Abuja Conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’: A Great Victory for Africa!

A great victory was achieved at the international conference to “Save Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018.  This author, along with others has been advocating over many years for Transaqua; a transformative inter-basin water transfer project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad with water from the Congo River Basin.

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord.

 In the section of the Road-map “Outcome from the Conference” the Transaqua Project  is endorsed as the preferred option for refilling Lake Chad:

The Conference acknowledged:  The various studies carried out showing that there is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the basin. That Inter-basin water transfer is not an option; but a necessity. That failure to take appropriate and timely action, will result in Lake Chad completely drying up soon and that would cause humanitarian crisis, pose serious security challenges, not only for the region, but for the entire African continent and the World. The Transaqua Project which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,000 km channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option (Annex 5).

Annex 5: Transaqua Transfer Scheme
Therein, the Conference urged: The African Union to consider the consequences of Lake Chad disappearing not only as regional issue but, an African tragedy as part of its agenda, and endorse the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) initiative as a Pan-African project to restore the Lake for peace and security to reign in the Lake Chad region and the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin. The International Technical and Financial Partners and Donors agree to support the Lake Chad Basin initiative through the financing of LCBC Development programmes aimed at addressing the problems caused by the shrinking of the Lake. The African Development Bank to facilitate the creation of the Lake Chad Fund of US $50 billion, to be sourced from African States and donations by Africa’s Development Partners to fund the Lake Chad IBWT and infrastructure projects. Read entire Roadmap to Saving Lake Chad

Below is a statement distributed the conference. The author was a prominently featured participant during the during the three-day conference, and his statement was extensively covered in the Nigerian press.

 Now Is the Time to Think Big and In the Future

Lawrence Freeman, Political-Economic Analyst for Africa addresses conference

It gives me great pleasure to participate in this historic conference that will finally discuss the necessity to recharge Lake Chad after decades of inaction. Saving Lake Chad by transferring water from the Congo River Basin is strategically important for all nations on the Africa continent. Since the drying up of North Africa several thousands of years ago, Lake Chad remains the largest body of water in the desert. Lake Chad provides the means of existence to tens of millions of Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, who are primarily engaged in fishing and farming. Conditions of extreme poverty in the region have produced a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, and contributed to the desperate migrations of Africans to Europe. Leadership by the heads of state of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, through joint military deployments, has weakened the capability of this violent extremist organization. However, to eliminate the spawning of new terrorist movements, and, to end the waves of Africans risking their lives to escape poverty, we must give the people, especially the youth, hope for a better future. This requires more than simply humanitarian aid or charity; it requires economic transformation.

“Let the Sahara Desert Bloom”

These are the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, the last great American President, as he flew over the desert during World War II. Now, seven decades later, we must embrace this unfulfilled task: transporting water to the desert. Through massive investments in infrastructure; water, energy, and rail, we can transform the desert, and reclaim it back from the terrorists, who thrive in desolate environments. We should not allow a twenty-thousand-year astronomical cycle that creates extreme arid weather before the return of rainfall, to determine our future. Mankind through the power of creativity and free will must intervene for the benefit of human species, whose birthplace after all is the African continent.

There are no valid objective reasons for African nations to endure abject poverty. Hundreds of millions of Africans live on less than $2 per day, and suffer from hunger, cholera, and other diseases. The dearth of electrical power, and efficient rail transportation is literally (not figuratively) killing Africa. These conditions can be overcome with continental approach to investments in vital infrastructure

Transforming the Lake Chad Basin

The most ambitious and visionary inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad is Transaqua, proposed over three decades ago.  The project’s design includes transferring 5-8% of the tributary water to the Congo River Basin via a 2,400-kilometer navigable canal to feed into the Chari River in Central African Republic, the major tributary to Lake Chad. The Congo River is the second most powerful in the world, discharging approximately 40,000 cubic meters per second or 1.2 trillion cubic meters annually into the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than allowing these huge volumes of water to be simply deposited into the vast ocean, Transaqua intends to utilize the super moist Congo River Basin to bring water to the Sahel Desert. The project envisions creating new levels of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins, in addition to generating hydro-electric power, and bringing irrigation to three million acres of land. If this bold engineering project had been taken up decades ago, approximately one eighth of the African continent would look completely different today, and millions of needless deaths would have been prevented.

Transaqua Meets China’s Silk Road

What was not foreseen thirty years ago was the emergence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative-(BRI) – a new dynamic redefining political and economic relations among nations throughout the planet. Now, we can delightfully envisage how Africa might look when China’s BRI intersects Transaqua. Consider the potential for Africa as we let our imagination peak with excitement into the future.

