Final Call: IMF and World Bank real culprits in Africa’s debt crisis

This article debunks the myth of China colonizing Africa through a “debt trap” policy. It also has quotes from me on this subject. You can read more comments from me with this link to my post: A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

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FINAL CALL: IMF-and-World-Bank-real-culprits-in-Africa-debt-crisis.

BY JEHRON MUHAMMAD |  SEP 12, 2018 

Many Western press outlets, including CNN, have repeated a recent claim presented to the U.S. State Department that the “Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debt to gain political leverage with developing countries.”

The phrase they use to accuse China is “debt book diplomacy,” a play on the past usage of the term “gunboat diplomacy” about U.S. policy. They accuse China of miring Africa in debt and “undercutting their sovereignty.”

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Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with African Union Chair Paul Kagame who is President of Rwanda at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Not to be outdone, ABC News chimed in: “China’s commercial presence in Africa has prompted complaints in some countries that the continent gets too little from the relationship. Africa is a major target of Beijing’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to build ports, highways and other trade-related infrastructure, but some critics in Tanzania, Kenya and other countries say they leave hosts with too much debt.”Pushing back, China claims to be helping African development, not piling up debt, one top China government official said.

“If we take a closer look at these African countries that are heavily in debt, China is not their main creditor,” its special envoy for Africa Xu Jinghy said, during a news conference. “It’s senseless and baseless to shift the blame onto China for debt problems.”

Claims that China is an “economic predator” in Africa, pillaging natural resources and dragging it into debt crisis are “as false as they are sensational,” the Xinhua official Chinese news agency said in a commentary.

According to African economic and political analyst Lawrence Freeman, “It is more than ironic that the West is complaining about Africa’s debt to China. Since the 1960s, Western nations, the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, etc., have ‘looted’ Africa of hundreds of billions of dollars in bloated debt payments and through the manipulation of currencies, and terms of trade.

Of note is the fact that the anti- China accusation is fairly recent. An April 18 Financial Times article, headlined “African nations slipping into new debt crises,” did not mention China one time as the source of the continent’s debt crisis.

In fact the FT’s piece is critical of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “The increase in debt should have raised all sorts of flags and triggered triage, but it didn’t. Neither the International Monetary Fund nor the World Bank sounded the alarm,” the London-based financial paper reported.

In addition, the FT claimed some African countries were hit because “they borrowed in foreign currencies and were finding debt hard to finance after a significant depreciation.”

In 2017 Quartz Africa reported, again not mentioning China, that “African eurobond debt is growing to risky levels.” A eurobond, also referred to as sovereign bond, is a debt security issued by a national government and is denominated in a foreign currency, usually dollars, rather than the euro that its name implies.

This debt crises have been cyclical. Africa’s debt of the 1980s mushroomed to $270 billion and had many factors, according to Quartz, “depending on which side of the fence you’re on.”

Those events came full circle. Even though Quartz recognized the repeating “hallmarks” of unchecked corruption, poor governance, and political mileage investment, the “single catalytic factor to trigger debt unsustainability in Africa has always been the crash of commodity prices on the global market.”

The news service Reuters reported in May of 2017 that “most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive.”

The United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa’s external debt rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated loans and bonds. But since then sharp currency devaluations across the continent have pushed up the cost of servicing this debt pile, which continues to grow, the agency said.

It’s no wonder over 50 African heads of state attended the Sept. 3-4 Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing. During the forum China president Xi Jinping announced a hefty $60 billion package to compliment another $60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

This breaks down, according to press reports, to $15 billion in grants and interest free loans, $20 billion in credit lines, a $10 billion fund for development financing, $5 billion to finance imports from Africa and waving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

On top of President Jinping letting the numbers speak for themselves he had words for China’s detractors: “Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well … . No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculations.”

The African Union chairman, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has been heard to call Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa “deeply transformational” and respectful of the continent’s global position.

He said FOCAC had grown into a powerful engine “of cooperation fully aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and sustainable development goals.”

“Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. The gains are enjoyed by all who do business with us. Building the capacity of African institutions to transact and monitor more effectively is what will make the biggest difference,” he said.

