AU Demands: African Integrated High Speed Railway Network

July 4, 2019

The article below written by a friend of mine is a useful over view of the African Union’s plan to build High Speed Rail-lines in Africa.  High-Speed Rail together with the production of abundant supplies of energy are indispensable for the continent’s development and the industrialization of African economies. The link to the entire article that is worth reading follows the excerpts.

“The vital plan for an African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), approved by the African Union (AU) in 2014, appears to be going forward energetically. But in fact, Africa is getting only half a loaf at best. Standard gauge rails are being built, but to “save money,” they are not being built to standards permitting the high speeds that the African Union had specified. These “higher”-speed lines are not “high-speed” by any accepted standard. Or, worse, existing lines of the old colonial gauge are being rehabilitated—again because “there is not enough money.”

“Yet having “enough money” is not the problem it seems to be: The principle of Hamiltonian credit—credit extended by government, on the strength of nothing but the skills of the population, and earmarked for projects sure to produce leaps in productivity—has been known in theory and practice for 200 years, even if suppressed by the business schools.” Read my post from earlier this year on Alexander Hamilton: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

“AIHSRN is not a master plan for all rail transport in Africa. It is, rather, a plan for rapid rail transport across long distances. And Africa has long distances. To go from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope by road or rail is more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)—the equivalent of going from New York to San Francisco and back again.

“Yet with the AIHSRN, an express train could depart from Cairo at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, travel at an average of only 220 km/h (137 mph), make only five half-hour stops—at Khartoum, Nairobi, Dodoma (Tanzania), Harare, and Johannesburg—and arrive in Cape Town in time for an early breakfast on Wednesday. The east-west trip from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dakar, Senegal—“only” 8,100 km—will be quicker. The implications of such speed for the African economy—and for African integration in all respects—are enormous.

“The continental plan is for six west-east routes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea, and four routes that run from north to south—a 6×4 grid (see map).

“Because of their high speeds, the trains must run on dedicated, standard gauge lines that will not usually accept traffic from other, slower lines of the sometimes denser, surrounding rail network.

“The plan includes the construction of railway manufacturing industries, parts suppliers, maintenance facilities, and the building up of railway training academies.

“The AIHSRN is part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a fifty-year plan for the economic, social and cultural development of the entire continent, born in 2013”

Read full article: Africa Integrated High Speed Railway Network

In Africa, the Belt and Road Is Generally Spurring Socio-EconomicDevelopment

Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport (LAPSSET) Corridor project, also known as Lamu corridor is a transport and infrastructure project in Kenya that, when complete, will be the country’s second transport corridor

May 12, 2019

The Belt and Road strategy of international cooperation already up and running and phenomenally redrawing the global development map. With outlaying economic corridors and tremendous added value it is also putting Africa in the front-line of emerging global economic hubs, wrote Charles Onunaiju, Director Center for China Studies, Utako, Abuja, in his article, “Africa and China’s Belt and Road Strategy,” that appeared in {The Sun} of Nigeria on May 8.

Elaborating the contribution of the Belt and Road Initiative in Africa, Onunaiju wrote: “Since the action plan of the Belt and Road strategy was rolled out, key infrastructure projects have sprung up in Africa taking shape from its concessional funding support and inspirations of facility connectivity. In respect of overland construction, Chinese companies through concessional financial support have built the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway in Ethiopia, which is the first electrified railway in Africa, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway in Kenya, the Abuja-Kaduna Railway in Nigeria, Benguela railway in Angola, and many others, including the Lagos-Ibadan-Kano-Abuja [railroad] under construction.

“With regards to the maritime component of Belt and Road Initiative, Africa features eminently in the key infrastructure projects. So far, Chinese companies have constructed the port of Bagamoyo in Tanzania, the No. 19 berth of the port of Mombasa and three berths of port Lamu, all in Kenya, the New port of Pointe-Noire in the Republic of Congo or Congo Brazzaville, the Lekki Deep Seaport in Nigeria, the Kribi Deep seaport in Cameroon, and the port of Tamatave in Madagascar.