Port Sudan on the Red Sea is presently included in China’s Maritime Silk Road. The governments of Sudan and Chad have already discussed with China constructing a railroad from Port Sudan to Nyala, South Darfur that will continue to N’djamena, Chad’s capital. There are plans for this Sahelian railroad to continue to Cameroon and Nigeria, potentially continuing westward all the way to Dakar, Senegal. On the eastern side, rail connections from Sudan to Djibouti and Ethiopia are also anticipated. The Sahelian (proto East-West) railroad will possibly intersect the long-awaited South-North railroad in the proximity of Sennar, Sudan. From this advanced viewpoint, we can look at the new physical topology of Africa in which Transaqua will be situated.  Successfully linking the Lake Chad Basin nations to those of the Great Lakes region with the rest of Africa, through these new land and waterway economic-transportation corridors will be transformative for the whole continent.

My friends, now is time for our conscience and imagination to unite in embracing this momentous occasion with our collective decision to take responsible action for the future of Africa.

Mr. Freeman has been involved in promoting economic development in Nigeria for over 20 years, having visited all regions of the country beginning in 1994. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in November 2014.




China’s Inroads into Africa Trigger Envy and Allegations

By Mark Kapchanga

Globaltimes.cn 2018/2/20

Allegations of spying and surveillance pop up every day on the global political stage. They are, however, not always true but driven by malice. A database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that as of August 2015, there were 1,419 active satellites in orbit around the earth mainly used for the collection of intelligence.

From time immemorial, revelations of spying always provoke outrage. In his famous treatise The Art of War, Chinese general Sun Tzu says: “Enlightened rulers and good generals who can obtain intelligent agents as spies are sure to make great achievements.”

As recent as 2016, new documents made public by Wikileaks revealed that the US spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private conversations with world leaders. The secret files showed that the National Security Agency listened in as Merkel had private conversations with other European heads of government and with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. But even before the dust settled on this accusation, in late 2017 Berlin claimed Beijing was using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany. The assertion followed claims from a German intelligence service that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies, an allegation that China refuted.

In most cases, allegations of spying and surveillance cause strains between countries, and at times, even sever diplomatic ties. Informed that such claims can create a rift between regions, a French paper Le Monde carried a story on allegations that China has been spying on African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa for six years. In what appears to have been a manufactured story, Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who said the alleged transfer of data was taking place at night. The story went further to say the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building was opened.

Trade between China and Africa has been rising thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative plan laid down by Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015. At the summit, President Xi Jinping announced plans to invest $60 billion into African development projects, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and write off some debt. 

As an example of strong relations between Africa and China, trade between them rose by 16.8 percent to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017. On the other hand, China’s non-financial direct investment in Africa expanded by 64 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 percent rise in the quarter. 

The negative reportage about Sino-African relations by Western media has also been fueled by envy due to strengthening ties. The ambitious global trading strategy, known as the Belt and Road initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defense projects are being built, is also likely to buoy China’s growing investments in Africa. The spying allegations are not the first media story being published by Western media with the aim of creating a gulf between Africa and China.

While free media is desired in any economy, there needs to be a sense of responsibility and professionalism in the practice. China’s presence in Africa has had its challenges no doubt. But Western media cannot spend acres of editorial space criticizing China for “increased corruption in Africa, for exploiting Africa’s natural resources, for environmental degradation, poor wages for employees, among others.”

In particular, the media has become obsessed with the claim that Chinese firms are winning mega tenders in African countries by paying bribes. This is absolutely not true. Chinese firms have not only shown that they qualify to execute these major infrastructural projects but they have also shown their unrivaled muscles in completing them in record time at a relatively low cost.

Perhaps it is now time that the Western countries upped their games in investing and trading with Africa if they are to compete favorably with China in Africa. Claims that Chinese firms bribe locals to win tenders are utterly false. Crucially, media should engage in constructive reporting for posterity.

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter:@kapchanga. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Nigeria Hosts Global Conference: Save Lake Chad from Extinction

Fisherman standing in Lake Chad, November 2014

Since 1963, Lake Chad has been allowed to diminish from  from a vast 25,000 square kilometers to a now unacceptable level of 2,500 square kilometers.  As a consequence of the inaction to reverse the shrinking lake, over 30 million Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, and depend upon fishing and farming for their livelihoods, have suffered greatly. Boko Haram has exploited this severely depressed  condition to recruit youths, whose future appears bleak. Finally, this dire crisis; the shrinking Lake Chad, is being addressed at a global conference in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018Historic Lake Chad Conference, which I will be a participant: my role at the conference.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Water Resources, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, and Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi, should be congratulated for initiating the first global gathering on the African continent to discuss solutions to reprenish Lake Chad. by transferring water from the Congo River.

