Hard Infrastructure in Africa: Essential for Economic Growth. Development is a Human Right!

August 11, 2021

Watch the video above for a 30 minute discussion on the need for Africa to have 50,000 kilometers of high speed rail lines connecting the continent. Energy, (an additional 1,000 gigawatts of electricity) and railroads are essential for Africa’s development. Electricity is a human right! Railroads are a human right! Development is a human right!

Rowland Ataguba is an expert on Railway Infrastructure Development and has worked extensively around the world. He is the Managing Director of Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure Ltd in London and has experience working on major infrastructure projects in Africa and the U.K. We welcome Rowland to talk with us on all matters concerning the African High Speed Railway Network and his interesting ideas on a very important plan for the future of the continent.

PD Lawton, creator of the website: http://africanagenda.net/

Lawrence Freeman, physical economist

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

Lawrence Freeman Discusses Key Principles For Developing Africa

Watch the 8 minute video above, where I outlined succinctly the essential policies necessary for the development of Africa. I participated in a July Fourth celebration webinar sponsored by “Watch Democracy Grow.”

In the longer video below I discuss a range of topics regarding Africa’s development. After visiting Nigeria (Kaduna and Abuja) for two weeks and Ethiopia for one week, I became more convinced than ever, that peace and stability will come only when the basic necessities of life, such as food, water, electricity, land, and railroads are provided by industrialized African nations.

Lawrence Freeman: Stories from Africa – East to West

LAWRENCE FREEMAN, POLITICAL-ECONOMIC ANALYST FOR AFRICA…
He is a highly respected researcher, writer, and speaker on a variety of topics concerning Africa, who has visited African nations 30 times.. An outspoken critic of neo colonialism and the ICC. Insisting that Africa no longer be forced to live in a dark age, he has consistently brought African governments a roadmap for transformative infrastructure projects. As the author of dozens of articles and reports on Africa. Freeman served as a member of AFRICOM’s Advisory Committee under U.S. General Kip Ward. Most recently, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Scientific Committee and is currently working on a project to replenish the shrinking Lake Chad. Presently, he is teaching courses on the history of Africa, utilizing his decades of experience and knowledge. In this video he takes us through a journey in Africa where he has just returned from visiting both Ethiopia and Nigeria.

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

US Can Improve Relations With China by Adopting a Joint Mission: Assisting in Africa’s Development

March 12, 2021

This article, Towards an Improved US-China Relationship, by Stephen Hayes, former President and CEO at the Corporate Council of Africa, suggest a pathway for the new administration of President Biden to improve U.S.-China relations, which thoughtfully involves Africa.

The following suggestion by Hayes is an important contribution to improving relations between the two super-powers. One that I have advocated for years: collaboration on the urgent task of developing the African continent. If this common mission is adopted by statesmen in both nations, there is no challenge that can’t be surmounted.

“It is simple but also perhaps simplistic to propose that both countries work together in a third country or region to aid the development of that country or region. To do so, both countries should have some common goals as to why they would want to work together. In Africa, there needs to be close communication in aiding and abetting the fight against terrorism, perceived as a growing problem on the continent. While there has been some cooperation in this area between the two countries, at least behind the scenes, that cooperation has diminished these past four years. The US perceives terrorism as a major issue in Africa and will likely base much of its development approach for the next four years on this perception. China has similar concerns, but they likely are not as deep as those of the United States. Nevertheless, common security concerns do provide a basis for cooperation. Economic development of a country is also in the interests of China and the United States, but may require much more effort in finding common ground. Working through regional economic groups in Africa on continental infrastructure projects may be another area of mutually beneficial cooperation.” (emphasis added)

It is unclear whether the Biden administration will continue the increasingly antagonistic posture towards China that the Trump presidency adopted. Anti-China group think has gripped both parties in the Congress, and a good portion of the American population as well. The driving force for this potentially dangerous attitude, is the ideology of geo-politics, which reduces the world of nations to winners and losers in a zero-sum game. The alternative is to recognize the shared common interests of all nations and all human beings. The material and intellectual development of human beings, all of whom uniquely possess the power of creative thought, is in the interest of every government. Humanity benefits when nations collaborate to end poverty and enrich the lives of those suffering from economic hardships.

