My Thoughts On An Improved US-Africa Policy for President Biden

 

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January 26, 2021

I was asked to participate on inauguration day in an event sponsored by African Women for Biden/Harris 2020. As an American, who is knowledgeable about Africa, I was pleased to present my ideas for an improved US-Africa policy. Below is the content of my remarks..

January 20, 2021

Hello, this is Lawrence Freeman. I am happy to join you this afternoon in celebrating the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

I have been working in Africa for the last 30 years promoting development policies for the people of Africa; particularly transformative infrastructure projects. I teach classes in the Maryland area on African history. I am a  consultant, researcher, writer, and lecturer. I created my own website: LawrenceFreemanAfricaandtheworld.com to help spread my ideas.

I have traveled to Africa many times and have visited several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. From my work in Africa over many years I have a good understanding of the dynamics of the continent. This administration will bring change to Washington. My hope is that this change will include initiating a new policy for Africa. One that is in the interest of United States, and one the serves the interest of Africa and raises the standard of living of all Africans.

Africa today has close to 1.5 billion people. It is expected that in 30 years by 2050, Africa will have close to 2.5 billion. It will have 1 billion young people and have the largest labor force in the world. If we do not address the needs of Africa today, then we could be looking at a dangerous situation in the years to come, and one that will make African nations less stable and less secure. It is in the interest of the United States and the world to help secure a stable future for Africa. We need new innovative policies that address those concerns.

After 500 years of slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism, sub Saharan Africa especially, has been left without the basic infrastructure needed to develop its economies. African nations  have very limited, if any infrastructure. The kilometers of railroads and roads in Africa is minimal, although it is beginning to change. The most troubling deficit in infrastructure is the reality of a mere 100,000 to 130,000 megawatts of electricity for all of sub-Saharan Africa!  This is literally killing Africans. This lack of infrastructure has to be reversed. It is a matter of life and death.

In order for African nations to develop their full capacity, and  realize their rich potential, African nations require a massive investment in infrastructure, especially railroads, electricity, and roads.

African nations also suffer from small manufacturing sectors. Africa has the smallest manufacturing capacity of any continent in the world. And this has to change as well.

African nations need to develop a manufacturing sector. I have been advocating for many years that we have to apply the same economic approach for Africa  that we applied to build the United States from 13 agrarian based colonies into an industrial powerhouse. The U.S. accomplished this feat by implementing the American System of economics developed by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, under the direction of President George Washington.

Hamilton understood two principles that were essential for  developing the United States that can be applied to Africa today. One, the government has the power to issue credit. African nations desperately need credit for development. Two, Hamilton understood that the U.S. would not be an economically sovereign nation if we had to buy all our manufacturing goods from abroad. He and his followers were strong advocates of building up a manufacturing based economy, which is exactly what Africa needs today.

Africa needs Investment in infrastructure across the continent including high speed railroads connecting major ports and cities, which is being proposed by the African Union. This will take massive amounts of credit. It cannot be done by the private sector alone. The United States should extend long-term low interest credit to African nations for development of infrastructure. The United States should also extend economic assistance to building up the manufacturing capacity in Africa which is quite minimal at this point.

It is in our interest to develop Africa not because we are competing with other nations, but because we want to assist in the development of the African continent. Robust African economies with growing populations will provide larger markets for American capital goods. This will also contribute to creating real security. Poverty is the underlying cause of most conflicts in Africa. The lack of food; lack of water; and lack of jobs generates conflict. Thus, by assisting Africa in developing its economies in these critical areas we will be creating the foundation for peace and security. Simply giving aid alone, which the United States is the leader, will not solve the problem. Providing counter terrorism training alone will not solve the problem. If people are desperate, if they are poor, if they are hungry, they can easily be  manipulated into conflict against their brothers and sisters.

I believe Africa can have a very bright future–the more people means the more creative minds. Africa will have the youngest population of any continent in the world. The U.S. should help Africa develop the capabilities to nurture these creative minds because creativity is the source of all wealth.

Presently China is active on the continent. I do not think this has to be a competition between the U.S. and China. The needs of Africa are so large that there are more than enough opportunities for investment by the United States, China, and other nations. Remember the profound words of Pope Paul VI, who in his 1967 encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, said: the new name for peace is development.

