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.

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Win for Africa’s Development

It’s Time for Africa

Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent

By He Wenping- JULY 5, 2018

A Chinese engineer collaborates with Kenyan workers on the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on April 9, 2016 (XINHUA)

As agreed by both China and Africa, China will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) this September. Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, made the announcement on the sidelines of the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in South Africa on June 4.

The upcoming summit will be themed Win-Win Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Closer Community with a Shared Future for China and Africa. Wang said China and Africa will endeavor to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and the development strategies of various African nations to create more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, and to open up new prospects for common development.

The First FOCAC Summit was held in Beijing in 2006, and 12 years on leaders from China and Africa will once again gather in Beijing to usher in a new era of Sino-African cooperation. This summit, the third in FOCAC’s 18-year history, demonstrates the value that China places on Sino-African ties and promises to drive the China-Africa friendship to new historic heights.

Proactive attitude

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have shown interest, of which more than 80 have signed cooperation agreements with China involving Belt and Road projects. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road.

Africa is a continent rich in resources with great market potential, but it is in dire need of robust infrastructure. It is proactively participating in Belt and Road construction with other countries along the routes in the hope that its economy can make a leap.

As Wang said when he visited Africa in January, the African continent must be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative and must not be left behind by China or the wider world in terms of development.

FOCAC was established in October 2000, 13 years prior to the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. China pursues common, intensive, safe, open and green development in its cooperation with African countries, which neatly dovetails with its commitment to innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone at home. Nearly 18 years of evolution have established FOCAC as a symbol of international cooperation, which allows the organization to provide precious experience to the Belt and Road construction across different regions and fields.

Advancing interconnection

Inadequate infrastructure is a bottleneck that constrains Africa’s economic development. Poor transport facilities and substandard roads have created exorbitant costs in domestic and regional trade, as well as impeding foreign investment.

Financing for Africa’s infrastructure needs faces an annual shortfall of at least $20 billion. In addition, most African countries have a low level of industrialization, and the contribution of industry to their economies is correspondingly small. However, Africa is a continent with abundant resources, low labor costs and great market potential, while China has significant advantages in capital, technology and equipment, as well as a wealth of experience in transforming from an agricultural to an industrial society. At a time when China is undergoing a fundamental phase of economic transition and upgrading, there is plenty of high-quality capacity and advanced equipment and technology available for outward transfer, much of which is ideally suited to Africa’s needs.

Just as the Chinese people harbor the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, the African people hold the African dream of achieving development and alleviating poverty. Connectivity and industrialization are essential preconditions and the only path toward the realization of this dream. The Belt and Road Initiative can work in harmony with Africa’s development strategy for the 21st century. It can provide new drive for the sustainable development of Sino-African relations and help Africa take a step forward, blazing a new trail for South-South cooperation.

China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure construction cooperation on January 27, 2015. According to the MOU, under the strategic framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda, China will enhance cooperation with African nations on railways, highways, regional airlines and industrialization to promote African integration. Chinese enterprises have already launched construction projects in these fields in countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

For example, the Huajian Group, a shoe producer from Dongguan in south China’s Guangdong Province, began operating in the Ethiopia Oriental Industrial Park at the end of 2011. By the end of 2017, Huajian had become the largest private Chinese investor in Ethiopia, generating $122 million of foreign exchange income and creating 7,500 new jobs for the local population. The company produces over 5 million pairs of women’s shoes each year, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Ethiopian shoe industry’s total exports. On September 1, 2017, the Ethiopian Government awarded Zhang Huarong, Chairman of the Board of the Huajian Group, the honorary title of “Father of Ethiopia’s Industry” for his contribution to the country’s development. Inspired by its success in Ethiopia, the Huajian Group plans to invest in Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa in the future.

The China-built Nyerere Bridge, linking the business area of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam to the Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, is the largest cable-stayed cross-sea bridge in sub-Saharan Africa (XINHUA)

Driving force

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in South Africa in December 2015, China and participating African countries agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the following three years. The ultra-intensive plans, worth around $60 billion, cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The foremost of these is cooperation on industrialization to promote the progress of African development. In order to facilitate this, the first China-Africa Capacity Cooperation Fund—worth $10 billion—has been set up, alongside the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund each with a capital of $5 billion.

