Africa Updates: Ethiopia Attacked by US; Zimbabwe; Uganda; China; the Great Green Wall

US Congress Disgraces Itself in Vote Against The Nation of Ethiopia

–The US Congress displayed short-sightedness, and a lack of understanding about Africa in general and Ethiopia in particular when it foolishly voted up HR 128, condemning Ethiopia. Though it is only a resolution with no lawful consequences, it demonstrates how easily the US Congress can be manipulated, and how little they know about the progress Ethiopia has made in achieving significant levels of economic growth that benefit all its citizens. The irony is the that one week before the Congress embarrassed itself, the ruling EPRDF conducted a voluntary peaceful transition of government by selecting Abiy Ahmed from the Oromo community as their new young Prime Minister. There is no doubt that Ethiopia will remain a strong ally of the US, and will continue to pursue policies that have made Ethiopia a leader in economic growth on the Africa continent as they struggle to balance human rights with economic and social rights. (I will be writing more on this subject in the near future.)

Read about Ethiopia’s progress in providing jobs and growth for its people: Ethiopia Stands Poised to Lead an African Industrial Revolution

Ties between Zimbabwe and China Hit a New High, ‘Comprehensive’ Partnership Stressed

— An editorial in the Zimbabwe {Herald}, a daily that speaks for the government, hailed the “new high” in China-Zimbabwe relations following the official visit of Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa to China last week, where he met with President Xi Jinping as well as other Chinese officials.

The same vision was expressed to CGTN, April 8, by Ms. He Wenpeng, Africa Studies Director at the China Academy of Social Sciences, who said it marks a new era for Zimbabwe and Africa.

Last November, at a Schiller Institute international conference in Germany, He outlined what is ahead for Africa in linking up with the Belt and Road Initiative.

The {Herald} stressed that two major milestones were reached by the visit of the Mnangagwa delegation, which included 10 cabinet members as well as 80 businessmen. The first is that bilateral relations were elevated to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Status, meaning that “China is demonstrating its willingness to boost trade with Zimbabwe and stimulate the country’s economic growth.” Zimbabwe will now profit by more Chinese investment, especially in infrastructure in which the Chinese have become experts.

The second milestone was the “incorporation of Zimbabwe into the Belt and Road Initiative. Not many people have cared to examine the benefits of this initiative, which is part of President Xi’s thought on the new economic trajectory China is taking. We reckon that Zimbabwe stands to reap huge benefits by being part of a select group of countries that China is dealing with under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

The editorial continues, describing the BRI as “the largest infrastructure development project, which will see more than a trillion dollars being invested across the globe…. Under this initiative, China will build massive infrastructure that will connect it to many countries around world, including Zimbabwe.

This will help facilitate trade and the transfer of capital, technology and expertise.

“The project is meant to create an economic cooperation framework with the countries involved that will bring real benefits to the people, making it ‘a belt of new opportunities.'”

The editorial urges Zimbabwe to take steps to “come up with laws, rules and regulations that govern foreign investment.” This new legislation should be clear and without “shifting of goalposts.”

Zimbabwe President Mnangagwa: China Helps African Nations To Develop Faster

–In an interview, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa, with China’s CGTN Africa senior correspondent Tian Wei, in which he praised China’s effort to develop Africa and responded to some Western critics of China’s Africa policy. By building infrastructure, China increases connectivity among African economies, and thus it helps such economies to develop faster than their individual national efforts would allow, he said. To the specious criticism, raised by the West, that China is driving African nations into debt, President Mnangagwa laughed. “We got so many grants from China,” he first said. Then he explained that China is giving credit for capital investments which are accounted for in a capital budget and therefore do not increase national debt.

Asked what his political goal is, Mnangagwa replied that it is to lead his country to become a middle-income nation by 2040 and even an advanced country. At his next meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, during the China Africa Summit later this year, some of the projects they discussed will already be underway, so that they can talk about them, he said.

“For me as Zimbabwe’s President, national interest comes first: There is nothing China has done that threatens the independence or national interest of Zimbabwe. But Western countries have done a lot of things to threaten our unity and political economic sovereignty,”  Mnangagwa told her. Excerpts of the video interview:
https://eblnews.com/video/interview-emmerson-mnangagwa-371574

Uganda Plans To Develop Its Uranium Reserves, and Go Nuclear

–A six-man delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency has been in Uganda at that country’s request, to conduct a Site and External Events Design, or SEED mission. This inspection and consultation is designed to assist member states at different stages of nuclear development. The focus of the IAEA experts’ trip, is four uranium-rich districts in the country, which the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development has identified for possible exploitation. Uganda’s Atomic Energy Council has developed a Nuclear Power Roadmap, which the government approved in 2015. Further down the line, an MOU has been signed with Russia for the peaceful application of atomic energy, and the country’s plan is for its first nuclear power plant in 2026.

The Uganda daily {Observer} reports that President Yoweri Museveni met with IAEA Director General Yuiya Amano in January to discuss Uganda’s nuclear ambitions, including in health, energy, and agriculture. Museveni, the article reports, has had to defend Uganda’s nuclear plans against critics, including at the UN Security Council, assuring them that countries like his will utilize their uranium reserves only for peaceful purposes. IAEA head Amano has been on a multi-nation tour of Africa, offering the IAEA’s assistance in their new nuclear programs.    Uganda is one of the 45 countries, including others in East Africa, including Kenya and Tanzania, that are planning to develop their uranium resources for nuclear power generation.

China Will Help Africa Green Its Deserts

–China has approved a project to offer technological support for the construction of Africa’s Great Green Wall, the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography (XIEG) under the Chinese Academy of Sciences said on Tuesday. Proposed by the African Union in 2007, Africa’s Great Green Wall initiative aims to reverse desertification spreading drought, famine, and poverty through the Sahel region.