It is my hope that with this new administration and in a time of change and optimism we will usher in a new policy of development for Africa. I have written, taught, and lectured on the Hamiltonian economic system and I know this is an approach that will work. It has worked over hundreds of years. It was implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, who used public, government issued credit, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to fund his great infrastructure projects that brought us out of the depression. FDR intended to green the deserts of Africa after the war, unfortunately, he died.

Let us apply those same Hamiltonian economic principles for the development of Africa today. Now is the right time for the United States to extend its moral and economic leadership across the ocean, and act on behalf of the common good, which is in the shared interests of all nations and all people.

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Water Transfer With Transaqua Will Bring Peace & Development to Lake Chad Basin

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The multi-nation Transaqua water infrastructure project can reverse the shrinking of Lake Chad and bring stability to the region and transform Africa. (picture courtesy of https://menafn.com/

October 1, 2020

This article from {MENAFIN}, The Key to Peace in the Lake Chad Area is Water Not Military Action, excerpted below, makes an important contribution for the need to construct the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project. The Abuja-2018 conference referred to in this article adopted Transaqua as the preferred solution to refurbish Lake Chad. I was a key speaker at the conference in Abuja and have been advocating for Transaqua for over 20 years. There will be no end to instability in the region until poverty is eliminated by transforming the economy. There is no lesser solution. We need bold resolute leaders to aggressively push forward for a feasibility study of Transaqua. Too much time has been wasted and too many lives have been lost due to inaction in the Lake Chad Basin.

Excerpts:

“Lake Chad is an extremely shallow water body in the Sahel. It was once the world’s sixth largest inland water body with an open water area of 25,000 km2 in the 1960s, it shrunk dramatically at the beginning of the 1970s and reduced to less than 2,000 km2 during the 1980s, decreasing by more than 90% its area. It is one of the largest lakes in Africa. It is an endorheic lake – meaning that it doesn’t drain towards the ocean…

“The Lake Chad region, however, is one of the most unstable in the world. According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index report , countries of the region are among the 10 least peaceful countries in Africa…

“The study found that loss of livelihoods has promoted criminality, easy recruitment by terrorist groups, and migration to urban centres. This has also led to violence and crime in cities and towns. Management of the shrinking lake has caused conflicts among the states that depend on it and this has made it more difficult for them to collectively fight insecurity in the region. The lake is central to regional stability. To achieve peace, countries should focus on reviving the water body rather than on military activities…

“Loss of the traditional means of livelihood leads to widespread poverty and food insecurity. A 2017 report estimated there were about 10.7 million inhabitants of Lake Chad Region in need of humanitarian services…

“Further, Boko Haram has capitalised on the loss of livelihoods and economic woes to recruit people into its ranks. It either appeals to the poor ideologically or directly uses economic incentives…

“The Lake Chad Basin Commission has identified the need to replenish the water body. There was a plan to build a dam and canals to pump water from the Congo River to the Chari River, Central African Republic and then on to Lake Chad [Transaqua]. It was first mooted in 1982 by the Italian engineering company Bonifica Spa, and discussed at the International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja in 2018. Major challenges to this plan include funding, resistance from environmental campaigners and peaceful conditions in which to carry it out.”

Read The Key to Peace in the Lake Chad Area is Water Not Military Action

Read my earlier posts: Interview With Lawrence Freeman: The Time is Now For TRANSAQUA-to Save Lake Chad and Transform Africa

Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Franklin Roosevelt and Kwame Nkrumah Would Concur

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

“Forging A Durable Peace in the Horn of Africa” Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed: Nobel Peace Prize

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Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed Ali receives the the Nobel Peace Price on December 10, 2019. (Courtesy of allthingsethiopia.com)

December 17, 2019

In his acceptance speech of the Nobel Peace Prize of 2019, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed discusses the importance of the philosophy of the Medemer in achieving peace in the Horn of Africa. Prime Minister Abiy is applying the philosophy of the Medemer in transforming Ethiopia.

“This humanity I speak of, is within all of us. We can cultivate and share it with others if we choose to remove our masks of pride and arrogance. When our love for humanity outgrows our appreciation of human vanity then the world will know peace. Ultimately, peace requires an enduring vision. And my vision of peace is rooted in the philosophy of Medemer.

“Medemer, an Amharic word, signifies synergy, convergence, and teamwork for a common destiny. Medemer is a homegrown idea that is reflected in our political, social, and economic life. I like to think of “Medemer” as a social compact for Ethiopians to build a just, egalitarian, democratic, and humane society by pulling together our resources for our collective survival and prosperity.

