Abuja Conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’: A Great Victory for Africa!

A great victory was achieved at the international conference to “Save Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018.  This author, along with others has been advocating over many years for Transaqua; a transformative inter-basin water transfer project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad with water from the Congo River Basin.

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord.

 In the section of the Road-map “Outcome from the Conference” the Transaqua Project  is endorsed as the preferred option for refilling Lake Chad:

The Conference acknowledged:  The various studies carried out showing that there is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the basin. That Inter-basin water transfer is not an option; but a necessity. That failure to take appropriate and timely action, will result in Lake Chad completely drying up soon and that would cause humanitarian crisis, pose serious security challenges, not only for the region, but for the entire African continent and the World. The Transaqua Project which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,000 km channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option (Annex 5).

Annex 5: Transaqua Transfer Scheme
Therein, the Conference urged: The African Union to consider the consequences of Lake Chad disappearing not only as regional issue but, an African tragedy as part of its agenda, and endorse the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) initiative as a Pan-African project to restore the Lake for peace and security to reign in the Lake Chad region and the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin. The International Technical and Financial Partners and Donors agree to support the Lake Chad Basin initiative through the financing of LCBC Development programmes aimed at addressing the problems caused by the shrinking of the Lake. The African Development Bank to facilitate the creation of the Lake Chad Fund of US $50 billion, to be sourced from African States and donations by Africa’s Development Partners to fund the Lake Chad IBWT and infrastructure projects. Read entire Roadmap to Saving Lake Chad

Below is a statement distributed the conference. The author was a prominently featured participant during the during the three-day conference, and his statement was extensively covered in the Nigerian press.

 Now Is the Time to Think Big and In the Future

Lawrence Freeman, Political-Economic Analyst for Africa addresses conference

It gives me great pleasure to participate in this historic conference that will finally discuss the necessity to recharge Lake Chad after decades of inaction. Saving Lake Chad by transferring water from the Congo River Basin is strategically important for all nations on the Africa continent. Since the drying up of North Africa several thousands of years ago, Lake Chad remains the largest body of water in the desert. Lake Chad provides the means of existence to tens of millions of Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, who are primarily engaged in fishing and farming. Conditions of extreme poverty in the region have produced a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, and contributed to the desperate migrations of Africans to Europe. Leadership by the heads of state of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, through joint military deployments, has weakened the capability of this violent extremist organization. However, to eliminate the spawning of new terrorist movements, and, to end the waves of Africans risking their lives to escape poverty, we must give the people, especially the youth, hope for a better future. This requires more than simply humanitarian aid or charity; it requires economic transformation.

“Let the Sahara Desert Bloom”

These are the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, the last great American President, as he flew over the desert during World War II. Now, seven decades later, we must embrace this unfulfilled task: transporting water to the desert. Through massive investments in infrastructure; water, energy, and rail, we can transform the desert, and reclaim it back from the terrorists, who thrive in desolate environments. We should not allow a twenty-thousand-year astronomical cycle that creates extreme arid weather before the return of rainfall, to determine our future. Mankind through the power of creativity and free will must intervene for the benefit of human species, whose birthplace after all is the African continent.

There are no valid objective reasons for African nations to endure abject poverty. Hundreds of millions of Africans live on less than $2 per day, and suffer from hunger, cholera, and other diseases. The dearth of electrical power, and efficient rail transportation is literally (not figuratively) killing Africa. These conditions can be overcome with continental approach to investments in vital infrastructure

Transforming the Lake Chad Basin

The most ambitious and visionary inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad is Transaqua, proposed over three decades ago.  The project’s design includes transferring 5-8% of the tributary water to the Congo River Basin via a 2,400-kilometer navigable canal to feed into the Chari River in Central African Republic, the major tributary to Lake Chad. The Congo River is the second most powerful in the world, discharging approximately 40,000 cubic meters per second or 1.2 trillion cubic meters annually into the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than allowing these huge volumes of water to be simply deposited into the vast ocean, Transaqua intends to utilize the super moist Congo River Basin to bring water to the Sahel Desert. The project envisions creating new levels of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins, in addition to generating hydro-electric power, and bringing irrigation to three million acres of land. If this bold engineering project had been taken up decades ago, approximately one eighth of the African continent would look completely different today, and millions of needless deaths would have been prevented.

