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

April 10, 2021

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

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

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

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

Lawrence Freeman

April 8, 2021

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

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

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

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

Excerpts from Shirly Yu:

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

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

Read: Why Substantial Chinese FDI Is Flowing into Africa

Excerpts from CARI:

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

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

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

 

‘Green Energy’ Means More Economic Misery for Africa

March 19, 2021

Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minister of Public Works, has published an superbly perceptive article on what the “green-decarbonization” of energy means for Africa: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels. (See excerpts below)

Many years ago, I reached the same conclusions as Mr. Moore; without abundant affordable energy, Africa will not develop, it will not eliminate poverty.  African nations need energy, lots of energy, at least 1,000 gigawatts more energy to advance their agricultural sector and industrialize their economies.  Shutting down existing fossil fueled energy or limiting future energy production to “green energy” will not only retard economic growth; it will increase poverty and kill Africans. If I may be granted a poetic license, I would say, a green energy policy for Africa will lead to a black death.

Let me interpolate my perspective on so called green energy, which  goes beyond Mr. Moore’s excellent analysis.  I find no convincing evidence that human activity is causing climate change. Rather, it is geological and astronomical cycles pertaining to our Sun and our solar system that is the primary cause of changes in our climate. Just ask yourself, how many ice ages and warming periods has our planet experienced over the last one million years before anthropomorphic activity emerged?

Unfortunately, our culture has adopted a false belief system about the nature of human beings that was revived in the 1960s under the slogan of “limits to growth.” This belief structure advocates the necessity of limiting the number of human beings and reducing human activity, guided by a false conviction that the planet is running out of resources.

This is a warmed over version of the population reduction theory espoused by the wicked Parson Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). Even though the Malthusian dogma proclaims that human population growth will exceed the resources of the planet, has been proven wrong, again, and again, Malthusianism never seems to die.

There are two principal  fallacies of this view. First, there are no fixed resources. As humankind discovers new scientific principles of the physical universe, new resources of energy are discovered, such as coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and of course electricity itself.  Second, the physical universe, which is a growing organism, is well-ordered to respond to the creative mental powers of the human mind. In scientific terms, both the universe, and the human creative mind, intrinsically cooperate in anti-entropic growth, i.e., continual expanding development. As the great philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote, there is a pre-established harmony of causality between the mind and physical substance. When we humans exercise our creative potential, we are in harmony with universe, not antithetical  to its environment.   

Sadly, for civilization, western culture, has adopted a prejudicial view of the human race itself, viewing it as an inherently evil monster wantonly destroying the environment. The folly of the “New Green Deal” as it is called, will hurt the United States, Europe, and the entirety of the advanced sector. However, for African nations  and other developing nations, it will have deadly effects sooner.

 

Nuclear energy for Africa: Fulfilling Eisenhower’s dream
Nuclear energy for Africa: Fulfilling Eisenhower’s dream.  Atoms for Peace. (Courtesy of cfact.org)

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is needed to come into operation post-haste for Africa to progress. The GERD has the capacity to generate over 6,000 megawatts of electricity, which could be added to the East African grid in the coming two to three years . There are other hydro-electric dams being constructed in Africa. There should be no holding back on constructing as many new power plants of all types, as quickly as possible to expand African’s access to electricity. Over 600 million Africans have no access to their nation’s electrical grid. Plus, for African nations to build their manufacturing sectors, industrial consumption of electricity will have to dramatically increase. Nuclear energy, presently fission, and in the future fusion, is the most efficient source of power for Africa. Almost one third of the continent’s nations are presently involved in various stages of acquiring nuclear energy plants. African nations should give the highest priority to securing production of nuclear energy.

(See link below for presentation of nuclear solution)

Excerpts from Gyude Moore:

“Africa has many of the poorest people in the world. For most African countries, the priority is economic growth — first in agriculture, where much of the population still works, and then in industry and services. Worries of an increased carbon footprint generated from economic growth are second to worries that growth may not happen at all

“But people in poverty don’t just need to power a single lightbulb at home; they need abundant, affordable energy at work too. Energy is essential to creating productive agriculture systems, as well as to the expansion of economic opportunity in cities, factories, and modern industries. African countries need energy to grow, and to eliminate poverty — and they can’t do it with small-scale green power projects alone.

