China’s Belt & Road Initiative Truly is Helping Africa Develop

Below are edited excerpts from a new report by the China-Africa Research Initiative-at Johns Hopkins in Washington DC (Brief #23, 2018). It provides a useful analysis that refutes the misinformation that China is “stealing” Africa’s resources.

“Silk Road to the Sahel: African ambitions in China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Yunnan Chen

Where Does Africa Fit?

THE BRI SIGNIFIES A SHIFT IN CHINA’S economic engagement with Africa, away from the resource trade characterized by the boom of the 2000s, towards a greater emphasis on infrastructure, industrial cooperation, and connectivity. From single bilateral infrastructure projects, there has been a new term ‘corridorization’ of infrastructure: creating economic corridors and networks at a regional scale to promote cross-border trade and integration.

East and North Africa have been the focus of the BRI in Africa, though countries in West and Southern Africa have also signed cooperation agreements under the framework of the BRI.  As part of the ‘maritime silk road’, Chinese actors have been linked to several major port and transport projects. Chinese firms have invested heavily in Egypt’s Suez Canal corridor, with plans to expand to a second canal as well as new terminals at the port of Alexandria.

China’s Maritime Silk Road connecting Asia to the East-coast of Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Djibouti has emerged as a BRI hub. As well as being the location for its first overseas naval facility, China has financed multiple economic infrastructure projects totalling US$1.8 billion in the small African state, including a new multipurpose port at Doraleh (with specialized terminals for livestock and LNG), as well as a new free trade zone complex adjacent to the port, commissioned in July 2018 . In Kenya, Chinese firms have also won construction contracts for three berths for the new deep-water port in Lamu.

Politically, the BRI’s presence in Africa has been expanding. The most recent Johannesburg Forum of China Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC)  declared as one of its goals: “[to] actively explore the linkages between China’s initiatives of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Africa’s economic integration and sustainable development agenda”. Countries linked to the BRI; Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia, have also been singled out in FOCAC among ‘industrial cooperation demonstration and pioneering countries’ and ‘priority partners for production capacity cooperation countries’; these countries have seen a rapid expansion of Chinese-built industrial zones, presaging not only greater trade but also industrial investment from China. However, it may also suggest further stratification in China’s political engagement with Africa as a region, increasing the geopolitical importance of select countries.

Continue reading Silk Road to the Sahel

Ethiopia‘s Optimistic, But Challenging Path Forward

Lawrence K Freeman

August 3, 2018

On June 28, thousands upon thousands of smiling Ethiopians poured into the Washington DC convention center to listen to their new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. They began gathering in the morning hours before the noon starting time of the event. Standing for hours, on a line that snaked around the convention center, with the last of the crowd finally entering the hall at 3pm. I was fortunate to witness this joyous occasion. The entire ground floor hall of the convention center was filled, as far as the eye could see, by the Ethiopian community that came to celebrate the new leadership of their nation.

Only three days earlier on July 26, in Addis Ababa, Simegnew Bekele, the chief engineer of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, was found murdered in his car. His assassination was followed by a large funeral at Meskel Square where he was mourned by tens of thousands.  His body was taken to Holy Trinity Church where he was honored by being buried alongside Emperor Haile Selassie, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The juxtaposition of these events, an ocean apart, foretell the challenging course ahead for Ethiopia. A future brimming with optimism, but fraught with danger. There is more than symbolism involved.

Progress Under Attack

Engineer Bekele, in the minds of Ethiopians, embodied a true patriotic spirit, who led their nation forward. He will be remembered for his lasting commitment to develop Ethiopia into growing sovereign economy in the Horn of Africa. Before overseeing the construction of the GERD in 2011, he worked on the Gibe I and II dams. The completed Gibe III hydro-electric project generating 1,872 megawatts, has doubled Ethiopia’s power supply. When the construction of the GERD- 6,450 megawatts-is finished, Ethiopia will be the second largest producer of electricity in Sub-Sahara Africa behind South Africa. The multi billion-dollar GERD, is being built with help of China, but financed by Ethiopia. The GERD is on the Blue Nile close to the border of Sudan and will be the biggest dam in Africa at 1.8 kilometers wide and 155 meters high.

