Italy and Buhari Keep Transaqua on the Agenda to Save the Shrinking Lake Chad

Jan. 18, 2019

Italian Prime Minister Conte Discusses Development with Presidents of Chad and Niger

Giuseppe Conte made a two-day visit to Niger and Chad, two countries members of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, to discuss short and long-term measures to fight terrorism, migration, and their causes on Jan. 15-16. In both countries he discussed development perspectives with national leaders.

At the joint press conference in Ndjamena with Chad President Idriss Déby, Conte referred to the Transaqua project for the revitalization of Lake Chad as an example of development programs.

European countries, Conte said, “cannot remain insensible to the drying up of Lake Chad. If it goes on, there will be increased misery and thus increased emigration and terrorist threat,” Conte remarked. “If we don’t have a vision on those issues, we will be overwhelmed. I reminded President Déby that the possibly oldest project to tackle the drying out of Lake Chad has been made by Italian experts. There is a project of dams and canals to provide irrigation.

This means laying the basis for the development of those territories and therefore better controlling migration flows.”

Both in Niger and Chad, Conte said that Italy will be “the ambassador” of the Sahel region at the EU, to promote a larger effort to finance development. The EU Trust Fund for Africa must be enlarged, Conte said.

At the joint press conference in Niamey, Niger President Mahamadou Issofou thanked Italy for the support of the Sahel-5 Multinational Force to fight terrorism, but repeatedly stressed that “the solution is developing Africa, industrializing Africa.” This goes for defeating terrorism as well as for controlling immigration flows.

Conte thanked Issofou for its support to Italy in the stabilization plan for Libya. Although this was the first visit ever of an Italian Prime Minister to Niger (and Chad as well), Conte remarked that this was his third meeting with Issofou, following meetings in Rome and Palermo, the latter at the International Libya conference. Stabilizing Libya is key to defeat terrorism, Conte remarked.

Nigerian President Buhari Reiterates His Commitment To Refilling Lake Chad

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari called for more commitment from the international community on redirecting water to Lake Chad on Jan. 14, warning that the 40 million people who rely on the lake in the region would pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world.

The Transaqua project to refill Lake Chad was approved at the Feb. 26-28, 2018 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja and soon the feasibility study financed by the Italian government should start. The cost of the entire 2400 km system of dams and canals will be in the order of several dozen billion dollars.

Receiving Letters of Credence from the High Commissioner of Canada to Nigeria Philip Baker at the Presidential Villa, President Buhari said the tragedy of the shrinking Lake Chad would continue to fuel more illegal migrations, banditry and provide willing hands for terrorism since majority of the people have lost their means of livelihood.

A statement by the special adviser to the President on media and publicity Femi Adesina said that Buhari warned that “the about 40 million population in the region will pose adverse migration and security challenges to the world” if the lake should dry up completely. The President pointed out that banditry, illegal migration and terrorism would worsen if the lake were not rescued. He said: “An academic rightly predicted that unless there was a redirection of water to Lake Chad, it would dry up. Now, whenever I go for any global meeting or visit a country, I will always draw the world’s attention to the adverse effect of climate change on the lake, and the resulting negative effects.”

 

 

Europe Must Address Poverty in Africa to Deal With Migration Crisis


Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT

The just-concluded EU Summit on migration has come up with measures like securing centers for migrants to process asylum claims, strengthening external border controls, and boosting financing for Turkey and countries in North Africa. But these are old solutions to old problems.

Since 2015, the EU has been working at full capacity to overcome the migration crisis. EU member states received over 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015, more than double that of the previous year. But it seems that the European continent is still working in the same old way to try to prevent the entry of immigrants and not to address the causes of migration. Even if we assume these measures bring success in reducing immigration for some time, the EU will later be surprised when migrants use other means and methods to migrate, because the causes of migration still exist.

The root of migration is poverty. The African continent has suffered occupation and war for many decades. Many African countries have not yet been able to achieve the path of reform and development. This has put the people of these countries under unbearable pressure from poverty, ignorance and disease. They have pushed themselves into the abyss and tried to cross the border to reach Europe. They have faced danger and horror, believing a chance at a better future is worth dying for, if necessary.

With the emergence of the new system of globalization, the world became a small village and Africans opened their eyes to the luxury and good life enjoyed by Europeans, which inspired them to move to these countries. The majority of people from African countries continue to blame European countries for their backwardness and believe they should shoulder their responsibilities toward Africa. As a result of the failure of European countries to play the role that the African people were waiting for, these masses migrated to Europe to try to gain these rights. Europe, when dealing with refugees, looks at them from a perspective of human logic or empathy and does not view migration as a symptom of a disease. European countries must change their thinking and strategy to deal with the disease in order to make the causes of migration disappear.

It is time for Europe to look at the Chinese experience in Africa. The Chinese policy has  always focused on development. Economic relations between Africa and China have grown enormously, especially since 2006. The African continent is playing an important role in the Belt and Road initiative. China provides infrastructure funding and a workforce, and this infrastructure allows Africa to increase its production and exports, improving the quality of life and improving the conditions of millions of Africans.

Hope is the solution. The people of the African continent need hope. At least this last summit has come out with some words about more investment in Africa to help the continent achieve a substantial socio-economic transformation. China has been focusing on African development for a long time and has seen the results. The EU should work closely with China to push for the B&R to fight poverty in Africa and promote development. (emphasis added)

He Wenping is a senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute in China, and Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally is the first economist researcher at the Central Department for Export & Import Policy under the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn