Africa Update: African Union Discusses DRC’s Grand Inga. African Bankers Reject ‘Noise’ On Chinese Debt

August 3, 2019

African Union Meeting Revives Grand Inga Dam Project in Congo

The six-phase Grand Inga Dam Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) has shown signs of coming back to life when the project was discussed at the African Union Extraordinary Summit meeting held Niamey, Niger July 4-7,

{Construction Review Online} reported July 31. On Congo River, two other dams, Inga-I and Inga-II had long been completed, generating about 1800 MW peak power. Inga-III, whose construction had fallen through for a number of reasons, is projected to create nearly 5,000 MW of power. Grand Inga is a considerably ambitious project. With 52 turbines, it would dam the entire river and flood 22,000 hectares of the Bundi valley, which is home to as many as 30,000 people. Five additional hydropower stations would considerably increase the generating potential of the falls. Once these additional hydropower stations were brought online at the dam site, the  whole project would dwarf any other hydropower facility worldwide. The Inga project is estimated to produce 40,000 MW. This is enough to provide power to nearly half of the continent, reported {Construction Review Online}.

D.R. Congo, in Central Africa, where the total electrical power installation is close to 15,000 MW.  Central Africa constitutes of ten countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville), D.R. Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Rwanda. Most of Central Africa’s power is generated from hydro.

African Bankers Reject “Noise” on Chinese Debt–We Have To Borrow for Development!

John Rawangombwa, chairman of the African Association of Central Banks, whose annual meeting in Kigali, Rwanda ended Aug. 1, told Xinhua that “the noise around the Chinese debt to African countries”–this was the subject of a presentation at the gathering–was “unfounded.” Chinese debt, as a percentage of total African debt, is not a problem, he said.

Rawangombwa pointed out that borrowing is good, and borrowing outside the country is acceptable, although internal borrowing would be preferable to reduce foreign exchange risk.

The reality, however, he stated, is that Africa faces a financing gap; so, nations must improve their debt management capacity, and borrow for the right purposes, an build up their capital markets.

He emphasized that countries must ensure that they invest in the right projects, that generate foreign exchange in order to be able to repay their debt. He also said that the fact that Africa’s debt has increased is not unique to Africa. Rather, it is a global phenomenon, that requires global management, Xinhua reported

March 1: Celebrate Ethiopia’s Defeat of Italy At Adwa; A Victory Against European Imperialism

This article was published in the March 2017 Newsletter of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. If you read the headlines of  the European press following Italy’s defeat in 1896, you will see that this battle shook the foundations of European Imperialism to its core. 

Victory at Adwa- A Victory for Africa

Ethiopia’s victory against Italy at Adwa on March 1, 1896, profoundly shaped the future of Ethiopia.

Lawrence Freeman

March 1, 2017

The battle of Adwa is probably the most renowned and historic battle in Ethiopian history. This celebrated victory by the Ethiopian army helped define the future of their nation, as one of only two non-colonized countries in Africa. The defeat of a European colonial empire by an African country, following the “Scramble for Africa” after the 1884-1885 Berlin conference a decade earlier, is not only a source of enduring pride and nationalism for Ethiopians, but also an inspiration to other Africans, who took up the fight for independence six decades later. Some historians suggest that this victory also led to the idea for the Pan-African movement. As a result, it is no surprise that on May 25 1963, Ethiopia under the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie was a founding member of the Organization of African States-OAS.