“Under the framework of the Belt and Road strategy of international cooperation, the port of Cherchell in Algeria has been built and is in operation, while the Port of Luanda in Angola is under construction. The distinct feature of each of these ports is that they either have access to major road connections or sit near the sites of industrial parks, thereby having significant impacts on economic development of the coastal areas of Africa.”

Read the entire article below.

Africa and China’s Belt and Road strategy

Second Belt & Road Forum: Infrastructure is the Bedrock of Development

April 30, 2019

2nd Belt & Road Forum-April 25-27, 2019 (courtesy TheNews.com)

Xi Jinping’s Keynote to Belt and Road Forum Emphasized Goals of the BRI

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech to the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum on April 26, “Working Together To Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation,” broadly laid out the BRF approach and prospects for the future.

“Together, we will create an even brighter future for Beltand Road cooperation…. The joint pursuit of the BRI aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development…. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and the decisions of the first BRF have been smoothly implemented. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China….
“Infrastructure is the bedrock of connectivity, while the lack of infrastructure has held up the development of many countries. High-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure projects can help countries fully leverage their resource endowment, better integrate into the global supply, industrial and value chains, and realize inter-connected development. To this end, China will continue to work with other parties to build a connectivity network centering on economic corridors such as the New Eurasian Land Bridge….

“Innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong…. China will continue to carry out the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and Technology Transfer.”

President Xi also used his speech to present a list of a half-dozen major policy steps China has undertaken as part of its Opening Up strategy:
“First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas….
“Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection….
“Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. China has a vast potential for increasing
consumption….
“Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. A globalized economy calls for global governance. China will strengthen macro policy coordination with other major economies and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable….
“Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies.”

President Xi Jinping Chairs Roundtable at 2nd BRI Forum– ‘Boosting Connectivity for New Sources of Growth’

The concluding day of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Xi Jinping chaired the Roundtable discussion among the 39 guests–37 heads of state plus the leaders of the IMF and United Nations. A joint communiqué has been issued (see separate slug,) and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also posted a summary of the “Deliverables” from the Forum.

After a day of presentations, as well as sideline bilateral meetings, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for the national leaders. The cordial, but high-level tone of the deliberations April 25-27, was set in Xi’s keynote opening yesterday, when he happily welcomed everyone, “Good morning! As a line of a classical Chinese poem goes, ‘Spring and autumn are lovely seasons in which friends
together to climb up mountains and write poems.’ On this beautiful spring day, it gives me great pleasure to have you with us here at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF).”

Read President Xi’s Key Note address

Second Belt & Road Forum Joint Communiqué States Development Commitments; Lists 35 Specific Economic Corridors–Including “The New Eurasian Land-Bridge”

The 37 national leaders were listed in the very first point of the Communiqué, and the following points identified the role of the “ancient Silk Road” to “the strengthening of the connectivity and the expansion of the world economy in the spirit of promoting peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning and mutual benefit” and the role for today’s “Belt and Road cooperation” to do the same thing for the future. The remaining points were grouped under these headings: “Strengthening Development Policy Synergy”; and “Boosting
Infrastructure Connectivity”; and “Promoting Sustainable Development”; and “Strengthening Practical Cooperation”; and “Advancing People-to-People Exchanges”; concluding with, “Way Forward,” which stated, “We envisage the Belt and Road Forum on regular basis with possible follow-up events…[looking forward] to the 3rd Forum.”

Here is the full list of “Economic corridors” identified in the Communiqué:

(1) Addis Ababa-Djibouti economic corridor, including the
development of industrial parks along the economic corridor
(2) Agua Negra Pass International Tunnel
(3) Baku-Tbilisi-Kars new railway line and Alyat free
economic zone in Baku
(4) Brunei-Guangxi economic corridor
(5) China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor
(6) China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line
(7) China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridor, including
Laos-China economic corridor
(8) China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan International Highway
(9) China-Laos-Thailand Railway Cooperation
(10) China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park
(11) China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor
(12) China-Myanmar economic corridor
(13) China-Pakistan economic corridor
(14) Eastern Economic Corridor in Thailand
(15) Economic corridor in Greater Mekong Subregion
(16) the EU Trans-European Transport Networks
(17) Europe-Caucasus-Asia International Transport corridor
and Trans-Caspian International Transport Route
(18) the Industrial Park “Great Stone”
(19) International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
(20) the Lake Victoria-Mediterranean Sea Navigation
Line-Linkage Project (VICMED)
(21) the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor
(22) Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park
(23) the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional
Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway
(24) New Eurasian Land Bridge
(25) the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor of the
China- Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on
Strategic Connectivity
(26) Northern Corridor Trade Route in Africa linking the
maritime port of Mombasa to countries of the Great Lakes region
of Africa and Trans-Africa Highway
(27) North-South Passage Cairo-Capetown Pass-way
(28) the Port of Piraeus
(29) Port Sudan-Ethiopia Railway Connectivity
(30) Regional Comprehensive economic corridors in Indonesia
(31) the Suez Canal Economic Zone
(32) Transcontinental shipment of cargo using the capacities
of the Northern Sea Route
(33) Transoceanic fiber optic cable
(34) “Two Corridors and One Belt” Framework
(35) Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-China International Highway

Read entire communique of Belt-Road Forum

Belt and Road Is Unstoppable: `Critics’ Are Strong Supporters

The extraordinary attendance of governments, heads of state and government, and thousands of businesses at the Second Belt and Road Forum, comparing with the largest international meetings in history, was already proof that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has expanded greatly since the first BRF in 2017 and is now  an unstoppable new paradigm of economy. After the Second BRF, certain myths of “backfire” and “criticism” in Asia also fell away.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed gave interviews in which he expressed full confidence in the BRI and surprise at its scope. Speaking to Bernama News Agency April 28, he said: “We feel that the [One Belt, One Road] OBOR initiative is not a domination plan by China, which would end up being controlled by China. Instead, it is a policy developed by all the countries, and not only focused on China. Previously … including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, developed countries made the proposals and asked us to accept them. This is not like that; the forum attendees are from small countries and they are sitting with China…They sit together at the same level, and talk about how to develop infrastructure projects.”

In an interview with China’s TV network CGTN, Dr. Mahathir said he had thought the Belt and Road was an infrastructure project for Asia.

“Now it is quite clear that it is, practially, a worldwide project …to improve connectivity and infrastructure development all over the world…I’m very glad I’m here, because now I understand better the character of the project. China has a lot of new technologies, and we need these new technologies.” He forecast large-scale Chinese investment and exports into Malaysia.

Indonesia’s investment minister, Harvard graduate Tom Lembong, who had been critical of China’s rail investments, told {South China Morning Post} that Indonesia has “found China’s openness to its feedback on improving the Belt and Road Initiative highly encouraging…. I believe in the next 5 to 10 years, BRI will stimulate additional investment in probably tens of billions of dollars [in Indonesia],” Lembong said.

In Europe, Italy and Austria are joining Portugal in planning issuance of “Panda Bonds” — infrastructure bonds issued by other countries in yuan, to be issued into China’s bond market. Even Germany Economics Minister Peter Altmaier found the Beijing forum “better than expected,” and is headed back with a Mittelstand delegation.

$50 Billion to Recharge Lake Chad; Pres Trump Should be at China’s Belt-Road Forum

April 25, 2019

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari-left and UN General Secretary  Antonio Guterres-right  (courtesy LEADERSHIP)

UN Promises To Help Raise $50 Billion for Lake Chad Water Transfer

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari enrolled UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the effort to raise the $50 billion needed to finance the construction of the Transaqua project to refill Lake Chad, Nigerian media report. That figure was proposed at the International Conference on Lake Chad in February 2018. Here is one such report from the Nigerian daily {Leadership}. Transaqua is an “inter-basin water transfer” project that I have advocated for over 20 years and discussed with President Buhari shortly after he was elected in March 2015. True to his word, President Buhari has remained committed to this inter-basin water transfer project, which would transform the living conditions for over 30 million Africans trying to survive in Lake chad Basin.