It is time for Africans to think big. We can return Lake Chad to its former size, transform the Lake Chad Basin, and create a corridor of economic development between the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad basin with the mega inter-basin water transfer project: Transaqua


Abimbola Akosile THISDAYLIVE

February 1, 2018

The Federal Government of Nigeria, on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, is planning to host an international Conference from February 26 to 28 in Abuja on proffering solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. This was disclosed by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed paid him a recent courtesy visit in Abuja.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference is to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydro-logical perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region who depend on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction”, he said.

The Minister proposed for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the PowerChina International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualised by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said the study done by PowerChina shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the lake. To him, this would halt the receding of the lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change, according to a release issued by the Ministry’s Director (Information & Public Relations Unit), Mrs. Margaret Umoh.

Speaking further, he called for more workable solutions that may be cheaper than the inter-basin water transfer. On the issue of cooperation between Nigeria and the UN on the re-integration of the people of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Minister said part of the ministry’s efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency in that region under this present administration in the past two years has been by budgeting about N1 billion annually for water supply and sanitation facilities for the IDPs nationwide.

Earlier, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mohammed said the purpose of the high-level mission, which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues, will help scale up UN presence in the North-east in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned conference of saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February. She charged Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Jan. 29, 2018–“The African continent was part of the ancient maritime Silk Road and now is in a good position to be China’s natural partner,” said He Wenping, Director of Africa Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, portraying the Belt and Road (BRI) activities in Africa, on the sidelines of the just-concluded African Union Summit.

In South Africa alone, there are more than 300 Chinese enterprises, half of which are major and medium-sized businesses, investing $13 billion in electronics, automobiles, financial information network infrastructure, and construction engineering, said a report compiled by the South Africa-China Economic and Trade Association in 2016.

Despite fears, frustrations, and challenges from unexpected hardships, misunderstandings, and cultural conflicts, China is accelerating the advancement of its all-around cooperation with Africa, He Wenping continued. It is expected to set a good example of deepening regional cooperation for the so-far reluctant Western countries. “BRI deserves to be a platform for the overall exchange and intensified cooperation between China and the world,” she urged.

Germans Invited To Invest in Zambian Infrastructure

Jan. 29, 2018–During an encounter with Stefan Liebing, the chairman of the German Africa Association, in Berlin on Jan. 17, Zambia’s Ambassador Anthony Mukwita presented a document titled “Zambia’s Investment Project,” which had been prepared by the embassy.

“This document contains areas that are ripe for investment in Zambia which you must share with your membership in Germany,” said Mukwita to Liebing.

The areas of possible investment he presented include: construction, agriculture, energy, transport, and tourism, to mention but a few. The Zambian diplomat urged German business to take full advantage of Zambia’s invitation: “Our President H.E. Edgar Lungu is keen to see a reduction in poverty and rise in GDP via foreign direct investment; our peace, stability and predictability, including ease of doing business, continues being a great ingredient of attracting business.” Liebing expressed confidence of stepping up business with Zambia.

German-Zambian contacts were continued at a meeting with leading officials of the Canadian Bombardier rail-tech firm on Jan. 27.  Bombardier Head of Rail for Africa Christian Bengtsson told Mukwita that a functioning railway grid is required for transportation of goods and services in order to enhance economic growth in Zambia. A memorandum of understanding was already signed in 2016, but not much has happened since, because no financing has been made available by the German government or private banks. The Zambian project would be crucial for Bombardier, which, for lack of new contracts in Germany, has been considering reducing its workforce in Germany from 8,000 to 6,000, also by selling the railcar-producing unit in Görlitz.

Bombardier, whose transportation headquarters is in Germany, has carried out feasibility studies on Zambia Railway’s 900-km network, half of which needs to be refurbished. Once the railway is replaced and railcars are purchased, the company is expected to create 5,000 jobs and increase its cargo transportation (mostly iron ore and other minerals) from the current 700,000 tons to about 5 million tons annually, and eventually 8 million tons.

China’s Belt Road at Davos World Economic Forum

Jan. 28, 2018–Under the above headline, the {New York Times} journalist Keith Bradsher bemoans the fact that, like it or not, it was China’s New Silk Road that dominated the Davos World Economic Forum, not the efforts by many to demean the Belt and Road Initiative as merely China’s effort to “spread its influence” and to “bury the recipients in debt and cause considerable environmental damage.”

