My Thoughts On An Improved US-Africa Policy for President Biden

 

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January 26, 2021

I was asked to participate on inauguration day in an event sponsored by African Women for Biden/Harris 2020. As an American, who is knowledgeable about Africa, I was pleased to present my ideas for an improved US-Africa policy. Below is the content of my remarks..

January 20, 2021

Hello, this is Lawrence Freeman. I am happy to join you this afternoon in celebrating the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

I have been working in Africa for the last 30 years promoting development policies for the people of Africa; particularly transformative infrastructure projects. I teach classes in the Maryland area on African history. I am a  consultant, researcher, writer, and lecturer. I created my own website: LawrenceFreemanAfricaandtheworld.com to help spread my ideas.

I have traveled to Africa many times and have visited several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. From my work in Africa over many years I have a good understanding of the dynamics of the continent. This administration will bring change to Washington. My hope is that this change will include initiating a new policy for Africa. One that is in the interest of United States, and one the serves the interest of Africa and raises the standard of living of all Africans.

Africa today has close to 1.5 billion people. It is expected that in 30 years by 2050, Africa will have close to 2.5 billion. It will have 1 billion young people and have the largest labor force in the world. If we do not address the needs of Africa today, then we could be looking at a dangerous situation in the years to come, and one that will make African nations less stable and less secure. It is in the interest of the United States and the world to help secure a stable future for Africa. We need new innovative policies that address those concerns.

After 500 years of slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism, sub Saharan Africa especially, has been left without the basic infrastructure needed to develop its economies. African nations  have very limited, if any infrastructure. The kilometers of railroads and roads in Africa is minimal, although it is beginning to change. The most troubling deficit in infrastructure is the reality of a mere 100,000 to 130,000 megawatts of electricity for all of sub-Saharan Africa!  This is literally killing Africans. This lack of infrastructure has to be reversed. It is a matter of life and death.

In order for African nations to develop their full capacity, and  realize their rich potential, African nations require a massive investment in infrastructure, especially railroads, electricity, and roads.

African nations also suffer from small manufacturing sectors. Africa has the smallest manufacturing capacity of any continent in the world. And this has to change as well.

African nations need to develop a manufacturing sector. I have been advocating for many years that we have to apply the same economic approach for Africa  that we applied to build the United States from 13 agrarian based colonies into an industrial powerhouse. The U.S. accomplished this feat by implementing the American System of economics developed by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, under the direction of President George Washington.

Hamilton understood two principles that were essential for  developing the United States that can be applied to Africa today. One, the government has the power to issue credit. African nations desperately need credit for development. Two, Hamilton understood that the U.S. would not be an economically sovereign nation if we had to buy all our manufacturing goods from abroad. He and his followers were strong advocates of building up a manufacturing based economy, which is exactly what Africa needs today.

Africa needs Investment in infrastructure across the continent including high speed railroads connecting major ports and cities, which is being proposed by the African Union. This will take massive amounts of credit. It cannot be done by the private sector alone. The United States should extend long-term low interest credit to African nations for development of infrastructure. The United States should also extend economic assistance to building up the manufacturing capacity in Africa which is quite minimal at this point.

It is in our interest to develop Africa not because we are competing with other nations, but because we want to assist in the development of the African continent. Robust African economies with growing populations will provide larger markets for American capital goods. This will also contribute to creating real security. Poverty is the underlying cause of most conflicts in Africa. The lack of food; lack of water; and lack of jobs generates conflict. Thus, by assisting Africa in developing its economies in these critical areas we will be creating the foundation for peace and security. Simply giving aid alone, which the United States is the leader, will not solve the problem. Providing counter terrorism training alone will not solve the problem. If people are desperate, if they are poor, if they are hungry, they can easily be  manipulated into conflict against their brothers and sisters.

I believe Africa can have a very bright future–the more people means the more creative minds. Africa will have the youngest population of any continent in the world. The U.S. should help Africa develop the capabilities to nurture these creative minds because creativity is the source of all wealth.

Presently China is active on the continent. I do not think this has to be a competition between the U.S. and China. The needs of Africa are so large that there are more than enough opportunities for investment by the United States, China, and other nations. Remember the profound words of Pope Paul VI, who in his 1967 encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, said: the new name for peace is development.

