China’s experience: Helping transform an African desert into a garden

William Jones

Editor’s noteWilliam Jones is the Washington Bureau Chief for Executive Intelligence Review and a non-resident fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

With the upcoming visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Italy, there will no doubt be some discussion of cooperation between the two nations on the African continent. For Italy, helping to resolve the dire economic situation in Africa is both a humanitarian and an economic concern. The devastated economy in many African countries is bringing more and more refugees to Italy’s shore, and the burden is taking its toll on the Italian economy. For China, Africa has always been a particular concern having shared in the condition of underdevelopment for so many years. Even when both were clearly developing countries, China offered its assistance to its African brothers.

One of the most significant projects in that regard is the Transaqua project. This project would take some of the water from the Congo River, a river with the greatest flow of water in the world, and through a series of canals to the Chari River which flows into Lake Chad, a lake whose surface has been dramatically reduced from 25,000 km2  in 1960 to 1,500 km2 today.

The water transfer project would help revive the lake, and with the construction of dams and power plants along the canal, would help to bring development to the region, directly affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa and Nigeria, through which it would pass. In addition, it would also bring economic benefits to Niger, Cameron, Chad and Congo Brazzaville as well.

People crowd the oceanfront area along the Galle Face green in Colombo, Sri Lanka, November 20, 2018. /VCG Photo
The Italian engineering company, Bonifica SpA has been instrumental in working out the plans for this project and is fully committed to it. In 2017 Bonifica and Powerchina entered an agreement for the joint development of the project. China, with its own extensive south-to-north water diversion project, possesses a good deal of expertise in dealing with such a project. Such collaboration also fits in nicely with the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which has received strong support from the Italian government. The Transaqua project developed by Bonifica has in part been developed by PowerChina.

Representatives from both Bonifica and PowerChina were invited in 2018 as speakers at the International Conference on Lake Chad, in Abuja, sponsored by the Government of Nigeria. The final declaration of the conference stated that Lake Chad needs to be saved and that its current situation demands immediate action. The Italian government at the time pledged 1.5 million Euros (1.7 million U.S. dollars) to start the Transaqua feasibility study.

The expansion of the BRI to Africa has kindled new hope in a continent that had virtually been abandoned by the West in terms of large development projects. The Mombasa-Nairobi railway, the Nigerian coastal railway, the Chad-Sudan railway, the Port Sudan-Khartoum railway have already provided the template for industrializing the entire African continent.

President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer attends the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region in Oslo, Norway, February 24, 2017. /VCG Photo
While China has been ground-breaking in returning to the long-awaited – and much-delayed – project of African industrialization, the enormity of the project is of such a magnitude, that China alone cannot do it.  But the BRI opens the possibility of working together with other Western nations in realizing this goal. And the cooperation with Italy on the Lake Chad project can serve as a paradigm for how the BRI must work.

While some Western nations are trying to depict the BRI as a geopolitical “ploy” by China, anyone looking at the effect of the project on the recipient countries will see the falsehood of these claims. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, “You can’t fool all the people all the time.” And to the extent that countries overcome their fears and begin to work with the BRI and contribute their strength to developing other countries, they will better understand the importance of the project and its more profound implications for global development.

China has made great gains in reversing the effects of desertification by means of their water diversion projects, their reforestation efforts and their irrigation projects. If some of this know-how were to be applied in Africa, it would help turn the devastated Sahel region into a veritable garden, which it once was. And the lessons learned can be used on a broader scale to change the nature of life on this planet – for all its people.

*Lawrence Freeman has been an advocate of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project for over two decades. I am the Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission

Nigeria Continues Demand for Transaqua Project to Save the Shrinking Lake Chad

Shrinking Lake Chad can only be saved by bringing water from the Congo River with Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project

December . 24, 2018–

Nigeria’s daily {The Vanguard} reported hat the Nigerian government “on Sunday pledged to strengthen trans-boundary partnerships with Lake Chad Basin member countries to save the lake from extinction. Minister of Water Resources Mr. Suleiman Adamu made the pledge in Abuja. Adamu said that it was a matter for regret that the lake had depleted from its original size, saying its benefit for livelihood could not be over-emphasized.”