Under a picture of a smiling Liu He, Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor who gave China’s keynote speech at the Forum, Bradsher acknowledges that that Liu He’s presentation was “one of the best-attended speeches,” and that throughout the Forum, the Belt and Road was the leading subject of discussion.

“At one end of town, President Michel Temer of Brazil welcomed an unexpected offer from Beijing for Latin American nations to work closely with a Chinese initiative,” writes Bradsher. “At the other end of town…, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi used his talk to praise the rapidly expanding Chinese investments in his country, including to build power stations and a large port…. National leaders seemed to vie with one another in Davos in calling for closer cooperation with China.”

“The China One Belt, One Road is going to be the new WTO — like it or not,” Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, told the {Times}.

But China’s actions were not limited to Davos, Bradsher notes. “On Friday, the Chinese government used a policy document issued in Beijing to call for a Polar Silk Road that would link China to Europe and the Atlantic via a shipping route past the melting Arctic ice cap…. At a summit meeting for Latin American and Caribbean foreign ministers in Santiago, Chile, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China called for close cooperation and participation by the regions countries.”

Belt and Road ‘Heatedly Discussed’ in Davos; ‘China Is Committed to Providing Solutions to World Problems’

Jan. 27, 2018– As reported in the Chinese Foreign Ministry website, a journalist asked spokeswoman Hua Chunying about China’s role in building a common future for the world which they characterized as s “heatedly discussed” in Davos. “Considering that the theme of this annual meeting is ‘Creating a shared Future in a Fractured World,’ what do you think of China’s role in promoting common development and building a common future for the world as the second largest economy?”

Hua Chunying answered by recalling that “the international community still remembers President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the WEF annual meeting last year. President Xi evaluated the world economy and came up with his prescription, gave an in-depth analysis of global pressing problems and put forward major proposals to promote the re-balancing of economic globalization, which still has broad and far-reaching influence in the international community.

“China’s contribution to the development of the world is embodied in many aspects. China’s economic growth has injected a strong impetus into the world economy. In 2017 alone, China’s foreign investment reached $120 billion and it imported goods worth 12.46 trillion yuan, which provided a vast market and ample investment and development opportunities for all countries. It is safe to say that  China is the stabilizer and engine of the world economic growth.

“China provides popular public goods for international cooperation. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is one of the most popular international public goods for today’s world, pointing out new directions for improving global governance and providing a new model for international cooperation. The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation hosted by China last year [in May 2017] has produced more than 270 fruitful outcomes.

“China is committed to providing solutions to the world’s problems. We have been attaching great importance to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, actively responding to the challenge of climate change and making remarkable progress in pollution prevention and treatment. Last year, 10 million people in China were lifted out of poverty. By taking these concrete actions, China has made tangible contributions to meeting global challenges and realizing common development.

“At present, China’s economy has shifted from a phase of rapid growth to a period of high-quality development. We believe this will surely provide more and more positive energy to the common development of the world and the building of a common future,” she said

China Is Working on “the post-high-speed rail age;” Has In-Depth Development Program for Maglev Trains

Jan. 27, 2018–An entire generation of medium- to low speed maglev trains that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kmh, is being developed in China, with plans to operate 5 to 12 magnetic levitation rail lines in cities including Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou by 2020. Altogether 12 Chinese cities, including Tianjin, Hangzhou and Shenzhen, are planning to launch maglev services by 2020, especially between their city center and airports, the city and suburban areas, and the city and surrounding counties.

Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute, explained that this project is one of 18 national key research and development plans set by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016, researching both high-speed passenger and freight trains. The project will be completed by 2021 at a total investment of over 9 billion yuan ($580 million). The project includes six types of trains — three for freight, one high-speed passenger train, and two types of maglev trains. Freight trains with speeds of 250 kmh can transport seafood from Haikou in South China’s Hainan Province to Beijing in north China in one day, according to a project officer at CRRC.

Research into maglev includes a train that can reach 600 kmh and another that travels at 200 kmh. Research is to prepare for “the post-high-speed rail age” in technology, said Sun. The cost of a 600 kmh maglev train is almost the same as a 400 kmh version. The first Chinese-made high-speed maglev train will roll off the operation line in 2018, the report said. Design and construction will begin immediately. A sample carriage will be built in 2018, and a complete train will be ready for a 5-km test run in 2020, said Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co.