Adwa, also known as Adowa, and in Italian Adua, was the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. A late comer to grabbing territory in Africa, Italy began colonizing Somaliland and Eritrea in the 1880s. It was from the vantage point of Eritrea from where Italy launched its campaign against Ethiopia. The immediate pretext of the invasion was a dispute of Article 17 of the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale. Italy insisted that the treaty stated that Ethiopia had to submit to its imperial authority, thus effectively making Ethiopia a colony of the Kingdom of Italy. The Ethiopians resisted Italy’s military enforcement of its version of the treaty, leading to the outbreak of war in December 1894, with the Italian imperialists occupying Adwa and moving further south into Ethiopian territory. On March 1, 1896, King Menelik II, who, commanded a force of over 70,000, defeated the Italian army, killing 7,000 of their soldiers, wounding 1,500, and capturing  3,000 prisoners, routing their enemy, and forcing them to retreat back to their colony of Eritrea. It has been speculated that, if Menelik had pursued the retreating Italian troops, and driven them off of the continent, it might have prevented a second Italian invasion. On October 3, 1935, Italy led by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, launched its second military incursion into sovereign Ethiopia territory. Five years later in 1941, Ethiopia once again drove the Italian invaders out of their country. The 1896 defeat of a European nation, considered an advanced country, by Ethiopia, viewed as a backward Africa country, led to riots on the streets of Italy and well deserved consternation in the capitals of European powers.

Without taking the time now to review the ninety years of Ethiopian history following this famous battle, the military defeat of Ethiopia’s dictatorial Derg Regime in 1991 brings us to the beginning of contemporary Ethiopia. When the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front-EPRDF assumed control of the government in 1991, it was led by the now deceased, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who initiated the economic policies that have guided Ethiopia for over 25 years. It was Meles Zenawi’s intellectual leadership, in particular his understanding of the indispensable role of the state in fostering economic development that distinguishes Ethiopia today from all other sub-Saharan African nations. For him the state was not “a night watchman,” but rather an active participant promoting economic growth for the benefit of its people. Ethiopia is a poor country. with a population approaching one hundred million, not endowed with rich mineral or hydrocarbon resources, and repeatedly struck by drought. Yet it has emerged in recent years with a rapidly growing economy. This is the result of Zenawi’s legacy that created a leadership with a self-conscious commitment to use the powers of the state to build an integrated infrastructure platform, which has served to drive the economy forward. This is clearly evident in Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plans I and II, which set ambitious economic goals five years into the future, along with its proposed thirty year road construction plan. Since the EPRDF took over the responsibility of governing the nation, more than thirty new universities have been created, graduating more students that can be easily employed.

In collaboration with China, Ethiopia operates the first electrified train in sub-Saharan Africa, traveling 750 kilometers in seven hours from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, establishing a port to export Ethiopia’s products. Their highway system consisting of toll roads, highways, and all weather roads will connect their light manufacturing industries to the port in Djibouti via their new rail line.   As a result of coherent policy planning in energy infrastructure, the Gibe III hydroelectric power plant has now added 1,872 of megawatts to the country’s electricity grid, and over the next two years, the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) will add an additional 6,000 megawatts, making Ethiopia the second largest producer of power in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa.  The next step to develop the Horn of Africa is for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to extend their rail lines to become the eastern leg of an East-West railroad. Thus would transform Africa by connecting the Gulf of Eden/Indian Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean , creating an economic corridor that would literally revolutionize the economic power of the continent; contributing to the ending of poverty, hunger, and war.

One cannot deny the success of Ethiopia’s unique path of development, nor can one omit the important role contributed to this process by Ethiopia’s successful resistance to foreign occupation; thus never having to suffer the dehumanizing effects of colonialism.

Africa Needs Real Economic Growth, Not IMF Accountants

February 4, 2019

A recent forum sponsored by Brookings Institute in Washington DC entitled: “Top priorities for Africa in 2019” produced a healthy discussion that alluded to important fundamental conceptions of economics. Although the deeper principles of what should be called economic science were not elucidated, issues raised in the dialogue serve as a useful starting point for further elaboration of that subject.

The event was organized to present FORESIGHT AFRICA, a new publication by the Africa Growth Initiative. Representative from the International Monetary Fund-(IMF), and Mo Ibrahim Foundation, joined Ambassador Linda-Thomas Greenfield, and Brahima Coulibaly, director of the African Growth Initiative, for a wide-ranging discussion on the future of Africa to a packed audience.  