Over four hundred million Africans live in poverty-less than $1.90 per day, and the number is increasing each year. The African continent has the greatest deficits in hard and soft infrastructure of any continent in the world. The shortage of electrical power is literally killing Africans every day. Through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, infrastructure is being built in numerous African nations, but is woefully insufficient for the needs of Africans.

Rather than the U.S. viewing China as an adversary in Africa and defining U.S. policy towards Africa as “countering China,” let us take a more elevated approach. Let President Biden announce that the U.S., with its great economic potential, will collaborate with China in developing Africa and eliminating poverty across the continent, in the next one to two generations. In reality, this cost the U.S. nothing, and the benefits are more than rewarding. Through the issuance of credit for vitally needed infrastructure throughout African nations including projects for: electricity, roads, railroads, schools, airports, healthcare, housing, and water management, the lives of billions of Africans will be transformed. In return, Americans will know they have contributed to the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters in Africa. With the elimination of poverty, the fertile swamps of wretched economic deprivation from which violent extremist groups recruit alienated and desperate youth, will be drained. The spread of terrorism on the African continent will be reversed and over time diminished. AFRICOM, can shift its focus to applying the skills of the Army Corps of Engineers for construction of dams, bridges, and roads. Economically, the pay back for long term, low-interest credit, will be huge. Africa’s growing population, projected to reach 2.4 billion in one and a half generations, will become a large and expanding market for American goods. As African nations experience economic growth, they will be trading with the U.S. for technologically advanced capital goods necessary for the continuous development of their economies.  As the Chinese say, it will be “win-win” for Africa, the U.S., and China, and truthfully, for all nations on our planet.

I give my full-throated support to Steve Hayes’ proposal for China and the U.S. to work together to develop African nations as a means of improving U.S.-China relations.

Read: Towards an Improved US-China Relationship

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

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

 

May be an image of 9 people, hair and text that says 'U.S. PRESIDENTIAL INNAUGURATION AFRICAN WOMEN BIDEN HARRIS 2020 VIRTUAL WED.JAN. LIVECELEBRATION COWTITOVEAIEO OFFICIAL பயயாய 3PMEST. 20TH 2021 PANELISTS 5PMEST EST AMB LIBERATA MULAMULA FORMERAMB TANZANIA SPEAKER NO 2021 GUY GUYDJOKEN DJOKEN DIR. EXECUTIF UCP SPEAKER REV. ADWOA RAY WOMANO PRAIZE SPEAKER SYLVIA SYLVIAL.ROBERTSON ROBERTSON ADDI ADVISER MODERATOR DR. FREEMAN SPEAKER-CONSULTNT SPEAKER KELLY PAGE IBRELL PHD GLOBALS TARTEGIST SPEAKER LEELAI KPUKUYOU WOMEN SPEAKER DIOR. FALL PR1000 SHADES WOMEN SPEAKER SABINE MARTI ELLY,PHD SPECIALAD ADMS0R MINNISTER SPEAKER'

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

Webinar Invitation: New Bretton Woods to Combat COVID-19 Africa’s Future is its Youth

June 6, 2020

I will be the lead speaker on the first panel at this webinar. Please register to attend and participate. Webinar Registration

Watch 14 minute video interview with Lawrence Freeman below (30 second introduction in French) 

Watch Democracy Grow Webinar Series on The New World Order ushered in by Covid-19

WHERE: TELECONFERENCE/WEBINAR CONFERENCE SERIES.

When: June 16th, 17th, 18th.

Time: 9.30 am – 12.30 pm (EST).

June 16, Panel 1: Prioritizing social Infrastructure Development on the continent (Hospitals, Rural electrification, and Clean water supply).

Time: 9.30-11.20am

1.Dr. Freeman Lawrence. (15 mins on presentation,5 mins Q&A).

2.Dr. Mutisya Masila Philliph. (15 mins on presentation,5 mins Q&A)

3.John Dickson. (15 mins on presentation,5 mins Q&A)

4.Dr. Abdiqadir Yousuf Abdullahi.