Chinese Economic Policy Came Out of Study of Great Depression, 2008 Crisis

Jan. 27, 2018– Chinese economist, Liu He, in 2013, in his position as Deputy Director of the Development Research Center of the State Council conducted a comparative study of the 1930s Great Depression and the 2008 crisis. In a report on their conclusions he wrote: “After the outbreak of the crisis, we have been pondering over the possible period of the crisis, its possible international influence and our countermeasures. Since the Industrial Revolution, the crisis of the capitalist world has been frequent. In the 20th century, The Great Depression and the current international financial crisis were the two most widespread and devastating ones. Starting in 2010, we started to carry out a comparative study of the Great Depression of the 1930s and this international financial crisis. Except for Central Government In addition to co-workers, researchers from People’s Bank of China, China Banking Regulatory Commission, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, National Research Center and Peking University were also invited to participate.”

The following three conclusions were listed as the principle results of the report.

First, grasp the major changes in the connotation of the period of strategic opportunities in our country and seek the maximum intersection of China’s interests and global interests. The conclusions of the comparative study can tell us that the connotation of the strategic period in which we are located has undergone significant changes. In the economic sense, before the crisis, China’s strategic  opportunities mainly represented the expansion of overseas markets and the inflow of international capital. China seized the opportunity to become a global manufacturing center in one fell swoop. After the crisis, the world has entered a long process of insufficient aggregate demand and de-leveraging. Our strategic opportunities are mainly manifested in the tremendous stimulating effect of the domestic market on the global economic recovery and the opportunities and foundations of technology mergers and acquisitions in developed countries, their facilities and investment opportunities. We should firmly grasp these substantive changes, conscientiously analyze the enormous intersection of interests that have emerged with the new historical conditions in our country and the major economies, and clearly propose a solution to the global dilemma of growth. We will steadily implement the plan when the external conditions are clear.

Second, we should avoid moving to an over-indebted economy and attach importance to regulating and controlling financial fluctuations. We must uphold the essential requirements of

financial services for the real economy. The departure of the U.S. financial industry from its core service function has become the perpetrator of the global financial crisis. This is related to the abandonment of the traditional value of the industry by the U.S. financial industry and excessive pursuit of wealth and innovation. The good performance of the German economy in this crisis is closely related to Germany’s conservative financial tradition and the fact that the financial industry can operate soundly. Various effective measures should be taken to both improve the business environment of the real economy, consolidate the foundation for the development of the real economy,  and to curb capital from empty money-making-money schemes so as to prevent excess self-circulation and inflation in the fictitious economy.

Thirdly, in the process of establishing a new global economic governance structure, the active participants should become  leading policy shapers. Against the backdrop of accelerating changes in global power and the drastic changes in the global economic governance structure and in finding a new equilibrium, China should play a similar role to the United States in taking the initiative in shaping an international new system as a “creditor country” after World War II, China’s overall national strength and rising international competitiveness are favorable conditions for accurately judging the reality and trend of the international situation, clearly defining the interests of our country, breaking through existing institutional frameworks set by Western countries to reflect and convey the interests of our country Unanimously and with the Chinese characteristics on the global economic and financial governance and major international issues of the core ideas and propositions, set the “China agenda”, the introduction of “China program” to strengthen international personnel training and accelerate the institutionalization of China’s international rights and eventually secure the future.

Learning About Africa: How History Effects the Present

Here is the announcement for my newest college course on Africa. Also listed is the course outline a class I am currently teaching; “Africa:The Sleeping Giant.”  I will be preparing a third course on “The Effects of British Colonialism on Africa” in the near future.  These courses are 15 hours long, taught over 7-10 weeks in Maryland. 

“Eight Nations Vital to the Development of Sub-Sahara Africa”

By Lawrence Freeman

The African continent encompasses 54 nations and is more than three times the size of the United States. The northern portion of the continent is dominated by the Sahara Desert, equal in area to that of United States. It is the driest, hottest place on earth, relatively barren, and thinly populated. The African nations below this vast desert are designated as “Sub-Saharan Africa” where approximately one billion live, and is expected to double in population by 2050.

All but two of the 48 nations of Sub-Sahara Africa suffered the brutalities of colonialism following centuries of slavery. As a result, Sub-Sahara Africa is the poorest and most underdeveloped region in the world. Unfortunately, following their liberation from colonialism beginning in 1956, these nations did not achieve economic sovereignty. However, now, for the first time since colonial powers occupied Africa, there are signs of progress with the building of new railroads, expanded ports, roads, and new hydro-electric power projects. This has created the potential to transform the continent.

This course will focus on eight Sub-Saharan nations; each unique in their history, development, and their contribution to the growth of Africa. Their combined population of 550 million comprise almost 30% of the land area of Africa.

Join us in examining the following nations from their birth to the present day: Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Over three decades, I have studied the history and developed an in-depth knowledge of Africa as a researcher, analyst, writer, and consultant. Sadly, most Americans know little about Africa, due to a limited number educational courses, and a reliance on the media. I hope to increase your understanding by sharing my accumulated knowledge with you.



“Africa The Sleeping Giant” Course Outline:

1-Discovering the Africa Continent

2-Africa: Home to Mankind

3-Man Is Not a Monkey

4-The Great Bantu Migration

5-Early Civilizations

6-Europe Discovers Africa

7-Slavery Rips the Soul of the Continent

8-Colonialism, Exploitation, and Genocide

9-Economic Sovereignty and the Nation State

10-Africa’s Future is Development




China Remains Committed to Africa’s Development

Jan. 14, 2018–Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Rwanda and Angola over the past two days, the first of four African nations he will visit on his first trip abroad in 2018. With Rwanda assuming chairmanship of the African Union for 2018 at the end of January, Wang discussed with Rwandan Foreign Minister  Mushikiwabo and Pres. Paul Kagame, preparations for this year’s summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The aim of the summit will be to “dovetail China’s Belt and Road Initiative with African countries’ development strategies, thus boosting industrialization and modernization, and raising the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Africa to a new level,” Xinhua reported as Wang’s message.

FOCAC, joining the 52 African nations, China and the African Union, has held a summit every three years, alternating between Beijing and an African capital, since its founding in 2000. A three-year action plan between China and the African countries is adopted at each summit. Beijing hosts the FOCAC summit in 2018.    At the conclusion of his visit to Angola today, Wang told a joint press conference with Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel  Augusto, that China will continue to support Angola in its efforts to diversify and modernize its  economy through “accelerated industrialization … on behalf of peace and unity on the African continent,”  Angolan media reported.  Wang also stressed that China is not concerned about Angola’s debt, and Domingos Augusto reported that they had discussed mechanisms to make the debt sustainable without interrupting current and future projects which require a financial cushion.

Angola’s foreign debt is over $40 billion now, much of it owed to China. With the price of its major export, oil, still low, Western bankers talk of Angola’s “debt crisis.”

Xinhua reported that Wang discussed the debt in response to a reporter raising the Western canard that “China’s financing has increased the debt burden of African countries,” and carries political conditions attached. Wang was blunt: “Such a claim, which is made with ulterior motives, is an outright false accusation…. China’s financing is in response to Africa’s demands for self-development. A country has a huge need for capital in its primary stage of economic take-off and industrialization and Africa is no exception,” he said. He added that “China also passed through this process; these are temporary problems,” as reported by Angolan media.

Furthermore, China does not attach political conditions. “Like African countries, China also had memories of a bitter past when, with its economic lifeline controlled by foreigners, it was unfairly treated and even exploited and oppressed. Therefore, when providing aid to and engaging in cooperation with Africa, China will not repeat what Western countries did and will never impose its own views on others.” China follows the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results, Wang stated.

China will continue to do its part in helping Africa develop itself, Wang concluded, citing two Chinese sayings: “only the feet know if the shoes fit,” and “people have a sense of natural justice.” The African people are in the best position to decide who is Africa’s true friend and most reliable partner.

In its Third Year, AIIB Will Expand Lending to African and South American Nations

As the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) enters its third year of operations, its President Jin Liqun explained in an interview with the {South China Morning Post} that in the coming year, it intends to expand lending and operations to South American and African nations, as well as further into the Middle East as soon as that is possible.

Jin noted that with “quite a number” of South American nations joining the Bank, it will be a good idea to finance some middle-income projects in South America to “bring South America and Asia together,” and reduce transaction and shipping costs.

But, he stated, “I would also pay attention to supporting African member countries. Asia is developing quickly, but it cannot sustain itself well without collaborating closely with African countries.” Jin emphasized that the  geographical scope of the Bank’s activities makes clear its role “in pushing broader-based social and economic development in the member countries in which we invest.”

Responding to the claims from some quarters that the Bank is merely an instrument of China, Jin said quite the contrary is true. China “is committed to building the Bank into a multilateral development institution with 21st Century governance.” The AIIB is separate from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said, but that it is inescapable that some projects in which the AIIB is involved would be connected to the BRI, simply because of the scale of this global development project, which covers 60 countries across multiple land and maritime corridors.

Jin Liqun was emphatic that China strictly adheres to the Bank’s principle of multilateralism and internationalism. “There has never been any interference by the Chinese government in the decision-making process.”