Members of the audience challenged the prevailing assumptions of the International Monetary Fund. One participant raised the inadequacy of the IMF’s rigid macro-analytic approach, when what is needed, she said, is a fine-tuned micro-economic intervention to deal with the scope of the challenges facing African nations. Another suggested the need for a state-funded public sector job program to put the millions of unemployed youth to work—a proposal which the IMF representative categorically rejected. The IMF’s hostility to state sector involvement belies the several hundred-year historical record of the modern economy, which is replete with successful and indispensable interventions by the state to foster economic growth.

Measuring Real Economic Growth      

While the Brookings report, FORESIGHT AFRICA, provides some relevant statistics, its analysis rests on erroneous axioms of what comprises economic growth

The commonly accepted notion that African nations today are experiencing “jobless economic growth” reveals the fundamental antagonism between the analysis of the IMF and its co-thinkers, and proponents of real i.e. physical-economic growth. Jobless growth is a moronic oxymoron.  Real*economic growth augments the productive power of society to increase its surplus of tangible wealth in order to sustain an expanding population at a higher standard of living. The IMF pretends to measure growth by adding up monetary values such as the price of extracted resources and real estate, stock market gains, etc.  The aggregation of prices is not a measure of the economy’s growth.  The only true calculation for economic growth is the result: an improvement in the living conditions of the population.

Africa’s Bright Economic Future Is Its Youth

Creating Real Economic Growth          

An excellent example of this defective thinking is highlighted in the article from the Brookings report entitled “How Industries without smokestacks can address Africa’s youth unemployment crisis.”  Author John Page reports that Africa has not only failed to industrialize, but shockingly, its share of global manufacturing today is smaller than it was in 1980! He forecast that Africa’s working age population (15-64 years of age) will grow by 450 million between 2015 and 2035, and that “20 percent of new employment for wages will be in the service sector, and only 4 to 5 percent will be in a wage paying job in industry.” His conclusions for the future of youth employment in Africa are ill-founded and deadly when he states that since: “industry has declined as a share of output and employment…over the past four decades…Africa may not be able to rely on industry to lead structural change…”

Page then proceeds to dangerously postulate the equivalence of employment in manufacturing with tourists and service jobs. He writes: “The same forces that limit Africa’s opportunities in industry, however, are also creating a growing number of tradeable services—such as tourism and remote office services…”

“Growth in tourism is outpacing manufacturing in many African countries… It has the potential to create some of the millions of formal sector jobs Africa needs each year to employ youth entering the labor force…”

This is not an academic question for the people of Africa. We should all be level-headed about the implications of this prognostication: without industrialization Africans will die. African are dying every day due to lack of infrastructure, a diminutive manufacturing sector, and an inefficient food-producing industry. The industrialization of Africa with a massive expansion of its manufacturing base is not an option, but a life-or-death necessity!

Nor is this conjecture on my part. From the standpoint of economic science of physical economy there is no equivalence. Manufacturing, by transforming nature and producing needed goods, contributes real value to society; tourism and services do not. A variety of services are required for a functioning society, but this sector should not perform role of a primary employer for new entrants into the labor force. Tourism serves no vital task except to promote the natural beauty of a county.  No new wealth is created by tourism; it is essentially collecting other people’s earned income.

Service-related jobs, whether useful or not, will never lead to real economic growth for one elementary reason. They do not contribute to the creation of new wealth. A properly organized economy would only have a relatively small percentage of its employed labor in the service sector. To do otherwise, as some African nations unfortunately are, is not sustainable, and will lead to calamity. To equate non-goods producing employment with manufacturing jobs is a grave fundamental error that should be rejected by serious economists and leaders.

Africa’s Youth Bulge Is Not A Curse

FORESIGHT AFRICA estimates that today 60% of Africa’s 1.25 billion people are under 25 years of age. That amounts to 750 million youth, a majority of which are unemployed or mis-employed in the pathological informal economy. It is projected that in sub-Saharan Africa alone, the youth population will expand by 522 million, and comprise one-third of the world’s youth by 2050. Thus, making  Africa the continent with the youngest population, and potentially the largest workforce on the planet.