Ethiopia’s ambitions to create a modern-advanced economy and lift its 100 million people out of poverty is evident in its commitment to also expand its rail and road infrastructure. The operational Addis-Ababa to Djibouti electrified train (the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa) will transport manufactured goods from Ethiopia’s industrial parks, to the port of Djibouti for export. Their Growth Transformation Plan II (2014-2019) emphasizes Ethiopia’s intention to expand its manufacturing sector by 25%.

It is Ethiopia’s unwavering devotion to progress to “eliminate poverty, not manage it” that is the real target of Simegnew Bekel’s assassination. 

(Artist drawing of completed GERD, whose completion will allow Ethiopia to become an energy exporter)                       

Abiy’s Life Threatened

In a mere four months since assuming office in April of this year, the 42-year-old Prime Minster has created a fervor in the population, causing waves of unbridled excitement, not seen since the overthrow of the bloody Derg regime in 1991 by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front led by Meles Zinawi.  In what is being called a revolution, Prime Minister Abiy has released thousands of political prisoners, reached out to all ethnic regions of the nation, and unexpectedly ended the state of war with Eritrea in a ceremony held in the Eritrean capital Asmara on July 8. By taking this giant step to normalize relations with its neighbor Eritrea after a generation of armed hostility, Prime Minster Abiy has now become a living symbol for peace and security in the Horn of Africa.

Let us not forget that a month before coming to the United States, Prime Minister Abiy escaped an assassination attempt when a grenade was thrown at a rally where he addressed millions of his fellow citizens.  Although he was not harmed, over one hundred were wounded and two died from this attack on June 23, in Addis Ababa’s famous Meskel Square.

Steeped in the ideas of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia, unique among African nations, has demonstrated an understanding of principles fundamental to economic growth. To wit: the necessity for the state to direct public credit into vital categories of infrastructure necessity for the economic security of a nation (dirigisme). The government not only has the right, but the obligation to intervene into the economy to foster “pro-growth” polices that benefit the general welfare of its people. Ethiopia’s relative success in this effort has produced enemies internally, regionally, and internationally, who oppose any progress towards achieving economic stability in the Horn of Africa. Economic independence by Africa nations challenges the dominance of financial predators, who still view Africa as a pawn on their “geo-political” chessboard.

Author with Ethiopians inside DC Convention Center

Ethiopia Should Stay the Course

For many years there has been enormous pressure by the international financial community including the IMF to force Ethiopia to “liberalize” its economy by; decentralizing its economy, reducing regulations, allowing foreign investment in state-owned enterprises, and deregulating its banking system. Thus far Ethiopia has resisted, but under increasing duress, there are reports that some in the leadership of Ethiopia may be ready to open the floodgates to intrusions by international financiers, who are not interested in the welfare of the citizens.

Ethiopia, a poor country that suffered from a wrecked economy twenty-five years ago, has emerged as a leader on the Sub-Saharan continent. Ethiopia’s commitment to expanding its physical infrastructure has served the nation well, though it still faces serious impediments. Providing meaningful employment for the 500,000-young people, who are seeking to join the work force each year will remain a significant challenge. However, Ethiopia should not permit itself to be coerced into deviating from its thus far successful economic policy.

Putin To Light Up Africa; African Leaders Gather at BRICS Summit

Russia will light up Africa – Putin

Russia will light up Africa - Putin
The African continent is in huge need of energy investments, and Russia could become one of its key partners, according to President Vladimir Putin speaking at BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

“I would especially like to note that Russia is planning to step up its assistance in development of national energy in African states,” said the Russian president during the BRICS-Africa Outreach panel on Friday.