“There is a glimmer of hope for the revival of the shrinking Lake Chad after the United Nations yesterday agreed to help in efforts to raise $50 billion for its recharge.” President Muhammadu Buhari revealed yesterday that  UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, had accepted to co-chair a special fundraising session to raise $50 billion (or £38.65 billion) for a project to help revive the drought stricken Lake Chad.”

{Leadership} reports that President Buhari had written to the UN scribe to co-chair the fundraising session with him, which the UN chief accepted. The response of the UN Secretary-General was presented to President Buhari by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, president of the African Development Bank-(AfDB), at the State House, Abuja yesterday.

In a statement by his press spokes person, Garba Shehu, Buhari  said such a special forum was necessary in view of the size of capital required for the project, which was unavailable to the Lake Chad Basin countries. “President Muhammadu Buhari has welcomed the acceptance of the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres to co-chair a Special Session to raise $50 billion to fund the inter-basin water transfer from Central Africa to revive Lake Chad,” Buhari said in the statement.

{Leadership} reports that the Lake, which borders Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon, has lost 90% of its size due mainly to climate change, leading to fear of famine and throwing the economic life of the 30 million population around it into jeopardy. The shrinking Lake is part of the reason why insurgency and terrorist activities thrive in the region, with militant groups including Islamic State in West Africa (ISWA) and Boko Haram having their strongholds there….”

Read the full article

China Ambassador: `Why U.S. Shouldn’t Sit Out the Belt and Road’

Under the headline above, China’s Ambassador in Washington Cui Tiankai wrote a column in {Fortune} magazine on the eve of the Second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing. “Don’t miss all the winning” involved in the Belt and Road, Cui admonishes, perhaps referring to one of President Donald Trump’s favorite phrases.

The ambassador starts with a very direct challenge: “Imagine the potential of China and the United States, the world’s two largest, most vibrant economies, collaborating on the most ambitious development project in history. The scenario is no fantasy: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), which kicked off almost six years ago, will eventually connect a vast swath of the world, creating huge yields in economic activity, and wiring the world together as never before. However, the United States remains on the sidelines, and this has implications not only in terms of missed opportunities for growth in the U.S., but for the cause of global development, which needs the ingenuity of US industry.”

Cui gives many arguments for the BRI which reflect those of Xi Jinping. He cites total benefits to the 126 countries now in relationship to it: $6 trillion in total trade, $80 billion in direct investment by China; 300,000 new “local jobs” in those countries; Kazakhstan’s first-ever access to the Pacific Ocean; 6,000 new jobs in Europe’s largest inland port, Duisburg; Kenya’s beginning of economic development and industrial-ization; and so on, with citations from national leaders.

“So where is the U.S. amid all of this winning?” he concludes. “There are countless opportunities to U.S. corporations available through BRI projects. Honeywell International is already working with partners to further oil and gas development along the Belt and Road. General Electric has signed a number of deals with partners of the BRI which will help to provide reliable power and energy to critical regions throughout the world. Caterpillar is working with China’s initiative to help solve Pakistan’s severe power shortages. Meanwhile, Citibank is actively providing financing for projects through the markets along the Belt and Road. We certainly welcome more taking part…. My suggestion is that the U.S. embrace this opportunity.”

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

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

Belt and Road Initiative: Another path to globalization

by Lawrence Freeman

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

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

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

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

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

Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will the West Join the BRI?

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

Read: China’s New Approach to Globalization

China, Belt & Road: Eliminate Poverty, Not “Debt-Trap”

April 21, 2019

President Xi Jinping Hands-on Drive to Eliminate Poverty

As part of his government’s plan to entirely eliminate poverty from China by the end of 2020, President Xi Jinping carried out “an inspection tour to southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality” earlier this week, Xinhua reported, in which he pledged to address the issue like “a hammer driving a nail.” Xi first flew to Chongqing, China’s fourth largest city, and then spent another three hours, first by train and then by road, to reach Huaxi Village, where 302 people living in 85 households are registered as living below the poverty line.