With some imprecision, the report identifies the Transaqua plan adopted at the Abuja International Conference on Lake Chad last February though not calling it by name. Adamu “said that Federal Government was partnering with the Chinese and Italian governments to carry out a feasibility study for inter-basin water transfer from the Ubangi River in Congo. “He said that the proposed water transfer would be one of the biggest water transfer in Africa, stretching over 2,400 km with the sole aim of recharging the lake for maximum benefits,” the newspaper wrote.

Adamu is quoted saying: “What it means is that if we don’t do something, one day we wake up and find out that the lake does not exist. It has happened in other parts of the world where lakes just dried up. We don’t want that to happen, so there was a consensus that the lake must be saved from extinction, because it provides livelihood for as many as 40 million people currently.

And that area has the highest population growth rate in the world, so in the next 30, 40 years, only God knows what the population would be; but we expect it to be high if the trend continues. Unless the lake dries up, in which case, people will now migrate, and you know what those migration[s] would be –there have [been] only two or three options: some would migrate up into the North into Europe, some would go eastwards, into the Central Africa region where it is already a conflict zone.

Saving that lake and sustaining the livelihood of the people in that region is key, and it is a security issue for us in so many ways, including part of efforts to stem the scourge of Boko Haram. The best way to save the lake is to do the inter-basin water transfer, so we achieve that, and that is the premise in which we are working.”

Read article with remarks by Minister Adamu

 

 

Nigeria’s Buhari Renews Commitment for Lake Chad Water Transfer Solution

Dec. 1, 2018 — Speaking at a meeting of the heads of state and government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission-(LCBC) in N’djamena, Chad, Nigerian President Buhari renewed his commitment to pursue the project for “inter-basin water transfer,” i.e. Transaqua, to defeat poverty and eliminate the roots of terrorism in the Sahel.

According to the {Vanguard}, he “charged the Presidents and Heads of Governments in attendance to make concerted efforts to ensure the actualization of efforts to recharge the Lake [Chad], President Buhari stressed that if meticulously pursued, the project ‘has the capacity to unlock the economic potentials and provide solutions to the myriad of interrelated challenges confronting the region.’ As Chairman of the Summit of Heads of State and Governments of the LCBC, President Buhari assured of his commitment to providing the required leadership and direction for the actualization of peace and security in the area,” the daily wrote.

The gathered leaders, President Idris Deby Itno of Chad, President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger Republic, and Prime Minister of Cameroon Philemon Yang, who represented President Paul Biya, issued a joint statement in which they “resolved to change {modus operandi}, collaborate more, and renew assault on all forms of terrorism and criminal acts, till wholesome peace was restored to the region,” the {Vanguard} reports.

At the International Conference on Lake Chad held in Abuja, Nigeria in February, the LCBC leaders committed to explore Transaqua as the only viable solution to the Lake Chad crisis. Transaqua is an Italian idea for a 2,400 km waterway to transfer 100 billion cubic meters water per year from the Congo Basin and produce electricity for agro-industrial development. So far, however, only the Italian government has pledged the initial funds for the feasibility study. A protocol was signed last October in Rome and hopefully the joint LCBC-Italy committee can  release the funds at their first meeting next January, for the feasibility study to begin.