Transaqua Meets China’s Silk Road

What was not foreseen thirty years ago was the emergence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative-(BRI) – a new dynamic redefining political and economic relations among nations throughout the planet. Now, we can delightfully envisage how Africa might look when China’s BRI intersects Transaqua. Consider the potential for Africa as we let our imagination peak with excitement into the future.

Port Sudan on the Red Sea is presently included in China’s Maritime Silk Road. The governments of Sudan and Chad have already discussed with China constructing a railroad from Port Sudan to Nyala, South Darfur that will continue to N’djamena, Chad’s capital. There are plans for this Sahelian railroad to continue to Cameroon and Nigeria, potentially continuing westward all the way to Dakar, Senegal. On the eastern side, rail connections from Sudan to Djibouti and Ethiopia are also anticipated. The Sahelian (proto East-West) railroad will possibly intersect the long-awaited South-North railroad in the proximity of Sennar, Sudan. From this advanced viewpoint, we can look at the new physical topology of Africa in which Transaqua will be situated.  Successfully linking the Lake Chad Basin nations to those of the Great Lakes region with the rest of Africa, through these new land and waterway economic-transportation corridors will be transformative for the whole continent.

My friends, now is time for our conscience and imagination to unite in embracing this momentous occasion with our collective decision to take responsible action for the future of Africa.

Mr. Freeman has been involved in promoting economic development in Nigeria for over 20 years, having visited all regions of the country beginning in 1994. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in November 2014.




Nigeria Hosts Global Conference: Save Lake Chad from Extinction

Fisherman standing in Lake Chad, November 2014

Since 1963, Lake Chad has been allowed to diminish from  from a vast 25,000 square kilometers to a now unacceptable level of 2,500 square kilometers.  As a consequence of the inaction to reverse the shrinking lake, over 30 million Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, and depend upon fishing and farming for their livelihoods, have suffered greatly. Boko Haram has exploited this severely depressed  condition to recruit youths, whose future appears bleak. Finally, this dire crisis; the shrinking Lake Chad, is being addressed at a global conference in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018Historic Lake Chad Conference, which I will be a participant: my role at the conference.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Water Resources, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, and Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi, should be congratulated for initiating the first global gathering on the African continent to discuss solutions to reprenish Lake Chad. by transferring water from the Congo River.

It is time for Africans to think big. We can return Lake Chad to its former size, transform the Lake Chad Basin, and create a corridor of economic development between the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad basin with the mega inter-basin water transfer project: Transaqua


Abimbola Akosile THISDAYLIVE

February 1, 2018

The Federal Government of Nigeria, on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, is planning to host an international Conference from February 26 to 28 in Abuja on proffering solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. This was disclosed by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed paid him a recent courtesy visit in Abuja.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference is to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydro-logical perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region who depend on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction”, he said.

The Minister proposed for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the PowerChina International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualised by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said the study done by PowerChina shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the lake. To him, this would halt the receding of the lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change, according to a release issued by the Ministry’s Director (Information & Public Relations Unit), Mrs. Margaret Umoh.

Speaking further, he called for more workable solutions that may be cheaper than the inter-basin water transfer. On the issue of cooperation between Nigeria and the UN on the re-integration of the people of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Minister said part of the ministry’s efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency in that region under this present administration in the past two years has been by budgeting about N1 billion annually for water supply and sanitation facilities for the IDPs nationwide.

Earlier, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mohammed said the purpose of the high-level mission, which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues, will help scale up UN presence in the North-east in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned conference of saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February. She charged Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.

UN Supports Nigerian Conference to Save Drying Lake Chad

The support of the United Nations for this conference being sponsored by the Nigeria government is important to the entire continent and should be supported by all African nations and the African Union. Refilling Lake Chad  will not only transform the Lake Chad Basin, but with the Transaqua inter basin water transfer project, the economy of 12 African nations will be affected. For Africa to development its agriculture and manufacturing sectors it requires great infrastructure projects in water, rail, and energy, which is what I have been advocating for many years. 