“In practice, Medemer is about using the best of our past to build a new society and a new civic culture that thrives on tolerance, understanding, and civility. At its core, Medemer is a covenant of peace that seeks unity in our common humanity.

“It pursues peace by practicing the values of love, forgiveness, reconciliation, and inclusion.”

Read: PM Abiy’s Acceptance Speech of the Nobel Peace Prize

 

 

Can IGAD Achieve Peace Without Economic Development?

September 17, 2019
{Below is a provocative article that challenges the accepted method of achieving peace without economic development. I have always strongly believed that true peace and sovereignty can only be obtained, if the common-shared interest of the parties involved is a the center of negotiations. Improving the living conditions of all the people involved in the conflict is essential for long term viable peace. For example, after the unnecessary separation of Sudan, the West, which helped engineer the creation of South Sudan, failed miserably to build up the economy of the newly created South Sudan. As a result, the people of South Sudan are suffering massively from horrific living conditions. While I do not agree with Mekki Elmograbi’s approach of solely relying on the private sector and the so called free market, I concur with the thrust of his argument. It is clear to me, that the search for peace without economic development is a fool’s errand, and will not succeed.}

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By Mekki ELMOGRABI

Could the endless search for peace be a trap? Yes, because “sustainable peace objectives with high standards of security and stability” is the bait that entices stakeholders to ignore the need for private sector development and regional economic integration until peace is achieved.

“We hear questions like peace through development! The maxim is good in theory but in reality, political peace is touted at the cost of economic integration. I no longer believe in everlasting peace as a condition to development or economic growth. In a simple economy, market people could pay to build a police station to increase security in border areas. IGAD, in the meantime, when it is not preoccupied with the “peace trap” it can advise governments on how to allocate the taxes from borders markets to local roads and how to create security in the area. Feasibly, IGAD and AU can hold peace talks and workshops at borders to promote markets and countryside African resorts rather than five-star hotels in the cities.”

Read: IGAD and Peace Trap!

UN Sec-Gen Guterres: “The Winds of Hope Are Growing in Africa”

August 30, 2019

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres addresses the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development in Yokohama, Japan, on 28 August 2019

Let us remember what Pope Paul VI wrote in his 1967 encyclical; “On the Development of Peoples”: the new name for peace is development.  UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ support for development of Africa at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development-  (TICAD) conference is salient. Japan’s motivation to invest in Africa’s infrastructure is not to counter China. And China is not attempting to build a new colonial empire in Africa. These false characterizations are expressions from the old geo-political financial system that is losing its control over global policy. Witness the the utter failure of the G-7 Summit of so the called advanced sector nations. The Western banking system is about to collapse again as a result of the central banks pumping in into the financial system $17 trillion of “quantitative easing” over the last ten years.  The US should stop attacking China’s new paradigm of development typified by its Belt and Road Initiative-(BRI), and President Trump should end his stupid, counter productive tariffs. The world needs leadership to lift the planet onto a new scientifically driven economic platform that will not only end poverty and hunger in the developing sector, but also raise the standard of living of all nations. 

In this spirit, one concrete initiative that should be taken up at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly-(UNGA )is; funding for recharging the shrinking Lake Chad. The Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project has the support of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin and UN Sec Gen Guterres. This project, which has been called, “A Kwame Nkrumah Pan- African Infrastructure Project,” would transform the Lake Chad Basin. With the head of the Nigerian Mission to UN, Ambassador Tijjan Muhamed-Bande, presiding over this year’s UNGA, and Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari  an ardent supporter of recharging the lake, we are at a propitious moment for the UN take bold action for the Lake Chad Basin.   

Excerpts: 

“African nations have made ‘significant progress’ in developmental efforts in the last few years, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday, kicking off the Seventh Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), taking place in Yokohama.

“I see Africa as a dynamic continent of opportunity where winds of hope are blowing ever stronger,” Mr. Guterres expressed

“Africa needs peace for its development” the Secretary-General said in closing.

“I look forward to productive discussions over the next days that will culminate in a common understanding of the priorities for common and coherent action to promote peace and sustainable development across Africa.

ReadFor Africa the Winds of Hope are Growint Stronger

ReadUnited Nations Conference: The Lake Chad Basin Should not be ‘Managed’; it Should be ‘Transformed.’