Read more below

Insurgency : Buhari calls for bilateral, multinational platforms at Lake Chad

Nigerian President Buhari Wants Europe, and US to Help Recharge Lake Chad

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

President Buhari is right and should be commended for requesting that Europe and the United States help in recharging the shrinking Lake Chad, which is at 2,000 square kilometers-less than 10% of its area in 1963.  At the Abuja conference to Save Lake Chad in February, organized by President Buhari, the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project was adopted as the solution to saving Lake Chad.  Transaqua is a transformative water infrastructure project that would connect the nations of the Great Lakes and the Lake Chad Basin through a 2,400 kilometer canal. Thus creating a new platform for expanded trade and commerce between these economies. Unlike the US and Europe politicians, who feign concern about the migrant crisis, President Buhari and other African leaders understand that the best way to prevent Africans from risking their lives crossing the Mediterranean is; to create economic growth in the Sahel/Sahara. After decades of inaction, the Italian government has given the Lake Chad Basin Commission 1.5 million Euros to begin a feasibility study by Bonifica, the Italian engineering company that created the Transaqua design over 35 years ago.  I have advocated the Transaqua project for over 20 years, and was able to discuss it with then President-elect Buhari a few days after his election in March 2015. It is most unfortunate that with the single exception of the current Italian government, Western leaders have failed to invest in major infrastructure projects like Transaqua that will generate economic growth in African nations. Let us hope that Western institutions act appropriately to President Buhari ‘s request to help recharge Lake Chad; a vital body of water in Africa’s desert. 

Buhari Wants Europe, US to Help Recharge Lake Chad

President Buhari
  • It would be the greatest western investment in Africa

By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said the greatest investment Europe and the United States could make in Africa now was to help in accomplishing inter-basin water transfer to recharge the Lake Chad.

Receiving the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, in the State House, Buhari recalled how the Lake Chad had served as the source of livelihood for millions of West African citizens in the past.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the president listed countries which benefitted immensely from the lake in its productive years as Chad, Cameroon, Niger and Nigeria.

The president, according to the statement, also noted that Lake Chad  had now shrunk to 10 per cent of its initial size as a result of the huge impact of climate change.

He was quoted as saying, “People who depended on the Lake for fishing, farming, animal husbandry, and many others, have been thrown into dire straits.

“That is one of the reasons youths now dare the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea, to seek greener pastures in Europe. But helping to recharge Lake Chad will help a great deal in curbing irregular migration.”

The statement added that Buhari observed that the size of Nigeria and resources available there-in placed a lot of responsibilities on the country’s shoulders and pledged that the country would continue to fulfill its obligations to the African Union (AU).

Adesina further quoted the president as saying, “At all international fora, we emphasise the matter of Lake Chad. We also talk about the influx of small arms from the Sahel, which worsens the security situation between herders and stagnant farmers. We will keep the issues on the front burners.”

Furthermore, the statement added that Mahamat, in his remarks, praised Buhari, saying his leadership has been good for Nigeria, the AU, and Africa in general.

“He added that the next AU summit would look into the reform of the AU Commission, positioning the AU and Africa in the world, Single Air Transport Market, the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, and other issues,” the statement added.

Read:  Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur, by Lawrence Freeman

 

Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Franklin Roosevelt and Kwame Nkrumah Would Concur

In 1943, after having flown over the Sahara Desert on his way to a Casablanca conference with Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt remarked to his son Elliott, that with the recreation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes?  It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”

Later in the trip, FDR made Winston Churchill apoplectic by discussing plans for anti-imperialist development with the Sultan of Morocco, including mooting American aid in providing the resources to train indigenous scientists and engineers to develop the nation.

FDR’s American System vision for African development was not taken up in the post-war era, but his outlook was echoed by at least two prominent statesmen of the next generation from very different backgrounds—Kwame Nkrumah and President John F. Kennedy. It was no mere coincidence that twenty years later, when Ghanaian President Nkrumah addressed the Organization of African Unity, he would also speak about the “possibility for the Sahara to bloom.” Nkrumah’s vision also would be temporarily crushed.

But today, finally, FDR’s and Nkrumah’s dream is beginning to be realized. A giant step toward greening the desert, and defeating the miserable living conditions which go with it, was taken this February, when a meeting of several African heads of state decided to go ahead with a massive project of water engineering called Transaqua. Although proceeding without American government backing, this project is truly in the spirit of American System development, a long-term investment in transforming the physical environment for the benefit of the general welfare.

