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.

 

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

 

Interview with Sudan Foreign Minister

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.

The New York Times Is All Wrong About Africa

Lawrence Freeman

August 3, 2017

     The July 30th Sunday edition of the New York Times, published an article by its Africa reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, entitled, “Loss of Fertile Land Fuels ‘Looming Crisis’ Across Africa.” The analysis, and conclusions of this article are all wrong, because they are based on false and ideologically driven axioms regarding the development of Africa.  Essentially, Gettlemen and the New York Times are steeped in the “Zero Growth” culture which became prevalent in the United States and the West in 1970s.

     In the aftermath of the 1963 assassinations of President John F Kennedy and the ensuing “rock-drug-sex” counterculture, the groundwork was prepared for the onslaught the environmental movement. With its no-growth, anti-science, anti-industrialization outlook that dominated the thinking of the baby-boomer and succeeding generations, cultural pessimism became pervasive. This ideology combined with the looting of Africa’s natural resources by the financial predators of Wall Street and the City of London resulted in a policy of no development for Africa that has continued to the present. 

     Today Africa has the largest deficit of infrastructure per capita and per square kilometer on the planet. The lack of electrical power, railroads, water management, and modern highways is literally responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans each year.  Only since the entrance of China into Africa in the past decade with its commitment to build physical infrastructure, have we witnessed a change in the dynamic on the continent.

Economic Science

     It is no accident that the US and Europe have not contributed to the construction of vital infrastructure projects; it’s their flawed policy. Infrastructure is not just one of several possible good ideas; rather it is an indispensable, irreplaceable ingredient to the success of any agro-industrial economy.  Infrastructure drives an economy forward and upward by incorporating new scientific advances in technology that improve the productive powers of the workforce, yielding increased economic output of wealth for society. The most wicked and pernicious feature of the Zero-Growth ideology is the denial of the unique creativity of Mankind. For thousands and millions of years Mankind has transformed his surrounding environment to make it more propitious for human expansion.  Like the discovery of “fire,” a million years ago, the Neolithic revolution 12,000 years ago was a revolution in Mankind’s knowledge of the universe and led to a population explosion. This non-linear growth pattern has been repeated many times over the last 10,000 years, as a result of the unique power of discovery by the human mind.

     The essential underlying cause of the problems in Africa today is not over population, or loss of arable land, but underdevelopment.   The failure to grasp this elementary concept by the New York Times and others is the reason for the abysmal conditions of life in Africa’s that contributes to the easy recruitment to terrorist movements like Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region.

False Axioms

     For example, Gettleman cites the:

 “overwhelming degradation of agricultural land throughout Africa, with one recent study showing that more than 40 million Africans are trying to survive off land whose agricultural potential is declining.” He continues, “More than in any other region of the world, people in Africa live off the land. There are relatively few industrial or service jobs here. Seventy percent of Africa’s population makes a living through agriculture, higher than on any other continent, the World Bank says. But as the population rises, with more siblings competing for their share of the family farm, the slices are getting thinner.”

     Why is agricultural potential of the land declining? Why are there relatively few manufacturing jobs? Why are the slices of land getting thinner?

     The answer is not the Malthusian argument that Africans breed too fast and that this huge continent – almost three times the size of the continental US- has too many people trying to exist on a shrinking pie of arable land. The proper question to ask is; why after half century since the “Winds of Change” liberation from the colonial powers, Africans still do not enjoy the fruits of modern industrialized economies with a modern standard of living, instead of large pockets of abject poverty? Any poor-quality farm land, even the Sahara Desert, can be made productive with water. Less than 5% of cultivated land is irrigated In Africa. With manufacturing plants to build the irrigating machinery and sufficient energy to pump the water, millions of hectares of arable land can become fruitful. Nuclear powered desalination could provide fresh water from the Mediterranean and Red seas to the North African deserts. US farmers, among the most productive in the world, experienced huge increase in yields of food production including in the former desert of southern California by utilizing new technologies, fertilizers, irrigation, and abundant energy under President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic recovery.

     Why has the US and the West not assisted African nations in acquiring the necessary infrastructure and new technologies to expand its cultivated land and build a substantial manufacturing sector as part of an integrated modern economy. In his brief Presidency, John F Kennedy collaborated with President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to build the Volta Dam hydro-power and industrial smelting complex. This what we should have continued to do over the last 50 years, and if we had, Africa would look completely different than it does today.

Population Reduction Is Not the Solution

     In the concluding section the article, the New York Times and its reporter reveal the depraved thinking of the Zeitgest of western culture; we have too many people using up the fixed natural resources of our planet.

“Africa’s land pressures may seem overwhelming, maybe even unstoppable. But scientists say there are solutions within reach. For example, the continent has the highest fertility rates in the world, but more African governments are pushing contraceptives, saying the best answer for densely populated countries is smaller families.

‘The problem is too many people, too many cattle and too little planning,’ said Iain Douglas Hamilton, a wildlife activist in northern Kenya.”

   This view echoes Henry Kissinger’s infamous “National Security Study Memorandum 200,” written 1974-1976, which advocated reducing the population for “Third World” nations to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of vital natural resources to the West. For centuries, the British raciest imperialist school has targeted Africa’s population as inferior and as an impediment to their access of Africa’s precious minerals.

     The birth a child can never be a problem for society. Each new human being, by the fact that it is human, intrinsically has the potential to contribute to new discoveries that can change the world, or contribute to the progress of society in more humble manner. Why not take up the challenge of developing the vast continent of Africa with its soon to be multi-billion population, and its rich untapped wealth? Presently we are witnessing the construction of desperately needed infrastructure on the Africa continent, with the assistance of China. Yet, Africa’s requires hundreds of gigawatts of electrical power, East-West and South-North railroads, high speed trains connecting the capital of each nation, and much, much, more. If the US joins the new paradigm of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and collaborates on eliminating poverty and hunger, and expanding Afrfia’s unrealized agricultural potential, the continent will be able to sustain an expanding population at a standard of living commensurate with that of the advanced sector nations.

     Let us act on the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, when he told his son at the Casablanca Conference during World War II, that if we divert water into the Sahara Desert: “It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch.” 

 

The New Name for Peace Is Economic Development

Helga Zepp LaRouche

July 7, 2017

    I think that we are all aware that we are involved in the historically important process of trying to improve the relationship between the United States and China, in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative. It is especially important in the area of agriculture and food production, because this is an extremely urgent question. While at the G-20 meeting in Hangzhou last year, China and all the other participating nations devoted themselves to eradicate poverty by the year 2020, we have not yet reached that goal.

    Because of what China has been doing in Africa for the first time; building up huge industrial complexes.   Africans have a new sense of self-confidence, and they are telling the Europeans that: “We don’t want your sermons on good governance, we want to have investments in infrastructure, in manufacturing, in agriculture, as equal business partners.” {There is no substitute for Africans having their own manufacturing sector to help expand their agricultural output. }

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Once the United States Joins the Belt and Road Initiative, a New Paradigm for Mankind Can Begin

Helga Zepp LaRouche, May 29, 2017

China Investment Magazine, supervised by China’s National Development and Reform Commission, carried this article by Helga Zepp-LaRouche in its May issue. The article was distributed both in Chinese and in English to every participant in the May 14-15 Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing. In this article Mrs LaRouche presents an excellent article on the importance of infrastructure in advancing economic growth and the necessity for public credit financing.  She says:” The return on infrastructure investment is actually measured by the increase of the productivity of the entire economy. Therefore the financing can not be left to the private investor, but it must be the responsibility of the state, which is devoted to the common good of the national economy.

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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.
 
*Somalia
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.