Read more

Commercial port of Novorossiysk, Russia © Vladimir Astapkovich

The leaders of governments of BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) were holding a panel dedicated to economics cooperation between the bloc and African countries. The rationale behind the BRICS Plus concept is to create a platform for greater interaction and partnerships amongst countries to win more power for emerging economies globally.

According to Putin, Russia is in talks with Angola, Mozambique and Gabon on implementing promising oil and gas projects. “In the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is the technological leader, we offer African partners to build an industry from scratch,” the Russian president said. These projects are crucial for Africa since about 600 million people on the continent live without electricity.

Energy is not the only sphere where Russia and Africa could cooperate, according to Putin. “Russian business shows interest in working with African partners in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, healthcare, the development of mass communications, geology and subsoil use,” Putin said.

As examples, Putin mentioned Angola, where Russia’s Alrosa is interested in mining diamonds, a joint venture between Russia and Burundi on the production of lighting products for exports to East Africa, and agriculture projects in Senegal.

Modi Emphasizes India’s Commitment to Africa’s Development at the BRICS

July 27, 2018

Addressing a BRICS Outreach Dialogue Session today in presence of a large number African heads of state, Indian Premier Narendra Modi said: “The coming together of so many African leaders during this program is a wonderful thing. India’s ties with Africa are time-tested. The Government of India has deepened engagement with Africa. Economic and development cooperation between India and Africa have touched new heights,” India’s WION TV news reported from Johannesburg.

Among the African heads of state were: Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Hage Geingob (Namibia), João Lourenço (Angola), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana) and Peter Mutharika (Malawi). The African leaders were invited by the host nation, South Africa, to discuss ways of pursuing inclusive growth on the continent with the BRICS heads of state, reported China CGTN television network.

South Africa’s BRICS website points out that since it last hosted the summit in 2013, all BRICS hosts have included an out reach format: “In 2013, South Africa took the initiative to activate the provision for a BRICS Dialogue with partners from the Global South, as per the Sanya Declaration that stated: ‘We are open to increasing engagement and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, in particular emerging and developing countries, and relevant international and regional organisations.'”

In his address, Modi, highlighting the ongoing cooperation between India and the African nations and welcoming the effort for regional economic integration by the African countries, he said “in the last four years, we have had more than 100 visits and meetings at the levels of heads of state and various government levels and these have taken our economic relations and development cooperation to a new high. India has offered 180 lines of credit worth $11 billion in more than 40 countries in Africa.”

In addition, he said that “every year 8,000 African students get scholarships to study in India” and pointed out that his country now has an e-network in 48 African countries for telemedicine.

 

 

China and US Should Jointly Partner with Africa to Transform the Continent

It has been my firm belief for several years that, if China and the US jointly partnered with African nations, we can eliminate poverty and hunger across the continent. Development of Africa is not a “zero sum game.” Africa’s infrastructure deficit is estimated in the trillions of dollars for energy, rail, ports, roads, new waterways, and much more. There is no part of Africa that could not be developed, if the two largest economies worked with African nations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an excellent vehicle for such collaboration between Presidents Xi, and Trump. Below is a useful article reporting on US and Chines companies working together in Africa

AFRICA IN FOCUS

“American companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa”

Yun Sun 

“When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges…

“As China expands its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, government-level U.S.-China cooperation in Africa continues to be scarce. However, this trend contrasts sharply with the growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects on the continent. Indeed, although the Chinese projects and financing have the tradition of favoring Chinese contractors and providers, the technical advantages of some American companies have made them the beneficiary of the Chinese BRI campaign…”

Continue reading

 

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

Mr. Kelvin Kemm, in this in-depth interview, excerpted below, discusses the realm of energy choices for South Africa as well for other African nations. More are considering nuclear energy as a safe and reliable power source for their economies. Mr. Kemm also discusses the anti-nuclear lobby and the causes for climate change. I recommend you spend the time to read through the entire interview.