It is with that in mind that we present this report by an American who does understand the American System, and has worked persistently for several decades to bring its benefits to Africa.—Nancy Spannaus

The Abuja Conference

After two months, the deliberations from the “International Conference on Saving Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018 are still reverberating, and will continue to do so. This historic conference, the first of its kind to be convened on the African continent, was initiated and sponsored by the Nigerian government in conjunction with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), and supported by the United Nations. It has already begun to change the thinking of what is possible for Africa’s future.

From across the globe, hundreds of water experts, hydrologists, scientists, political leaders, advocates for Lake Chad, the African Union, the Africa Development Bank, and the World Bank, joined the heads of state of the Lake Chad Basin nations for three days of deliberation on the best policy to recharge the contracting Lake Chad.

Having served as an advisor to the LCBC and participated in several discussions with the Nigerian government on the necessity for an inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad, this author was given a prominent role throughout the entire proceeding, addressing the gathering several times in various capacities. (Written remarks by me were also circulated at the conference and to the press.)

Read entire the article: Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur

 

East-West Railroad Would Transform African Continent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africa Collaboration With China’s Silk Road Good for the Continent

Nigeria And China Are In Dialogue On The Belt And Road Initiative

–The Round Table Dialogue held recently in Abuja, organized by the Center for China Studies and chaired by Nigeria’s former Foreign Minister and former ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, discussed the strategy of connectivity across countries, and within countries. The Belt and Road Initiative will spawn an elaborate network of land, rail and maritime transport arteries and industrial clusters along its now-inclusive global routes, Charles Onunaiju wrote in his article, Nigeria and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, published in “The Sun” on March 28.

“The dialogue recognized that the core feature of the Belt and Road, which is essentially connectivity, is at the heart of the contemporary challenge of Africa, and therefore urged Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, to play decisive roles in the mechanism of the Belt and Road by appropriate policy engagement.”

The Deputy Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Li Jing, speaking on that occasion, said “the continent’s development agendas are therefore in synergy with the Belt and Road initiative, and there is no doubt that Africa and Nigeria, through appropriate policy facilitation, could align to the central features of the Belt and Road to advance her modernization and industrialization.”

Belt and Road Initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Area Provide Opportunities in Africa, Says a World Bank Officer

–In an article in the “Daily Nation” of Kenya, Peter Warutere, a communications officer for the World Bank based in Nairobi, said the condition created by the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) “presents a window of opportunity for African

countries to transform their economies, achieve rapid growth, and create jobs for their burgeoning youth population.”

He also wrote that “Kenya is well positioned to greatly benefit from the AfCFTA and the development of the Indian Ocean maritime route connecting China with the East African coastline.

The gateway to eastern Africa, Kenya should invest heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and industrial capacity. The window of opportunity for it is to become a vibrant industrial and logistics hub for Sino-African trade, investment and exchange.”

Kenya’s Secretary of National Treasury, Henry Rotich, said his government hopes China will help to make Kenya’s Big Four economic agenda a success. The Big Four agenda consists of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable health care, Prensa Latina reports. “We want the Chinese private sector to participate in projects related with this agenda,” the Secretary said.

‘Nuclear Could Turn Zambia into a Regional Food Basket’

–That is the plan, by the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and the Agriculture Ministry, with help from Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency. An article under that headline yesterday by the African News Agency describes how for Zambia, and most of Africa, nuclear technology can dramatically improve food availability and nutrition on the continent.

An agreement has been signed with Rosatom for the establishment of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology in Lusaka, which will help prepare Zambia for nuclear power in the future. Zambia suffers power rationing between 8 and 14 hours per day when water is low at its hydroelectric dams. But immediately, the application of nuclear science and technology will be in agriculture.