Saturday, January 13, 2018

By Hussein Yahaya

The Federal Government of Nigeria on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission is planning an International Conference to proffer solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. The Conference is scheduled for next month in Abuja.

Nigeria’s Water Resources Minister, Engr. Suleiman H. Adamu, disclosed this in Abuja when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, paid him a courtesy visit.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference was to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydrological perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region that depends on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction,” he said.

The Minister proposes for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between, the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the POWERCHINA International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualized by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said that study done by POWERCHINA, shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from river Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the Lake. This, according to him, would halt the receding of the Lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change.

Earlier, the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, said that the purpose of the high-level mission which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues will help scale up UN presence in the North East in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned Conference of Saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February, 2018. She charged Heads of States and Governments of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the Conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.

President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy

By Lawrence Freeman,

January 4, 2018

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

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

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

Security and Free Trade: Inadequate for Africa

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



Pres. Buhari Approves Nigeria’s Hosting of Lake Chad Conference

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and Lake Chad Basin Commission Executive Secretary, Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi should be congratulated for the planning of this important conference to save the shrinking Lake Chad. I have been advocating for two decades the urgent need to transfer water from the Congo River Basin to refill Lake Chad with TRANSAQUA; a mega infrastructure project to develop Africa, which will also be discussed at this conference.

Johnbosco Agbakwuru-Vanguard News
December 26, 2017

ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved Nigeria’s hosting of an international conference on saving the Lake Chad. The conference according to the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu is to revitalize the basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.

Shehu said it was the first time an international conference on Lake Chad was being organised the six-member countries of the region. He said, “The three-day conference will consist of two days of technical sessions and one day high level meetings between February 26-28, 2018 and it will take place in Abuja.

“The high level meeting is expected to have in attendance all of the Presidents and Heads of government of the member-states, namely Nigeria,Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya “The key partners coming together in hosting the conference are Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC and relevant donors including, prospectively, the African Development Bank, AfDB, the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union, EU.

“The main objective of the international conference is to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of the Lake Chad, threat to livelihoods including insecurity with a view to developing a comprehensive program for action to save the lake from extinction.

“Specically, the conference is expected to discuss and develop consensus on the different options to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from  the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad. “Experts, researchers and resource persons are expected to exchange knowledge and share information on water resources development and management in a crisis environment and to garner political and financial support for the restoration option identified for the restoration of the lake.

“Among the expected outcomes of the conference is a roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the conference that should lead to the restoration of the lake; restoration of fishing and irrigated farming as a way of alleviating poverty, strengthening climate resilience in the basin, creating employment,leading to reduction of terrorist activities and increasing the revenue of the population and that of the Lake Chad basin countries.

“The lake Chad Basin, which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and the Sudan is about eight percent of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40 million inhabitants. “Its surface area has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500 sq.kms, roughly 10 percent of its original size.“This development has adversely affected the economic, social and cultural environment of the area.

As at today, the lake is a source of insecurity, instability, and the loss of livelihoods. Since coming to office, President Muhammadu Buhari has used every available speaking opportunity at the international level to raise awareness of the need for action to save the Lake Chad.

Buhari approves Nigeria’s hosting of Lake Chad conference on ecosystem


Saving Lake Chad with Transaqua: An Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project

The excerpts below are from a speech by Mr. Franco Persio Bocchetto, Foreign Director for Bonifica, S.p.A., Italy, the engineering firm that designed the Transaqua proposal in  the1980s. It is an excellent presentation on a transformative infrastructure project to save the shrinking Lake Chad and develop the African continent.

We can be very optimistic, but due to the growth of the population, the long-term measures cannot be other than to think how to transfer large volumes of water from the  Congo River Basin to Lake Chad.