Xinhua added: “Huaxi Village is a typical case of China’s impoverished regions. The basic needs for food and clothing have been met, but more efforts are needed for compulsory education, basic medical care and safe housing.”

It is to be noted that China’s criteria for poverty reduction are not strictly monetary, but include key physical-economic parameters such as education, health, and housing. As of 2018 there were still 16.6 million rural residents living in poverty in China. The government plans to lift about 10 million of those out of poverty during 2019. Xinhua then quoted Xi during his tour:

“The battle against poverty has entered a decisive and critical stage. We must press ahead with our full strength and strongest resolve and never stop until we secure a complete victory. After visiting the village, I feel reassured. We may have about 6 million impoverished people and 60 impoverished counties left at the beginning of 2020. If we make sure this year’s work is well-implemented and push ahead next year, we will eliminate poverty. We are confident about accomplishing the mission.

“Less than two years are left before fulfilling the objective of poverty alleviation. This year is particularly crucial,” Xi said at a symposium held Tuesday afternoon in Chongqing. “The most important thing at this stage is to prevent laxity and backsliding.” Xinhua’s account emphasized the top-down involvement of government officials in achieving this national goal. “Throughout the years, more than three million officials from governments above the county level, state-owned enterprises and public institutions have stayed in impoverished villages to offer assistance.

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FOCAC Summit 2018 (courtesy africa.cgtn.com)
I am posting the following article even though it is from last year, because the author accurately disproves the “debt-trap” propaganda being used by western institutions against China-Africa cooperation.

“2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending”

August 31, 2018

W. Gyude Moore is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He previously served as Liberia’s Minister of Public Works with oversight over the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure from December 2014 to January 2018.

Debt Trap or Much-Needed Investment?

The debt trap diplomacy case, however, has never been convincingly argued and its application in Africa is, at best, tenuous. The reality of Africa’s debt to China is not particularly remarkable when taken against the sources of continent’s external debt stock (see figure below). A number of African countries’ (Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola) debt obligations to China are alarming—as they would be regardless of creditor. China’s $115 billion credit to Africa between 2000 and 2016 is still less than 2 percent of the total $6.9 trillion of low and middle income countries’ debt stock. Recent studies have shown that China is not a driver of debt distress in Africa—yet. The language of debt trap diplomacy resonates more in Western countries, especially the United States, and is rooted in anxiety about China’s rise as a global power rather than in the reality of Africa.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

Continue reading entire article

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China’s Belt And Road Forum to Gather 37 World Leaders, and Representatives from Five Continents

There will be no less than 37 heads of state and government attending China’s Second Belt and Road forum in Beijing next week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday. In addition there will be 360 attendees at ministerial level, 100 leaders of international organizations and 5,000 participants. 4,000 reporters will also be attending the Forum, whose theme is “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.”

“The second Belt and Road Forum will be held in Beijing on April 25-27. It will become China’s largest international event this year. Thirty-seven leaders of state and government will participate in the forum,” Wang told a press conference.  This will include the leaders of Austria, Egypt, Hungary, Italy, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and others. “Senior representatives” of France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union will also participate; other diplomatic representatives of the United States and North Korea will also be there. International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, and Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary- general, are also expected to participate, according to Wang.

This is the highest level event for cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, Minister Wang said. He said this year’s event will be characterized by a clear direction, a solid foundation, a warm response from participants, a program of practical cooperation and clearly defined results. A Leaders’ Round-Table Summit will issue a Joint Communique to show the political consensus of the leaders in building the Belt and Road.

The long-term effects of the Initiative will be to strengthen multilateralism, to enrich the principles of cooperation, to build a network of partnership and to build a strong support system for continued development. Wang Yi also underlined the connection between the BRI and China’s new phase of “opening up.” The new phase of  China’s “reform and opening up” will “bring more opportunities for promoting the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and the common development of all countries,” he said. “I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open even broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity,” Wang continued.