Crops that are resistant to disease, able to withstand environmental stresses, such as drought, and produce higher yields are developed by using nuclear radiation to change the genetic makeup of plants. Zambia is developing new crop varieties with these characteristics, which will not only improve the nutrition of the population, but also the lives of the farmers.

Nuclear radiation will also be used for preserving food, using radioactive isotopes. This will immediately increase the food supply. A large percentage of the food produced, especially

in developing countries, never reaches the dinner table. For example, 40% of the fish produced globally rots before it can be eaten. Zambia will be able to join the 60 nations in the world that currently preserve food through irradiation.

Other applications of nuclear technology in agriculture will be for pest and disease control, inspection of the quality and quantity of water resources, and soil conservation.

The Zambia Agriculture Ministry is running multiple research projects in various fields to up-shift agriculture. With the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, they will have new tools

Benin President Wants China To Build Rail Project

–President Patrice Talon of the West African nation of Benin has asked the French giant Bolloré and a local firm to “withdraw” from a rail infrastructure project so that China could take over the project, according to an interview Talon gave to the French business magazine {Challenges}, published yesterday.

Benin and neighboring Niger have been attempting to link the Benin port of Cotonou with Niger’s capital, Niamey, since 2008.

Talon described the Bolloré offer as “lower-end,” saying that “a private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone.” Talon also said that “China has the necessary financial means” to support the project, expected to cost around $4 billion and pointed out that “China has demonstrated its technical know-how” for building infrastructure in Africa.

Joint Projects Are a Testament to Cameroon’s Trust in China, Says President, Visiting Beijing

–Cameroon President Paul Biya is on a three-day state visit to China, and, as President Xi Jinping

pointed out, he is the first head of state to come to China since President Xi’s reelection. The two presidents met yesterday. President Biya stated that relations between the two countries has stood the test of time, and that China has become one of Cameroon’s strategic development partners. Without listing all of their specific joint projects, President Biya said that they are a testament to the trust that Cameroon has in China.

This afternoon, Biya met with China’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, of the Standing Committee of yhe National People’s Congress, during which they discussed further bilateral relations in the future. Li said China is willing to have more friendly exchanges with Cameroon’s parliament, and expressed hope that both countries would support each other on political issues. More people-to-people exchanges were also discussed.

In turn, Biya “spoke highly of China’s foreign policy,” Xinhua reports, and said he appreciated China’s long-term support for Cameroon.

Africa Should Learn From China, Advises South African Scientist

–Africa should learn from China’s rapid advances in education, science, and technology to solve socio-economic challenges, said South African scientist Neil Turok. He is the founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. Turok made his remarks yesterday at the opening of the Next Einstein Forum, being held in Rwanda. There are about 1,600 participants at the conference, which takes place March 26-28, and at least half are under the age of 42, {xinhua} reports.
“China has invested heavily in education, science, and technology,” the scientist said, “and the results are amazing. China is emerging as a new global science and technology powerhouse.” He called upon all African countries to focus, prioritize, and promote science and technology for solving economic challenges.

Pres. Buhari Approves Nigeria’s Hosting of Lake Chad Conference

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and Lake Chad Basin Commission Executive Secretary, Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi should be congratulated for the planning of this important conference to save the shrinking Lake Chad. I have been advocating for two decades the urgent need to transfer water from the Congo River Basin to refill Lake Chad with TRANSAQUA; a mega infrastructure project to develop Africa, which will also be discussed at this conference.

Johnbosco Agbakwuru-Vanguard News
December 26, 2017

ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved Nigeria’s hosting of an international conference on saving the Lake Chad. The conference according to the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu is to revitalize the basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.

Shehu said it was the first time an international conference on Lake Chad was being organised the six-member countries of the region. He said, “The three-day conference will consist of two days of technical sessions and one day high level meetings between February 26-28, 2018 and it will take place in Abuja.

“The high level meeting is expected to have in attendance all of the Presidents and Heads of government of the member-states, namely Nigeria,Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya “The key partners coming together in hosting the conference are Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC and relevant donors including, prospectively, the African Development Bank, AfDB, the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union, EU.