  *Moderator: Dr.Samuel Lee Hancock.(Closing remark by Dr.Ayobani )

 

 

Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed: Debt Cancellation for the World to Survive

Coronavirus testing supplies being unloaded at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March.
Credit…Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Lawrence Freeman

May 1, 2020

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has made an audacious salient call for debt cancellation for low income countries. It was published in the Opinion section of the April 30, New York Times, Why the Global Debt of Poor Nations Must Be Canceled, (printed in full below). PM Abiy is correct, debt cancellation is absolutely necessary to save lives and for developing nations to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. To compel a nation like Ethiopia to spend almost half of its revenue on debt service, while its people are suffering from a perfect storm of Desert Locust swarms, food insufficiency, and a weak healthcare infrastructure, is immoral if not criminal. PM Abiy wrote:

“At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation…

“These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.

“In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing…

“The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods?”

PM Abiy’s analysis of the urgent need for the cancellation of debt service is relevant to the exacerbating effect of COVID-19 in Africa’s rising food insecurity.

image
Smoked fish produced in Ghana is sold all over the country and in neighboring Togo – as long as transport routes and borders can remain open for the movement of food to markets. Credit Jane Hahn/Oxfam America

COVID-19 Worsens Food Crisis

In the month from March 30 to April 30, COVID-19 cases in Africa rose from 4,760 to 37,296-800% increase, and the total of deaths from 146 to 1,619-1,100% increase.  Experts are legitimately concerned, that millions more may die from hunger and poverty as a result of the needed efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Closing borders, stay at home orders, loss of income, interruption of supply chains, and disruption of traditional animal migration cycles inauspiciously contribute to amplifying food insecurity.

“If the pandemic worsens, as many as 50 million more people could face a food crisis in the [Sahel} region,” according to Coumba Sow, Food and Agricultural Organization Resilience Coordinator for West Africa in her interview: FAO: COVID19: 50 Million in Sahel Could Face Food Crisis. Coumba Sow reports that across West Africa, 11 million people need immediate food assistance and that this number could rise to 17 million in the period from June to August. She says that it is “crucial to anticipate COVID-19’s impacts on agriculture, food security and the lives of vulnerable women and children. Ensuring that food systems and food supply chains are maintained is one of the most important action to take at national and regional levels.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) projects that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could rise from 135 million to 265 million in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.  According to the WFP, five of the countries that had the worst food crisis in 2019 were located in Africa; Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Arif Husain, economist for the WFP said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat it they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock—like COVID-19 to push them over the edge.”

Mauritanian herders (Courtesy of UN-FAO)

 A New Financial Architecture Required

While debt cancellation is essential, international and federal mechanisms are required to issue i.e. create new lines of credit to build up nation-wide advanced healthcare infrastructure, which all African nations lack. This endeavor should be part of a much larger undertaking to place African nations on a path to become developed industrialized economies.  I discuss the importance of emerging nations  to generate physical economic wealth in my earlier article: World Needs New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19. Trillions of dollars of new credit must become accessible for African nations to address the dearth of infrastructure in energy, roads, railroads, and healthcare, that is literally killing Africans, every day. Successful transformation of African nations requires an urgent focus on nurturing combined manufacturing-agricultural processing industries. Speaking at a Johns Hopkins webinar on April 22, Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minster of Public Works (2014-2018) emphasized that creating manufacturing jobs is essential to transitioning to a more developed economy.

What has been glaringly brought to the surface by the combined COVID-19 pandemic and the malnourishment of Africa’s population is; that the global economic-political system of the last five decades has failed. A new financial architecture is compulsory to save lives and put civilization on the trajectory of progress. This new financial architecture should encompass the following essential missions in Africa:

  • Cancellation of debt
  • New credit generation for physical economic growth
  • Massive investment in hard infrastructure
  • Urgent mobilization to establish modern health infrastructure
  • Significant upgrading of manufacturing and agricultural sectors

It is unacceptable in the twenty-first century for every nation not to be equipped with advanced modern healthcare infrastructure.  One of the most egregious defects of globalization is that nations have become dependent on imported food from thousands of miles away because it is somehow construed to be cheaper than producing food at home.