It is my hope that with this new administration and in a time of change and optimism we will usher in a new policy of development for Africa. I have written, taught, and lectured on the Hamiltonian economic system and I know this is an approach that will work. It has worked over hundreds of years. It was implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, who used public, government issued credit, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to fund his great infrastructure projects that brought us out of the depression. FDR intended to green the deserts of Africa after the war, unfortunately, he died.

Let us apply those same Hamiltonian economic principles for the development of Africa today. Now is the right time for the United States to extend its moral and economic leadership across the ocean, and act on behalf of the common good, which is in the shared interests of all nations and all people.

 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

A Hamiltonian Development Policy for Africa Is A Necessity

In 1791, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, put forth his grand plan for industrializing the United States. In his “Report on the Subject of Manufacturers,” Hamilton rejected the then common assumption that America could prosper with an agricultural base, instead arguing that the new Republic should concentrate on developing industry. (courtesy of enterpriseai.news)

January 18, 2021

In memory of Dr. Martin Luther King (1929 to1968), a champion for the poor. 

On Sunday, January 10, 2021, the Rising Tides Foundation (risingtidefoundation.net) hosted a class by me entitled: A Hamiltonian Solution for Africa. The first video below is my two hour presentation. The second video is an hour of questions and answers. For those of you who have the time and the desire to learn, I believe you will find these videos beneficial.

Alexander Hamilton, the first U.S. Treasury Secretary under President George Washington, prepared four economic reports establishing the American System of Political Economy in opposition to the Adam Smith-British free trade system. Hamilton understood that the U.S. would not become a sovereign economically independent nation without a robust manufacturing sector. This is true of African nations today, which have the lowest dollar amount of manufacture added value in the world. African nations are subjected to unfavorable terms of trade and weak currencies, because they are compelled to export their natural resources and import capital goods. Hamilton would not allow this to happen to the young U.S. following its independence from Great Britain.

My personal mission is to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by educating my African friends on the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

 “The intrinsic wealth of a nation is to be measured, not by the abundance of the precious metals, contained in it, but by the quantity of the production of its labor and industry.” Alexander Hamilton, Report on a National Bank, (December 13, 1790)

 

 

 

 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

Africa Needs Nuclear Power to Propel Economic Development and Eliminate Poverty-Will Ghana Take the Lead?

Africa’s only nuclear powerplant in Koeberg South Africa. (Courtesy cbn.co.za)

December 18, 2020

Ghana has correctly focused on obtaining energy from nuclear power to realize their ambition of becoming an industrialized economy. It is worth remembering that under President Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana had, I believe, the first test nuclear reactor on the continent. Seventeen African nations are in various stages of planning for nuclear energy stations in their countries. The energy-flux density of nuclear power is superior to all other forms of energy, plus it is not dependent on wind, water, or sunlight. I encourage all African nations to move rapidly to harness the power of the Sun on earth through nuclear energy. The most complete means for African nations to break free from the legacy of colonialism, is to design nuclear powered manufacturing-industrialized economies; ending poverty and hunger.  

Nuclear Energy in Africa – Lessons from Ghana

The Republic of Ghana has a long and complicated history with nuclear energy dating back to the country’s immediate post-independence period. Despite being derailed at multiple points on a long, uneven journey, recent developments around Ghana’s nuclear plans provide hope and lessons for the rest of Africa.

Ghana has experienced recurring periods of unstable electricity supply in 1983, 1997-1998; 2003; 2006-2007 and again from 2011-2017. Domestic natural gas and oil reserves provide some relief, but projections indicate that these will dry up by 2045. The National Electrification Scheme (NES) aimed for universal electricity access by 2020; however this is more realistically attainable by 2022.

Access to electricity in Ghana is fairly widespread with the electricity access rate at 85% in 2019. However, problems with the country’s conventional sources of electricity signal that the time is right for Ghana to pursue its nuclear aspirations alongside other renewable energy generation options to achieve the twin goals of economic development and consistent electricity supply.