“South Africa Builds on Its Nuclear Success”

Interview With Kelvin Kemm, who is chairman of the board of the government-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, known as NECSA,

Kemm: “The current situation is that nuclear is still on the agenda exactly as it was; it’s unchanged. There’s been somewhat of a delay because of various issues—we have a new President now, as of a couple of months ago, and a new Minister of Energy. But nothing has changed with the plan to add 9,600 MW of nuclear—to the existing total from all sources of 45,000-plus MW of electric power.

“However, the wind and solar people have been making a lot noise and made quite a few inroads, in that they’ve influenced the public thinking a lot. In doing this, they’ve done quite a bit of sabotage of nuclear, in the sense that they spread false stories that nuclear power will kill your children, and that there’s an unsolved waste problem, and that South African workers will not be able to meet exacting nuclear standards.

“In contrast…We say that you’re not going to run electric trains across the country on solar and wind, you’re not going run the gold mines; but we have no objection to solar and wind where they can work—in rural areas and in small applications, dedicated applications, which is in stark contrast to the anti-nuclear people, who condemn anything that has the word “nuclear” associated with it.

“I’d like to branch into something else, that there’s a lot of nuclear technology which is not nuclear power. So while the extreme greens are attacking the nuclear concept, they’re doing a lot of other damage. For example, South Africa is currently the second biggest supplier in the world of nuclear medicine; we’re major suppliers to the United States. In Pretoria we’ve got the only nuclear reactor in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing nuclear medicine for the world, with deliveries taking place three or four times a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays. We send this nuclear medicine around the world. It is a great life-saver for cancer patients, for example, and in diagnosing other diseases.

“Last year, in 2017, I was invited to speak at the inaugural African Union Economic Platform meeting in Mauritius. One of the things I mentioned in my presentation was nuclear power for other African countries, and I was inundated with reaction.

“Half-a-dozen-plus countries, now, have already spoken to us directly, asking if we can supply nuclear power to them. Now, that is in the form of the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR), which South Africa developed a number of years ago. That reactor got to the point where we were ready to start constructing the first prototype, when the government of the day then put the project on ice. They didn’t actually close it down, but they put it into such low gear that it eventually stumbled to an effective standstill.

“Golly, how can you have an African country dependent on rainfall to keep the lights on? You just can’t do that. And numbers of them said they had no coal, oil, or gas.

“They said, what’s next? The anti-nuclear lobby has been going on with their hand-waving and demonstrating, to get solar and wind, but many of them have been very senseless. Hey, wait a minute—you don’t get solar at night. And so hopefully the wind blows. What happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Now, you’ve got nothing. And the
green just say, well, that’s the way Mother Nature designed it: Live with it.

“And so, many African countries have gotten wise about it, saying, wait a minute, we’re about to get suckered here into this thing. And they’ve realized now that the only solution they’ve got is to go for PBMR-type nuclear.  because with nuclear, you can stockpile fuel very easily, for a very long period of time. It’s very easy to keep a year or two, or three, or four of nuclear fuel supply in a couple of bunkers, because the volume is so small; whereas you could never keep two or three years’ worth of coal in a pile around a power station. Here in South Africa, we try to keep a two-week emergency supply of coal at power stations, and even that is a mountain of coal “the size of an Egyptian pyramid.” And they go through that very quickly”

Read entire article

Transaqua: Pan-African Project “Necessary to Restore Peace and Security in the Lake Chad”

“China’s deal with Italian firms will rescue Lake Chad”

What is Transaqua?

Last June, in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Chinese construction giant PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica SpA signed a deal about a regeneration project of Lake Chad.

The agreement includes carrying out feasibility studies on transferring water from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo to replenish Lake Chad.

Due to less rainfall and increased irrigation, the Lake’s area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometres to just 2,000 square kilometres. Other factors, include an influx of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram, have contributed to increased demand.

The proposed major water diversion scheme would involve channeling a small percentage of water from River Congo towards the north via a navigable canal.

Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission explained that the Pan-African project is “necessary to restore peace and security in the Lake Chad region and for the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin.”

Map showing Lake Chad and River Congo.