Industrial cooperation between China and Africa has already begun to bear fruit. As one of the first African countries to join China in international industrialization cooperation, Tanzania has signed a framework agreement with China on supporting key projects of the country’s ongoing five-year plan.

The construction of infrastructure and industrial parks is also making rapid progress. China has assisted Africa in building several railway lines, including one connecting the port city of Mombasa in Kenya to its capital Nairobi, another connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, and a third connecting Angola and Nigeria.

As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the opening ceremony of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on May 31, 2017, the new line is “one of the cornerstones to Kenya’s journey of transformation to an industrial, prosperous and middle-income country.”

The author is a researcher with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior researcher with the Charhar Institute

 

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…”

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China’s Global Times Highlights Flaws of US and Europe Policy Towards Africa

By Mark Kapchanga
June 26, 2018

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

On June 18 in Michigan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a meeting under the umbrella of the Detroit Economic Club. In a question that seemed to have made him a tad uncomfortable, the secretary of state was informed that Africa appeared to be evolving and transforming rapidly, and further, China was asserting itself in the continent.

He rightly confirmed that Africa is facing two issues. One is extremist groups threatening to tear apart the continent’s fabric of unity. But the second issue is the opportunities that lie in Africa. It is here that Pompeo seems to have stained his otherwise well researched address to the people of Michigan. With obvious jealousy that is always expected from Western countries against China’s foray into Africa, Pompeo downgraded Africa’s growth potential that is underpinned by significant Chinese investments and trade by saying that Africa will see actual growth with a Westernized model of development.

He meant that the foundation for growth in Africa is the rule of law and property rights. In his usual way of disparaging China, Pompeo further claimed that Chinese trade and investments are about exercising political influence in Africa.

African countries and their leaders have grown sick and tired of such stereotyped thoughts coming from Western nations. History has proved that America and European countries are behind Africa’s underdevelopment. They not only colonized Africa but also stripped it of resources and displaced people from their lands.

This is described by Walter Rodney in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa where he argues that the short period of colonialism and its negative consequences for Africa spring mainly from the fact that the continent lost power. Rodney notes that power is the ultimate determinant in human society, and implies that one should have the ability to defend one’s interests and if necessary impose one’s will by any means available.

There is no doubt that when the question of power emanates, it determines one’s bargaining power, the degree to which a people survive as a physical and cultural entity. But as Rodney vividly says, “when one society finds itself forced to relinquish power entirely to another society, that in itself is a form of underdevelopment.”

Instead of Western powers always complaining about China’s presence in Africa, they should transform and improve their strategies for the continent. The old template they applied to Africa is already stale. Africa cannot be developed through conditionalities that only massage the whims of America and Europe.

Through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Europe and America bullied African countries for more than three decades. Those nations seeking access to the General Account of the Fund had to commit themselves to explicit conditions regarding the conduct of their international policies.

Ultimately, African countries in need of financial support to boost their infrastructure, education and health failed to do so as the conditions were too tough. Globally, economists termed the conditions inefficient and mistargeted.

With the urge for greater development, China filled in the void. Its support to Africa has been less bureaucratic and almost without conditions.

As Pompeo and his fellow Western leaders continue complaining about China and its relations with Africa, youths in the continent are grinning having secured jobs in various projects being pursued by China. In Kenya, for instance, thousands of youths continue to earn an income from the construction of the standard gauge railway whose construction is now being extended from Nairobi to Naivasha.

The enormous investments China is pursuing in Addis Ababa have totally transformed the face of Ethiopia, a country once ranked among the poorest in the world. Today, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that can manufacture its own leather shoes, thanks to support from China. This is the kind of friendship Africa has been yearning for.

Africa’s development can only be shaped by Africans. Europe and the US can therefore involve African leaders in designing the kind of investments and relations that fit them. If they continue condemning China on its relations with Africa, the continent’s ties with Beijing will only get stronger and thrive all the more.