While these figures are striking, they do not justify enforced population reduction measures, as extremists advocate. Human life is intrinsically sacred because it is endowed with the divine spark of creativity. Contrary to popular misguided opinion, human creativity is the underlying source of all wealth; not money or even natural resources.  Paleoanthropology shows us that millions of years ago before the emergence of homo sapiens-sapiens (wise-wise man), proto-humans, homo hablis, (handy man) designed tools first in the mind’s eye before shaping rocks into useful implements that were used to transform the environment for the benefit of mankind. Africa is not facing a crisis of too many people, but rather the urgency to formulate the best policies today that will incorporate millions of youth as productive members of the labor force.

What African nations most desperately need, and which will have the greatest impact of their economies, is infrastructure, infrastructure, and more infrastructure.  It is not hyperbole to state that the lack of infrastructure is responsible for millions of deaths on the continent. The dearth of on-grid energy, arguably the most crucial component of an industrialized-manufacturing society, is preventing African nations from attaining the levels of economic growth required to sustain their populations.

For example. If we desire, as we should, that Africans enjoy the same relative living standard as Western nations, then each of the 2.5 billion Africans in the year 2050 should have access to at least one kilowatt (1,000 watts) of power every day. That would require, starting immediately, erecting enough power plants to generate 2,400 gigawatts of electricity. Itemize the bill of materials to build that many thermal, hydro, and nuclear power plants.

Now contemplate the number of workers that would be employed in this endeavor. Extend the same mode of thinking to constructing hundreds of thousands of kilometers of high-speed rail lines to connect the major cities, ports, and manufacturing centers across this vast continent. Add to that the number of new roads, hospitals, schools, libraries, and water ways that need to be built to provide an adequate standard of living. How many tens of millions or more youths will Africa need to employ in just the construction of primary infrastructure projects? Imagine how many additional jobs will be created in the spin-off industries.

Nuclear Energy is Critical to Meet Africa’s Energy Needs (ESI Africa)

Africa’s Future Begins Today

Trillions of dollars of long-term low interest credit must be made available to fund these projects. Only state-issued public credit will suffice for this scope of investment. The private sector, investments funds, or any other fund that is motivated by seeking high yield and quick financial returns on their investment will never, ever, underwrite the credit necessary. The overriding concern of the nation state is not making quick monetary profits, but the welfare of its citizens living and their posterity.  The IMF thus far shown itself to be mentally, emotionally, and ideologically incapable of comprehending the true economic needs of Africa, or how to fund them. Those who are blinded by their erroneous view of evaluating an economy by its monetary worth, will forever be incompetent, and are not qualified to give advice, much less diktats to developing nations.

Credit issuance by the nation state is not a new or novel concept. The success of United States’ economy, which was maintained with ups and downs until its decline over the last five decades, emanated from the accomplishment of President George Washington’s Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton.  It was Hamilton’s understanding of credit and the central role of manufacturing that created the basis for U.S. economic growth from thirteen indebted colonies.  Over the last 230 years, those leaders, in the U.S. or abroad, who were wise enough to comprehend and apply Hamilton’s understanding of national banking and credit, have been successful in stimulating economic growth for their nations.

Africa’s future does not begin in 2050; it begins now. It is incumbent on Africans, with the assistance of their friends and allies, to prioritize crucial transformative infrastructure and related projects that must be built and funded. This cannot wait. This is a war to eradicate poverty, hunger, and disease, and secure a productive life for billions of Africans living and yet to be born. Thus, this campaign should be conducted with a military-like commitment to achieve objectives and goals each month and each year. Hence, we are not waiting for the future; we are creating the future in the present.

*real and true are interchangeable terms signifying a physical (non-monetary) improvement in the economy.

Lawrence Freeman has been involved in Africa for over 25 years as a writer, analyst, and consultant. He teaches courses on African History in Maryland. In 2014 he was appointed Vice chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Guardian of Nigeria Publishes “Proposal for Nigeria’s Future” by Lawrence Freeman

The Guardian of Nigeria published on Monday, January 28, 2019, my article: “Proposal for Nigeria’s Future”  with included pictures of President Trump, President Xi, and myself that were omitted from the on-line article.