Well, water transfer to drying up endorheic lakes is not merely a “nature conservation measure.” Environment and wildlife deserve to be protected—human beings, too. A drying endorheic lake is proof that the water resources in its catchment area are overexploited with respect to incoming run-off. transferring water from adjacent river basins that have surplus water flowing into the sea, is a way of increasing water availability, especially for agriculture, in the context of the increasing population and declining rainfall, and to restore wildlife.

When water is in short supply in a given place, either you bring it there, or people will migrate elsewhere. Near Lake Chad, there is an immense, scarcely populated
river basin, which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean an average of 40,000 cubic meters/second—the equivalent to 1,250 billion m3 /year. That discharge is 200 times the discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely diverted into Lake Chad has yet to be studied.

Can we think of a “win-win” project, where all countries involved have their advantages, which is perhaps, one of the basic conditions for developing this project?
Bringing water from the Congo River Basin to the thirsty Chad region and increasing irrigated agriculture, restoring the lake, producing hydropower and improving inter-African transport and commerce, is the vision of this Transaqua Project.

A canal would have to intercept part of the discharge of the right-hand tributaries of the Congo River, and convey them across the watershed between the Congo Basin and the Chari Basin. The diverted flow would reach Lake Chad through one of the Chari tributaries, properly reshaped. A very preliminary estimate gives an amount up to 100 billion m3 /year could be diverted. That this less than 8% of the Congo discharge, ensuring thus the restoration of Lake Chad and irrigation of up to 3 million hectares.

In its fall toward Chad, the diverted flow could be used for hydropower production. Along the canal, a road should be built which would become the backbone of inter-African land transport. The hypothes is that the canal could also be suitable for navigation has been made. Those ideas stemming from the early 1920s, have been studied by Bonifica, and are presently being considered by the Lake Chad Basin Commission as a possible project for the future.

The idea of Bonifica is to transfer about 100 million cubic meters of water per year from the Congo River Basin to the Lake Chad and Sahel district. This is the Congo Basin as you can see in red, which is the alignment more or less of the canal. You cross the watershed and you go into the water catchment area of the River Chari.

What is important to note is that the Transaqua formula is not simply to replenish Lake Chad, but to give access to drinking water, revive agricultural activity, irrigation, fish farming, a navigable waterway, trade, transport, regulate flows, produce electric power, river ports, commerce, and road connections—thus creating an economic development system along the Transaqua waterway

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China Daily: Refill Shrinking Lake Chad with TRANSAQUA Project

Chinese, Italian firms reach deal to refill fast-shrinking Lake Chad

By Kimeng Hilton Ndukong (People’s Daily Online)    17:51, August 21, 2017

Fishing is a major source of livelihood for millions of people in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: LCBC

Hopes have been revived for the 40 million people who depend on Lake Chad for their livelihoods following the signing last June in Hangzhou, China, of a deal between Chinese construction giant, PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica Spa. However, the news was only made public at the beginning of this month. 

Huge water transfer project

The agreement concerns the carrying out of feasibility studies on transferring 100 billion cubic metres of water per annum from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, to replenish the fast shrinking Lake Chad, a distance of 2,500 km. The project is also known as Transaqua. According to the website of Executive Intelligence Review, EIR magazine, the letter of intent was signed at a meeting between the executive of the two companies in the presence of the Italian Ambassador to China, Gabriele Menegatti

The recent deal between PowerChina and Bonifica Spa is sequel to the Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, signed between PowerChina and the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, on December 13, 2016. LCBC is made up of Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria and the Central African Republic, CAR. The MOU is for a period of four years, but can be extended after renegotiation by both parties.

The Transaqua project seeks to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad. Map by Schiller Institute

The agreement is “with a view to setting forth the principles of a technical and financial assistance arrangement towards the actualization of water transfer from the Congo Basin to Lake Chad,” LCBC website reported. PowerChina will fund the studies at the cost of 1.8 million US dollars, while LCBC will provide all necessary information and assistance.

Linking Central and West Africa

The MOU is to establish the basis on which the parties shall carry out further research on the Lake Chad Basin Water Transfer Project and other future projects in accordance with the Lake Chad Basin Water Charter, national legislations, regulations and practices of member countries. Additional research will be needed to strengthen climate change resilience in the Sahel and to raise the project into a continental infrastructure by opening up a new development corridor to link Central and West Africa.