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Africa Will Be the Breadbasket of the World With Investment in Physical Infrastructure

Africa Should be the Breadbasket of the World, Says the African Development Bank President

Aug. 9, 2018–Addressing the 2018 Agricultural and Applied Economics Association Annual Meeting in Washington attended by over 1,600 agricultural and applied economists from around the world, African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina said Aug. 5 that Africa should be the breadbasket of the world, and questioned why Africa should be spending $35 billion a year importing food.

“All it needs to do is harness the available technologies with the right policies, and rapidly raise agricultural  productivity and incomes for farmers, and assure lower food prices for consumers,” Adesina said, according to the AfDB website. “Technologies to achieve Africa’s green revolution exist, but are mostly just sitting on the shelves. The challenge is a lack of supportive policies to ensure that they are scaled up to reach millions of farmers,” he stated, not referring to phony “green” environmentalism, but the green revolution that raises productivity and would make Africa food secure.

Adesina, who was the 2017 World Food Prize winner, is advocating the creation of staple crops processing zones across Africa (SCPZs): vast areas within rural areas, set aside and managed for agribusiness and food manufacturing industries and other agro-allied industries, enabled with the right policies and infrastructure. “I am convinced that just like industrial parks helped China, so will the SCPZs help to create new economic zones in rural areas that will help lift hundreds of millions out of poverty through the transformation of agriculture–the main source of their livelihoods–from a way of life into a viable, profitable business that will unleash new sources of wealth,” he said.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, in Tanzania, Calls for Investment in Infrastructure Development

Aug. 9, 2018–Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, who arrived in Tanzania today on a one-day trip to discuss regional matters with President John Magufuli, said he requested the meeting to brief Magufuli on the outcome of the July 25-27 BRICS Summit in South Africa, during which Museveni made a case for the BRICS countries to invest in the East Africa Community (EAC) which provides high returns on their investments, higher than Europe,  Latin America and Asia. He said: “Investment in infrastructure development is key, especially in roads, railway and electricity. The Chinese have already helped us construct two hydropower dams, in Karuma, which is 600MW, and Isimba 183MW,” the {Kampala Post} reported today. Museveni attended the BRICS summit as rotating head of the EAC this year.

Uganda is a significant beneficiary of Chinese investments in East Africa. China has extended its hand of investment to many African countries, and continues to do so to uplift their economies. Liaoshen Industrial Park and Mbale Industrial Park in Uganda, launched last March, are set to increase local employment. The Chinese investors will offer training to the Ugandans who will work there. Among other spin-offs could be increase trade between Uganda and China.

Development Leapfrogs in Africa Due to Chinese BRI Investment

Aug. 8, 2018 — In an Aug. 7 op-ed to China Global Television Network, He Wenping, senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute, depicts the dramatic changes she’s seen in Africa after a visit to Djibouti earlier this month.

Prof He states the “two wings” of China-Africa industrial capacity cooperation; infrastructure construction and industrial park construction, have been booming on the African continent. This includes the Nairobi-Mombasa railroad and the Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railroad [see slugs in this briefing], as well as rail lines in Angola and Nigeria. In addition there are over 100 Sino-African industrial parks either in operation or under construction.

“Wherever you go, you can see an upsurge in infrastructure construction in Djibouti and a huge presence of China,” He writes. “For example, the largest free trade zone in Africa, jointly managed by Chinese enterprises and local entities, began construction in early July; the already completed Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway; the port built by China Merchants Group; and the thousands of economic housing projects built with the of Djibouti President Ismail Omar Guelleh when he visited China in November last year. “The Westerners have been around for more
than 100 years but our country is still so poor, and the Chinese came to our country only three years ago but we have already seen great changes and hope,” President Guelleh said.

By the end of 2017, the stock of Chinese investment in Africa had exceeded $100 billion and more than 3,500 Chinese enterprises had invested and operated on the continent.  He points to the example of Dongguan Huajian Group’s investment in a shoe factory in Ethiopia. The Huajian Group has created 7,500 local jobs in Ethiopia, and the Huajian (Ethiopia) Shoe Factory now produces 5 million pairs of women’s shoes annually.

“The hope for development comes from the new impetus provided by the BRI,” He Wenping writes. “Since the Chinese government proposed the BRI in 2013, the African continent, with its abundant resources, huge market potential and strong infrastructure construction demand, has been actively involved in BRI-related projects.

“And in the process of participation, the continent seized an important opportunity for historical development, in order to achieve leapfrog development and transformation from a pre-industrial to a fully industrialized society.”

Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway Revolutionizing Transportation

Aug. 8, 2018– Kenya’s new, up-and-running Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from the Port of Mombasa to the capital, Nairobi, built with major Chinese participation, is already revolutionizing the country’s transportation according to the {Daily Nation} of Kenya.

The railway runs seven trains a day carrying a total of 752 containers from the port to Nairobi. While roughly 1,300 containers arrive at the port daily, the time necessary for a ship to clear the port has been reduced from 12 days to just a day and half! This has created a quantum leap in the potential throughput the port, without having to physically expand it. By August, the connection of the SGR line to berths at the port will be complete,  increasing the efficiency even further.

Of course this has led to loss of business and employment at the container freight stations (CFS) where the containers were broken down and transferred to trucks. In answer to this problem Transport Principal Secretary Paul Maringa said that SGR has brought more gains to the economy, ensured efficiency at the Mombasa port and saved roads from overloaded trucks.  “We cannot continue having the conversation about Mombasa and Nairobi. We must look at the bigger picture. We are encouraging the CFS owners to come and open their stations in Nairobi and other parts of the country,” Maringa told the {Daily Nation} by phone.  Asked whether players in the sector should concentrate on investing in Nairobi, Maringa said, “We should not lose the direction. Let’s look at things holistically. We have been able to attract more business at the port which is benefitting Mombasa and the country at large,” he said.  “And this is because of the speed that the SGR has been able to transport cargo to the inland container depot in Nairobi compared to the trucks. We have added handling capacity at the port and that is beneficial to all of us,” he said, stating that the port has handle at least 17,000 containers.

Furthermore the SGR has enabled the government to save money for other development projects.  “The accidents cases have also gone down. Those are the silent benefits of the project as Kenyans’ lives are more important than the businesses we are doing,” he said.

Ethiopia Railway on the Road to Self-Management

Aug. 8, 2018–China is now training Ethiopians to independently run the new standard gauge railway line between Djibouti and Addis Ababa. As of now the locomotive drivers, the management, and many of technicians are still Chinese.  While teams of Ethiopians and Djiboutians have been undergoing training in China, the Chinese and Ethiopian governments are cooperating in building an Ethiopian railway academy.

The Chinese Embassy Economic and Commercial Counselor Liu Yu told the {Ethiopian Herald}, “The Ethiopia railway academy is already under design in Bishoftu. The government has donated $60 million for the  construction. Ethiopia and China have been enjoying strong relationship and cooperating in different areas, one of which is human capacity building takes the epicenter.”

The Ethiopia-Djibouti Railway Share Company (EDRSC) Director General Tilahun Sarka stressed that human resource development is the top priority of the corporation, as the railway has been under the management of two Chinese companies, China Railway Group (CREC) and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC).

Pointing to the high quality of the Chinese training, Tilahun said: “The good thing about Chinese instructors and lecturers, as long as you keep on asking questions you will get what you need.”

“Keeping the ration of the EDRSC share, we are engaged in training about 50 Ethiopian and Djiboutian prospective train drivers. These trainees will exchange ideas on topics related to railway operations technologies and railway management, that could realize and create a competent and skilled labor force to operate the Chinese-built and financed 756 km Ethiopia-Djibouti electrified rail line,” he stated.

One trainee, Eyoba Dubale, told the {Ethiopian Herald}: “The trainers from China are dedicated in assisting us. The training is going well in its schedules and we are happy of the whole process. After the training we will be assistant driver, and after establishing comprehensive skills and knowledge as well as attitude of serving in the system, we will take over charge of the driving responsibility to the service the logistics sector for the common good.”

The EDRSC is part of the five-year growth and transformation plan, which aims to enhance the transportation network within the country by connecting to adjacent countries and ports. The National Railway Network of Ethiopia is believed to provide efficient mobility and improve the export and import activities, boosting the economic development.

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Win for Africa’s Development

It’s Time for Africa

Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent

By He Wenping- JULY 5, 2018

A Chinese engineer collaborates with Kenyan workers on the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on April 9, 2016 (XINHUA)

As agreed by both China and Africa, China will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) this September. Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, made the announcement on the sidelines of the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in South Africa on June 4.

The upcoming summit will be themed Win-Win Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Closer Community with a Shared Future for China and Africa. Wang said China and Africa will endeavor to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and the development strategies of various African nations to create more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, and to open up new prospects for common development.

