China’s Inroads into Africa Trigger Envy and Allegations

By Mark Kapchanga 2018/2/20

Allegations of spying and surveillance pop up every day on the global political stage. They are, however, not always true but driven by malice. A database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that as of August 2015, there were 1,419 active satellites in orbit around the earth mainly used for the collection of intelligence.

From time immemorial, revelations of spying always provoke outrage. In his famous treatise The Art of War, Chinese general Sun Tzu says: “Enlightened rulers and good generals who can obtain intelligent agents as spies are sure to make great achievements.”

As recent as 2016, new documents made public by Wikileaks revealed that the US spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private conversations with world leaders. The secret files showed that the National Security Agency listened in as Merkel had private conversations with other European heads of government and with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. But even before the dust settled on this accusation, in late 2017 Berlin claimed Beijing was using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany. The assertion followed claims from a German intelligence service that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies, an allegation that China refuted.

In most cases, allegations of spying and surveillance cause strains between countries, and at times, even sever diplomatic ties. Informed that such claims can create a rift between regions, a French paper Le Monde carried a story on allegations that China has been spying on African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa for six years. In what appears to have been a manufactured story, Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who said the alleged transfer of data was taking place at night. The story went further to say the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building was opened.

Trade between China and Africa has been rising thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative plan laid down by Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015. At the summit, President Xi Jinping announced plans to invest $60 billion into African development projects, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and write off some debt. 

As an example of strong relations between Africa and China, trade between them rose by 16.8 percent to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017. On the other hand, China’s non-financial direct investment in Africa expanded by 64 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 percent rise in the quarter. 

The negative reportage about Sino-African relations by Western media has also been fueled by envy due to strengthening ties. The ambitious global trading strategy, known as the Belt and Road initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defense projects are being built, is also likely to buoy China’s growing investments in Africa. The spying allegations are not the first media story being published by Western media with the aim of creating a gulf between Africa and China.

While free media is desired in any economy, there needs to be a sense of responsibility and professionalism in the practice. China’s presence in Africa has had its challenges no doubt. But Western media cannot spend acres of editorial space criticizing China for “increased corruption in Africa, for exploiting Africa’s natural resources, for environmental degradation, poor wages for employees, among others.”

In particular, the media has become obsessed with the claim that Chinese firms are winning mega tenders in African countries by paying bribes. This is absolutely not true. Chinese firms have not only shown that they qualify to execute these major infrastructural projects but they have also shown their unrivaled muscles in completing them in record time at a relatively low cost.

Perhaps it is now time that the Western countries upped their games in investing and trading with Africa if they are to compete favorably with China in Africa. Claims that Chinese firms bribe locals to win tenders are utterly false. Crucially, media should engage in constructive reporting for posterity.

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter:@kapchanga.

Unique & Ironic Moment for Nigeria’s Bobsled Team

It is truly exciting to see the Nigerian women’s bobsled team, who are already making history by qualifying to compete at the Winter Olympics in South Korea. In addition to Nigeria, they are representing the entire continent of Africa. Who would have thought that a sweltering hot sub-Saharan natoin, devoid of ice and snow, would produce athletes to compete in the freezing cold, in a sport few Nigeirans  ever heard of?

I have been active in Nigeria for almost thirty years and have watched all the political and economic twists and turns in Nigeria from General Abacha to President Buhari. As a friend of Nigeria, I have always supported its sovereignty and advocated economic policies to help the nation with its large and active population. My involvement includes being a member of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission. I will be participating in the international conference to “Save Lake Chad” in Abuja from February 26-28.

Now is the time for all Nigerians to unite and all friends of Nigeria to join in supporting these four daring athletes on the women’s bobsled team.

The eyes of the world are on Nigeria during the Winter Olympics.

Go Nigeria! Go women’s bobsled team!

History beckons for team Nigeria in Pyeongchang

Pres. Trump: Don’t Lose Sudan

Sahalian-Sahara Railroad From Port Sudan Will Transform Sudan & Africa

On October 12, 2017 the Trump administration announced the partial lifting of sanctions against the nation of Sudan to allow the government and people of Sudan to participate in the international banking system to promote trade and economic growth. Over the last twenty years since these financial, trade, and banking sanctions were imposed, Sudan has economically suffered. President’s Trump’s executive order easing restrictions on Sudan created a new mood of optimism, with the State Department indicating that this would be the beginning of new relations with Sudan. The State Department publicly mooted that this could be the first step to removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism in the future. However, after almost four months, the U.S. government has not facilitated the transfer of money for Sudan, which is contributing to the nation’s economic strife today.

Sudan Opens a Second Front

The failure by the U.S. to implement fully the easing sanction is the result of a conflict between President Trump’s agenda and dissident factions in the State Department, supported by many in the Congress, who are incapable of relinquishing their fanatical desire to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir removed from office.  These contradictions became obvious when Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Khartoum on November 16, 2017, and conspicuously avoided meeting with President Bashir, using the excuse that the president of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, it is well known that previous administrations supported efforts to have President Bashir removed from office. The zealots of this international alliance for regime change, who have been behind this nefarious campaign for decades, reject even tentative overtures by President Trump to chart a new course for U.S.-Sudan relations. There are unconfirmed reports that the U.S. State Department, not the executive branch, is demanding the removal of President Bashir as a precondition for further progress in U.S.-Sudan relations including removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

One week following the diplomatic snub by Sullivan, the most senior State Department official to visit Khartoum, President Bashir shocked everyone in Washington, and many in Khartoum, when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 23.  This surprise move was not expected by Washington. Reflecting the sentiments of most Sudanese, especially in the ruling National Congress Party, that the U.S. once again was not acting in good faith, President Bashir made his very first visit to Russia. Fearing that the goalposts have been moved again, as they have been repeatedly, and that the regime-change faction is still desirous of his removal, President Bashir asked Russia for protection from aggressive acts by the U.S. Sudan’s Rapprochement With Russia

The two presidents discussed increased economic and military cooperation, including the possibility of Russia securing a military base on the Red Sea that forms the eastern border of Sudan. According to knowledgeable sources, President Bashir will continue to look forward to improved cooperation with the U.S. and the West, but simultaneously pursue a closer alliance with Russia.  President Bashir believes Russia’s veto on the United Nations Security Council, along with its military capability as demonstrated in Syria, will provide a bulwark against any future reckless policy against Sudan by the West.

