China’s Belt-Road Initiative Advancing Growth in Africa and Germany. Will the US join?

June 20, 2019

Everyday, nations around the world are experiencing economic growth by participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative-BRI. For a truly global transformation, the United States must join this new paradigm of development. The most productive way to enhance relations with China, is for President Trump, at next week’s G-20 meeting, to discuss with President Xi Jinping, the US joining the BRI. This would create an unprecedented level of economic growth throughout the world. It would also be a brilliant flank against those voices in the US, and internationally, who are demonizing China, and trying two divide our two great nations. 

{Independent}: Belt and Road Contributing to Prosperity in Africa

A feature today in the South African {Independent Online Business Report} publication reviews the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative for Africa, saying that Liberia, Morocco, and Tunisia have benefited from African development projects, as has Ethiopia from the Addis Ababa Light Rail, which cut travel time to and from the city. Through the BRI, China has also built a light-rail system in Abuja, Nigeria, the first to be built in Western Africa. Chinese construction companies have further assisted Angola in rebuilding its Benguela Railway, which had been destroyed in the civil war. The country can now transport goods from Angola’s western coastline to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chinese-funded projects have also led to the construction of the Isimba and Karuma hydroelectric power stations, two new sources of electricity to Uganda, which will ultimately aid development. In Rwanda, road construction projects have brought young citizens into construction through their employment. This ultimately improved their welfare and provided labor skills. In the spirit of BRI’s trade ambitions, Egypt now looks to make the idea of the Cape-to-Cairo road a reality. Since taking the reins as 2019-2020 chairperson of the African Union, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt plans to construct a superhighway through multiple African nations, eventually ending in Cape Town, to open
countries to trading in the Cape’s ports and in Cairo, Egypt’s gateway to the European Union.

German Mittelstand Supports New Silk Road

China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been creating opportunities for German enterprises, said Hans von Helldorff, chairman of the board of the Federal Association of German Silk Road Initiative (BVDSI), in an interview with Xinhua on June 17.

“The future markets and the new markets, for example, are in Asia, Africa, as well as Eastern and Southern Europe. They are not so well-connected. China has been providing the connections, thus it will generate great opportunities,” said von Helldorff, stating that new markets are needed by Germany’s Mittelstand firms.

Von Helldorff said that, thanks to the inter-connectivity, businesses have already been on the rise in some German cities, such as Hamburg and Duisburg. Many small and medium-sized companies in Germany got contracts with seaborne and logistics enterprises from China and other countries for local registration, legal, accounting, and tax services, von Helldorff stated.

“The infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road countries also need a lot of know-how. Harbor-related, road-related, train-related, etc. We have to open our eyes and participate in them,” von Helldorff said, declaring that the strengths of German businesses can contribute as an “innovation and investment engine.”

Speaking about prevailing doubts and worries about the BRI, allegations that the initiative might be politically motivated and harm local industries, von Helldorff said that some of them are simply clichés and that some are unfounded.

“The BVDSI sees China as a fast-growing economy that follows a plan. We need to sit and make eye-to-eye contacts and negotiations. Only cooperation in the sense of fair competition is for the benefit of humanity,” von Helldorff said. The BVDSI, founded in March 2019, is a business association serving as a platform for the interests of small- and medium-sized German companies. The BVDSI plans to organize a
forum later this year in Germany on the BRI for partners to establish project-related contacts.

 

China’s Belt and Road Aids Africa’s Growth in New Globalization

(China’s CGTN published my article today, on the eve of the historic 2nd Belt and Road Forum)
Opinion-April 24, 2019

Belt and Road Initiative: Another path to globalization

by Lawrence Freeman

Editor’s note: Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On the eve of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), it is irrefutable that the world has been transformed in the five years since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).China’s archetype for global development is based on the more elevated concept of each country contributing to the “common destiny of all nations” and mankind’s “shared future.”

By focusing on “global connectivity” through massive investments in infrastructure, linking China to the rest of the world through its land and maritime new Silk Roads, China has presented the world with a new paradigm for development – in effect, redefining globalization.

According to the World Economic Forum (September 2018), “the BRI will encompass 70 percent of the world’s population (4.4 billion) and 63 percent of the world’s GDP (21 trillion U.S. dollars),” primarily from construction of rail lines, highways, ports, airports, hydro-energy plants and pipelines.