The First FOCAC Summit was held in Beijing in 2006, and 12 years on leaders from China and Africa will once again gather in Beijing to usher in a new era of Sino-African cooperation. This summit, the third in FOCAC’s 18-year history, demonstrates the value that China places on Sino-African ties and promises to drive the China-Africa friendship to new historic heights.

Proactive attitude

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have shown interest, of which more than 80 have signed cooperation agreements with China involving Belt and Road projects. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road.

Africa is a continent rich in resources with great market potential, but it is in dire need of robust infrastructure. It is proactively participating in Belt and Road construction with other countries along the routes in the hope that its economy can make a leap.

As Wang said when he visited Africa in January, the African continent must be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative and must not be left behind by China or the wider world in terms of development.

FOCAC was established in October 2000, 13 years prior to the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. China pursues common, intensive, safe, open and green development in its cooperation with African countries, which neatly dovetails with its commitment to innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone at home. Nearly 18 years of evolution have established FOCAC as a symbol of international cooperation, which allows the organization to provide precious experience to the Belt and Road construction across different regions and fields.

Advancing interconnection

Inadequate infrastructure is a bottleneck that constrains Africa’s economic development. Poor transport facilities and substandard roads have created exorbitant costs in domestic and regional trade, as well as impeding foreign investment.

Financing for Africa’s infrastructure needs faces an annual shortfall of at least $20 billion. In addition, most African countries have a low level of industrialization, and the contribution of industry to their economies is correspondingly small. However, Africa is a continent with abundant resources, low labor costs and great market potential, while China has significant advantages in capital, technology and equipment, as well as a wealth of experience in transforming from an agricultural to an industrial society. At a time when China is undergoing a fundamental phase of economic transition and upgrading, there is plenty of high-quality capacity and advanced equipment and technology available for outward transfer, much of which is ideally suited to Africa’s needs.

Just as the Chinese people harbor the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, the African people hold the African dream of achieving development and alleviating poverty. Connectivity and industrialization are essential preconditions and the only path toward the realization of this dream. The Belt and Road Initiative can work in harmony with Africa’s development strategy for the 21st century. It can provide new drive for the sustainable development of Sino-African relations and help Africa take a step forward, blazing a new trail for South-South cooperation.

China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure construction cooperation on January 27, 2015. According to the MOU, under the strategic framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda, China will enhance cooperation with African nations on railways, highways, regional airlines and industrialization to promote African integration. Chinese enterprises have already launched construction projects in these fields in countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

For example, the Huajian Group, a shoe producer from Dongguan in south China’s Guangdong Province, began operating in the Ethiopia Oriental Industrial Park at the end of 2011. By the end of 2017, Huajian had become the largest private Chinese investor in Ethiopia, generating $122 million of foreign exchange income and creating 7,500 new jobs for the local population. The company produces over 5 million pairs of women’s shoes each year, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Ethiopian shoe industry’s total exports. On September 1, 2017, the Ethiopian Government awarded Zhang Huarong, Chairman of the Board of the Huajian Group, the honorary title of “Father of Ethiopia’s Industry” for his contribution to the country’s development. Inspired by its success in Ethiopia, the Huajian Group plans to invest in Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa in the future.

The China-built Nyerere Bridge, linking the business area of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam to the Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, is the largest cable-stayed cross-sea bridge in sub-Saharan Africa (XINHUA)

Driving force

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in South Africa in December 2015, China and participating African countries agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the following three years. The ultra-intensive plans, worth around $60 billion, cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The foremost of these is cooperation on industrialization to promote the progress of African development. In order to facilitate this, the first China-Africa Capacity Cooperation Fund—worth $10 billion—has been set up, alongside the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund each with a capital of $5 billion.

Industrial cooperation between China and Africa has already begun to bear fruit. As one of the first African countries to join China in international industrialization cooperation, Tanzania has signed a framework agreement with China on supporting key projects of the country’s ongoing five-year plan.

The construction of infrastructure and industrial parks is also making rapid progress. China has assisted Africa in building several railway lines, including one connecting the port city of Mombasa in Kenya to its capital Nairobi, another connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, and a third connecting Angola and Nigeria.

As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the opening ceremony of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on May 31, 2017, the new line is “one of the cornerstones to Kenya’s journey of transformation to an industrial, prosperous and middle-income country.”

