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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We Can Prevent Famine from Killing Millions of Africans

Lawrence Freeman
March 17, 2017
 
Famine is stalking Africa, threatening unprecedented levels of starvation. Famine has already been officially declared in parts of South Sudan’s Unity State, Somalia, and sections of the Borno State in Nigeria. Somalian officials reported 110 human beings perished from hunger in forty-eight hours in one region in the first days of March. One cannot imagine how parents cope watching their children slowly, painfully expire. Famine in Africa is not only unconscionable, but a crime against humanity, because it can be prevented. Only through an entirely new paradigm, that eliminates poverty through infrastructure led development, which can and must be done, will death by starvation finally be eradicated from the entire continent. In over 30 years China has lifted 750 million of its people out of poverty, and has pledged to help Africa eliminate poverty from its vast continent as well. Nothing less than this is acceptable. What is urgently required is; intention and vision for a better future.
 
 A Partial Overview
 
The United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945. More than 20 million people in four countries are facing starvation and famine, O’Brien said, and that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to
death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.” The four nations facing immediate catastrophe are; Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria.
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies reports that nineteen African countries are facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity. This includes 17 million people in the Horn of Africa; Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, and millions more in Central African Republic, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique are also in danger of acute food insecurity.
According to international food organizations, famine is declared if more than 30% of the population is acutely malnourished;  one in five households within a vicinity face extreme food shortages; and two or more people or four children die per 10,000 daily.
 
*Somalia
Of its 6.2 million population, more than half are in need of aid, with 2.9 million requiring immediate assistance, and 270,000 children suffering acute malnutrition. Somalia has suffered two consecutive years of drought. In the 2011 famine, Somalia lost 260,000 people; over half were children under the age of five.  Many experts fear that unless immediate action is taken there is the potential of a full blown famine, possibly exceeding the 2011 death totals.
 
*South Sudan
As this poor landlocked nation is approaching its sixth anniversary of independence, its living conditions are horrific. The UN reports: almost 5 million people- 40% of the population are in desperate need of food; and 100,000 people in Unity State are presently struggling to survive the reality of famine. UNICEF reports that 1 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished, and 270,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition.
 
 Northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin
In the four nations of Lake Chad Basin; Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, the UN estimates that 10.7 million people require assistance, with 7.1 million categorized as food insecure. In the Northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, the UN reports that 400,000 children are at risk of from famine, with 75,000-90,000 facing immediate danger of dying from hunger.
 
          Humanitarian Aid Is Insufficient
 
          To avert the further spread of famine, UN Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres has requested upwards $5.6 billion, with a majority of the funds needed as soon as the end of March, the New York Times reported. Guiterees also appealed for $825 million in aid to address drought and cholera in Somalia. So far only a small portion of these goals have been met.
          In response to drought, famine, and other disasters, emergency aid is necessary to save lives, and is a moral responsibility. However, we must have the courage to admit to ourselves that simply providing aid is an inadequate response by the UN and international community. Yes, many of these nations suffer from the interrelationship of civil strife, and famine. A paramount underlying cause of both is the inability to provide the basic necessities of life due to severe underdevelopment of their economies. This essential and fundamental truth has been overlooked or deliberately ignored for over five decades, until the recent extension of China’s Silk Road onto the African continent.
In the years following the “Winds of Change” as African nations freed themselves from the yoke of colonialism, many became food self sufficient or nearly so due to abundant fertile soil. Objectively, there is no justifiable reason for hunger to exist anywhere in Africa. Given the large areas of uncultivated, but arable land available in Africa (the most abundant on the planet), Africa not only has the potential to feed its own expanding population, but also become a net food exporter to Asia. Thus to die from hunger is not only criminally immoral, but actually “un-African” at its roots. The not so secret missing ingredient for Africa to achieve its agricultural potential is: physical economic development of vital infrastructure.
 