 

Proposal for Nigeria’s future

 

Presidents Kagame and Museveni Discuss; Democracy, China, Infrastructure, and Jobs

President Paul Kagame: Time for Europe To Invest in Industry and Infrastrucure

December  26, 2018)

In an exclusive interview with Austria’s {Die Presse} news daily, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated that “Europe has invested billions upon billions of dollars in Africa. (But) something must have gone wrong…. Part of it is that these billions had a return ticket. They flowed to Africa and then back to Europe again. This money left nothing on the ground in Africa.” The European money was invested in the wrong place, he said.  Instead it should go to investments “in industry, infrastructure, and educational institutions for Africa’s youth, whose number is growing fast. That is the only way to create a  demographic dividend.” It would be a better way of preventing migration of young Africans to Europe, which the Europeans were so much worried about. Europe could cooperate with China, Kagame hints: “China is active in Rwanda, but not in an inappropriate way. The new roads in Rwanda are largely built with European money. Sometimes there are Chinese subcontractors.”

 What Africans do not need, is Europeans trying to give them lessons on democracy, Kagame said. The European model of democracy is a failure, Europe is in a profound political crisis, as shown by the recent mass protests and other aspects, this model cannot be one for Africans to follow. Europe finally has to give up its attitudes of fake generosity, and begin accepting Africa as a real partner, he said.

Presidents Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda

China Creating Tens of Thousands of Jobs for Ugandans in Infrastructure Projects

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni revealed in an interview with {Xinhua} with its focus on infrastructure development, the country wanted to attract more invest-ment from China: “We are likely to advance the project of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)… in the government-to-government (talks).” Extending the Chinese-built SGR line from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa, which is expected to reach the border areas with Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Uganda would make sense as a catalyst of economic growth. To finance its infra-structure development agenda, Uganda looked at China because of the country’s favorable lending terms compared to some of the Western global financiers.

Other major infrastructure projects in Uganda will benefit from Chinese support as well: A few months ago, the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, linking the capital Kampala to Entebbe Airport, the country’s gateway to the world, was completed. China financed the construction of the mega road  project, the first of its kind in the country. China is also financing the expansion of Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport. Official figures show that after completion of the first phase of expansion, the cargo center can handle up to 150,000 metric tons of goods, compared to the previous 69,000 metric tons.

In the northern part of Uganda along the River Nile, the world’s longest river, China is constructing the 600MW Karuma Hydropower Plant. While touring the facility in July, President Museveni said he was amazed by the progress noting that the plant will not only address Uganda’s inadequate power supply, but also that youths have become skilled through the construction process.

Farther upstream on the River Nile, in the central Ugandan district of Kayunga, construction of a Chinese-funded 183MW Isimba Hydro-power plant that is nearing completion according to the Chinese engineers on site, power generated by the plant is expected to come onto the national grid early next year.

The power development plan is crucial for the Uganda’s industrialization policy, which has designated over 22 industrial parks across the country where investors can set up base, taking advantage of the incentives that come with establishing their factories in the parks. In October, President Museveni launched the first phase of a $620 million Chinese industrial project in the eastern district of Tororo. The project has dubbed the Uganda-China Free Zone of International Industrial Cooperation, undertaken by the Dongsong Energy Group, will manufacture glass, steel, and organic-fertilizers, creating about 3,000 jobs at peak when completed in 2020.

President Museveni, in March of this year launched another Chinese-owned Mbale Industrial Park. The park owners, Tian Tang Group, said it will attract more than 30 investors with a total investment of about $600 million and an annual output value of $1.5 billion. The park will directly employ about 12,000 locals.

 The $220 million Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park, is another park that will play a critical role in transforming the economy. According to government figures, almost 80% of the country’s population derives its livelihood from agriculture.

 When fully operational, Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park is expected to produce about 600,000 tons of agro-products annually to meet the domestic and regional market demands.

 It will also create 25,000 jobs as well as making opportunities for training local people available, according to the managers of the park.

