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.
 

President Trump’s US-Africa Policy Criticized

This article points to a weakness in President Trump’s Africa Policy: the lack of a full throttled commitment to economic development. The author correctly highlights in the final two paragraphs, the limitation of relying on the “market” and private sector when it comes to “large investments and long payback periods.” Africa needs infrastructure on a scale that requires public credit and long term-low interest financing that is beyond the capability and capacityof the private sector. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt demonstrated through his successful transformation of the U.S. economy that government directed credit for infrastructure works.

Shift in US aid to Africa signals emphasis on politics

By Song Wei-Global Times Published: 2017/11/19 

The US House of Representatives held a hearing on appropriations for US aid to Africa in October. The Donald Trump administration requested $5.2 billion for Africa in fiscal 2018, which would be close to 35 percent less than in 2015. Of the total, $3.7 billion, or 70 percent, will be allocated to 10 countries in line with US strategic interests including Kenya and Nigeria.

The hearing reflected the focus and direction of Trump’s African policy, as well as the discrepancy between the US Congress and its Department of State, which exposed the political logic and moral risk of the US foreign aid management structure.

Cheryl Anderson, the acting assistant administrator at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) for Africa, attended the hearing and mentioned the importance of supporting development in Africa. Disease and conflict have no borders, she said, so underdeveloped markets can limit potential global economic growth. Supporting economic development in Africa not only creates jobs that increase economic growth and political stability in Africa; it also provides economic opportunities for US companies and workers. 

There are four policy priorities for Trump administration when it comes to allocating Africa budget. First, advance US national security interests in Africa through programs that support partners fighting against terrorism, advance peace and security, and promote good governance. Second, ensure programming asserts US leadership and influence in the continent. Third, design programs that foster economic opportunities and spur mutually beneficial trade and investment arrangements for the American people and African partners. Fourth, focus on efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability to the American taxpayers.   

The budget cut is a compromise between maintaining US strategic goals and promoting efficient spending. According to Donald Yamamoto, the acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Africa is emerging, which forms the foundation of US-Africa relations. The assistance will go to countries of the greatest strategic importance to the US. To mitigate the impact of reductions, the US will use its programs to leverage more private-sector funding while encouraging countries and donors to make more contributions. 

The budget proposal encountered much criticism during the hearing. Democrat Karen Bass described the budget as shortsighted, highlighting several contradictions such as touting peace while cutting peacekeeping and development efforts. Democrat Joaquin Castro warned the cuts will reduce US influence and open political opportunities for rival powers. 

Can a US budget for foreign aid guided by national strategy go far? US foreign aid is decided by the Department of State, which is responsible for foreign affairs. The Africa budget is drawn up by USAID and the Bureau of African Affairs. Trump’s “American First” ideology has placed Africa at the bottom of US strategy. The budget reflected its policy.

US foreign policy is influenced by pragmatism. Development issues have become important topics of global governance, so a depoliticization trend is inevitable. But US is linking its strategic goals in Africa to development funding, with a compromise between resource allocation and strategic interests. The pragmatic method goes against the essence of development.

US policy contradicts its goal. The evaluation of global development assistance has shifted from “aid effectiveness” to “development effectiveness”. The national strategic goal of the donor is seldom included when evaluating the effectiveness of a program. Prioritizing America’s important partners shows the misalignment between the declared development assistance and actual resource allocation. 

Leave the “development issue” to the market. With geopolitical thinking, the US focuses more on its business interests in Africa. As a result, the Trump administration is trying to leverage more private investment through public-private partnerships, generating economic opportunities for US companies. 

But development assistance is meant to provide public goods that support the development of recipient countries. This means large investments and long payback periods. Whether this is compatible with business motives is still unclear. 

The author is an associate research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

 

Trans-Saharan Railway Progressing: Great News for Africa

This rail project is vital not only for Sudan, but for the African continent. Sudan is located strategically to be the nexus for the East-West and North-South rail roads that when completed would transform the entire African landmass. Imagine the revolution in economic development when the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are connected across the girth of Africa, and also linked to the Mediterranean Sea and oceans surrounding South Africa. Port Sudan and Kenya’s port of Mombassa are part of China’s Maritime Silk Road. Ethiopia and Kenya have completed new rail lines with the assistance of China as part of the Spirit of the New Silk Road. Most people cannot even dream of how life for over one billion Africans would be changed by an industrialized and connected Africa, Yet, not only is it possible, but we can make it happen.

China signs agreement to begin planning 3,400km trans-Saharan railway

8 November 2017 |

By Global Construction Review Staff

Two Chinese companies will start planning a railway across the Sahara Desert linking Sudan’s Red Sea coast to landlocked Chad after an agreement was signed yesterday with the Sudanese government.

China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company (FDDC) inked the deal with the Sudanese Railways Authority.

They now have 12 months to complete a feasibility study on the construction of the 3,400 kilometre-long railway from Port Sudan to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena.

Makawi Mohamed Awad, Sudan’s minister of transport, said that his ministry’s strategic aim was to link Port Sudan with all its landlocked neighbors. The Chad line, from its capital, N’Djamena, would join Sudan’s network at Nyala across the border. 
 

The Chad line would join Sudan’s network at Nyala, state capital of South Darfur

Plans for a Sahara railway go back some years.

In 2014, Sudan reached a political agreement with Chad to link their capitals with Port Sudan with a later extension to the Atlantic Ocean ports of Cameroon. Although both countries pledged to stop supporting each other’s rebel movements, continual instability delayed implementation. 

Further back in March 2012, Chad reached agreement with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build its portion of the line to the Sudanese border, after which it would join the Sudanese system at Nyala. The estimated $5.6bn cost of the line was thought likely be met by the Import Export Bank of China. 

The lines are to be built to standard gauge and will be allow trains to run at 120 km/h.

CRDC carries out preparatory work for railway construction. It has been a major player in the development of China’s domestic high-speed system, surveying some 7,500km of it. 

FDDC is a state-owned developer that carries out turnkey infrastructure projects outside the domestic market. 

 

Once the United States Joins the Belt and Road Initiative, a New Paradigm for Mankind Can Begin

Helga Zepp LaRouche, May 29, 2017

China Investment Magazine, supervised by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, carried this article by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in its May issue. The article was distributed both in Chinese and in English to every participant in the May 14-15 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. In this article Mrs LaRouche presents an excellent article on the importance of infrastructure in advancing economic growth and the necessity for public credit financing.  She says:” The return on infrastructure investment is actually measured by the increase of the productivity of the entire economy. Therefore the financing can not be left to the private investor, but it must be the responsibility of the state, which is devoted to the common good of the national economy.

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