UN Supports Nigerian Conference to Save Drying Lake Chad

The support of the United Nations for this conference being sponsored by the Nigeria government is important to the entire continent and should be supported by all African nations and the African Union. Refilling Lake Chad  will not only transform the Lake Chad Basin, but with the Transaqua inter basin water transfer project, the economy of 12 African nations will be affected. For Africa to development its agriculture and manufacturing sectors it requires great infrastructure projects in water, rail, and energy, which is what I have been advocating for many years. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

By Hussein Yahaya

The Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is planning an International Conference to proffer solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. The Conference is scheduled for next month in Abuja.

Nigeria’s Water Resources Minister, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, disclosed this in Abuja when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, paid him a courtesy visit.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference was to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydrological perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region that depends on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction,” he said.

The Minister proposes for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the POWERCHINA International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualized by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said that study done by POWERCHINA, shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from river Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the Lake. This, according to him, would halt the receding of the Lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change.

Earlier, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, said that the purpose of the high-level mission which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues will help scale up UN presence in the North East in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned Conference of Saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February, 2018. She charged Heads of States and Governments of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the Conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.

Africa Advancing With Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Long-Term Impact on African Countries

Dr. Alexander Demissie of Ethiopia, an expert in China-Africa relations, spoke in Germany, November 26, 2017.

Below are excerpts from an excellent presentation by Dr. Demissie on the increasingly productive relationship between China and Africa to develop the continent’s infrastructure, which Europe and the Unites States have refused to do.

‘My third point: the BRI is primarily an infrastructural undertaking. We don’t yet have political institutionalization. We have infrastructural ideas. We have corridors, but we don’t yet have political institutions. So, if we talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or the Silk Road Bank, these are just connected
to infrastructure; they are not political ideas.

“Interestingly, this idea fits perfectly into the current African need—infrastructure development. Africa wants infrastructure, going back here to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 strategic framework that has also, coincidentally, been coming up. Together with the BRI, Africa wants a good infrastructure connection, a good internal interconnectivity. So, the idea of the BRI coming from China is perfectly fitting into the idea—actually happening or being discussed—within the African continent.

“China has also been very clear since Johannesburg in 2015 that they want to cooperate more with Africa more on infrastructural projects that create regional connectivity. That is where the BRI comes in. That’s why I mentioned earlier that the BRI is primarily an infrastructure topic.

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Putin and El-Sisi Sign Economic Deals in Cairo; Russia To Build Nuclear Power Four-Plant Complex for Egypt

December 11, 2017–Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement to construct Egypt’s first nuclear plant, which will be followed by construction of three more. Costing $21 billion, the porject is scheduled to be finished by 2028-2029.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They discussed economic matters, energy, and politics, as well as the possibility of resuming air travel between Russia and Egypt, which was suspended in November 2015 after the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai in what is believed to have been an act of terrorism.

President Putin stated, “I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead.”

President al-Sisi responded, “Since the 1950s and ’60s, Russia has always supported Egypt and still supports our country: both with metallurgical plants and the construction of the Aswan Dam, and today we will sign a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant.”

The preliminary agreement between the countries was signed in 2015; a loan from Russia will cover 85 percent of the construction costs. Russia’s Rosatom will service the complex’s four reactors for 60 years, its chairman Aleksey Likhachyov said today, RT reported. Representatives of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation and Russian universities have recently visited Egyptian universities to prepare engineering students to work at the Daba nuclear power plant in the future. The Russian delegation gave a number of presentations at the Russian Center for Culture and Science in Cairo.

One day after Eyptian President El-Sisi and Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of a deal for the construction of four Russian reactors in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, it is reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has already begun a study at the El Nagila site, which takes about three years, to see if it is suitable for the construction of four nuclear plants, according to sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity. The study will be carried out parallel with the construction at the Dabaa site, where the first reactor is scheduled to come on-line in 2026. When that plant is complete, it will become only the second country in Africa, following South Africa, to have a nuclear power plant.

The {Daily News Egypt} reports that Egypt has signed protocols and MOUs with 10 countries for cooperation in nuclear energy, to help with training and the utilization of expertise in reactor management, and security, safety, and the possibility to provide formal advisory services to the EAEA

Africa’s Ports Revolution: Railway Ports of the East

This an informative article written on February 23. 2017, reporting on the exciting potential for the developments of Africa’s East coast ports with railroad connections to the interior of the continent. 

The population of Africa is presently 1.2 billion and growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, more than twice that of any other continent. In two years’ time, it will gain the population of the UK; in 12 years of compounded growth it will gain the population of China.