Courtesy of Schiller Institute. The Transaqua project aims to move water from River Congo to Lake Chad. Schiller Institute. Schiller Institute Schiller Institute

He also highlighted that the movement of the water could feasibly be used to create hydro-electricity, as well as boosting regional trade, creating new economic infrastructure like river ports, and making new agro-industrial zones.

How is China involved?

PowerChina, a large state-owned enterprise in China that built the Three Gorges Dam, has committed US$1.8 million to finance to research studies for the initial stages of Transaqua.

The canal will effectively create a New Silk Road to Lake Chad and there are plans to have a service road and eventually a rail line run alongside the waterway, creating more infrastructure and access.

This is in keeping with the values of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Wang Hao, from the Chinese Embassy in Germany speaking at the Schiller Institute’s Development of Nations Conference, explained China’s decision to put forward the Belt and Road initiative.

He spoke of how China has learned from its own experience how important transport facilities are for the development of the economy. He quoted the Chinese saying: “To get rich, you must build a road first.” This is at the core of the Belt and Road initiative – infrastructure supports economy recovery and strength.

He highlighted that China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway, with 25,000 kilometres. This infrastructure laid “a solid foundation for the rapid development of China’s economy”.

Facilities connectivity is one of the priorities of the Belt and Road initiative as China believes proper infrastructure is at the basis of economic development. This in part illuminates the reason behind China’s investment into Transaqua.

Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said Africa can become the next China if it invests in the Transaqua infrastructure with the support and partnership of China and Europe.

With investment so far of US$1.8 million from China and US$2.5 million from Italy, this project could “launch Africa on the road to economic growth, human security, industrialisation, peace, development and the attainment of the dreams of Pan-African leaders” such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, who first proposed the project in 1964.

Africa Updates: Ethiopia Attacked by US; Zimbabwe; Uganda; China; the Great Green Wall

US Congress Disgraces Itself in Vote Against The Nation of Ethiopia

–The US Congress displayed short-sightedness, and a lack of understanding about Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular when it foolishly voted up HR 128, condemning Ethiopia. Though it is only a resolution with no lawful consequences, it demonstrates how easily the US Congress can be manipulated, and how little they know about the progress Ethiopia has made in achieving significant levels of economic growth that benefit all its citizens. The irony is the that one week before the Congress embarrassed itself, the ruling EPRDF conducted a voluntary peaceful transition of government by selecting Abiy Ahmed from the Oromo community as their new young Prime Minister. There is no doubt that Ethiopia will remain a strong ally of the US, and will continue to pursue policies that have made Ethiopia a leader in economic growth on the Africa continent as they struggle to balance human rights with economic and social rights. (I will be writing more on this subject in the near future.)

Read about Ethiopia’s progress in providing jobs and growth for its people: Ethiopia Stands Poised to Lead an African Industrial Revolution

Ties between Zimbabwe and China Hit a New High, ‘Comprehensive’ Partnership Stressed

— An editorial in the Zimbabwe {Herald}, a daily that speaks for the government, hailed the “new high” in China-Zimbabwe relations following the official visit of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to China last week, where he met with President Xi Jinping as well as other Chinese officials.

The same vision was expressed to CGTN, April 8, by Ms. He Wenpeng, Africa Studies Director at the China Academy of Social Sciences, who said it marks a new era for Zimbabwe and Africa.

Last November, at a Schiller Institute international conference in Germany, He outlined what is ahead for Africa in linking up with the Belt and Road Initiative.

The {Herald} stressed that two major milestones were reached by the visit of the Mnangagwa delegation, which included 10 cabinet members as well as 80 businessmen. The first is that bilateral relations were elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Status, meaning that “China is demonstrating its willingness to boost trade with Zimbabwe and stimulate the country’s economic growth.” Zimbabwe will now profit by more Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure in which the Chinese have become experts.