The author is a researcher with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior researcher with the Charhar Institute

 

Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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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.

Conclusion

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.

 

 

PIDA Conference: Six Economic Corridors in SADC

African Infrastructure Discussed at Pan-African Conference in Namibia–Six Corridors Highlighted

Dec. 26—The 2017 Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week took place in Swakopmund, Namibia on Dec. 10-14. Countries throughout Africa and especially member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) showcased major development projects to promote regional integration.

According to an article by the SADC news agency, the six infrastructure corridor projects showcased during the event included:

1) The Batoka Gorge Hydropower Plant

2) The Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector

3) The Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge

4) The Central Corridor in the United Republic of Tanzania

5) The Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector being sponsored

by the East African Community (EAC)

6) The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The Batoka Gorge hydropower station which entails the construction of an 181 meter gravity dam and the installation of eight 200MW units with the power shared equally between the Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 1,600 MW of electricity the project will produce will be enough to ease shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the two countries are connected to the Southern  African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the management of electricity in the region, the proposed power station will also benefit member states of SADC, with the exception of Angola, Malawi, and Tanzania.

The ZTK interconnector entails a high-voltage power transmission line connecting Zambia, United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya. Once completed it will create a link between SAPP and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), making it possible to transmit power from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo, in Egypt.

The 2,206 km interconnector will have a capacity of 400MW. It is a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-SADC-EAC Tripartite Priority project as well as a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) project under the PIDA program and the Africa Power Vision, and has been endorsed by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government.

The proposed Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge will be a railroad bridge across the Congo River to link Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capitals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) and Republic of Congo, respectively. It also will involve the construction of a 1,000 km railway to connect the cities of Kinshasa and Ilebo in the D.R.C., as well as development of road networks on both sides of the Congo River to link the two countries to the bridge. Sponsored by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the project would be part of the Central Corridor which involves the construction of the Dar-es-Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road.

SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for corporate affairs, Emilie Mushobekwa said infrastructure development “requires sustained efforts from all stakeholders to maintain the momentum of implementation. Sustaining this momentum requires that in addition to political will, other necessary enabling conditions are availed.”

PIDA is a blueprint for African infrastructure transformation for the period 2012-2040. The program was adopted by African leaders in January 2012 and provides a strategic framework for priority infrastructure projects to interconnected

and integrated region. The African Development Bank, African Union Commission, Namibian government, NEPAD, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organized the 2017 PIDA Week to present the project to potential donors

Chinese Firms Have Built, or are Building Hydropower PrpjectsTotaling 3.7 Gigawatts of Electric Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa

{New China} reported Dec. 27. This is increasing the region’s installed electric capacity (currently at 28 GW) by about 15%. Projects in Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and DR Congo have also created tens of thousands of jobs. Africa’s sub-Saharan electricity deficit is still huge, with two-thirds lacking reliable electricity access.

China’s Investment in New Transport Networks Can Set a Mark

Dec. 27, 2017–China’s Ministry of Transport held a conference, reported in the government newspaper {People’s Daily}, on the Ministry’s planned 2018 investment in transportation infrastructure. The scale of new infrastructure in 2017, also reported there, gives an idea of what it takes to build out new national transportation networks rapidly, at a time when the United States, for one, is about to hold a debate on this subject.

{Peoples Daily} reported that China’s transportation infrastructure investments were $323 billion equivalent in 2017 through November, or roughly total $350 billion for 2017 as a whole. This equals about seven years’ of surface transportation bills in the United States.

The plans for 2018 are for 5,000 km of new roads, renovation of 216,000 km of roads, 4,000 km of rail, and increasing container port freight-handling volumes by more than 15%.

Reuters reported that at this conference, the Ministry said it intended to speed up the construction of logistics hubs and inland waterways, build more roads to reach rural areas, and concentrate on accelerating the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin urban triangle plan, mainly by improving roads and rail lines. It notes, “Infrastructure investment is expected to be among the biggest drivers of China’s economic growth in coming years.”

Sudan: Sanctions Lifted, Now Development Is Imperative

Lawrence Freeman

October 24, 2017

            On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens. 

According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan.  Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.

This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation.  Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people.  Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward. 

However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).

Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.

Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road

Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.   

The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.

The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.

 Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.

Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies  

Sudan Is Open for Business

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism.  He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.

For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen.  As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays.  Economic development is the agenda.