By 2057, Ghana hopes to have a highly industrialised economy. It has singled out nuclear power as a key vehicle of development. Ghana’s nuclear ambitions started with the establishment of the Kwabenya Nuclear Reactor Project in 1961. Derailed by consecutive military coups d’état, the project remains uncompleted. Commitment to the establishment of a functioning, effective nuclear power programme from government has also been inconsistent.

Yet recent developments provide hope. The return of nuclear energy to the country’s development agenda is accelerated by the need for a stable electricity supply. In 2015 the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out a ‘Phase 1 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR)’ in the country.

INIR evaluations represent an important step in the establishment of a nuclear energy programme in any country and ensure that expert decisions guide these highly technical projects. INIR evaluations are based on the IAEA’s ‘Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power‘ document, which outlines three development phases of a nuclear power programme.

First phase reviews assess the readiness of a country to embark on the road to nuclear power and take place at the decision-making stage. Second phase reviews follow directly from the first and entail putting into place concrete actions after the decision to go nuclear has been taken. In the final phase, the nuclear power programme is implemented.

Not long after the GAEC initiated contact with the IAEA, the Ghana Nuclear Power Programme Organisation (GNPPO), (https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/iaea-reviews-progress-of-ghanas-nuclear-infrastructure-development), which is responsible for overseeing the programme, provided a self-evaluation report. Acting on both the initial communication as well as the report submitted by the GNPPO, the IAEA sent an expert team to Ghana in January 2017 in order to carry out the INIR Mission.

The team determined that Ghana had sufficiently progressed in order to begin preparation for the second phase of the project and another Review Mission. Before progressing to this next phase; however, the evaluation team suggested prioritising further research and bolstering of Ghana’s legal framework.

Establishing a nuclear power project seems logical for a country that is no stranger to the peaceful application of nuclear technology. Ghana has successfully operated a 30kW nuclear research reactor for more than two decades. The Ghana Research Reactor-1 (GHARR-1) is one of 12 research reactors on the African continent and plays a vital role in the education and training of personnel to oversee its emerging nuclear energy programme. GHARR-1 is also relied on for research , particularly the treatment of nuclear waste and environmental safety, and irradiation projects. Ghana also relies on nuclear technology for administering radiotherapy and other nuclear medicine applications.

The energy supply situation in the rest of Africa is not very different. Power outages are regular occurrences in much of Africa and according to the IAEA, more than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa remains disconnected from the grid. Nuclear power represents an alternative and reliable source of electricity.

Excluding South Africa, where nuclear power is already established, the IAEA notes that nearly one third of the countries that have approached it for assistance in establishing a nuclear power programme are African. Apart from Ghana, these include Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. According to the IAEA, the nuclear option is also under consideration in Algeria and Tunisia as well as Uganda and Zambia.

If the road to nuclear energy in Ghana is anything to go by, it is a telling example to other African countries of the commitment necessary, as well as the importance of political stability and political will in implementing a project that holds vast potential for economic and human development.

This piece draws on research conducted by Hubert Foy and Isabel Bosman for an upcoming SAIIA Special Report on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Ghana.

Read: Nuclear Energy in Africa-Lessons from Ghana 

 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

U.S. Supports Sovereignty of Ivory Coast in Upcoming Election

Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, the capital of the Ivory Coast. (Courtesy Shutterstock.com.)

U.S. ambassador to the Ivory Coast, Richard K. Bell, was interviewed on October 16, 2020, two weeks before Ivory Coast’s presidential election. Contrary to those forces inside and outside the Ivory Coast questioning the sovereignty of the nation, Amb Bell supported the right of the Constitutional Council to determine which are candidates eligible to run for President. Destabilizing the Ivory Coast or attempting to delegitimize the election of this important West African nation, would be harmful to African continent.

Below are excerpts from the interview with Amb Bell translated from French.

Question: Of the 44 candidates, only 4 were deemed eligible to take part in the election. Do you have a comment on this situation?

Amb Bell: There are a lot of applicants who weren’t successful. I think the Constitutional Council ruled that they did not meet the criteria. In any country, there must be someone who decides. Who says the law in this country? There has to be a clear answer to this question. In Côte d’Ivoire, for questions of this kind, I believe that it is the Constitutional Council which decides. The United States respects the sovereignty of Côte d’Ivoire. I therefore find it hard to see my government contradicting what is said by the highest Ivorian authority.