The author is an economist specializing in China-Africa relations. Twitter: @kapchanga opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

 

 

Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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China Helps Ethiopia Build ‘Industrial Belt’

Ethiopian attendants walk along a train at the Lebu station in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 1, 2018. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

“Ethiopia takes inspiration from China’s success for own development”

Ethiopian attendants walk along a train at the Lebu station in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 1, 2018. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

ADDIS ABABA, May 10, 2018 (Xinhua) — Ahmed Shide, Minister of Ethiopia Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO), told Xinhua that China hasn’t only become Ethiopia’s top economic partner but a model for Ethiopia’s economic ambitions.

Learning from Chinese economic growth experience, Ethiopia will have about 15 industrial parks by June, most of them built with Chinese money and expertise.

Ethiopia has also heavily invested with Chinese assistance in road, rail and air infrastructures to alleviate transportation problems for Ethiopia’s exports.

Shide said landlocked Ethiopia has seen China’s success in having an efficient and effective infrastructure to facilitate exports from industrial parks and as such is building a “development belt” to copy the Chinese success story.

The “development belt” will see Ethiopia build industrial parks located along the path of existing or under-construction rail lines to speedily transport products made in industrial parks to ports in neighboring Djibouti.

After reaching Djibouti, the products are then loaded and shipped to their final export destinations including China.

About half of the 15 industrial parks Ethiopia is constructing or has constructed are located along the 756kms Ethio-Djibouti electrified rail line built with Chinese expertise and finances at a cost of 4 billion U.S. dollars.

The rail line which recently started commercial operations has cut transportation time for Ethiopian goods to Djibouti ports from two days to 10 hours, giving a leg up for Ethiopia’s economic dreams of becoming a light manufacturing hub in Africa and middle-income economy by 2025.

Shide said Ethiopia is also looking to further boost ties with China on air infrastructure, as the Asian economic powerhouse is the single largest market for its national carrier Ethiopian Airlines (ET).

ET currently flies to five destinations in China — Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, and plans to add Shenzhen as its sixth destination in June.

With China working on being an airplane manufacturing center, Shide adds he foresees ET will soon be a customer of fully developed Chinese airplanes.

LEARN MORE FROM CHINA

With Ethiopia utilizing Chinese hard infrastructure expertise and money to support its ambitious economic plans, Gedion Jalata, CEO at Center of Excellence International Consult, an Ethiopian consulting firm, told Xinhua Ethiopia should also be learning from Chinese success in creating a meritocratic bureaucracy.

“China succeeded in bringing out of poverty 700 million people in 30 years not just because it built physical infrastructure, but it worked on its human capital helping create an efficient state bureaucracy, that’s a soft infrastructure Ethiopia should build,” Jalata said.

He said there are simple things the new Ethiopian administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed can do if Ethiopia is to effectively learn from China’s remarkable economic development.

“Ethiopian leadership, just like Chinese leadership, should have the political will, determination and commitment to meet the country’s economic ambitions,” Jalata added

Read article

“China committed to strengthen relations with Ethiopia”

Chairman of the National People’s Congress of China (NPC) and speaker of the congress, Li Zhanshu, confirmed that his country is determined to strengthen its diplomatic relations and continue its multi-faceted development support for Ethiopia.

On an official state visit in Ethiopia since Wednesday, the chairman met and conferred with different officials of the Ethiopian government including the president, the prime minister and speakers of both the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) and House of Federation (HoF) over bilateral and mutual interest.

Apart from this, the chairman has also signed an agreement of loan and humanitarian assistance.

In this regard, the chairman met with President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) on Thursday to discuss bilateral and regional issues. According to Meles Alem, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the chairman confirmed that China gives priority to the bilateral ties with Ethiopia and needs Ethiopia to continue its pivotal role in Sino-Africa partnership.

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East-West Railroad Would Transform African Continent

This is an interesting and useful article. I have stressed for decades the urgent need to construct both an East-West and a South-North Railroad. A high-speed transport grid that Africa should have completed decades ago, is essential for the well-being and economic growth of Africa. Such a transportation network, integrated with several hundreds megawatts of electrical power, would create an infrastructure platform that would be transformative; producing the conditions for African nations to finally eliminate hunger and disease. These projects are possible now with the expansion China’s New Silk Road, initiated by President Xi Jinping, which has changed the strategic geometry of the world. For example. At the February Abuja conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’ at which I participated, the Head of States endorsed the mega Transaqua project; an inter-basin water transfer proposal to recharge Lake Chad. The Transaqua concept had been in circulation for over thirty years, but with no progress until ChinaPower become involved.  As I advised the participants at this conference: now is the time for Africans to think big!   

Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

The Jamestown Foundation-Publication: China Brief Volume: 18 Issue: 6

Map of a proposed trans-Africa highway network, ca. 2003 (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

African development hinges on a maddening paradox: its greatest asset—the sheer size and diversity of its landscape—is also the greatest barrier to its development. Landlocked countries are cut off from ports, and the difficulty of moving goods from country to country weighs down intra-continental trade (only 15% of African trade is within Africa. (African Development Bank, 2017) African consumers bear the brunt of these difficulties. [1]. Costs are driven up by a host of factors: tariffs, border delays, corruption. But the biggest challenge is that no streamlined transport route exists between West and East Africa – only a decaying and underdeveloped road and rail system which pushes up costs and drags down efficiency.

Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa’s east and west coasts, some of which are closer to full realization than others. Most notable in this respect is a plan to expand the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5) into a true cross-continental road and rail link, the early stages of which China has helped bring to fruition where Western consortiums failed. Likewise, Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may help create expanded sub-regional linkages, particularly in East Africa, that could help facilitate the emergence of an eventual, true East-West link in the long term. However, in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China’s involvement will be a panacea.

Read entire article: Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

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.

“China all weather friend of Namibia”–President Buhari Moves Against British–Zimbabwe President in China–Ethiopia’s Economic Progress

Namibian President Strengthens Relations with China; Defends China as Best Friend of Africa

The Presidents of China and Namibia, Xi Jinping and Hage Geingob, agreed to establish a comprehensive strategic partnership for cooperation between their countries, and signed six bilateral cooperation agreements, at their meeting in Beijing on March 29. President Geingob had begun his seven-day state visit to China the day before.

At the signing ceremony, both presidents spoke of how China has been an “all-weather friend of Namibia,” in reference to China’s support for Namibia’s independence, and now in its development. Xi said, “China welcomes Namibia to participate in the BRI, and hopes to strengthen policy cooperation and synergy of development plans,” Xinhua reported. Xi spoke also of his belief that China and Africa will join hands to build a closer community with shared future and inject new impetus to China-Africa ties.

For his part, Geingob expressed Namibia’s interest in cooperating with China on infrastructure, sustainable development, human resources, technology, poverty reduction, people-to-people exchanges, and major cooperation projects. He also took the occasion to deliver an emphatic defense of China’s development efforts in Africa. Xinhua reported that the Namibian president called China Africa’s best friend. It never colonized Africa, and has always treated small and medium-sized African countries on an equal footing, Geingob said, and the African people oppose unfounded accusations against China.

In an interview with CGTN today, Geingob expressed his pride and appreciation for the elevation of relations with China to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

“China has been supporting us when things were bad, and then after independence, we continued [our cooperation] to another level,” he told CGTN. “Now we are moving up. Now it is the era of the second phase of the struggle for us, where people now have peace and stability, but they are anxious to get the benefits of that freedom. They want to prosper. They want to have shelter, infrastructure, schools, clinics, etc., and they are eager. They are in a hurry. So China being the all-weather friend, who was there when we were first struggling, now that we are in the second phase of the struggle, that of economic emancipation, those who are with us, must come to join us… This time, we are talking about creating a win-win situation.”

Did British Intelligence-MI6 Interfere in its former colony? Nigeria to investigate allegations of Cambridge Analytica involvement in elections

Nigeria’s government will investigate allegations of improper involvement by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica in the country’s 2007 and 2015 elections, a presidency spokesman said on Monday.