The terms of the agreement between PowerChina and LCBC include the potential transfer of 50 billion cubic metres of water per annum to Lake Chad through a series of dams in DRC, Republic of Congo Brazzaville and the Central African Republic. There is also the possible generation of 15,000-25,000 kilowatts of hydroelectricity through the mass movement of water by gravity.

Other benefits are developing irrigated land for crop and livestock farming covering 50,000-70,000 square km in the Sahel zones of Chad, north-eastern Nigeria, northern Cameroon, and Niger; and providing new infrastructure platform for industries and water transport.

The core idea is to increase the water quantity in Lake Chad, improve water flow conditions, alleviate poverty within the basin through socio-economic activities, meet the energy needs of towns and surrounding areas in DRC and Congo Brazzaville, and conduct in-depth environmental impact assessment studies.

Satellite maps show how fast Lake Chad waters have receded over the past decades. Maps by NASA

New Silk Road to Lake Chad

The Lake Chad Basin Commission resolved the issue of funding studies on water transfer by creating a new Silk Road to Lake Chad. PowerChina, one of the country’s largest multinationals that built the Three Gorges dam, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with LCBC last December.

PowerChina committed to finance the feasibility studies for the initial stages of Transaqua and eventually to build the infrastructure. The water transfer canal will be a navigable facility 100 metres wide and 10 metres deep, stretching from southern DRC to CAR’s northern border. The waterway will be flanked by a service road and eventually a rail line.

Fast-receding lake

Lake Chad, once one of the greatest in the world, has receded fast in recent years as a result of less rainfall and harmful irrigation practices. Other unforeseen phenomena like the exodus of refugees and displaced populations fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram terrorist group have since arisen.

The recent deals between PowerChina,  LCBC and Bonifica Spa have raised hopes for the 40 million people in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: LCBC

According to experts, only a robust measure like replenishing the lake’s water could spare the wetland – a food basket located between Central and West Africa – from total disappearance. Meanwhile, the impoverishment of the Lake Chad Basin has made it fertile ground for recruiting terrorists for Boko Haram. Although Transaqua offered a viable solution to the lake’s problems since the 1970s, Western nations and institutions showed little interest in funding the project.

Push by President Buhari

A shift occurred in May 2015 with the election of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari. He came to power with a programme to develop national infrastructure, including implementing the water-transfer project for Lake Chad. At several international gatherings, President Buhari made the case for resolving the problems of Lake Chad and requesting Western nations to deliver on promises for financial assistance. He has also strongly oriented his government towards cooperation with BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) nations.

Discussing the groundbreaking water agreement in The Nigerian Tribune newspaper last July 25, Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, noted that a similar project to move water from southern to northern China where some areas are semi-arid has been undertaken by the authorities. The Minister added that Nigeria is working with UNESCO to organize an international conference on Lake Chad in Abuja before the end of 2017 to rally support for Transaqua.

Role of LaRouche

Thanks to the fight taken up by LaRouche organization over the years and the initiators of Transaqua, the project is today becoming reality within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. Executive Intelligence Review magazine and Schiller Institute in 2015 arranged the first meeting between LCBC and the brains behind Transaqua. This was followed in December 2016 by the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between LCBC and PowerChina, and subsequent contacts between Bonifica Spa and the Chinese company.

The Boko Haram insurgency has led to the displacement of thousands of people, thereby aggravating the problems in the Lake Chad Basin. Photo: Nigerian Tribune newspaper

Origin of Transaqua project

Transaqua was first developed by the Italian engineering firm, Bonifica, in the late 1970s.

River Congo is the second largest river in the world with an average 41,000 cubic meters of unused water emptied at short intervals into the Atlantic Ocean. Bonifica then estimated that 3-4 per cent of this quantity of unused water will be enough to replenish Lake Chad.

The project involved building of a 2,400 km canal from the southern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, (then Zaire) to intercept the right bank tributaries of River Congo through dams and reservoirs, and move 100 billion cubic metres of water per annum by gravity to Lake Chad. The project was given consideration by various stakeholders without much progress because of lack of interest or insufficient funding.