Question: What are the criteria of the United States to judge a credible election?

Amb Bell: The Ivorian people have the right to choose in peace who will preside over the destiny of the country during the period to come, by universal adult suffrage. Anything that hinders that is a problem. We do not live in a world of angels. We are unfortunately human beings. Something can be imperfect without losing its validity, without losing its legitimacy. But, there is a threshold below which one could not judge the process or the result credible.

But for the moment, I continue to believe that it is possible for Côte d’Ivoire to have a credible and peaceful election on October 31. But, it is not for us to fix the date. She is already known. I believe it is possible. It is never a given. It’s necessary to be vigilant.

Read my earlier post: Are the British Fueling Violence in Ivory Coast Presidential Election?

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Are the British Fueling Violence in Ivory Coast Presidential Election?

(courtesy of counrywatch.com)
October 10, 2020
The provocative title of the article, The Vengeance of old men- A dangerous election looms in Ivory Coast, published in the London Economist should not be viewed as simply reporting on the upcoming presidential election in the Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The Economist is the flagship publication of British intelligence that still believes it is their right to intervene around the world to shape events that will benefit British financial interests. This is especially true in Africa, where the British Colonial empire directly ruled over much of the continent until the liberation movements ended their imperial reign. beginning in the 1960s. Most striking in The Economist article, along with other western media, is their refusal to accept the legitimacy of the sovereignty of emerging nations, like the Ivory Coast.

Weeks before Ivory’s Coast presidential election, the 177  year old London based Economist proclaims in this threatening article that: “If by hook or by crook Mr. Ouattara wins, as seems probable, swathes of the electorate will view him as illegitimate. Even if violence is avoided, Ivory Coast will face a post-election crisis, says William Assanvo of the Institute for Security Studies. “(emphasis added)

Flouting its disregard for institutions of the Ivory Coast, The Economist writes: “President Alassane Ouattara, aged 78, made matters worse by deciding to run for a third term, seemingly in breach of the constitution, after his chosen successor died in July.” (emphasis added) The Ivory Coast’s Constitutional Council, declared on September 14, 2020, that President Ouattara was eligible to run in the October 31st presidential election. Why is this decision, ratified lawfully by a government institution, challenged because western nations, led by the British do not like it?  Should not the sovereignty of an emerging nation, only three generations old, be respected? This is typical of behavior by Western institutions and the media that dictate to African nations the “acceptable” criteria for their version of “good governance” and “democracy.”

The Economist supports the opposition’s call for civil disobedience, “to alarm foreign governments so much they feel obliged to intervene, as they have before.”  Why should governments be called to intervene before the election has even taken place? Does the colonial empire believe they are still in charge?

Commenting on the potential outcome of a victory by President Ouattara in the upcoming election, The Economist stokes the flames of a return to ethnic violence, which the nation suffered following the 2010 presidential election. “Were Mr. Ouattara to win, the opposition would surely reject the result. Violence, which many fear would take on an ethnic hue, could well erupt,” the magazine asserts.

Clearly there is a need for younger qualified leadership in many nations. The reference to the old men competing for office in the Ivory Coast is amusing to American voters. The Republican and Democratic primaries fielded four candidates running for president, who were in their 70s. The leadership of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate is dominated by septuagenarians and octogenarians of both parties.

Read: A Dangerous Election Looms in Ivory Coast

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Nigeria and Egypt Building Railroads: Great News For Africa

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]

October 7, 2020

For those of us who understand physical economy, these two developments reported below are truly great news for Africa. Africans have suffered from a paucity of infrastructure in rail construction and energy production. When African nations liberated themselves from colonialism beginning in the 1960s, following 400 years of slavery, they were intentionally left with no infrastructure.  By denying African nations rail systems that connected the continent and electricity to industrialize their economies, the African people have been forced to lived in poverty brought about by imposed underdevelopment. Ghana’s founder, Kwame Nkrumah understood this well. He discussed the necessity of infrastructure to achieve true economic independence in his opening speech to the Organizing of African Unity on May 25, 1963 and his his book, Africa Must Unite. It is a crime that 60 years after the liberation from colonialism, African nations remain grossly deficient in basic infrastructure. Therefore let us rejoice in the progress that African nations are making today, in the 21st century to provide vital infrastructure for their people. We should all celebrate all measures taken to rectify the legacy of colonialism, that denied Africans the right to economic development. To their credit, Presidents Buhari (Nigeria) and el Sesi (Egypt) have pursue the expansion of infrastructure in their respective nations.