“The main objective of the international conference is to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of the Lake Chad, threat to livelihoods including insecurity with a view to developing a comprehensive program for action to save the lake from extinction.

“Specically, the conference is expected to discuss and develop consensus on the different options to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from  the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad. “Experts, researchers and resource persons are expected to exchange knowledge and share information on water resources development and management in a crisis environment and to garner political and financial support for the restoration option identified for the restoration of the lake.

“Among the expected outcomes of the conference is a roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the conference that should lead to the restoration of the lake; restoration of fishing and irrigated farming as a way of alleviating poverty, strengthening climate resilience in the basin, creating employment,leading to reduction of terrorist activities and increasing the revenue of the population and that of the Lake Chad basin countries.

“The lake Chad Basin, which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and the Sudan is about eight percent of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40 million inhabitants. “Its surface area has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500 sq.kms, roughly 10 percent of its original size.“This development has adversely affected the economic, social and cultural environment of the area.

As at today, the lake is a source of insecurity, instability, and the loss of livelihoods. Since coming to office, President Muhammadu Buhari has used every available speaking opportunity at the international level to raise awareness of the need for action to save the Lake Chad.

Buhari approves Nigeria’s hosting of Lake Chad conference on ecosystem

 

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

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Sudan Is Indispensable To China’s Silk Road Vision For Africa

 

The Sudan Tribute [sic Tribune] recently reported that its eponymous country signed a deal with China to explore the viability of constructing a railway from Port Sudan to N’Djamena, with an eye on completing a long-awaited connectivity project that had hitherto been held up due to various degrees of regional instability. According to the publication, the original plan was to link up the Chadian and even nearby Central African Republic capitals with the Red Sea in order to provide these resource-rich landlocked states with an outlet to the global marketplace, which is increasingly becoming Asia-centric ergo the Eastern vector of this initiative. In terms of the bigger picture, however, the successful completion of the Port Sudan-N’Djamena Railway would constitute a crucial component of China’s unstated intentions to construct what the author had previously referred to as the “Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road”, the relevant portion of which (the Chad-Sudan Corridor) is a slight improvisation of Trans-African Highway 6.

Per the hyperlinked analysis above, the following custom map illustrates the full cross-continental vision that China has in mind:

 

Red: CCS (Cameroon-Chad-Sudan) Silk Road
Gold: Trans-African Highway 5
Lavender: Ethiopia-Nigeria Silk Road (the most direct route through resource-rich territory)
Pink: West African Rail Loop
Blue: Lagos-Calabar Silk Road
Green: Lagos-Kano Silk Road
Yellow: Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Silk Road

Each of the aforementioned tracks are described in a bit more detail in the cited article about the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road and the author’s extensive Hybrid War study on Nigeria, but the two pertinent points to focus on in this piece are the CCS Silk Road (outlined in red on the map) and its larger purpose in possibly connecting Africa’s two largest countries and future Great Powers of Nigeria and Ethiopia. One of China’s grand strategic objectives in the emerging Multipolar World Order is to lay the infrastructural groundwork for facilitating the robust full-spectrum integration between these two giants, understanding that their Beijing-built bicoastal connectivity would bestow the People’s Republic with significant influence in the continent by streamlining an unprecedented corridor between them, thereby giving China the potential to more directly shape Africa’s overall development across the 21st century.

It goes without saying that Sudan is poised to play an indispensable role in making this happen by virtue of its advantageous geography in allowing China to circumnavigate the “Failed State Belt” of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and increasingly, maybe even Cameroon, as well by charting an overland Silk Road connectivity corridor between Ethiopia and Nigeria via Sudan and Chad. Moreover, the potential linkage of the planned Ethiopia-Sudan railwayto the prospective Port Sudan-N’Djamena railroad would enable Sudan to provide China with alternative access to these two landlocked states. Regional military leader and energy exporter Chad is already in physical touch with the outside world through Cameroon, just as the world’s fastest-growing economy and rising African hegemon Ethiopia utilizes the newly built Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway for this purpose, but the shrewd and far-sighted Chinese always feel more comfortable if they’re not dependent on a single route, hence the strategic importance of supplementary access to Chad and Ethiopia through Port Sudan.