Nations exist to foster the continuation of a human culture moored to the conception that human life is sacred. There is no equivalency between servicing debt and safeguarding human life.  Money really has no intrinsic value. Banks are mere servicing bureaus of an economy.  Governments legitimately create credit to generate future physical wealth to benefit their citizens. When borrowing or lending arrangements fail to benefit society then they should be restructured or cancelled. Such financial reorganizations have been achieved many times throughout history.

PM Abiy has brought to the attention of the world, a profound underlying principle that should govern all national and international policy: the promotion of human life is supreme, monetary instruments are not.

Delaying the repayments to the Group of 20 is not enough.

By rime Minister of Ethiopia. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On April 15, Group of 20 countries offered temporary relief to some of the world’s lowest-income countries by suspending debt repayments until the end of the year. It is a step in the right direction and provides an opportunity to redirect financial resources toward dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

But if the world is to survive the punishing fallout of the pandemic and ensure that the economies of countries like mine bounce back, this initiative needs to be even more ambitious.

At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation. Global creditors need to waive both official bilateral and commercial debt for low-income countries.

These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.

In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing. The International Monetary Fund described Ethiopia as being at high risk of external debt distress.

The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods? Lives lost during the pandemic cannot be recovered; imperiled livelihoods cost more and take longer to recover.

Immediate and forceful action on debt will prevent a humanitarian disaster today and shore up our economy for tomorrow. We need to immediately divert resources from servicing debt toward responding adequately to the pandemic. We need to impede a temporary health crisis from turning into a chronic financial meltdown that could last for years, even decades.

Ethiopia must spend an extra $3 billion by the end of 2020 to address the consequences of the pandemic, while our balance of payments is set to deteriorate. Increasing health care spending is essential, irrespective of debt levels, but we have less money on hand, and much of it is due to creditors.

A moratorium on bilateral and commercial debt payments for the rest of this year will save Ethiopia $1.7 billion. Extending the moratorium till the end of 2022 would save an additional $3.5 billion.

Low income countries can use the financial resources freed up by cancellation or further deferment of debt repayments to invest in our battle against the pandemic, from providing necessary medical care to our citizens to ameliorating our financial difficulties.

In October, the I.M.F. reported that the five fastest-growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Ethiopia. In early April, the World Bank reported that sub-Saharan Africa would face its first region wide recession in over 25 years and the region’s economy could shrink by as much as 5.1 percent.

This is not a result of bad policies, mismanagement or any other ill typically associated with developing economies. The recession will be the product of the coronavirus outbreak.

Preventing or at least minimizing the recession is critical to maintaining years of hard-won economic gains across the continent. The current moratorium in bilateral debt collection until the end of the year will help, but it won’t be enough, given the gravity of the challenge we face.

The moratorium must be extended until the coronavirus health emergency is over or canceled altogether. The creditors need to do this unconditionally.

Official bilateral creditors are no longer the principal source of external debt financing for many developing countries. Private-sector creditors, including investment banks and sovereign funds, are. They should play their part in the effort to rescue African economies from permanent paralysis with a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility. It would help avoid widespread sovereign defaults and chaos in the market.

And it would be morally indefensible if resources freed up from a moratorium in bilateral debt collections were to be used to pay private creditors instead of saving lives.

Most of our countries managed to borrow funds on the back of solid economic performance and highly promising and evidence-based development programs and trajectories. Nobody foresaw this promise being derailed by a once-in-a-century event such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Under these circumstances, there is no room for traditional arguments such as moral hazard. Low-income countries are seeking relief not because we squandered the money but because we need the resources to save lives and livelihoods.

It is in everybody’s enlightened self-interest that the borrowers be allowed breathing space to get back to relative health. The benefits of rehabilitation of the economies of the hardest-hit countries will be shared by all of us, just as the consequences of neglect will harm all of us.

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

 

 

World Needs New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19

The World Needs A New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19

Lawrence Freeman

April 5, 2020

Today April 5, the total cases of COVID-19-(coronavirus) in Africa are 8,536, deaths 360, and recoveries 710. On March 30, one week ago, the total cases were 4760, deaths 146, and recoveries 355. The diagram above shows the increased rate of the spread of COVID-19 across the African continent. In my March 30 article, New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa, I concluded with a call for a New Just Economic Order, if humankind is going to effectively conquer the current pandemic.