Ghana’s Unrealized Potential and Nkrumah’s Fight vs the British

I addressed a Ghanaian  organization in NYC several years ago. I discussed the unrealized potential of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah’s fight against the British. Since then I have parted company with EIR magazine, but my analysis remains truthful. 

 

 

Africa Needs Tractors, Nigeria (and Africa) Need Energy Too

{For Africa to provide jobs and feed its growing population, it needs energy and tractors to build a robust agricultural-manufacturing sector. Africa’s population is expected to double to 2.4 billion by 2050. If African nations massively invest NOW in infrastructure and industrialize their economies, the African continent can become the center of the world economy in two generations.}

Tractors Needed in Africa to Boost Agricultural Output

Oct. 8, 2018– The {Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung}-(FAZ) has discovered that agricultural output in African countries would be much higher if the farmers there had tractors to work their land, instead of using wooden ploughs and oxen to pull them. The output would be five to ten times higher, experts told {FAZ}. Swiss globalization critic Jean Ziegler said already in 2013 that the entire African continent had only 85,000 tractors in 2011, while Germany alone had almost 2 million tractors.

One problem faced by African farmers is that, with their miserable income, they cannot afford to buy tractors and other agricultural machinery on the world markets; not even the simple tractor models produced by Brazil’s AGCO, which have no fancy equipment and no GPS and cost only $10,000. Another problem is that tractors need diesel fuel, which is not available in such volumes in most parts of Africa because the transportation and storage infrastructure isn’t there.

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“Xi Jinping lends support to Nigeria’s long delayed $6 billion Mambilla dam”

View image on Twitter

Plans to build a 3GW hydropower complex on the Donga River in eastern Nigeria, which have been under discussion since 1972, were given a boost last week when President Xi Jinping of China announced his support for the project.

The Chinese leader was speaking in response to a request for help from President Buhari of Nigeria, who has made the construction of the scheme, on the Mambilla plateau in Taraba State, a key priority of his government.

Buhari said in a tweet: “I told President Xi that the Mambilla Hydropower Plant is Nigeria’s equivalent of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and that our hope is to fund the project with concessionary loans from China.

Continue reading

 

West Wants Only Quick Bucks From Africa, While China Invests for Win-Win Cooperation

‘West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation’

Below are excerpts from an interview that I did with RT on the significance of the trip by China President, Xi Jinping to Africa this week. I also commented on the dramatically different policy approach that China has towards Africa, than that of the United States. The past several US administrations have failed to construct a strategic policy to assist African nations in developing their economies.

'West wants only quick buck from Africa, while China invests for win-win cooperation'

Chinese President Xi Jinping is on a trip to Africa in a bid to establish deeper trade ties. On Monday, he arrived in South Africa for a state visit, which will be followed later this week by his participation in the 10th BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Earlier, the Chinese leader visited Rwanda and Senegal, which is the first West-African country to be involved in China’s “Belt and Road” infrastructure project.

Beijing has been expanding its presence in Africa in recent years, investing $39 billion in the continent in 2017.

Political analysts told RT that countries in Africa are turning to China because of US government policies.

RT: What do you think Xi Jinping will be hoping to get from his tour of Africa?

City view of Bahrain's capital Manama © Hamad I Mohammed

Lawrence Freeman: I think this is an indication by President Xi of how important they view their collaboration with Africa. He is going to be visiting four countries and they are going to end up at the BRICS Summit in South Africa. This is a continuation for the last several years of the ‘Belt and Road’ policy in Africa. And it has been a real boost for African development policies, especially in the areas of infrastructure, energy, roads and rail. And this indicates that they are going to continue along that policy for sure.

RT: Do you think China’s interests in Africa are purely economic or are they also about greater geopolitical influence?

LF: China, especially under this president, has a view of a win-win cooperation, that countries can work together for the common benefit of a mankind, that they will benefit from economic cooperation. The African countries certainly will. There has been no infrastructure built in Africa since the colonial period. The West refused, the US state has refused, Europe has refused. So, China building its infrastructure which you see in Kenya, in Nigeria, Ethiopia and other places, this is a real positive step for the development of Africa. And I think the Chinese want to help Africa. They will make money, of course. The Africans will improve their economies. And the people’s standard of living will improve and hopefully we’ll eliminate the poverty in Africa.