African Union Affirms High Speed Rail For Africa Moving Forward

FILE - A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018.
FILE – A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018 

“Plans are on track for a high-speed rail network connecting the continent’s borders by 2063, the African Union’s Development Agency says. The ambitious multi-billion-dollar project aims to ease the movement of goods and people across African borders, but the AU warns that corruption could derail that goal.Road, rail, and air traffic connections are so poor between some African countries that it is better to transit through Europe than to travel directly between neighbors.

Intra-African trade is less than 15% of total trade, says Adama Deen, the head of infrastructure at the AU’s Development Agency.

“You cannot have integration without connectivity, whether it is road or rail connectivity, especially when we are talking about the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, where you need a single market and connectivity to move goods, persons within the market,” Deen said

READ: African Union High Speed Rail Network On Track

 

Will Africa Emulate China in Eliminating Poverty with BRI? More Electrical Power Needed

March 7, 2019

Rwanda Acknowledges Partnership With China Is Beneficial for Both Nations

President Xi Jinping left and President Paul Kegame-right (East African)

Answering a media query in Kigali on March 5, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said that the Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and China, and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Xinhua reported. China is an important partner for Rwanda at all levels, and Rwanda welcomes the growing partnership with China, he said, adding that Rwanda and China have important relationships in infrastructure development, party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges, and at the political level.

Last August, {China Daily} reported Rwandan Ambassador to China Charles Kayonga telling the newspaper, through e-mail, that in Rwanda, “we have had financing for a number of roads, and we have seen direct investment by Chinese companies in a number of businesses rise.” 

 Africa is in need of infrastructure, among other things, to achieve sustainable economic transformation, he said, adding that cooperation with China will help finance the infrastructure projects to help spur the continent’s industrial development, which will, in turn, favor China in its vision of going global.

Prescient Xi: China is Eliminating Poverty

Speaking today with deputies from Gansu Province, President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of reaching the goal of eliminating poverty by 2020.

“There should be no retreat until a complete victory is won,” Xi said. “Decisive progress has been achieved in the country’s tough fight against poverty over the past years, marking a new chapter in the poverty reduction history of mankind.” Xi stressed, that the goal to eradicate extreme poverty must be achieved on time. He warned that the tasks ahead remain arduous and hard, as those still in poverty are the worst stricken. He also warned that, “the practices of ‘formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism hamper the effective advancement of poverty reduction.” He also warned against the tendency to celebrate short-term gains when it comes to addressing the problem of poverty. He insisted that claims of success should be grounded in reality, and that the results of poverty alleviation work must be able to stand the test of time.

 Also today, a comprehensive briefing was given on the success of poverty reduction over the last few years by Liu Yongfu, Director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. He held a press conference outlining the progress of the poverty-alleviation campaign. Liu noted that between 2012 and 2018, some 80 million people had been brought out of poverty at an average of 13 million people a year. Of the nine eastern provinces, eight were now free of poverty. He said there are 832 counties still enmired in poverty. In 2016, there were 28 counties that had been lifted out of poverty, and in 2017, some 125 counties, and in 2018, an estimated 280 counties. In 2013 there were 128,000 villages in poverty, while in 2018 there were 20,000. Poverty has been reduced during that period by 85%, Liu said, and the goal this year is to bring 10 million more people out of poverty. In 2019 the government will increase the funds devoted to poverty alleviation by 18.9%


African Development Bank Funding New Power Transmission Line For East Africa

In an article on its website, the African Development Bank (AfDB), pointing to regular power cuts in the East African countries from Kenya to Tanzania, from Uganda to Ethiopia, said this is about to change with the upcoming commissioning of a power transmission line to interconnect Kenya and Ethiopia. This project falls under one of the AfDB’s ‘High 5 priorities’ to ‘Light up and Power Africa.’ Working with
institutional partners, the Bank has mobilized resources to ensure the success of this project. At a cost of $1.26 billion, the project was co-funded by the African Development Bank ($338 million), the World Bank ($684 million), the Government of Kenya ($88 million), and the Government of Ethiopia ($32 million), the article noted.