Several meetings were held between PowerChina and LCBC officials. Photo: LCBC

Kimeng Hilton Ndukong, a contributor to People’s Daily Online, is Sub-Editor for World News with Cameroon Tribune bilingual daily newspaper in Cameroon. He is currently a China-Africa Press Centre, CAPC fellow. 

US and China Must Collaborate to Save Lake Chad

Lawrence Freeman

April 18, 2017

      Over recent weeks, there has been considerable, long-overdue international attention given to the horrific conditions for the people living in the nations of the Lake Chad Basin (LCB). Following last month’s visit by members of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), on March 31, they issued a first-ever resolution respecting the state of the crisis of the LCB. Now, the most important challenge to be addressed is what long-term strategic policy will be adopted to transform the LCB region, to reverse its downward spiral of abject poverty, famine, and displaced persons from the conflict with Boko Haram. For those of us who understand the root causes of the crisis, it is clear that without a project design to refurbish the shrinking Lake Chad, all other efforts will be insufficient. Unfortunately, but all too consistently, the lack of strategic visionary thinking by policymakers in Washington DC and other Western capitals has contributed to the failure to address the underlying causes for this ongoing tragedy in the LCB. For the very first time, the proposal to create a canal to transfer water from the Congo River Basin to the LCB is being studied by ChinaPower. Due to the tireless efforts of many of us over decades, and the extension of China’s One Belt-One Road (OBOR) into Africa, the possibility exists to provide tens of millions of Africans living in the LCB with a better future.

Inadequate International Response to Humanitarian Crisis

José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), reports the following conditions in the LCB nations: 11 million in need of food assistance, among them 6.9 million are severely food insecure, and 2.5 million people are displaced. In northeast Nigeria 5.2 million will be need of food, with 50,000 facing famine.
From March 2-7, the UNSC visited Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Nigeria. On February 24, a total of $1.458 billion was pledged ($1 billion by Nigeria), at the Oslo Humanitarian Conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region. On March 31, the UNSC unanimously adopted resolution 2349 (2017), with 34 recommendations. These actions express a greater concern for the LCB region than previously, but avoid the supporting the most crucial requirement for long-term stability; replenishing Lake Chad. The resolution focuses primarily on defeating Boko Haram and ISIL, barely mentioning the effects of the shrinking Lake Chad in exacerbating the hardships in the region. It does little more than recognize that “promoting development and economic growth” is part of a comprehensive approach to combating violent extremism, while failing to make any recommendations of how to achieve such growth. Speaking on the resolution, Ambassador Tommo Monthe from the Cameroonian Mission to the UN does make the point that “regional countries understood that the military response, though essential, should be part of a holistic approach.” FAO Director da Silva notes that Lake Chad has lost 90% of its water mass since 1963, and has resulted in “devastating consequences on food security and the livelihoods of people” dependent on fishing and food production. His beggarly proposal is to save water through new irrigation techniques, but what is vitally needed is to create more water by recharging Lake Chad.

The Time for Transaqua has Arrived

  Over 35 years ago, Engineer Dr. Marcello Vichi designed a farsighted, breathtaking proposal to bring water to the arid Sahel; he called it Transaqua. His proposal was to divert 5-8% of the waters from the tributaries to the Congo River, which are presently unused, through a navigable canal reaching the Chari River that empties into Lake Chad. According to his calculations, this inter-basin water transfer project would increase the depth and area of the lake to its proximate 1963 level. As importantly, the canal would also function as an essential feature of an economic corridor between the Congo River Basin and Lake Chad Basin that would include generation of hydroelectric power, an increase in irrigated farmland, and expanded trade. Thus, the full potential of this great water-transfer infrastructure project would affect a significant portion of the entire continent when realized.
It is well understood that poverty, lack of food, high unemployment, and lack of meaningful economic activity are drivers for conflict, yet for over three and half decades the international community has never bothered to make the smallest expenditure for feasibility studies to examine the potential of Transaqua. The international community willingly spent billions of dollars on military counter-terror measures, billions more on humanitarian aid, while millions of lives were lost in unnecessary bloody conflicts, but refused to even consider a revolutionary new concept to develop the nations of the Sahel and Great Lakes.
The flame for this novel idea of Transaqua was kept alive until, finally, in December 2016, when ChinaPower signed an agreement with the Nigerian government and the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) to conduct a $1.8 million feasibility study respecting a segment of the Transaqua design. Despite support by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, and Sansusi Abdullahi, Executive Secretary of the LCBC, to save Lake Chad by transferring billions of cubic meters of water, as opposed to the fallacious concept of simply conserving disappearing water, funding was not available until China’s intervention. ChinaPower’s actions regarding Lake Chad are paradigmatic of China’s approach to erecting infrastructure projects across the continent. Ask yourself: Who is funding and building the great expansion of railroads across Africa today?

