally, but important construction of vital infrastructure by China and Belt and Road Initiative. 

OPINION | COMMENTARY-Wall Street Journal

Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa
Letting us use reliable energy doesn’t mean a climate disaster.

By Yoweri K. Museveni
Oct. 24, 2021

Africa can’t sacrifice its future prosperity for Western climate goals. The continent should balance its energy mix, not rush straight toward renewables—even though that will likely frustrate some of those gathering at next week’s global climate conference in Glasgow.
My continent’s energy choices will dictate much of the climate’s future. Conservative estimates project that Africa’s population of 1.3 billion will double by 2050. Africans’ energy consumption will likely surpass that of the European Union around the same time.

Knowing this, many developed nations are pushing an accelerated transition to renewables on Africa. The Western aid-industrial complex, composed of nongovernmental organizations and state development agencies, has poured money into wind and solar projects across the continent. This earns them praise in the U.S. and Europe but leaves many Africans with unreliable and expensive electricity that depends on diesel generators or batteries on overcast or still days. Generators and the mining of lithium for batteries are both highly polluting.

This stands to forestall Africa’s attempts to rise out of poverty, which require reliable energy. African manufacturing will struggle to attract investment and therefore to create jobs without consistent energy sources. Agriculture will suffer if the continent can’t use natural gas to create synthetic fertilizer or to power efficient freight transportation.

A better solution is for Africa to move slowly toward a variety of reliable green energy sources. Wildlife-friendly minihydro technologies should be a part of the continent’s energy mix. They allow for 24-hour-a-day energy production and can be installed along minor rivers without the need for backup energy. Coal-fired power stations can be converted to burning biomass, and carbon capture can help in the meantime. Nuclear power is also already being put to good use in South Africa, while Algeria, Ghana and Nigeria operate research reactors with the intent of building full-scale nuclear facilities.

All this will take time, meaning Africa will have to use fossil fuels as it makes the transition. Natural gas is a greener option that will help the continent reduce emissions even as it grows, as developed nations have done themselves.

Saying any of this meets with backlash from developed nations. Instead of reliable renewables or greener fossil fuels, aid money and development investments go to pushing solar and wind, with all their accompanying drawbacks. And many Western nations have put a blanket ban on public funding for a range of fossil-fuel projects abroad, making it difficult for Africa to make the transition to cleaner nonrenewables.

In the coming decades my continent will have a strong influence on global warming. But it doesn’t now. Were sub-Saharan Africa (minus South Africa) to triple its electricity consumption overnight, powering the new usage entirely by gas, it would add only 0.6% to global carbon emissions.

Africans have a right to use reliable, cheap energy, and doing so doesn’t prevent the development of the continent’s renewables. Forcing Africa down one route will hinder our fight against poverty.

Mr. Museveni is president of Uganda.

Interview with Lawrence Freeman: Developing Africa Will Elevate the World to a Higher Economic-Political Platform

Watch the interview

April 10, 2021

Watch the above interview with Lawrence Freeman. It is a far reaching discussion that elaborates the importance of infrastructure led development polices for Africa. It highlights  the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project that will not only reverse the shrinking Lake Cad, but will transform the entire Lake Chad Basin, improving the living conditions for millions of Africans. The conclusion of the interview discuses the significance of the African continent for global development over the next one to two generations. Essential, Africa is the new frontier on the planet earth.  Freeman proffered that if the United States would collaborate with China in leading an infrastructure driven economic transformation of Africa, hunger and poverty could be eliminated.  This would also shift political relations among nations away from the destructive doctrine of geo-politics to one of a common shared development of humankind.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Hunger in DRC-Criminal Stupidity Not to Help African Nations Manufacture Covid-19 Vaccines

(Courtesy of acted.org)

April 10, 2021

Watch my brief interview (below) on the Covid-19 crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and across Africa.

Covid-19 has worsened the already desperate condition of lack of food for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other nations in Africa. As reported below, a staggering  one third of the population of the DRC are “acutely hungry.” The DRC has the largest amount of unused arable land in the world. If developed, it could potentially feed the continent of Africa. It is the lack of development, not any objective conditions that is the cause of hunger in the DRC. 

Vaccines must be given to African nations now to inoculate their populations. However, if were are to vaccinate 1.5 billion people living in Africa, which we must, Africa will need 3 billion doses. This requires assisting African nations in building up their domestic manufacturing capability to produce the vaccine and vaccinate their populations. Anything less is shortsighted, if not criminally stupid.

Read my earlier posts:    Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19 ;  Hunger Stalks Africa: Nations Should be Food Self-Sufficient

                              

Acute Hunger Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Excepted report from EIR News.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable. China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.”