          What is Actually Required to Prevent Famine
 
 All functioning, i.e. growing economies depend on a platform of integrated infrastructure especially in categories of rail, energy, roads, and water projects, because of their essential, irreplaceable contribution in raising the productivity of the labor force. It has been the failure of Western institutions to assist the emerging nations of Africa in securing the necessary infrastructure across the continent that is the long term cause for the crisis that African nations face today. Some may object to such an analysis, but history has proved that it is the long waves of policy that shape the present and the future. After suffering hundreds of years of slavery that ripped the social fabric of the continent apart and tortured the cultural soul of Africa, it was followed by another century of brutal-exploitive colonialism. The best form of justice would have been to assist these newly formed nations in becoming economically sovereign. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy had this vision, but tragically it was not shared by other leaders.
Lack of economic growth has a great deal to do with ethnic warfare and the spread of terrorism. Poor people, reaching to find enough water, food, and land for the very survival of themselves and their loved ones become desperate, and desperate people become victims of manipulation in violent conflicts, as well as easy recruits to extremist groups. Economic growth that provides the citizens with means to exist, and hope for a better future, is the great “mitigator” against desperation and alienation that leads to violence.
So far mankind has not been able to prevent draughts, but mankind can prevent draughts from causing famine. How? With infrastructure, nations can mitigate the deadly effects of draughts; by utilizing irrigation, and water management projects, generating sufficient energy to pump water; railroads for transporting food to the needy from other parts of the state and from other countries not as severely affected, and by creating integrated industrial–agricultural sectors capable of producing a surplus of food.
Can one deny that the extreme poverty rampant throughout the nations of the Lake Chad Basin is not a major factor for the spread of Boko Haram? Can anyone deny that the paucity of electrical power for Nigeria’s 190 million people along with sky high rates of youth unemployment are not contributing factors to the multifaceted crisis in north-east Nigeria? Was it not patently obvious that the creation of the new nation of South Sudan without first establishing a stable economy providing the basic needs for its people, especially food, was at serious risk from the beginning?
For example, had the East-West railroad, connecting the Horn of Africa along the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean across West Africa to the Atlantic Ocean been built Africa would have achieved new levels of economic growth for all the nations involved. A similar effect would have occurred, had the South–North railroad along African’s eastern spine had been developed. If the great inter-basin water transfer project known as Transaqua, capable of transferring billions of cubic feet of water from the Congo River Basin to Lake Chad, while creating an economic corridor between the nations of the Great Lakes and the Lake Chad Basin, been built thirty years ago when it was first proposed, how much suffering and death could have been prevented. Finally, in December 2016, ChinaPower signed an agreement with Nigeria for a feasibility study on a portion of the long overdue Transaqua project.
 
A New Opportunity to End Famine and War
 
In this century, infrastructure projects are being built across the African continent for the first time, as an extension of China’s Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road policy, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative-BRI. China is collaborating with African nations to build railroads at a rate never seen before on the continent. Discussing the importance of railway development, the Chinese Minister of Commerce recently stated: “Africa is an important part of the One Belt rail initiative.” China’s five biggest foreign railroad projects are in Africa.  Premier Li Keqiang announced China’s intention to help Africa connect all its capital cities by modern rail lines. What effect will this have on the economies of Africa? Nothing short of an economic revolution spurring unprecedented levels of trade and commerce!
As the expression says, China is putting its money where its mouth is, when the West has firmly rejected financing any significant investment in infrastructure for Africa.  Between 2000 and 2014 China made $24.2 billion in loans to finance transportation projects in Africa, according to the China Africa Research Initiative-(CARI). China financed the recently completed Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Djibouti electrified train at $4 billon. China will provide $13 billion to finance construction of the Standard Gauge Railroad-(SGR) in Kenya. The first phase of a rail line for passengers and freight from Mbassa, the largest port in Africa to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and further north to the major market in Naivasha is to be completed by the end of this year. The Horn of Africa will be transformed as the SGR is extended to the capitals of Kenya’s five neighboring states; South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. The longer term vision is for the Addis Ababa to Djibouti rail line and the SGR to become eastern part of the East-West railroad.
With Chinese financing and Chinese construction companies, Nigeria is building a standard rail gauge from Lagos to Kano for $7.5 billion with stops in Ibaden, llorin, Mina, and Kaduna. China has signed an agreement with Nigeria for $12 billion to construct a coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar. China has also financed the light rail system in Addis Ababa, and light rail lines in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, and its former capital and largest city, Lagos. China has already financed $22 billion in infrastructure projects in Nigeria, with another $23 billion on going, and $40 billion more are in the pipeline according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when he spoke last month in Abuja. For Nigeria, a country filled with mega cities inhabited by its huge and expanding population, rail transportation is a game changer.
          In addition to funding rail construction, Chinese companies are involved in other important infrastructure across the continent, including new ports, highways, and airports, reaping $50 billion a year on their investments reports CARI.
           Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority stated bluntly: “We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision. They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision from the past as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”
It should be emphasized that these rail projects along with other infrastructure projects being built and financed by China will generate hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs for Africa’s unemployed.
 
It is vital that the Chinese Silk Road take up the task of creating electrical power for Africa. A mere 100,000 megawatts of electrical power for the sub-Saharan population of almost one billion, is literally a death sentence for Africa. Without hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of power, Africa’s future; its very existence is in jeopardy. While the West is infatuated with off grid, lower technologies like wind and solar; construction of hundreds of nuclear power plants, which offer the best and most reliable form of energy is the next challenge. If the expansion of nuclear power follows the rate of growth of rail development, then famine, abject poverty, and war will become a distant memory of the past.  If the new Washington administration breaks from previous US policy, and decides to collaborate with China with its “win-win” approach for all nations to join the Silk Road, then the long overdue industrialization of Africa is eminently feasible.