“Africa’s first priority is to grow more food. Composting and recycling can only go so far — farmers need synthetic fertilizer to raise yields, and natural gas is the most efficient energy source for fertilizer production… 

“Poor farmers in Africa need much better access to irrigation… Large scale, energy-intensive water control projects that rely on fossil fuels must be in the mix — just as they are in wealthy countries.

Domestic food supply chains provide the vast majority of food across Sub-Saharan Africa, but they’re hampered by poor roads and the unreliable fuel supplies. Construction of much-needed roads requires energy and the transportation sector as a whole remains almost entirely dependent on oil and gas.

“Beyond agriculture, a continuous supply of power from the grid is critical for expanding factory production. Countries like Ethiopia, which have ambitions to become manufacturing powerhouses, are increasingly looking to China for the construction and operation of large-scale power projects that will provide reliable electricity. Off-grid technologies are useful for extending basic energy services but cannot power the industrial activity needed to create millions of jobs and drive economic diversification. There is no world in which Africa can meet its energy needs with carbon-neutral power plants and off-grid solutions

“The continent’s needs are too great to be met solely with current energy technologies…” (all emphasis is added)

Read: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels.

Biden’s Climate Plan Has a Nuclear Solution

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

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

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

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

February 17, 2021

This recent article, The Chinese ‘debt-trap’ is a myth, written by Deborah Brautigam, Director of the China-Africa Research Institute (CARI), provides definitive proof that China is not using so called debt-trap diplomacy to Africa’s seize assets. This false narrative, which is been disproved by Brautigam and CARI, time again, was used by the Trump administration to attack China in Africa as a key feature of its geo-political doctrine.

No African nation has been forced to relinquish it natural resources to China in response to late debt payments. No African asset has been seized by China. (See my earlier posts below). Misrepresentation of the case of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which this article refutes, has been used as propaganda to attack the China’s Belt and Road Initiative and malign China’s infrastructure projects in Africa,

China has been a valuable friend in assisting African nations in building vitally needed infrastructure projects. The African continent is suffering today from a massive deficit in infrastructure measured in trillions of dollars. Thus, all nations of good will can contribute to addressing the continent’s huge  infrastructure deficiency, which African nations would welcome. As I have insisted for decades, there is no way to eliminate poverty and bring peace to African nations without electricity, roads, railroads, water management, and port development.

Present Biden would be wise to move beyond Trump’s anti-China policy and initiate a new era of US-Africa policies premised on physical economic development, and join me in my mission to eliminate hunger and poverty in Africa.

Read my earlier posts on alleged debt-trap. Chinese ‘debt-trap’ Propaganda Exposed-Time to End Ignorance & Prejudice Against China in Africa;  No More Lies, No More Anti-China Propaganda: There is No China-Africa ‘Debt-trap’

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

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

Belt and Road Infrastructure Contributes to Africa’s Development: No ‘Debt-trap’

CGTN published my article below:  Belt and Road Infrastructure Contributes to Africa’s Development: No ‘Debt-trap’ on December 26 , 2020. In this article, I expose the fraud of the anti-China “debt-trap” slander being used to impede China’s and Africa’s collaboration to build vitally needed infrastructure across the African continent.

December 30, 2020

Belt and Road Initiative is not debt-trapping Africa

Editor’s note: 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.] The article reflects the author’s opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Over the last three years, a new type of groupthink has emerged among many Western media and policy think tanks in their geopolitically motivated efforts to malign China. They’ve claimed that China is practicing a new type of colonialism, which is coined “debt-trap diplomacy.” China is charged with deliberately luring developing nations into borrowing-lending arrangements, primarily for infrastructure projects, with the intention of entrapping them into unpayable loans. It is alleged that once the borrowing nation defaults on “excessive debt,” China seizes the project or collateral assets of valuable mineral resources.

There is only one problem with this supposition. None of it is true. There has been no takeover of any project and no seizure of assets of any kind in Africa by China. There is no evidence of an intentional effort to trap African nations into owing debt to China.

To give an example of how manipulation of words is used to disparage the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, just look at Heather Zeiger’s article “China and Africa: Debt-Trap Diplomacy?” The article recognizes that Kenya is suffering from COVID-19 related financial stress and cannot fulfill the terms of the loan for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR). However, she then attempts to make the case for debt-trap diplomacy by slyly using a conditional sentence: If Kenya defaults on payments, China might be able to receive revenue from the Port of Mombasa as collateral, although the Chinese government has said it does not intend to do this.”