U.S. Needs Sudan

For Sudan, there is no turning back from their “dual-front” policy with the world’s two superpowers, but it didn’t have to come to this. The failure to fully implement the easing of trade/financial sanctions after years of refusal by the U.S. to talk face-to-face with President Bashir, accompanied by the severe economic hardships suffered by the Sudanese people from U.S.-led sanctions, contributed to President Bashir’s first overture to Russia.

Sudan is strategically situated in East Africa in the Nile River system that connects sub-Saharan Africa to North Arica. Moreover, Sudan has for years been a valuable ally in the war against ISIS, providing useful intelligence to U.S. security forces. Also, it must be unequivocally stated, that there will be no solution to the crisis in South Sudan that the U.S. and Britain have contributed to, without the direct participation of the President of Sudan. Susan Rice, in charge of African policy in the second term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency is personally culpable for the horrific conditions in South Sudan today.  She and other so-called liberals hated Sudan’s leadership, and were fierce advocates for the creation of South Sudan. Their intention was to use South Sudan as part of their arsenal for regime change, without the slightest concern for the welfare of the people of South Sudan.

Sudan is a nation rich in mineral resources, and has large tracts of arable land, not yet under cultivation.  It has been known for decades, long before the creation of South Sudan in 2011, that Sudan had the potential to feed a billion people, about the size of sub-Saharan Africa’s population today. It should be recognized (if not admitted) that successive U.S. administrations have strategically failed in their policy towards Sudan, lacking a vision of how to participate with African nations to develop their huge wealth in land and in its people.

Africa needs huge investments in infrastructure to realize its potential in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing. Instead of the West fixating on extractive industries, i.e., gas, oil, and minerals, which have a minimal role in job creation, their focus should have been on railroads and energy. When the South-North and East-West railroads are finally built, their nexus will be in central Sudan. Trains carrying freight and people will be able to travel from Port Sudan on the Red Sea into West and Southern Africa, thus ensuring that Sudan will become a mega manufacturing-agricultural-transportation hub for the continent.

The Way Forward

There is a relatively easy path for President Trump to follow, to engage Sudan fruitfully. Port Sudan is already included on China’s Maritime Silk Road. China’s involvement in building infrastructure throughout the African continent is unparalleled. Were President Trump to join with China’s New Silk Road for Africa in vital infrastructure to Sudan, the U.S. would form new partnerships with Sudan and other African nations.

President Bashir demonstrated his ability to negotiate and compromise when he signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with President George W. Bush to allow an independence referendum in South Sudan. This resulted in the peaceful separation of Sudan seven years ago, with Khartoum voluntarily giving up 75% of its oil production.  With this historical perspective in mind, President Trump can put U.S.-Sudan relations on a positive course by arranging for direct, if informal, talks with President Bashir, and carrying through on the easing of sanctions pertaining to trade, finance, and banking.  These actions will be well received in Khartoum and reciprocated.

Lawrence Freeman has been visiting and writing about Sudan for over 20 years, discussing economic development and US-Sudan relations with members of parliament, the NCP, and leaders of opposition parties.






Nigeria Hosts Global Conference: Save Lake Chad from Extinction

Fisherman standing in Lake Chad, November 2014

Since 1963, Lake Chad has been allowed to diminish from  from a vast 25,000 square kilometers to a now unacceptable level of 2,500 square kilometers.  As a consequence of the inaction to reverse the shrinking lake, over 30 million Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, and depend upon fishing and farming for their livelihoods, have suffered greatly. Boko Haram has exploited this severely depressed  condition to recruit youths, whose future appears bleak. Finally, this dire crisis; the shrinking Lake Chad, is being addressed at a global conference in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018Historic Lake Chad Conference, which I will be a participant: my role at the conference.

Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Water Resources, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, and Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi, should be congratulated for initiating the first global gathering on the African continent to discuss solutions to reprenish Lake Chad. by transferring water from the Congo River.

It is time for Africans to think big. We can return Lake Chad to its former size, transform the Lake Chad Basin, and create a corridor of economic development between the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad basin with the mega inter-basin water transfer project: Transaqua


Abimbola Akosile THISDAYLIVE

February 1, 2018

The Federal Government of Nigeria, on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, is planning to host an international Conference from February 26 to 28 in Abuja on proffering solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. This was disclosed by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed paid him a recent courtesy visit in Abuja.

Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference is to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydro-logical perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region who depend on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction”, he said.

The Minister proposed for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the PowerChina International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualised by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.

Adamu said the study done by PowerChina shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the lake. To him, this would halt the receding of the lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change, according to a release issued by the Ministry’s Director (Information & Public Relations Unit), Mrs. Margaret Umoh.

Speaking further, he called for more workable solutions that may be cheaper than the inter-basin water transfer. On the issue of cooperation between Nigeria and the UN on the re-integration of the people of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Minister said part of the ministry’s efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency in that region under this present administration in the past two years has been by budgeting about N1 billion annually for water supply and sanitation facilities for the IDPs nationwide.

Earlier, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mohammed said the purpose of the high-level mission, which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues, will help scale up UN presence in the North-east in particular and Nigeria in general.

She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned conference of saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February. She charged Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.