The second milestone was the “incorporation of Zimbabwe into the Belt and Road Initiative. Not many people have cared to examine the benefits of this initiative, which is part of President Xi’s thought on the new economic trajectory China is taking. We reckon that Zimbabwe stands to reap huge benefits by being part of a select group of countries that China is dealing with under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

The editorial continues, describing the BRI as “the largest infrastructure development project, which will see more than a trillion dollars being invested across the globe…. Under this initiative, China will build massive infrastructure that will connect it to many countries around world, including Zimbabwe.

This will help facilitate trade and the transfer of capital, technology and expertise.

“The project is meant to create an economic cooperation framework with the countries involved that will bring real benefits to the people, making it ‘a belt of new opportunities.'”

The editorial urges Zimbabwe to take steps to “come up with laws, rules and regulations that govern foreign investment.” This new legislation should be clear and without “shifting of goalposts.”

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa: China Helps African Nations To Develop Faster

–In an interview, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with China’s CGTN Africa senior correspondent Tian Wei, in which he praised China’s effort to develop Africa and responded to some Western critics of China’s Africa policy. By building infrastructure, China increases connectivity among African economies, and thus it helps such economies to develop faster than their individual national efforts would allow, he said. To the specious criticism, raised by the West, that China is driving African nations into debt, President Mnangagwa laughed. “We got so many grants from China,” he first said. Then he explained that China is giving credit for capital investments which are accounted for in a capital budget and therefore do not increase national debt.

Asked what his political goal is, Mnangagwa replied that it is to lead his country to become a middle-income nation by 2040 and even an advanced country. At his next meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the China Africa Summit later this year, some of the projects they discussed will already be underway, so that they can talk about them, he said.

“For me as Zimbabwe’s President, national interest comes first: There is nothing China has done that threatens the independence or national interest of Zimbabwe. But Western countries have done a lot of things to threaten our unity and political economic sovereignty,”  Mnangagwa told her. Excerpts of the video interview:
https://eblnews.com/video/interview-emmerson-mnangagwa-371574

Uganda Plans To Develop Its Uranium Reserves, and Go Nuclear

–A six-man delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency has been in Uganda at that country’s request, to conduct a Site and External Events Design, or SEED mission. This inspection and consultation is designed to assist member states at different stages of nuclear development. The focus of the IAEA experts’ trip, is four uranium-rich districts in the country, which the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has identified for possible exploitation. Uganda’s Atomic Energy Council has developed a Nuclear Power Roadmap, which the government approved in 2015. Further down the line, an MOU has been signed with Russia for the peaceful application of atomic energy, and the country’s plan is for its first nuclear power plant in 2026.

The Uganda daily {Observer} reports that President Yoweri Museveni met with IAEA Director General Yuiya Amano in January to discuss Uganda’s nuclear ambitions, including in health, energy, and agriculture. Museveni, the article reports, has had to defend Uganda’s nuclear plans against critics, including at the UN Security Council, assuring them that countries like his will utilize their uranium reserves only for peaceful purposes. IAEA head Amano has been on a multi-nation tour of Africa, offering the IAEA’s assistance in their new nuclear programs.    Uganda is one of the 45 countries, including others in East Africa, including Kenya and Tanzania, that are planning to develop their uranium resources for nuclear power generation.

China Will Help Africa Green Its Deserts

–China has approved a project to offer technological support for the construction of Africa’s Great Green Wall, the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday. Proposed by the African Union in 2007, Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative aims to reverse desertification spreading drought, famine, and poverty through the Sahel region.

According to Lei Jiaqiang, director of the XIEG, China will cooperate with Mauritania, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, among other African countries, to systematically diagnose desertification and the technical needs in the region.

The project will bring China’s desertification-prevention and -control technologies, materials, and products to Africa, and conduct environmental adaptability assessments. It will also include personnel training and capacity building on anti-desertification measures in African countries. Some Chinese enterprises dealing with prevention and control of desertification will also participate in the project.

“We hope to bring China’s wisdom in anti-desertification to Africa and help enhance the capability of desertification prevention in African countries along the Great Green Wall,” Lei said.

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.