All these extra people may add dynamism to economies, but only if the increase in labour supply can be matched by an equivalent increase in economic activity; otherwise,  rising population density may destabilise social and political systems – an effect already seen in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This challenge has led to a different pattern of development for ports on Africa’s east coast, compared to the west coast. In the west, the centres served by these ports are close by, sometimes right outside the port gate. In east Africa, by contrast, they are between 500km and 1,000km away, and most of the infrastructure needed to reach them has not yet been built. In the case of the Doraleh container terminal at Djibouti, the goal is the Ethiopian highlands and the valley of the White Nile at Khartoum, a cluster roughly equivalent to the population of Japan. In East Africa, a similar-sized population is grouped in the Great Lakes states, South Sudan and the DRC. All of these centres, with the marginal exception of the DRC, are landlocked.

Their ability to attract investment and benefit from globalisation depends, among other things, on having efficient rail, road and pipeline links to the Indian Ocean “transit  states” of Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

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Industrialization of Ethiopia With Chinese Cooperation

Below are excerpts from a speech by Mr. Mehreteab Mulugeta Haile, Consul General of Ethiopia , reporting on the progress that Ethiopia has made to develop its nation, with its emphasis on infrastructure.

Ethiopia is one of the largest Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of about 100 million people. After suffering economic stagnation for decades, its economy began to grow in the mid-1990s after a new administration led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took the helm of government.

For the last 15 years, Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of about 11% per annum. To continue with this rapid economic growth, the Ethiopian Government rolled out in 2010, an ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This plan aims to attain a lower-middle-income status by 2025. Currently the country is implementing the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which is built on Sectoral Policies, Strategies  & Program and Lessons drawn from the first GTP and the post-2015 “sustainable development goals” (SDGs). It has also taken into account global and regional economic situations having direct or indirect bearing on the Ethiopian economy.

Expanding the manufacturing sector will focus on identifying new investment areas such as biotechnology, petrochemicals, electricity and electronics, information and communication technologies (hardware and software production industries).

In the infrastructure sector, the overall strategic direction is to ensure the creation of infrastructure that supports rapid economic growth and structural transformation. This direction will create mass employment opportunities, an institution having strong implementation capacity, ensure public participation and benefit, construct decentralized infrastructure development systems, solve financial constraints, ensure fairness and profitability, and ensure integrated planning of infrastructure development.

Within infrastructure overall, rural roads are given high focus to help reduce poverty by facilitating easy access of agricultural products, at low transportation cost, to the market, improving access to basic socioeconomic services, and strengthening rural-urban linkages.

If we take my country, Ethiopia, as an example of Chinese cooperation and involvement in Africa, we find that what has been said above is false. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation in the 2012-2017 period, are on top of Ethiopia’s investment landscape, both in number and financial capital. Among these companies, 279 were operational with projects that are worth over 13.16 billion Ethiopian birr (over 572 million U.S. dollars) during the reported period, while the remaining 100 are under implementation.

In terms of employment creation, Chinese companies have created more than 28,300 jobs in various sectors in Ethiopia during the reported period, of which over 19,000 were created in Ethiopia’s manufacturing, as it is the leading sector in attracting companies from China. China brings not only investment, knowhow, and transfer of technology, but also skills and entrepreneurship.

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Interview with Lawrence Freeman: U.S. Deployment of Armed Drones in Niger is not the Solution; Long Term Strategy Missing

Below are excerpts from an interview with RT TV on the recent agreement between the U.S. and Niger to allow armed drone missions in the Sahel.   

  Africa affairs analyst Lawrence K Freeman says that drone strikes alone will be unlikely to change the region’s jihadist landscape, which is being driven by more than just a handful of key operatives.

   “So, this is a big problem for the Niger government, for West Africa, and for all of Africa – [that Niger] is now allowing the US to carry out these kind of military attacks,” Freeman told RT. “What is missing from this, is a strategy.
   “There has not been a strategy now for many, many years through several presidential administrations, including the current one.”
   “The thinking in Washington is that by taking out key figures in the terrorist chain of command, this will help bring down the whole network. This approach has worked against some militant groups in the past but is unlikely to work here, Freeman said.
   “The Sahara Desert itself, which goes all the way up to the Mediterranean, this is larger than the US. The Sahel desert stretches from the east end to the end of Africa. It is impossible to patrol all these areas. Therefore, you might pick off a few people here and there, which is useful, but you’re not going to stop the problem of terrorism.”
  “If you take northern Mali, Niger, Chad – I have been in Chad, I have been in northern Nigeria – these places are totally undeveloped. Therefore, they are perfect further bases for Boko Haram, for al-Qaeda, for ISIS (Islamic State) and others to operate, recruit and establish bases.