We have come to a moment in the evolution of our civilization that we must acknowledge the failures of the present political-financial system. The Western-advanced sector nations, lacking an in depth and over-supplied health infrastructure have found themselves utterly unprepared to deal with the latest and most deadly zoonotic virus, COVID-19. The G-7 nations with a population of 750 million, and 39% ($34 trillion) of the world’s GDP are grabbling to muster the resources and capacity to defeat the coronavirus, while 90% of the world’s 7.5 billion people live with a frail health infrastructure, or none at all.

We have witnessed an increasing number of new zoonotic viruses (SARS, MERS, Swine Flu, HIV/AIDS) over recent decades. Humanity will only successfully defend itself by launching a global upgrading of healthcare including new scientific research into how human immune systems can become less susceptible to viruses that originate in animals.

Inadequate healthcare and impoverished living conditions in the developing sector cannot continue. It is a crime that has been perpetuated for decades, and the very survival of humanity screams out for a revolution in our thinking and practices. Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, stated eloquently the link between Africa and the advanced sector in this current crisis: “Advanced economies are unveiling unprecedented economic stimulus packages. African countries, by contrast, lack the wherewithal to make similarly meaningful interventions. Yet if the virus is not defeated in Africa, it will only bounce back to the rest of the world.”  (emphasis added)  PM Abiy “If Covid-19 is not beaten in Africa it will return to haunt us all” .The virus can only be overcome in Africa, and the rest of the developing sector, if we launch a new economic system, one that values human life above servicing debt and avariciousness.

Perilous Conditions in Africa

Dr. John Nkengasong, head of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said that COVID-19 “is an existential threat to our continent.” The Africa CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) do not know the actual number of Africans infected with the virus, due to a lack of ability to test the population. Nor do they have an accurate count of the number of ventilators available in each African nation. Over a month since the appearance of the coronavirus on the continent, experts estimate that Africa is at the early phase of its proliferation.

The United Nations World Food Program warned that “the coronavirus pandemic threatens to cause food shortages for hundreds of millions of people especially in Africa,” according to Naharnet. “For many poor countries, the economic consequences will be more devastating than the disease itself.” Pandemic Threatens Food In Import Reliant States

An article published by Quartz, Africa Has About One Doctor for Every 5000 People cites a report by the (WHO), that Africa in 2013 “had a deficit of estimated 1.8 million healthcare worker that is projected to rise 4.3 million by 2035.”  One reason, according to the article is that: “Currently, there are only 170 medical schools serving the 47 countries of sub-Saharan Africa. Of those countries, 6 have no medical schools, and 20 have only one medical school.”

Statistics for the number of doctors per 1,000 population for African nations are horrifying. Physicians Per 1,000 People. When Compared to the figures for advanced sector nations that are now “hot spots” for COVID-19 to those of Africa, where the incidence of the virus is weeks behind Europe and the United States, Africa’s potential death rate is frightening.

Examine these estimates: U.S. has 2.3 doctors for 1,000 people, Spain 3.2, Italy 4.2, and South Korea 1.8. The average for sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has an absurdly low 0.21 doctors for 1,000 people. Twenty SSA nations have .08 doctors or less to treat 1,000 of their citizens, with several at levels of 0.03 and 0.02 doctors. Two orders of magnitude less physicians than the nations that today are experiencing the highest mortality rates.

Governor Cuomo of New York, and Mayor de Blasio of New York City beg every day for more healthcare professionals, ventilators and PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment) to deal with the overload of coronavirus cases, Imagine what the potential death rate of Africa’s almost 1.5 billion population could be when one factors in extreme levels of poverty, weakened immune systems, and malnourishment, all prevalent on the African continent.

(Courtesy of SlideShare)

UNCTAD’s $2.5 Trillion Strategy

The March 30, 2020, statement by the United Nations Conference on Trade and DevelopmentUNCTADUN Calls for $2.5 Trillion Coronavirus Crisis Package for Developing Countries  is excerpted below.

“The consequences of a combined health pandemic and a global recession will be catastrophic for many developing countries and halt their progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals.”