President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy

By Lawrence Freeman,

January 4, 2018

After nearly a year in office, the outline of President Donald Trump’s policy for Africa has emerged as fundamentally and seriously flawed. In a similar manner to his predecessors, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Trump’s African strategy suffers from a conceptual deficiency in its failure to recognize that the most fundamental human right is the right to life. Every human being is morally entitled to live a healthy, productive, meaningful life with the hope that the future will be an improvement over the present.  If one examines the outlines of policy by President Trump and the State Department, such a guiding and indispensable principle is conspicuously absent. For Africa, where the largest number of people endure the greatest hardships of life of any continent, the absence of a full-throttled U.S. commitment to eliminate poverty and hunger as an essential feature of a strategic policy, is damning, and must be remedied.

To ensure a prosperous future for what will be the most populated continent on the planet in 2050, by which time the population is expected to double, from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people, President Trump should emulate China’s infrastructure-led development program.

The Trump administration is expected to reduce State Department and USAID-funded programs, among others, beneficial to Africa. Not to overlook the potential harmful effects of these cuts, there is a more fundamental shortcoming to Trump’s policy. Like his recent predecessors, he is ignorant of, or ideologically blind, to understanding what is required to accelerate economic growth across the African continent. Africa needs, infrastructure, infrastructure, and more infrastructure, particularly in the vital categories of energy, rail, roads, and water management. Trump has been especially eager to support increased military deployments and kinetic warfare against violent extremists in Somalia, the Sahel, and northeast Nigeria. However, any competent and honest military leader knows an effective counter-terrorism effort must include economic development. If the Sahel, were not a barren, underdeveloped desert, the various terrorist militia would not be able so easily to occupy this region for their base of operations.

Security and Free Trade: Inadequate for Africa

The African continent has the greatest deficit in all categories of infrastructure on the planet. Thus, not surprisingly, Africa has the largest number of people living in poverty; living without the basic necessities of life.  According to a 2016 World Bank report on poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of people, 41%, living in extreme poverty. That translates into the largest number of poor at 389 million, just over 50% of 767 million worldwide living below the poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. Yet despite all the hype about Africa’s “rising lions,” referring to African nations with high growth rates of GDP, the number of people living in poverty is Sub-Saharan Africa is increasing.

Look at one critical area: access to energy which is the lifeblood of an economy. Abundant grid energy, accessible to all sectors of society, can transform an entire nation and lift its population out of poverty. Conversely, the lack of energy kills. According to “Energy Access Outlook 2017,” of the 674 million people, globally, expected to be without access electricity in 2030, over 600 million, or 90%, will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the developing sector nations in Asia and Latin America, the percentage of the population expected to have access to electricity by 2030 is 99% and 95% respectively, while for Sub-Saharan Africa, it expected to be 50% or less.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of those without electricity is increasing, unlike like all other populations in the world. Africa requires a minimum of 1,600 gigawatts of electrical power to have same the standard of living as advanced nations.

In a related classification, cooking energy, the picture is also abysmal. Almost 80% of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have gas or electric stoves; instead they cook with solid biomass, i.e., solid waste, animal dung, wood, saw dust, wood chips, etc. This is not only destructive to the environment, but to human labor as well. I have witnessed, on numerous occasions in my travels throughout Nigeria, young girls collecting firewood and then carrying it on their heads for sale in the market. In Mali, young men are destroying trees to be used in the primitive method of charcoaling, aiding the expansion of the desert.

President Trump’s Africa policy of security/counter-terrorism first, followed by trade and investment, fails to address Africa’s underlying depressed conditions of life which allow violent groups to easily recruit. People who can’t feed their families or provide the minimal necessities of life, and see no hope in the future, are led to violence out of manipulation and despair. Trade and investment, as proposed by the Trump administration, are not the solution.