Why we’re extending rail construction to Niger Republic – Nigerian govt

“The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on Nigeria Television. Authority (NTA) live programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”

“The programme which focussed on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising” was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“Specifically, the minister said the rail extension is intended for Nigeria to take economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso which are landlocked countries.”

Continue Reading: Nigeria Extending Rail Construction to Niger

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Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Egyptian companies Samcrete and the Arab Organization for Industrialisation have won a $9bn contract to build a 543-km-long high-speed railway in Egypt, reports newspaper The Egypt Independent, citing “senior sources”.

“Accommodating train speeds of 250km/h, the line would link the Mediterranean coast at El-Alamein to the Red Sea at Ain Sokhna, cutting the journey between the two cities to three hours.

“The scheme’s importance to Egypt was compared to the Suez Canal by the chief executive of Samcrete, Sherif Nazmy, who told Arab-language newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that it would be the first new electric railway in Egypt since 1854.”

Continuing Reading: (Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

The West Continues to Attack China to the Detriment of Africa

A new Cold War is coming. Africa should not pick sides

August 28, 2020

The author, W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, and a former minister of public works in Liberia, makes some insightful observations about the difference between the US and China in their economic strategy for Africa.  China’s investment in infrastructure in Africa is unsurpassed and would not be replaced by the West, if China withdrew from Africa. 

Excerpts below:

“It is, thus, frustrating that in its complicated, enmeshed, centuries-long history in Africa, there has never been a Western proposal for continental-scale infrastructure building. Outside Cecil John Rhodes’s racist “civilising” project of connecting Cape to Cairo from the 1870s, there has never been any programme, backed by financial resources, to build Africa’s rail, roads, ports, water-filtration plants, or power stations. It was the Chinese who sought to build a road, rail and maritime infrastructure network to link Africa’s economies with the rest of the world.

“The Western argument of Chinese debt-trap diplomacy, inferior loan terms and an insidious, covert campaign to seize African national infrastructure assets rings hollow in the absence of a like-for-like Western alternative. Until the arrival of the Chinese, the infrastructure construction space in Africa was dominated by Europeans…

“In the past eight months, Western countries have spent more than $5- trillion to prop up their economies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. JP Morgan projects that over 14 years (2013 to 2027), China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will cost about $1.2-trillion to $1.3-trillion. That kind of gap (both in dollars and time) makes it clear that, if it wanted to, the West could equal or surpass China’s BRI with its own infrastructure programme. If Africa steps away from China’s infrastructure programme, which Western country is ready and willing to fill the gap?”

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China, the World Bank, and African Debt: A War of Words

Deborah Brautigam, Director of the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative, discusses in her article below, the duplicity of  the World Bank, in their attacks on the China Development Bank. If the US and Western Institutions would cease attacking China, stopped peddling lies about the “Africa debt–trap” and joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Africa’s huge infrastructure deficit could be addressed to the benefit of all Africans.

Read: https://thediplomat.com/2020/08/china-the-world-bank-and-african-debt-a-war-of-words/

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Celebrate Ethiopia’s March 1, 1896 Victory at Adwa- A Victory For Africa and All Nations

I am republishing my article from March 2017, to celebrate Ethiopia’s defeat of the invading Italian imperialist army, on the battlefield of Adwa. Ethiopia’s leadership and vision flow from never allowing their country to be colonized. That same min-set is evident today in Ethiopia’s construction of its Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD). All of Africa, and all true friends of Africa are proud of Ethiopia’s victory

March 1: Celebrate Ethiopia’s Defeat of Italy At Adwa; A Victory Against European Imperialism

History Course: “Africa The Sleeping Giant” Amb. Arikana Chihombori Lectures Students On The Berlin Conference

Former African Union Ambassador, Arikana Chihombori-Quao, speaking to Lawrence Freeman’s class at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Montgomery County Maryland on the Berlin Conference. December 5, 2019

December 7, 2019

At the fifth week of my African history course (outlined below), 80 students heard Amb Chihombori-Quao discuss the effects of the Berlin Conference on the people of Africa today. This provocative presentation lead to many questions.   