The first BRF held in May 2017 included 29 foreign heads of state, 11 heads of international organizations and over two dozen attendees on the ministerial level. Because of the expansion of the BRI over the last two years, already 40 world leaders have confirmed their attendance for this year’s conference.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Africa

Nowhere, outside of China itself, are the positive effects of China’s BRI more evident than on the African continent. At the 2017 BRF, the only African heads of States who attended were Ethiopia and Kenya, and ministers from Egypt and Tunisia. With Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa, officially joining the BRI in 2019, and increased collaboration with China throughout all geographical sections of Africa, participation at this year’s BRF from Africa will undoubtedly be higher.

Engineers from the Addis Ababa Information & Communication Technology Development Agency in Ethiopia, Africa, train on Huawei’s networking equipment at the training center at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, September 15, 2011. /VCG Photo

Prior to the announcement of the BRI, China had already forged a close working relationship with Africa by convening China-Africa Summits (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) every three years beginning in 2000, rotating the venues between China and Africa.  At the seventh summit held last year in Beijing, all but one of the 54 African nations attended.

Unfortunately, the West lost its vision of development for Africa after the death of President John F. Kennedy, instead adopting a no-infrastructure policy. What Africa has needed most since the 1960s “Winds of Change” liberation from colonialism is infrastructure, water, energy, rail and roads. China has a different view on this.

Ambassador David Shinn, a respected scholar on Africa, wrote last month: “China has been indisputably the single most important builder of infrastructure in Africa since the beginning of the 21st century.”

Take, for example, Djibouti, which is a BRI hub. China is building the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone in this northeast African nation, strategically located right off the Indian Ocean and on the Gulf of Eden. It is estimated that one-third of global shipping passes by this port.

In 2016, the first electrically driven train in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, to the port city of Djibouti was inaugurated. This rail line built by Chinese companies utilizing and training African laborers and engineers is key to the develop-ment of the Horn of Africa, providing Ethiopia a port to export the products of its nascent manufacturing sector.

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua that “projects involving cooperation with China are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region… which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as seaports and railway connections.”

Chinese workers help to build a new train station in Beliatta in a southern province near Hambantota, which is Chinese managed and designed in Beliatta, Sri Lanka, November 18, 2018. /VCG Photo‍

Hadi called the “debt-trap” propaganda against the BRI, “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

African nations are attempting to industrialize their economies with growth in their manufacturing sectors. China is assisting by creating special economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial zones in Nigeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, and Rwanda. Industry and infrastructure generate jobs, raise skill levels and transfer technology.

Will the West Join the BRI?

Africa’s requirement for infrastructure is enormous, allowing Western nations the opportunity to join with China to industrialize this vast undeveloped continent, which is projected to have 2.5 billion people by 2050. President Xi, at the first BRF, said: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation” and “development holds the master key to solving all problems.” Regrettably, western nations have been hostile to joining the BRI. However, last month’s ground-breaking signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by Italy – the first G-7 nation to join China’s BRI – portends a potential change towards a new constructive dynamic.

Read: China’s New Approach to Globalization

Science and Technology Will Transform Africa: Ethiopia to Launch New Satellite in 2019

Finally, in recent years African nations and the African Union have embarked on the exciting and necessary use of space technology to advance their societies. Science and technology are the most fundamental drivers of economic growth. It is the discovery of new scientific principles of space that lead to breakthroughs in new technologies to transform the continent. For too long, Africa has been denied the “right” to use space science, and it no surprise that Ethiopia is in the leadership of this effort.

Ethiopia Will Have Its Own Remote Sensing Satellite, with Help from China

Nov. 27, 2018

Dawn breaks over a radio telescope dish of the KAT-7 Array pointing skyward at the proposed South African site for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope near Carnavon in the country's remote Northern Cape province in this picture taken May 18, 2012. South Africa is bidding against Australia to host the SKA, which will be the world's largest radio telescope when completed. Picture taken May 18, 2012.

As reported yesterday by Reuters, the government of Ethiopia announced that Ethiopia would have an Earth remote sensing satellite built in China and launched in September 2019.

China would pay $6 million for the design and construction of the satellite and the launch, toward the $8 million total cost. {The EastAfrican} weekly newspaper and on-line site reported that the satellite will be launched from China, but the command and control center will be based in Ethiopia.