The UK-based political consultancy is facing allegations that it improperly accessed data from social media website Facebook to target voters prior to the U.S. presidential election and Britain’s Brexit referendum in 2016.

In Nigeria, a government committee is looking into claims that SCL Elections, a Cambridge Analytica affiliate, organised anti-election rallies to dissuade opposition supporters from voting in 2007, Garba Shehu, a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, said.

He said it would examine claims that Buhari’s personal data was hacked in 2015 when he was an opposition candidate in the presidential election.

The investigation would also look into whether Cambridge Analytica’s work for the election campaigns of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) broke Nigerian law “or infringed on the rights of other parties and their candidates”.

Depending on the outcome, criminal prosecutions might result, said Shehu. Cambridge Analytica could not immediately be reached for comment. PDP candidate Umaru Yar’Adua won the 2007 presidential ballot. He died in office in 2010 and was succeeded by his deputy, Goodluck Jonathan.
(REUTERS): 2018-04-02

Zimbabwe President, Mnangagwa in China with Large Delegation for Economic Deals

–President of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa is on a five-day official visit to China. He will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping today. Mnangagwa, who is accompanied by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, met several Cabinet ministers and private sector executives, and will also meet officials of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese business community according to Zimbabwe daily {The Herald}.

The Zimbabwean President will also visit the provinces of Anhui and Zhejiang to meet with the political leadership and the business community. Several economic and business deals are expected to be signed. The director of Platinum Agriculture and Princewood Enterprises, Dakarayi Mapuranga, who is in China with the President, said his company had secured $500 million worth of deals in agriculture, mining and transport sectors. These include a $400 million deal with China’s Lovol company that produces heavy machinery for agriculture and mining, while a $40 million revolving facility was secured with Good Agro Rising for the supply of chemicals for tobacco and other export-oriented crops, and an $80 million deal for the supply of irrigation equipment, including center-pivot and drip irrigation systems.

Dayu, the Chinese-listed firm which clinched the deal, will soon be in Zimbabwe to assess specific irrigation requirements and technology applicable to Zimbabwe. “They [Dayu] need to know

our specific needs and the Ministry of Agriculture has already identified farms where the equipment will be installed,” said Mapuranga. “Our thrust is to support initiatives by the new dispensation to ensure farmers are supported with the machinery they need. This will help bring Zimbabwe back to its breadbasket status.”

A deal was also signed with Allen Bus for 1,500 buses to ease transport challenges in the capital, Harare, and other towns. While 500 buses will be imported fully assembled, the remaining 1,000 will be imported as kits to be assembled in Zimbabwe.

China has Drafted a Partnership Agreement for Algeria

–Joining the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese Amb. to Algeria Yang Guangyu said on March 30. The draft is being studied by Algeria now, and China hopes to sign it in the next few weeks, at most within 2-3 months, he added. Yang made the announcement in a speech to the Chinese Day celebration on March 30 at the Higher Institute for Algerian Affairs, held on the 60th anniversary of their nations establishing diplomatic relations.

Ethiopia continues on its road to develop its economy with advances in its industrial sector. Review these two articles:   Chinese Factory in Ethiopia ignites American dreams Ethiopia export revenue hits $42 million from industrial parks

 

Why the West Needs to Stop Complaining and Start Engaging China in Africa

This article makes the essential point that I have made for many years. If the US would collaborate with China and join the One Belt-One Road, great advances would be accomplished in the economic development of Africa.  (see emphasis at end of article)

China is here to stay, and Western and African countries alike should make the most of it.

Pippa Morgn, The Diplomat

March 20, 2018

Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest states, with an annual per capita GDP of just $707. Yet Addis Ababa is awash with billboards for Chinese construction firms, and China’s presence is palpable all over the country. Is “neo-colonial” China “out for oil” yet again?

In Ethiopia, that explanation just doesn’t add up: the country has virtually no oil, gas, or other precious minerals.