The interconnection will function by means of a 1,068-km, 500-kilovolt high-voltage direct current transmission line, 437 km in Ethiopia and 631 km in Kenya with related facilities at Wolayta-Sodo (Ethiopia) and Suswa (Kenya). By December 2020, it will have a transmission capacity of 2,000 MW. This will make Ethiopia the energy giant of East Africa, while Kenya will become the epicenter of electricity trading in this part of the continent.

“The project will initially be able to transfer 400 MW from Ethiopia to Kenya, but negotiations are under way to better match the capacity of the line to Kenyan demand,” said Joseph Njogore, first secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, at an energy forum held in Nairobi in August 2018, the website noted.

 

China, Africa, and exploring the Universe for Mankind

Displaying China’s commitment and friendship to Africa, the first foreign trip of the new year by China’s Foreign Minister began in Ethiopia, and included a meeting African Union Chairman,  Moussa Faki Mahamat. Landing on the dark side of the Moon for the first time history with China’s new rover is a step forward for Mankind.  

Wang Yi Opens New Year with Visit to Africa

Jan. 4, 2019

As has become the tradition of Chinese Foreign Ministers, Wang Yi’s first foreign trip of 2019 is to Africa. It began yesterday with meetings with Ethiopia’s highest officials, followed by his meeting today with the head of the African Union, headquartered in Ethiopia. Wang will then travel to Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal. China reported that Wang hopes through this trip to strengthen coordination with Africa for the implementation of the decisions taken in last September’s historic summit in Beijing of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Wang met with both Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu. The statement posted by the Prime Minister after his meeting with Wang praised China’s “immense contribution to Ethiopia,” reported that Abiy had “highlighted” that for Ethiopia, “the new frontier of a  strengthened relationship [with China] needs to capitalize on introducing new forms of technology,” and to continue the support in infrastructure development.

Neighboring Kenya’s {Daily Nation} covered Wang’s meetings in Ethiopia with a blast at the “China debt trap” lies. Citing statistics from the “conservative” American Enterprise Institute), the paper emphasized that from 2005 to 2018, China’s total on investment and construction in Sub-Saharan Africa was $298 billion. Making China “the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa, exceeding the combined total of the African Development Bank, the European Union, International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Group of Eight countries.”

Wang had “initially sidestepped concerns, often made by Western nations, about whether the debt payments were sustainable,” the {Daily Nation} reported, but he then he answered: “Generally, debt in Africa has been a protracted issue left from history. It didn’t come up today, still less is it caused by  China,” Wang said. He added that China is well-aware that some African nations have encountered financing difficulties, and “we’re always ready to extend a good hand when African countries need it.”

According to Anadolu Agency, Wang discussed plans to start a dialogue on security with Africa, when he met with African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat today, arguing that “peace in the African continent is very important for stability in the whole world.” Faki, for his part, praised China’s help in capacity building in Africa, being the biggest partner of Africa in building roads, ports and energy facilities.

Chang’e-4: “Exploring the Unknown Is Human Nature”

There is extensive coverage in the Chinese media, both TV and print, of the astonishing Chang’e-4 achievement, and the ongoing activities of the lander, the rover, and the relay satellite. Comments by a number of China’s top scientists involved in the project are also reported: “Exploring the unknown is human nature. The Moon is a mysterious world to us. We have a responsibility to explore and to understand it. Exploration of the Moon will also deepen our understanding of Earth and ourselves,” said Wu Weiren, chief of China’s lunar program. On CGTN’s “China 24” program this morning Wu said that although China started late in its lunar program, unlike the U.S. program it is not a race, but scientific, and started from a higher ground. He said China’s lunar program welcomes contributions, even in subsystems and system integration.

“It is a perfect display of human intelligence,” said Jia Yang, deputy chief designer of the Chang’e-4 probe, from the China Academy of Space Technology CAST). “Solving those problems might help lay the foundation for future space exploration. High-precision landing is a necessity for further exploring the Moon and asteroids. We hope to be able to reach the whole Moon and even the whole solar system,” said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of Change-4 probe, from CAST.

“Exploring the far side of the Moon is one contribution China is making to the world. Although we still don’t know what we might find, this exploration might influence several generations,” said Shen Zhenrong, a designer of the lunar rover.

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.