Although according to the Reuters wire, the satellite will be used for “climate and related phenomena,” in fact, the data will also be used for agriculture, land use, and other necessary monitoring for the economy.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Innovation and Technology released a statement on the future of the country’s space plans, and mentioned a number of African space projects. One of these involves China granting $550 million to Nigeria to purchase two satellites according to Quartz Africa multimedia website, which explains that China has “deepened its place in all spheres, economic and political. Conquering the space business and providing space mapping services is part of Beijing’s globe-spanning Belt and Road Initiative, with both state-run and private Chinese space companies selling made-in-China satellites abroad.”

Quartz Africa reports that “as satellites get smaller and cheaper, an increasing number of African nations are declaring their plans to look skyward. The African Union has also introduced an African space policy, which calls for the development of a continental outer-space program and the adoption of a new framework to use satellite communications for economic progress. The demand for satellite capacity is expected to double in the next five years in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Undoubtedly, as part of the “Space Silk Road,” China will be playing a leading role in bringing space technology to Africa.

Read: China to Help Launch Ethiopia’s First Satellite in 2019 

 

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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He Wenping-The Belt & Road: China Shares Its Development with Africa & the World

Below are excerpts from a speech by Prof. He Wenping discussing “President Xi’s Perspective for the Year 2050 and the Perspective of African Development.”

Germany, November 25, 2017

The Industrialization of Africa 

      “Let’s quickly go to the One Belt, One Road: This is just what I call—this is not official, it’s what I call it—I think this is a 1.0 version of One Belt, One Road, because all those things you see, the Maritime one and the Silk Road continental one, go through 64 countries. In this 1.0 version, only Egypt is from Africa, among these 64 countries. But now, I think One Belt, One Road is entering 2.0 version—that is, now facing all the countries in the world. As President Xi Jinping mentioned to  the Latin American countries, “you are all welcome to join the Belt and Road.” In the Chinese “40 Minutes,” Xi said, all the African continent is  now on the map of the One Belt, One Road, the whole African continent, especially after the May Belt and Road Summit in Beijing had taken place. 

      “So now, its face is open to all the countries in the world, now it’s inclusive. Any country that would like to join, I would like to say. You see, these are two leaders in the world: People are saying “America First” is the idea. You see from abroad, Trump in the White House saying, “America First.” If anything is not too good for America, it’s not good at all. But, for President Xi Jinping, the One Belt, One Road is to make the world better. It’s not, “make China better,” because with all this Belt and Road, the Chinese foreign exchange reserves, we’re now enjoying the number-one highest foreign exchange reserves in the world.

      “So, we’re going to use those foreign exchange reserves to build all those roads—connectivity! Connect China and other countries to join together, to build trade. And there are three connectivities we are talking about: First is the policy connectivity, China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant to countries, their own development strategy. For example, Ethiopia.   Ethiopia has now been named as the “next China” on the African continent. It’s not my invention, these words—many scholars have been published talking
about which country in Africa is going to be the China in Africa, which means, developing faster! Faster and leading other countries forward. Most of them refer to Ethiopia.

    ” Ethiopia has now reached an GDP growth rate, last year, as high as 8%, but the whole rest of the continent, especially the oil rich countries, are suffering from lower oil prices. So they have developed an industrialization strategy; their strategy and the China strategy should be connected. One is called the policy connectivity

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Presidents of Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria Speak-out

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el Sisi Reiterates Egypt’s Orientation Is Toward Africa

           President el-Sisi, in a timely reiteration of a theme in his 2014 inaugural address, told the UN General Assembly Sept. 19 that “Africa lies at the heart of Egypt’s foreign policy.” He also condemned the current world order for its hypocrisy and its reliance on “conflict and zero-sum games,” and had sharp remarks about the state of affairs in Libya and Syria.

          Concerning Africa, el-Sisi said, “As Egypt’s geographical home, Africa lies at the heart of Egypt’s foreign policy, for it is in Africa that our historic roots lie, and it is from Africa that we derive pride in our identity and our deep sense of

belonging. This continent has also become subject to the same security threats facing the Arab region, and constitutes a major example of the crisis in the current international economic order, which cements poverty and economic disparity. This global order bears a major responsibility in the economic, political and social crises that threaten international peace and stability, rendering any discussion on sustainable development goals futile.”

          Leaders in Black Africa in the 1950s and 1960s, the era of African (political) independence–such as Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and Senegal’s Cheikh Anta Diop–looked to ancient Egypt and the Egypt of their contemporary, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, as a source of inspiration.

          El-Sisi repeatedly condemned the current world order, and pointed to the alternative, saying in one place, “Force and zero-sum games cannot remain as a means to realize interests, especially in today’s world, which is based on mutual interdependence among nations, and where significant horizons for cooperation and understanding exist to achieve the common interests of everyone….”