Fortunately, while the media and politicians seem stuck on uninformed accusations of neo-colonialism, some Western investors are starting to make the most of China’s growing presence. In Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park, the crown jewel of its industrial policy, the largest jobs provider is PVH – the U.S. owner of major global brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Speedo. Eco-friendly Hawassa was built by a Chinese company, the state-owned China Civil Engineering Corporation (CCECC), in just nine months. And, of course, PVH and other global investors could not run their businesses –and create thousands of coveted manufacturing jobs – without the railways, roads, and power stations that China is constructing all over Ethiopia.

There are also encouraging signs at the local level that, instead of pointing fingers at each other, China and the West can work together to deliver development aid. While the majority of Chinese funds go to hard infrastructure, traditional Western donors prefer social “soft” sectors. This makes them complements, not rivals. Ethiopia is eager for roads and railways, but it also   needs a better-trained, healthier workforce. Take Ethiopia’s new railway academy, designed to educate a fresh, local generation of engineers and workers: China is funding and building the school’s physical infrastructure, while the World Bank and European institutions are helping with curriculum development and business planning.

Turning “Made in China” to “Made in “Ethiopia”

History shows that (without massive oil reserves) industrialization – working up from cheap, lightly manufactured products to technically sophisticated products – is the only way to develop quickly. Factories offer an escape from unproductive and grueling subsistence farming into modern jobs with regular wages. Japan, South Korea, and later China all owe their economic success to this model, and Ethiopia’s government hopes to turn “made in China” to “made in Ethiopia.”

But industrialization needs more than cheap labor (which Ethiopia has in abundance) and the good governance that Western donors strive to instill. Investors desperately need roads, electricity, water, and the internet. With traditional Western partners either unwilling or unable to fund these at scale, and low tax revenues due to the country’s poverty, how else can the Ethiopian government build the basic infrastructure that we take for granted in the developed world? Without Chinese help, Western money for training and other “soft” sectors is sinking money into a black hole, and Ethiopia risks being “too poor to develop” –condemned to survive on subsistence agriculture and international handouts.

Ethiopian officials stress that they take the lead in dealing with China. They lament that Western aid (although well intentioned) is frankly “not enough.” Ethiopia, which has ambitious plans to escape poverty and become a middle-income country by 2025, does not have time to waste.

What’s in it for Beijing?

But is China a trustworthy partner? Beijing claims its aims are “win-win” rather than “neocolonial,” but what is China’s “win”? Like the United States after World War II, China seems to realize that providing global public goods is in its own interests. In Ethiopia, an important African hub for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China secures important diplomatic gains and lucrative business opportunities…

Chinese business interests are also at play. Official loans are tied to the use of Chinese contractors, creating lucrative revenue streams. Fresh from “building China” over the past 40 years, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are experts in cheap, fast infrastructure. They’re also eager for new opportunities as domestic growth slows. For example, the multi-billion dollar Addis-Djibouti railway was built by the state-owned China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, who later won a multiyear contract to operate the new line.

Why Engagement Not Estrangement is the Key

So is this really “win-win” for everyone? On the one hand, the commercial rates of many Chinese loans make debt sustainability a huge concern. To pay back what it owes, and eventually stand on its own feet, Ethiopia is in serious need of more tax revenue. So, if it fails to grow as quickly as hoped, Western warnings of a mountain of unsustainable debt may prove right. Ethiopia could end up like 1980s Latin America, where countries spiraled into crisis when they could no longer pay their foreign debts.

But, while there’s some dispute over the numbers (IMF estimates are slightly lower than the official figures), Ethiopia’s economy is widely agreed to have been growing at around 10 percent for the past decade – a phenomenal achievement. Given the extraordinarily low starting base, it’s unlikely to slow down soon. Businesses in Ethiopia’s industrial zones cite the continually improving infrastructure as one of the country’s main draws, and both Chinese and international firms plan to expand in future. For Ethiopia’s booming young population, this means yet more coveted industrial jobs…

How much more might be achieved if Beijing and the West proactively worked together across the whole African continent?  Much of the media and political discourse seems unable to accept that China’s role is equaling – or even surpassing – that of the West.,,

Read entire article in The Diplomat