The West Lacks Vision for Economic Growth

  Sadly, for the United States and the world, President Franklin Roosevelt was our last great leader who possessed the knowledge to generate new physical wealth by using American System methods of credit creation for funding great infrastructure projects. Perhaps surprisingly, it is Chinese Present Xi Jinping’s global development policy–OBOR or the New Silk Road–that most closely echoes Roosevelt’s commitment to economic growth. Western leaders, along with the citadels of global finance, are suffocating society with ideologically driven, narrow, short-term thinking, restricting their judgment of what is necessary and possible to transform the present into a better future.
The severe limitations of this ideologically attenuated mindset were revealed to this author at a day-long conference in Washington, DC on April 11. Sponsored by the US Institute for Peace (USIP), the Carter Center, and the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the speakers and specialized audience explored the theme and title of the conference: “Can China and the United States Find Common Ground with Africa.” Ambassador Mohamed Ibn Chambas opened the day-long proceedings, discussing the need to address the root causes of insecurity, the vital importance of Lake Chad, and the need to transfer water via a canal from the Congo River Basin. However, it was in the final panel: “Cooperating to Counter Violent Extremism in the Lake Chad Basin and Beyond” that the sharp difference in outlook between this author and most of those participating became publicly evident.
  Mohamed Yakubu, Nigerian Defense Attaché, made the germane observations regarding the LCB and Nigeria: that Lake Chad is the only body of water in the Sahelian desert; the desert is moving south at the rate .6 kilometers per year; and that in northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram has been most active, rates of illiteracy and poverty exceed 70%.  Most relevant, were the comments by Yawei Liu, Director of the Carter Center’s China Program, who, in an earlier panel, emphasized that the OBOR was not a just a five- or ten-year program, but a fifty-year program, and that northeast Nigeria could be a place for US-China collaboration. While the representative from the US Department of State acknowledged that US-China relations are unexplored in the LCB, his main focus on collaboration was short-term humanitarian needs and countering Boko Haram. The USIP representative repeated that cooperation must be holistic, long-term, and provide stability, but did not provide an actual long-term strategic policy for such collaboration.
  This author was able to challenge the conference attendees with a concrete proposal to advance China-US relations in Africa, which would alleviate the suffering of Africans in the LCB region. To wit: The US organizations present should support and collaborate with China for the realization of the Trasnaqua water-transfer project. This level of cooperation would solidify a strategic partnership by the two leading world powers to act for the “common aims of mankind” for the benefit of Africans. Since ChinaPower has already initiated the first step with its commitment to a feasibility study of Transaqua, it would be relatively easy for the US to advocate for and assist in bringing this transformative project to fruition, thus implicitly becoming part of China’s OBOR.
Regrettably, the moderator and panelists did not endorse this author’s proposal, or even respond. Their cold reaction displayed precisely the lack of vision that permeates the grossly deficient US policy toward the development of Africa. However, there is still time to seize this opportunity, if US policymakers adopt a new paradigm of thinking; one that is more closely aligned to China’s One Belt-One Road.

Historic Italian-Chinese Agreement on Lake Chad

 Lawrence Freeman

August 8, 2017

      Backed by their respective governments, the Italian engineering firm Bonifica Spa and the ChinaPower, one of China’s biggest multinationals, signed a letter of intent for cooperation in exploring the feasibility, and eventually implement the construction of the largest infrastructure ever envisioned for Africa, the integrated water-transfer, energy and transportation infrastructure called Transaqua.