UNCTAD’S strategy includes:

  • $1 trillion of debts owed by developing countries should be cancelled this year
  • $500 billion needed to fund a Marshall Plan for health recovery and dispersed as grants

Credit for a New Economic Order

Debt cancellation, and a Marshall Plan to build up health infrastructure for the developing sector nations are crucial for the survival of emerging nations. However, to break from the old political-financial system that has failed us, and to create a new economic platform, we must create credit for physical economic growth.

What is missing from UNCTAD’s proposal, and what is absent from all United Nations strategies, is the understanding of the importance of establishing a mechanism for the creation of credit. Following in the footsteps of President George Washington and his brilliant Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, we should establish a National Credit Bank. Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy. Wisely, the US Constitution provides for the federal government, not the states, to issue public credit to promote the general welfare.

Credit for production and infrastructure, unlike mere money, is the sine qua non for any healthy economy. This is not the same as printing trillions of dollars of money to bail out an over extended monetary system with a bubble of over one quadrillion of dollars in debt and derivatives.

Debts of developing sector nations must be cancelled to clear the decks for the issuance of new credit directed to fostering industrialized economies with healthy agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Extended credit with low interest rates must be issued for long term investments in vital construction of infrastructure. This is a life and death matter for the very survival of African nations.

Every government is obliged to create a national bank for the sole purpose of generating physical economic growth critical for the security and future health of that nation. Instead of relying on the present global financial institutions that dictate loan agreements at unnecessarily high interest rates coupled with arduous conditionalities we should create a new global economic system. One founded on the principles that promote the true shared common good for all nations and all peoples. Under this new system sovereignty is inviolate, and trade and credit agreements are premised on improving the material conditions of life for the people of those nations. All political and economic relationships between nations should be to benefit the general welfare of its citizenry.

Human beings are sacred, financial systems are not. We can and should craft new monetary systems to advance progress, not monetary profits. President Franklin Roosevelt created the Bretton Woods System, with the intention of uplifting the planet from the misery of World War II. He had magnificent ideas for promoting economic growth around the world, including greening the deserts of Africa.  Sadly, after his death, Bretton Woods was perverted, and became the opposite of what he intended.

While we must fight this deadly virus with all the resources that governments can assemble, we need to also think to the future; the creation of a more advanced economic platform. It is up to us create a new architype of relationships among sovereign nation states to transform the world out of the ashes of its present decayed state. Let us call this new paradigm by its proper name–A New Just World Economic Order

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

 

How the Imperialist CFA franc Suppresses Growth in Africa

Africa’s ‘colonial’ CFA currency (courtesy dw.com)

The article in the link below is a detailed and useful expose of how the CFA franc, controlled by France, contributes to the suppression of economic development in Africa. We have now past a half century since many nations in Africa liberated themselves from colonialism. Yet the French banking system still exercises colonial domination over the finances of African nations that should be economically independent. African nations will never be truly independent until they are economically sovereign. This means having sovereign control over their own currencies and the issuing of credit for internal improvements of their economies. African nations should have National Banks and Development Banks for the issuing of credit, as first conceptualized by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s concept of government-national credit was essential for the creation of an industrialized USA from thirteen agrarian based colonies.

Read: Towards a Political Economy of Monetary Dependency

For more analysis of Alexander Hamilton’s credit policy read: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

Celebrate Africa’s New Free Trade Agreement: Terminate CFA franc

With the initiation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement on May 30, 2019, now is the time for African nations to finally jettison the CFA frank, a relic of French Colonialism. No longer should 14 African nations have their sovereignty infringed upon by a former European colonial country. Economic sovereignty is inviolate. For a nation to develop its full economic potential it must control its currency, which is a from of national credit. One of the great accomplishments of the President’s George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was his creation of a National Bank, which unified all the currencies and debt held by the thirteen colonies. A nation that does not have sovereign authority over its currency and credit will never be truly free, and its people will suffer from underdevelopment..

Map showing those countries using the CFA franc
It’s used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali. Niger, Senegal and Togo in West Africa, and Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon in Central Africa

Read: Africa’s CFA Franc Colonial Relic or Stabilizing Force