While Sudan’s financial standing was left reeling ever since the American-backed separation of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011, Khartoum might fortuitously find itself wheeling and dealing along the New Silk Road if it’s successful in providing China with alternative market access to Chad and Ethiopia in the future, and especially if it can do the same with Nigeria in saving China the time in having to sail all the way around the Cape of Good Hope in order to trade with it. For as easy as all of this may sound, however, the premier challenge that China will have to confront is to ensure the security of this traditionally unstable transit space, specifically in the context of maintaining peace in the former hotspot of Darfur and dealing with the plethora of destabilization scenarios emanating from the Lake Chad region (Boko Haram, Nigeria’s possible fragmentation, etc.).

In view of this herculean task, China could be lent a helping hand by its Pakistani and Turkish partners who each have a self-interested desire to this end, with Islamabad slated to patrol CPEC’s Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOC) with East Africa while Ankara is already a heavy hitter in Africa because of its recent embassy and airline expansion in the continent. Moreover, both of these countries are leaders of the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) in their own way and accordingly have soft power advantages over China in the majority-Muslim states of sub-Saharan Africa through which Beijing’s grand Silk Road projects will traverse. Seeing as how Pakistan and Turkey are also on very close relations with China, the scenario arises whereby these Great Powers enter into a trilateral working group with one another for effectively promoting their African policies through joint investments, socio-cultural initiatives, and the collective strengthening of Nigeria, Chad, and Sudan’s military capacities in countering their respective Hybrid War threats.

This is especially relevant when considering that all three transit states aren’t exactly on positive footing with the US. Washington initially refused to provide anti-terrorist assistance to Abuja when it first requested such against Boko Haram in 2014, and the Trump Administration has inexplicably placed N’Djamena on its travel ban list. As for Khartoum, it’s been under US sanctions for over two decades now, even though the State Department partially lifted some of them last month as part of its “carrots-and-sticks diplomacy” towards the country. Therefore, the case can convincingly be argued that these three African countries would be receptive to Chinese, Pakistani, and Turkish military assistance because their prospective Eurasian security partners are perceived of as being much more reliable and trusted than the Americans or French who always attach some sort of strings to their support. The only expectation that those three extra-regional states would have is that their counterparts’ collective stability would be enduring enough to facilitate win-win trade for everyone.

There’s a certain logic to the comprehensive strategy behind this Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership between Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Turkey, Pakistan, and China. Nigeria, as the West African anchor state, could help expeditiously funnel the region’s overland trade to the Red Sea via the landlocked Chadian transit state and the maritime Sudanese one, thus making Khartoum the continental “gatekeeper” of West African-Chinese trade. Turkey’s hefty investments and newfound presence in Africa could help to “lubricate” this corridor by making it more efficient, with President Erdogan trumpeting his country’s version of a moderate “Muslim Democracy” at home in order to score significant soft power points with these three majority-Muslim African states and their elites. Pakistan would assist in this vision by providing security between Port Sudan and what might by that point be its twinned sister port of Gwadar in essentially enabling the flow of West Africa trade to China by means of CPEC.

Altogether, maritime threats are kept to a minimum because of the shortened SLOC between Sudan and Pakistan (as opposed to Nigeria and China) while the mainland ones are manageable due to the military-security dimensions of the proposed Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership, but it nevertheless shouldn’t be forgotten that Sudan and Pakistan are the crucial mainland-maritime interfaces for this transcontinental and pan-hemispheric Silk Road strategy which is expected to form the basis of China’s “South-South” integration in the emerging Multipolar World Order.