RT: Many Western countries are wary of investing in Africa due to instability and security problems. But China doesn’t seem to have been put off by these concerns. Why is that the case?

LF: China under this president has a vision for the future. They develop themselves and they develop their neighbors and they develop other countries around the world. So, the whole concept of the ‘Belt and Road’ is counter to geopolitical thinking, it is countries working together, they call it win-win. And the problem is that the West has no vision for development of Africa, has refused to develop Africa, so therefore they attack Africa, they complain about Africa’s loan, they complain about the debt. The debt under Western countries, the IMF and the World Bank far exceeds anything that the Chinese have in terms of debt with African countries. So, the West has to get over their problems, get over the geopolitical thinking, stop demonizing China and actually if the president was intelligent in this question, he would join the ‘Belt and Road’ because if China and the US joined together, we could transform the continent and eliminate the poverty and hunger. And that is what I am trying to do.

The US influence on Africa was already dwindling well before Trump came into the play. And it will continue to dwindle because of some of his comments, his attitude towards Africans, and his position on Africa in general. He is only interested in military bases. And Africans, I am afraid, are very much interested in partnership and those who take them seriously. And like a liberalized continent, it is voting with its feet and it is changing the US in every sector, that I know of, in favor of the Chinese. And China already had a huge presence and influence and that influence has just grown to levels for which even if the Americans were to try now unlikely to ever catch the Chinese in my lifetime. – Ayo Johnson, journalist & founder of Viewpoint Africa

The US has a very small outlook towards Africa and the rest of the world. They do not want to invest in the infrastructure, which is a long-term investment but it improves the entire economy. And they haven’t. The basic attitude of the US… is to make money, to make double-digit profits overnight. They are not interested in the long-term development of a country. That is why the US and the West built no railroads, they were built with China’s help, China has built the new hydro-energy plants, China has built new ports. And there are many more things that they are working on across Africa. So, the problem is that the West is not really thinking how to develop this continent, they are thinking in terms of how to make some fast bucks…

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

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

“South Africa Builds on Its Nuclear Success”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Good News for Africa! DR Congo Will Get Power From Inga 3

Congo to Start $13.9 Billion Hydropower Project This Year

The Inga 1 dam and Inga Falls on the Congo river.  Photographer: Marc Jourdier/AFP via Getty Images

The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to start work this year on the frequently delayed Inga 3 hydropower project, after receiving a joint bid from two previously competing consortia of investors.

One group led by China Three Gorges Corp. and another including Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA of Spain submitted a joint bid on June 6 for the project that will produce 11,000 megawatts and is predicted to cost $13.9 billion, Bruno Kapandji, director of the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, said at a conference Wednesday in Lubumbashi in southeast Congo.

“Our aim is to start Inga this year,” Kapandji said. “The two consortia have given us a document in which they committed to creating a single consortium. We are in the process of preparing, discussing and negotiating the exclusive collaboration contract which will allow the single candidate to go to the market to find the financing.”

Africa’s biggest copper producer and the world’s largest source of cobalt has been considering building Inga 3 for more than a decade to address a power shortage that has curbed mining-industry growth. A treaty signed in 2013 provided for the plant to export 2,500 megawatts of power to South Africa. The plant would form part of a larger Grand Inga hydropower complex spanning part of the Congo River and produce as much as 50,000 megawatts when complete, according to the World Bank.

Seven Years

Construction on Inga 3 will take as long as seven years, Kapandji said.

Congo’s government last year asked the competing consortia to work together and submit a joint offer to build and manage Inga 3. Once a concessionaire company has been established, the developers “will commit themselves to mobilizing the funds to complete the project and operate it,” Kapandji said.

The next phase of Grand Inga was initially supposed to produce 4,800 megawatts.

“The project has changed because the demand has changed,” said Kapandji. The mining industry’s energy deficit has increased from about 500 megawatts to 1,300 megawatts in the intervening years since the project was conceived, he said.

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