     The letter was signed during a meeting between the executive leaders of the two companies in Hangzhou on June 6-8, in the presence of the Italian ambassador to China, but it was made known only at the beginning of August.


Fisherman on Lake Chad


The author travelling on Lake Chad with Mohammed Billa of the LCBC

          Transaqua is an idea developed by Bonifica in the 1970s, to build a 2,400 km-long canal from the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) which would intercept the right bank tributaries of the Congo River through dams and reservoirs, and carry up to 100 billion cubic meters of water per year, by gravity, to Lake Chad, in order to refill the shrinking Lake Chad, and in addition produce electricity and abundant water for irrigation. The canal would be a key transportation infrastructure for central Africa.

          In past decades, the situation around Lake Chad has become more and more explosive and urgent. While the drying out of the lake has forced a mass emigration to Europe, the impoverishment of the region has become a fertile ground for recruiting terrorists to Boko Haram. Although Transaqua offered a solution to all those problems, Western nations and institutions had so far refused to accept it, on financial and ideological pretexts.

          This project can now become reality in the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative. This author along with other advocates made it possible for Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), under Nigerian leadership, and the Transaqua authors from Bonifica to come together, and agreed that Transaqua is the most comprehensive and realistic solution to preventing Lake Chad from completely disappearing, and reversing the abject poverty in the Lake Chad Basin. In December 2016, the LCBC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PowerChina, and eventually organized contact between the Italian and the Chinese companies.

          Speaking about the 2016 MOU to the {Nigeria Tribune} July 25, Nigerian Water Minister, Suleiman Adamu, noted that PowerChina is responsible for the inter-basin transfer. “China is doing exactly the same thing, they are transferring water from southern China to northern China. Just like Nigeria, southern China has more water than the north. In the northern part, some areas are semi-arid, so they are transferring water. The total canal that they built is about 2,500 kilometers, and that is Phase 1.”

          The Executive Secretary of the LCBC, Eng. Abdullahi Sanusi, expressed his confidence that the new cooperation will succeed “to be part of good history, to bring hope to the voiceless.”

          Lake Chad, a mega lake in prehistoric times, stabilized at 25,000 square kilometers in 1963. Since then it has contracted to as little as 2,000 square kilometers, and recently may have expanded up to as much as 4,000 square miles. Over 40 million Africans, the plurality Nigerians live in the Lake Chad Basin-(LCB) that has a drainage area of 2,439,000 square kilometers. Poor rainfall is a factor, but the precise cause for its diminished size of Lake Chad is unclear, given that the lake is reported to have almost disappeared in earlier times. With the area of lake having been reduced approximately to 10% of its size from a half century ago, the economy, which depends primarily of fishing and farming has been devastated. While travelling on the lake by motorized canoe in 2014, I witnessed fisherman standing in water barely above their ankles. Military professionals and analysts are now beginning to understand that the extreme poverty of Africans living in the LCB is a crucial factor in the increased recruitment to Boko Haram. These impoverished youths who see no future for themselves and are desperate to make money by joining this extremist movement.

          Minister Adamu displayed his understanding of the relationship between security and economy concerning the LCB when he told the Nigerian Tribune: “It is not a climate issue, it is a security issue-the security issue we are having in the Northeast. I can guarantee you that substantially it has to do with the drying of up of the lake, because youth there have lost all opportunities of hope there.”

          Nigeria is by far the largest economy of the six countries of the LCBC. President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria has stated publicly and privately that expanding Lake Chad is a priority of his administration. Eng. Abdullahi is also a strong advocate of restoring the lake to its previous size.  In the recent period, we have witnessed growing support for this project from some elements of the United States military, who realize this project is an essential component of countering violent extremism in the LCB.

          If these efforts successfully lead to the transfer of water to save Lake Chad, it will be celebrated throughout the Africa continent

We Can Prevent Famine from Killing Millions of Africans

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