Africa suffered greatly from 500 years of slavery and colonialism, 1450-1960. Following the initial success of the independence movements, the financial predators moved in to loot the continent’s vast wealth in natural resources. Extractive industries provide revenue, but they do not add/create wealth or generate a significant number of jobs. Africa doesn’t need more investors intent on making profits under the guise of applying the distorted “laws” of free trade and the marketplace. African nations require real economic growth that creates added value, increases the total wealth of society, and provides productive jobs to the restless masses of unemployed youth.

In 2014, Africa’s share of value added in global manufacturing is reported to be a pitiful 1.6%.  This sorrowful state of economy can and must be reversed. The manufacturing process is vital for every healthy economy. It adds wealth by transforming natural resources into finished and semi-finished products to be either consumed domestically or exported. This requires technologically advanced capital equipment, and skilled labor, all embedded within an integrated platform of infrastructure. State-directed credit and long-term, low-interest loans invested into critical areas of the economy, such as infrastructure, are indispensable for the growth of a manufacturing sector. Witness previous successful periods of economic growth in the U.S. (and in China today); these were accomplished through public credit, not hedge fund speculators and Wall Street day traders.

The most valuable natural resource of Africa, is not its mineral wealth, which is the target of the financial and mining/commodity predators. Rather, its greatest natural resource is its immense quantities of arable, yet to be cultivated land, along with the abundant water sources in its numerous lakes and river systems.  Africa is capable of feeding its people and eliminating hunger. It can also potentially help feed Asia, if properly developed with a manufacturing sector, and food-processing industries, coupled with a massive expansion of infrastructure.

What Does China Know About Africa That the U.S. Doesn’t

Over the last thirty-five years, China has lifted over one-half billion of its citizens out of poverty. This has been accomplished by massive state-directed investment into essential categories of infrastructure, along with its deep commitment to advance its economy through attaining new levels of science and technology. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have publicly stated their desire to help African nations eliminate poverty. This universal mission by the leadership of China, expressed concretely in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” has led to a revolution in joint infrastructure projects in Africa. New railroads are being built across the continent, replacing colonial locomotives and tracks built over one hundred years ago. On the East Coast, an entry zone for the Maritime Silk Road, new and expanded ports, with connecting rail lines vectored westward into the interior of the continent, are creating the potential for a fundamental transformation of the economies of several African nations including; Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti.

The “ChinaPower Project” reports that between 2000 and 2014, China funded 2,390 projects across Africa totaling $121.6 billion, just over one-third of China’s total global financing. In Africa, 32% of the financing went for transportation projects and 28.5% for energy.

“Dance of the lions and dragons” a study completed by McKinsey & Company in 2017, analyzed privately owned Chinese companies operating in Africa. They estimated that there are 10,000 such private Chinese businesses that have committed $21 billion to infrastructure, which is more than combined total of the African Development Bank, European Commission, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the G-8 nations. And 31% of these companies are involved in manufacturing which accounts for 12% of Africa’s industrial production—valued at $500 billion.

Conclusion

The U.S., along with the other Western powers, virtually abandoned the nations of Africa as soon as they had overthrown their colonial masters. President John F. Kennedy stands out among U.S. presidents, following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, as a champion for the newborn African nations. His collaboration with Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s to construct the Volta Dam Hydro-electric Aluminum Smelting Complex is a singular moment in U.S.-Africa relations over the last six decades.  America lost its vision for development, resulting in its refusal to build the power plants, dams, railroads, and ports that Arica needs. China has made a commitment to Africa and now is contributing to the most expansive building of new infrastructure the continent has ever seen.

President Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) is totally hypocritical: it attacks China for becoming Africa’s largest partner, and accuses China of undermining “Africa’s long-term development.” Trump’s NSS expresses the same old British geopolitical mentality of winners and losers competing in a zero-sum war for global hegemony.

Throughout my travels in Africa, I have found expressions of affection for America and its ideals; even among those nations that the U.S. has abused. That positive attitude is beginning to wane. However, it is not too late for the U.S. to chart a new course, one of cooperation with China and Africa to transform the continent.  Saving Lake Chad from extinction and transforming the Lake Chad Basin, is an urgent task for such a tripartite cooperation.

 

 

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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