The truth is, neither happened.

Johns Hopkins University’s China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI) has extensive data on Chinese lending in Africa. After reviewing over 1,000 loans, it reports that “we have not seen any examples where we would say the Chinese deliberately entangled another country in debt, and then used that debt to extract unfair or strategic advantages of some kind in Africa, including ‘asset seizures’.”

However, this has not prevented U.S. elected officials and representatives of Democratic and Republican parties from ignorantly reciting this debt-trap mantra. This propaganda is so pervasive that even some Africans have been repeating this disinformation.

Aerial photo shows trains at the Nairobi railway station in Nairobi, capital of Kenya. /Xinhua

African nations require infrastructure

China through the BRI is helping to finance and construct vitally needed infrastructure in Africa. Nothing is more critical or more urgently needed to industrialize Africa and end poverty and hunger than infrastructure. The United States, whose foreign policy is increasingly vectored at countering China’s rising political and economic power in the world, has no strategy or intention of making a similar commitment to the African continent.

W. Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development and Liberia’s former Minister of Public Works, has said that China’s investment in infrastructure in Africa is unsurpassed. And given the West’s history and operations in Africa, it is “frustrating that in its complicated, enmeshed, centuries-long history in Africa, there has never been a Western proposal for continental-scale infrastructure building … 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.”

China helped finance and construct Kenya’s SGR, the only new railroad in 100 years since the British empire occupied Kenya at the beginning of the 20th century. The first phase of this ambitious project, from the port city of Mombasa to the capital Nairobi, is already completed. It is intended to connect to Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia. This has the potential to become the eastern leg of the long overdue East-West railroad across the girth of Africa, which would transform the continent.

China has contributed to the welfare of nations through the BRI. And for this, it should be supported, not pilloried.

Read: news.cgtn.com Belt-and-Road-Initiative-is-not-debt-trapping-Africa

 

US-Africa Strategy Should Focus on Long-Term Development for the Continent’s 2.4 Billion People

Lawrence Freeman giving a lecture on Africa. He teaches several courses on African history in Maryland.

December 25, 2020

Below is a lengthy year end interview with me by Pan African Visions, published on December 21, 2020, entitled: “Most US Administrations Have Not Had Good Policies On Africa.” In this interview, I discuss a number of issues facing the Africa continent, as well as the past and future of US-Africa policy.

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Pan African Visions: We end with the last word on how you see 2021 playing out for Africa, what are your hopes and fears?

Lawrence Freeman: If you look at the problems we have now if we do not implement certain measures today, we are going to have problems 10 or 20 years from now. If you have an approximate population of two and a half billion and approximately one billion may be young people; if those young people do not have jobs, see their nation as providing for them then you can have very nasty operations and demonstrations, regime changes on the continent. On the other hand, we have all these very bright people, if we implement policies today that will bring about the kind of economic growth that is needed then you will not have an increase in alienation, anarchy and protests.

I would like to see the United States join with China and probably Russia to help Africa. They have to unite and assist Africa and not tell them what  to do, and not seize anything. I estimate that Africa needs at least a thousand gigawatts of power to give people access to electricity. These things are primary. If we can begin in 2021 with a robust commitment to developing, then I think Africa will have a very interesting and beautiful future. If we do not, then we could be facing more serious challenges over the years ahead. I am approaching 70 years and I am going to put everything I have to make those things happen. If more people in the United States, Europe, and Africa will work with me on that then I think we can make some improvements that will benefit billions of people that are not only living today but those who will be born in the future. And that is my goal and commitments.

Read the entirety of my interview: Pan African Visions Interviews Lawrence Freeman on US-Africa Policy

Read the entire issue of Pan African Vision for December 2020: PAV-News-Magazine-Dec.-2020-Edition-27

As I am sending out this post on Christmas Day, I would like to wish everybody an enjoyable Holiday Season. At this time of the year, it is important for me to emphasize that ending poverty and hunger in Africa is not an idealistic dream. It is an accomplishable strategic vision for the African continent. All men and women are endowed by the Creator with the power of creative reason. This unites all peoples of all nations as part of one human culture. If we exercise this uniquely human power of creativity with the good will of governments, there is no limit to the qualitative and quantitative growth of civilization. The same brute-force commitment that utilized our creative scientific capabilities to develop vaccines for the COVID-19 virus in record time, can be applied to feeding the world.

 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