“Africa: The Sleeping Giant” 6 week-12 hour course syllabus by Lawrence Freeman

The instructor’s intention is to provide the class with broad overview of the development of the African continent over millennia and centuries, coupled with insights to understand the present. The instructor believes that it is impossible to know current events in Africa today, beyond the misleading media headlines, without a full knowledge of Africa’s unique and at times tragic history.

Week 1–“Introduction”: In this class we discuss the great diversity of the continent. This includes its size, climates, geographical characteristics, deserts, rivers, lakes, and historical facts regarding Africa’s many nations, its economic condition.

Week 2–“Man Is Not a Monkey”: This class traces mankind’s emergence to what we call modern man-homo sapien sapien-over millions of years by examining the effects of man’s powers of reason, that did not evolve from the apes, and mankind’s exodus from the African continent.  We will then discuss a few of the early civilizations in East and West Africa, concluding with the great Bantu internal migration that transformed the continent.

Week 3–“Early African Civilizations-Slavery”: In this we class we continue examining early civilizations in Africa, iron making, and population growth. We will then leap ahead to the “discovery” of Africa by Europe and roots of slavery.

Week 4–“Slavery to Colonialism”: In this class we examine the seamless transition from slavery to colonialism, which in total encompasses 500 years, leading to destruction of the cultural and physical evolution of the African people.

Week 5–“European Empires Carve Up Africa”: This class focuses on the hideous Berlin Conference that divided up Africa in accord with Europe’s geopolitical Imperialist view of Africa and its people.

Week 6–“Africa’s Post Independence”: We leap ahead to the liberation of Africa from colonialism circa 1960. We discuss current and changing conditions in African nations, especially as the West abandons the continent and China supports Africa’s economic growth by building and funding infrastructure projects across Africa.

Grand Renaissance Dam Essential for Africa’s Economic Growth

Artist rendition of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD

Grand Renaissance Dam Essential for Africa’s Economic Growth

Lawrence K Freeman

October 14, 2019

Completion and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-(GERD) will profoundly affect not only the future of Ethiopia, but all of the Horn of Africa, and the entire African continent. It reflects the bold visionary thinking that characterizes Ethiopia’s unwavering determination to eradicate poverty in the second largest nation on the continent with 103 million people. Ethiopia has been a leader in economic growth for the last decade due to its unparalleled commitment to constructing new infrastructure projects. Although an emerging nation, Ethiopia with assistance from China, completed the Addis-Ababa to Djibouti railroad in October 2016. This is the first and only electrified rail line in sub-Saharan Africa- (SSA), reducing travel time from several days by truck to hours by rail, effectively freeing Ethiopia from the limitations of a landlocked nation via Djibouti’s port.

Ethiopia’s former Prime Minster, Meles Zenawi, who conceptualized the developmental state, proposed building a dam on the Blue Nile, laying the first foundation stone on April 2, 2011. Thus, initiating the construction of a massive hydroelectric dam on the Blue Nile that will be the largest in Africa. The GERD will be 175 meters tall, 1,800 meters wide, with a reservoir of 79 billion cubic meters-(BCM), more than twice the size of the Hoover Dam in the US. It will have the potential to generate upwards of 6,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Upon completion, Ethiopia will be the largest net exporter of electricity in Africa with transmission lines to its neighbors that include Sudan, South Sudan, and Kenya. Ethiopia will also become second only to South Africa in power generation in SSA, as it strives to achieve its interim goal of producing 15,000 MW. The GERD, self-financed by bonds sold to the Ethiopian people, is not only a source of tremendous pride, but an indispensable component of Ethiopia’s resolve to expand its manufacturing sector and become a “middle income” nation by 2025. A nation must have abundant and accessible electricity in order to power an industrialized economy. With more than 60% of its population deprived of access to electricity, and energy demands growing every year, Ethiopia wisely realized that utilizing the potential hydro-power of the Blue Nile to drive its economic growth was not an option; but a necessity.