According to Lei Jiaqiang, director of the XIEG, China will cooperate with Mauritania, Nigeria, and Ethiopia, among other African countries, to systematically diagnose desertification and the technical needs in the region.

The project will bring China’s desertification-prevention and -control technologies, materials, and products to Africa, and conduct environmental adaptability assessments. It will also include personnel training and capacity building on anti-desertification measures in African countries. Some Chinese enterprises dealing with prevention and control of desertification will also participate in the project.

“We hope to bring China’s wisdom in anti-desertification to Africa and help enhance the capability of desertification prevention in African countries along the Great Green Wall,” Lei said.

Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Africa Moving Forward: What Will US Policy Be?

UN Envoy Haley Off to Africa While McCain and Graham Thump for More War

October 21, 2017–In all the controversy that has arisen around the deaths, earlier this month, of four U.S. Green Berets in Niger, the question that nobody seems to be able to answer is what is U.S. policy in Africa. The Trump Administration hasn’t spelled out a strategic concept, beyond giving U.S. military forces looser rules of engagement to go after terrorists. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley will be the first member of the Trump Administration to actually visit Africa when she travels to South Sudan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo next week. Her mission, announced by President Trump last month on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, is officially to review UN peace-keeping activities on the continent, but she may go ‘off-mission’ and freelance on policy.

       Back in Washington, the Senate Armed Services Committee is growing increasingly frustrated with what they say is a lack of information flowing from the Pentagon on the Niger attack, but the Committee clearly has war-making on its mind as well. Members of the Committee met with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, after which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said that the Trump Administration plans to step up its counter-terrorism operations and loosen its military rules of engagement. “The war is morphing,” Graham said, reported {Politico}. “You’re going to see more actions in Africa, not less. You’re going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less. You’re going to have decisions being made not in the White House, but out in the field, and I support that entire construct.

       “So the rules of engagement are going to change when it comes to counter-terrorism operations,” he said

Ethiopia to Inaugurate Two Industrial Parks

October 21, 2017 – The Adama and Dire Dawa industrial parks, whose construction was launched in 2016, will be inaugurated at the end of this month, reports Ethiopian News Agency. The industrial parks will specialize in textile, apparel, and agro-processing and will increase the number of parks with similar sector to five next to Hawassa, Mekele and Kombolcha, according to Ethiopian Investment commission.

The industrial park in Hawassa, which was inaugurated last year, started operation. Companies have also shown keen interest to open shop at the recently inaugurated industrial parks in Mekele and Kombolcha.

The government spent about USD 315 million to develop the two industrial parks, deputy commissioner in charge of Industrial Parks, Belachew Mekuria  (PhD), said.

As Adama and Dire Dawa are in close proximity to the Port of Djibouti, it expected that they will contribute to the facilitation of foreign trade for the country.

The parks are expected to further strengthen industrial development in the country by facilitating the way in fulfilling its vision of becoming manufacturing hub in Africa.

Nigeria Should Join the AIIB to Muster Funds for its Infrastructure Development

October 19, 2017–Addressing a forum organized by the Center for China Studies to mark the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and its implications for the Sino-Africa cooperation, held in Abuja, Nigeria, on Oct. 18, Director of the Center for China Studies, Charles Onunaiju urged the Nigerian government “to become a member of the AIIB, as many countries of the world, especially in developing countries, have accessed funds for infrastructure development from the bank,” {Business Day} reported. He also pointed out that there is a desperate need for infrastructure development in Nigeria, and lack of funds is a major reason why the country’s infrastructure has remained inadequate.

          Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, who was represented by Mohammed Usman (APC-Kaduna), said, “China today is our important partner that has been supporting us, and indeed Africa, in our development strides. Nigeria and China have been cooperating in numerous areas such as in agriculture, education, finance, infrastructure and solid minerals,” Business Day reported.

          “It is in the light of this that we believe the 2017 National Congress of the Communist Party of China will most assuredly provide another opportunity to consolidate on the gains of the on-going bilateral relations between Nigeria and China in particular and Sino-African Relations [in general],” the Speaker said

South African President Zuma Appoints Mahlobo as Energy Mininster To Push His Nuclear Power Generation Plan

 October 17, 2017– In a major cabinet reshuffle, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has appointed his confidant David Mahlobo to head the Energy Ministry, raising speculation that Zuma will push through the nuclear deal before his second term ends in 2019, Reuters reported today. Mahlobo was the former state security minister. South Africa is preparing to add 9,600 MW of nuclear capacity — equivalent to up to 10 nuclear reactors — in a contract that could be worth tens of billions of dollars and would be one of the biggest nuclear deals anywhere in decades.

          Commenting on the cabinet reshuffle, including bringing in Mahlobo as the new Energy Minister, Lawson Naidoo of the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (CASAC) said: “This is all about the nuclear deal. Mahlobo has accompanied the President on visits to Russia, presumably to lay the ground for the Rosatom nuclear deal,” according to coverage by Fin24 business site. CASAC is a private outfit which is critical of Zuma and his politics.

          What agitated the anti-nuclear cabal in South Africa further were two events occurring within days. These were: Last Friday’s nuclear site authorization and now today’s cabinet changes, including Energy Minister Mahlobo. On Friday, Oct. 13, Department of Environmental Affairs approved the Final Environmental Impact Report for the Nuclear-1 Power Station and its associated infrastructure, and has authorized the South African electricity utility Eskom to proceed with the construction of new 4 GW nuclear power plant complex at Duynefontein in the Western Cape.

          Nuclear reactor makers including Rosatom, South Korea’s Kepco, France’s EDF and Areva, Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and China’s CGN are eyeing the South African project, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars, Reuters reported