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

The Truth: It is good that China Is Investing in Africa’s Energy and Transportation Infrastructure

The Truth: It is good that China Is Investing in Africa’s Energy and Transportation Infrastructure

Lawrence Freeman

April 8, 2021

Below are two articles examining China’s investment policy in Africa that should be read to learn the truth about China’s lending to the continent. One, is a briefing paper from China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) entitled, Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending. The second is entitled, “Why Substantial Chinese FDI is Flowing into Africa, by Shirly Yu. Combined, both papers provide a thorough analysis of the positive contribution of Chinese investment in Africa, surpassing the United States in all categories. As  many African leaders know, without China’s contribution to Africa’s development, especially in infrastructure, Africa would be worse off. There is absolutely no indication that the U.S. and the West would fill that void.

It is undeniable that China has invested heavily in the development of Africa over the last two decades. Ignore the claptrap allegations of a deliberate Chinese debt-trap policy to seize control over Africa’s resources. It is nonsense and has not happened; not once, not in a single African nation.

According to CARI’s data base, from 2000-2019, China has made $157 billion in loans to Africa. Of these 1,077 loans, 85% have been in categories of infrastructure, of which 65% have been in energy and transportation. According to CARI, only 13% of Africa’s debt is owed to China. The largest portion of Africa’s debt is owed to multilateral institutions at 32%, followed by loans from private bond holders. Outside of Angola, only 8% of Chinese lending was for resource backed loans. 90% of the contractors in Africa from China are private Chinese companies, not state owned enterprises (SOEs). Also, 90 % of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is from private Chinese companies, although SOEs are the largest investors in Africa in total value.

President Biden has recently suggested that the U.S. and Europe should lead a western version of China’s Belt and Road (BRI). If it were to be as productive as China[‘s (BRI), African nations would benefit greatly, especially in this challenging economic period.

Excerpts from Shirly Yu:

“Make no mistake, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still the largest investors in Africa by value and continue to dominate the energy, transportation and resources sectors due to the strategic nature and long-haul return of these investments. For instance, one third of Africa’s power grid and energy infrastructure has been financed and constructed by state-owned Chinese companies since 2010. China is the most significant foreign contributor through SOEs and state-owned banks to Africa’s energy development.

“By 2034, Africa’s labour force is forecast to surpass that of China and India combined. By 2050, the African population is expected to be 2.5 billion, while China’s population will decline to below 1 billion. With these figures in mind, Africa’s young labour force is exactly what China’s labour-intensive manufacturers seek today.”

Read: Why Substantial Chinese FDI Is Flowing into Africa

Excerpts from CARI:

IN 2000, WE RECORDED ONLY three Chinese lenders, financing 14 projects, with an average value of just US$ 10 million. Over the next 19 years, over 30 Chinese lenders would commit loans to African governments and state owned enterprises. Since 2010, Chinese financiers have financed an average of 71 projects per year, at an average value of US$ 180 million.
The four biggest Chinese banks involved with lending to African countries are China Eximbank, CDB, ICBC, and BOC. China Eximbank–which is China’s official export credit agency, and also the only bank offering government
subsidized foreign aid concessional loans–is the largest and since 2000 accounts for 56 percent of all loans.

Read: Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

 

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19

A health worker at a local health centre in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, prepares a vaccine injection. (Courtesy UNICEF/Sibylle Desjardins)

March 29, 2021

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa

Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Nicaise Ndembi, senior science advisor for the Africa CDC, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank President, have all spoken out on the need to vaccinate Africa’s more than one billion people. Dr. Adesina speaking earlier this month at the launch of the Bank’s African Outlook 2021 report said, “We need global solidarity and vaccine justice for Africa…as long as Africans remain unvaccinated the world will go back to square one.”

On a March 25 webinar, organized by the Advocacy Network for Africa, and Africa Rising, Dr. Nkengasong echoed the same immediacy for Africa to vaccinate its people against Covid19. He told his audience; we have more Africans dying from the second wave of Covid19 and there is potential of a third wave. “We need vaccines today” he said.

All African Must Be Vaccinated!

Dr. Ndembi, speaking on the same webinar, outlined the minimal goal of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s population by the end of 2022. Based on his low estimate of Africa’s population at 1.2 billion, he calculated  vaccinating 720 million people, requiring 1.4 billion doses of the two dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The one dose Jonson and Johnson could significantly speed up the vaccination process. However, it is unacceptable to plan to vaccinate only 60% of Africa’s growing population over the next 21 months.

Only a small number of vaccines has been delivered to Africa, about 14.6 million doses, according to Dr. Adesina, reported by Reliefweb. The main vehicle for acquiring the COVID-19 vaccines for Africa is the COVAX initiative, led by the World Health Organization and backed by the United Nations. President Biden has authorized $2.5 billion to fund COVAX and pledged another $1.5 billion. However, the U.S. unlike China and Russia, has not donated a single dose of any its three  vaccines to Africa.

As all epidemiologists know, as long as large numbers of human beings remain unvaccinated, the virus will mutate, potentially to more contagious and virulent strains, endangering the whole human race. Therefore, it is not only immoral for vaccine producing nations not to vaccinate the populations of all lower and middle income nations, but insanely irresponsible.

(Courtesy statista.com)

For the sake of preserving the wellbeing of the human race, our goal has to be nothing short of complete vaccination of the planet’s eligible population. It is foolish to have poorer nations competing for limited supplies of vaccines. According to Matthew Kavanagh, who participated in the March 25th webinar, sharing the limited supply of vaccines will not be sufficient to defeat the virus. He estimated that given the appropriate support, some African nations could begin producing vaccines themselves in six months. Dr Adesina pointed to the core of the solution; “Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and begin manufacturing.” There is no viable solution to protect Africa’s expanding population from this virus, other than immediately building up the capacity of African nations to produce and distribute vaccines to their people.

This will require releasing the patents-the secrets of the vaccines, to other nations. Kavanagh, from the Center for Global Health Science and Security, rightly demands that governments “will need to use their legal and political authority to push companies to share their patents and know-how.” He pointed out that the creation of the Moderna vaccine was supported by $2.5 billion of American taxpayers’ money. President Biden’s administration must use every kind of effort to insure that intellectual property rights do not trump the obligation to save lives.

 

All-Out Economic Mobilization Required to Defeat COVID-19

As a result of responding to the spread of HIV/AIDS over several decades and more recently, from several outbreaks of Ebola, Africans have learned some valuable experiences. For African nations to produce and distribute vaccines in sufficient quantities to inoculate over one billion people, new capabilities will have to be added to their diminutive manufacturing sectors. To get the vaccine into the arms of their population, their weak health care system will have to be vastly expanded. This will require implementing economic growth policies that are long overdue in Africa, but under the necessity of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, must now be immediately executed. This includes massive investment in hard and soft infrastructure. For example. One cannot expect to win the war against this virus, without high-speed rail transportation to move products quickly in refrigerated cars between cities and ports. Without roads, the vaccine will not reach large sections of the population. Of course, more hospitals and well equipped clinics will be required to be built. Energy will be needed to produce and maintain the quality of the vaccines, as well as providing the power for the manufacturing plants and hospitals. Africa is severely lacking in these and other basic categories of infrastructure.

It is estimated that almost 40 million more Africans will be pushed into poverty this year as a result of the pandemic. I believe that estimate is too low, but it would still represent almost a 10% increase in the number of Africans living in poverty. To respond to the necessity of winning the war against this pandemic, Africa would have to be transformed with immense investments in new infrastructure, production, and industry. Hiring those eager to work in these productive jobs will provide meaningful employment for millions of youths, and those misemployed in the cancerous so called informal economy.

What President Biden Should Do

It is reported that in a recent discussion with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, proposed that western nations develop a Belt and Road initiative like that of China.  Let us start with the African continent, which is projected to have 25% of the world’s population in 2050, with 2.4 billion people.

For a just and intelligent American policy to vaccinate Africa from COVID-19, President Biden should provide leadership in:

  • Calling for a debt moratorium on principal and interest for the next two years-at least until the end of the first quarter of 2023, so nations can free up funds to pay for vaccinating their citizens.
  • Persuading the vaccine manufacturers to allow the patents of their vaccines to be released so other nations can reproduce the vaccine. Essentially, waiving intellectual property rights.
  • Providing know-how and technology transfer for the production and storage of the vaccines.
  • Providing interest free loans-grants as startup funds for vaccine manufacturing plants.
  • Providing training and logistical support for establishing mass vaccination centers.
  • Offering long term low-interest concessionary loans for the construction of vitally necessary hard and soft infrastructure in the model of China’s Belt and Road

Surely for the sake of civilization, America can and must assist African nations to accomplish more than vaccinating just 60% of their population by 2022. If we do not fully vaccinate Africa, then in addition to the loss of life among Africans, the virus would continue to mutate, travel around the world, potentially infecting and reinfecting the world’s population. From a purely economic outlook, the global economy would lose trillions of dollars from underperforming African economies. Let us act nobly and wisely in understanding that when we act in the interest of others, we are also acting in our own interest

Read: African development bank president calls global vaccine solidarity and justice africa; and To democratize vaccine access democratize production

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.