Sovereignty Superior to Colonialism

 Egypt is accusing Ethiopia of violating the 1959 agreement for utilization of water from the Nile River, which stipulated that 55.5 BCM of waters be allocated to Egypt, 18.5 BCM to Sudan and that no other nation could interfere with the flow of water in the Nile.  There is no basis in law or physical topography for Ethiopia to adhere to this agreement for the following reasons:

  • The 1959 water agreement is a rewrite of the British imperialist 1929 water treaty, when Egypt was a British colony that governed Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899-1956).
  • The Blue Nile flowing from Lake Tana in the Ethiopian highlands that joins the White Nile in Khartoum, provides 85% of the Nile water as it travels north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Ethiopia, as an independent nation that was never colonialized, was not a signatory to either water agreement.
  • Ethiopia has the sovereign right and obligation to utilize its natural resources, in this case water, to improve the living conditions of its people.

The Nile River, although the longest in the world at 6,650 kilometers, is not the most voluminous. Historically, the Nile was the only water way to cross the Sahara Desert from SSA. Today ten nations in Eastern and Central Africa are part of the Nile Basin with their total population approaching 500 million, whose present and future needs exceed the 84 BCM of Nile water. For development of the Nile Basin, it is urgently required that:

  • a new approach to water management for the region, which supersedes the archaic colonial agreement.
  • a new system for generating additional water. A crash program to create billions of cubic meters of fresh water through desalination is an obvious solution.

In essence, a “second Nile” must be created. Nuclear energy, utilizing its higher heat source, would be ideal for removing salt through evaporation, and, equally as important, supplying thousands of megawatts of power to energy-starved nations.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Awarded Nobel Peace Prize 2020 (Courtesy of MGN.TV)

Shared Common Interest

The Declaration of Principles, signed in Khartoum on March 23, 2015 by the heads of state of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia calls for cooperation among the three nations to resolve disputes concerning the GERD among themselves. The report states: “The Three Countries shall cooperate on the basis of sovereign equality, territorial integrity, mutual benefit and good faith in order to attain optimal utilization and adequate protection of the River.”

The shared vision of the Nile Basin should be to promote prosperity for all the nations involved. The common shared interest of the upstream and downstream nations is one and the same: to uplift millions of Africans out of poverty and present the expanding youth population with economic opportunities to obtain a meaningful and productive life that secures a future for their families.

 Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shourky warned Ethiopia: “Ethiopia’s moving forward with the operation and filling of the Renaissance Dam is unacceptable and a clear violation of the Declaration of Principles and will have negative consequences for stability in the region.” Within Egypt threats of military action have recently resurfaced, but such unwarranted aggression is highly unlikely, and would be roundly condemned by the international community.

According to Xinhua News, Egypt is looking for the United States to play an “international instrumental role,” a position presently not supported by the US State Department. Egypt’s attempt to bring in an outside party to mediate disputes concerning the Nile waters is in direct violation of the Declaration of Principles.

Exercising its sovereign rights, Ethiopia has already completed 60% of the construction of the GERD, and although there have been delays, it is expected to begin producing electricity by the end of 2020. Egypt has no choice but to accept this reality and continue to engage discussions regarding the management of the Nile.  There are substantive legitimate issues respecting the effects of the GERD on Egypt, a downstream nation that is almost totally dependent on Nile water. However, Ethiopia’s sovereignty over the Blue Nile is inviolate. In 2018 the National Independent Scientific Research Group-(NISRG) was established to discuss the filling of the dam’s reservoir. The NISRG consisting of scientists from Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia, has met several times, and has reported to the Minister of Water Affairs of each nation.

How many years will it take to fill the GERD’s reservoir, and what will be the flow rate of the Nile at the Aswan Dam, are yet to be resolved. These are technical matters that scientists and engineers must continue to examine in an atmosphere of good will and good faith. Such cooperation is essential to promote the common interests of all nations for a prosperous Nile Basin.

Read:  Modernghana.com Grand Renaissance Dam Essential for Africa’s Economic Growth.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political Economic Analyst for Africa with thirty years of experience in Africa promoting infrastructure development policies.