          “This requires,” he said, “involving developing countries more in the international economic governance structure and facilitating their access to easier financing, markets, and technology transfer.”

          Turning to the Arab region’s crises, with emphasis on Syria, he said that these crises can only be resolved by “upholding the notion of the modern nation-state.” There will be “no salvation for Syria except through a consensual political solution amongst all Syrians at the core of which is the preservation of the unity

of the Syrian state, the maintenance of its institutions, and the broadening of their political and social base to include all factions of the Syrian society, and to decisively counter terrorism until it is defeated.”

          On Libya, Iraq, and Yemen, he said: “Egypt will not allow the continuation of attempts to tamper with the unity and integrity of the Libyan state, or to undermine the capabilities of the Libyan people. We will continue to work diligently with the UN to achieve a political settlement based on the Sokhairat Agreement. The aforementioned logic applies to the Egyptian strategy regarding the crises in Iraq and Yemen.”

South African President Zuma’s Message at the UNGA: No  More Regime Change, Anywhere!

           President Jacob Zuma’s assertive address to the UN General Assembly on Sept. 20 included a denunciation, in detail, of regime change as a threat to world peace and development. It seems clear that his message was directed especially to U.S. President Donald Trump.

          He said in part: “In 2011, the African Union called for dialogue to resolve the crisis in Libya. Unfortunately, some among us here opted for guns and bombs. Today those countries are making little effort to promote stability in Libya. The major focus and preoccupation has become how to deal with the flow of migrants arriving in Europe from our continent and the Middle East, which are just mere symptoms.

          “The war in Libya contributed a great deal to the destabilization of the Sahel region and all the way to Central Africa, creating a corridor for illicit trafficking in arms as well as terrorist activities.

          “In fact, had our warning been heeded, that the supply of arms to civilians in Libya and the arming of civilians in Syria would cause loss of life, great instability, and mayhem, the world would be more peaceful today.

          “South Africa continues to call for an immediate end to the violence and for a Syrian-led political transition and a negotiated settlement reflecting the will of the Syrian people.

          “In both instances of Libya and Syria, we strongly cautioned against seeking to resolve internal challenges of sovereign states by imposing foreign solutions through military means.”

          Regarding North Korea, he said:

          “We continue with our call for calm in the Korean Peninsula. The situation cannot be allowed to get out of hand. …. It can no longer be acceptable that some few countries keep arsenals and stockpiles of nuclear weapons as part of their strategic defense and security doctrine, while expecting others to remain at their mercy.”

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari Speaking on October 1.

Below are excerpts from President Buhari’s address to the Nation of Nigeria on the 57th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule

                 “Recent calls on re-structuring, quite proper in a legitimate debate, has let in highly irresponsible groups to call for dismemberment of the country. We cannot and we will not allow such advocacy. As a young Army Officer, I took part from the beginning to the end in our tragic civil war costing about 2m lives, resulting in fearful destruction and untold suffering. Those who are agitating for a re-run were not born by 1967 and have no idea of the horrendous consequences of the civil conflict which we went through
                “December last year, this Administration has produced over 7 million 50Kg bags of fertilizer. Eleven blending plants with a capacity of 2.1 million metric tons have been reactivated. We have saved $150 million in foreign exchange and N60 billion in subsidy. Fertilizer prices have dropped from N13,000 per 50Kg bag to N5,500.

              “Furthermore, a new presidential initiative is starting with each state of the Federation creating a minimum of 10,000 jobs for unemployed youths, again with the aid of CBN’s development finance initiatives.

               “Power remains a huge problem. As of September 12th, production of power reached an all — time high of 7,001 Megawatts. Government is increasing its investment, clearing up the operational and financial log jam bedeviling the industry. We hope to reach 10,000 Megawatts by 2020.

               “Key priorities include better energy mix through solar and Hydro technologies. I am glad to say that after many years of limbo, Mambilla Power Project has taken off.

               “Elsewhere in the economy, the special window created for manufacturers, investors and exporters, foreign exchange requirements has proved very effective. Since April, about $7 billion has come through this window alone. The main effect of these policies is improved confidence in the economy and better investment sentiments.

               “The country has recorded 7 consecutive months of lower inflation, and the Naira rate is beginning to stabilize, appreciating from N525 per $1 in February this year to N360 today. Broad-based economic growth is leading us out of recession.

Interview with Sudan Foreign Minister