I fully endorse the call by the African Railway Roundtable for the Europe Union to support the African Integrated High-Speed Rail Network. Whether Europe’s Global Gateway Strategy will actually fund this critically important infrastructure project is not clear.
The massive infrastructure deficit existing in all African nations is the greatest impediment to the elimination of poverty. Next to energy, rail transportation is the most vital category of infrastructure necessary for African nations to survive and develop in the 21st century. That U.S. and Europe have not understood this concept of physical economy for the last 50 years demonstrates a major failure in Western policy. That so called human right groups and NGOs have not made this–energy and rail infrastructure–their highest priority in their advocacy is another sign of the ignorance of what is required for African nations to provide for the welfare of their people.
Let Europe and the U.S. join China’s Belt and Road Initiative in bringing vitally required infrastructure to Africa.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.
Watch the video below, an comprehensive discussion with Rowland Ataguba, Managing Director of Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure on the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN). He is a driving force to have AIHSRN up and running in Africa by 2033. For Africa to realize the potential of the newly inaugurated, Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA, there must be an integrated rail network connecting the major capitals, cities, ports, and regions of Africa. Such an integrated network of freight and passenger transportation is necessary to reverse the dismal amount of trade among African nations, estimated at 15%. With the population of the African continent projected to have almost 2.5 billion people by 2050, the AIHSRN proposal is essential and cannot wait until 2063 as planned by the African Union (AU).
The African Integrated High Speed Railway Network will deliver connectivity across the huge continent via 6 main East-West and 3 North-South corridors, using standard gauge tracks with electric locomotives running at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour. These rail lines will become corridors of economic expansion for manufacturing and agriculture.
As the history of the development of great nations, such as the United States, Russia, and China demonstrate; railroads build nations, traverse continents, link oceans, and create a spine for manufacturing centers. Properly understood, infrastructure is much more than a simple collection of projects. Economic progress is determined by the relative level of the scientific-technological design embodied in the integrated infrastructure platform which undergirds the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of an economy. An individual infrastructure project, such as a railroad, may not yield an immediate profit itself. However, as physical economists like myself know, viable infrastructure projects contribute to increasing the productivity of the labor force, thus enabling the economy as a whole to generate a profit. Massive investments in infrastructure, such as AIHSRN, are essential to industrialize Arica, which is necessary to eliminate hunger and poverty across the continent.
Mr. Ataguba proposes that the entire network be completed in the next 12-13 years. The only way that AIHSRN can be FAST TRACKED is through centralizing the project. He says that too much valuable time has been lost in connecting the railway network, which is indispensable for improving the standard of living of the average African. He emphasizes that this rail network needs to affect the economy today, not tomorrow! Mr. Ataguba understands that for African nations to develop, this quality of infrastructure is urgently required.
AIHSRN will revolutionize African economies in providing standardized, fast, efficient, and safe transport at a far cheaper cost than road.
Once completed, freight and passenger transport across Africa will be transformed. For the first time in history, it will be possible to travel and send freight on a modern railway from: Dakar in Senegal to Djibouti or Pointe Noire; Congo Brazzaville to Dar Es Salaam; Tanzania to Walvis Bay; Namibia to Maputo Mozambique. Traversing the continent from east to west. Likewise, it will be possible to travel the entire length of the African land mass from Cape Town, South Africa along the Indian Ocean to Alexandria in Egypt or from Cape Town to Tripoli in Libya along the Atlantic coast.
For those passionately concerned about securing a prosperous future for Africa; watch this video.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton
Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed make a strong case for African nations to chart a course to bring prosperity to to the continent. However, much more is needed to plan for the creation of economic growth that Africa requires today and for its future population. Poverty for hundreds of millions of Africans must be eradicated. Over 600 million Africans without access to online electricity must be brought into the “light.” This requires that African leaders, with the African Union and Africa’s true allies should come together and produce a development program. A plan of action for a 5-10-20 year growth policy that must include minimally: electrifying the continent with a thousand gigawatts of electricity; high speed modern trains connecting the major cities and ports; modern all weather highways; creating a healthy manufacturing sector; and a state of the art health infrastructure system. We must think boldly about the the basic requirements needed for all Africans to live meaningful and productive lives.
Excerpt from Prime Minister Abiy
“ADDIS ABABA – Africans must take responsibility for our continent’s affairs. We have all the ingredients we need to succeed, starting with a growing population – including a large and increasingly educated cohort of young people – and a favorable trade and investment environment. And now, determined to usher in an era of African peace and prosperity, we have a mature institutional platform through which to forge, articulate, assert, and defend our common interests under an independent, unified African foreign policy.
“For too long, Africa has been a strategic plaything of world powers. By bolstering its internal cohesion and economic integration, the continent can become a strong geopolitical force with an independent and unified voice on important global issues.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
China Global Television Network, or CGTN published my article on the African Union’s creation of the Africa Continental Freed Trade Area-AfCFTA
Six decades after African nations began liberating their people from the yoke of European colonialists, the African Union has launched the “operational phase” of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), taking a giant step toward uniting the 54 African nations and fostering economic progress.
The landmark move was made at the 12th Extraordinary African Union Summit in Niamey, the capital of Niger, on July 7. Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union Commission, referred to it as a “historic moment.”
Many prominent African leaders view this new free trade agreement as a “game changer” with the potential to catapult the continent into a foremost position in global trade and development, especially with Africa’s population projected to double in the next 30 years to 2.4 billion.
On June 2, 2019, I interviewed African Union Ambassador to the United States, Arikana Chihombori-Quao at her home, on the significance of the new agreement on an Africa Continental Free Trade Area-AfCFTA, initiated on May 30. The AfCFTA is intended to reduce tariffs and barriers between African nations to promote trade, and spur economic development throughout the continent.
In the interview above, Ambassador Arikana Chihombori-Quao, provides a provocative and optimistic analysis of what the newly enacted agreement for an Africa Continental Free Trade Area-AfCFTA will mean for continent over the coming years and decades.
Amb Chihombori emphasizes huge potential for the AfCFTA to double, triple and even quadruple intra-African trade, which today is a mere 16%-18% of total continental trade. According to the UN Commission on Africa, AfCFTA could increase intra-trade by 15% to 25%, that equals $50-$70 billion in the next 20 years. The concept of AfCFTA is to enable each African with the opportunity to potentially access the continent’s multi-trillion dollar market and 1.2 billion buyers and sellers. Landry Signe of the US based Brookings Institute estimates that by 2030 AfCFTA could boost consumer and business spending to $6.7 trillion.
Historically, Amb Chihombori views the AfCFTA as a continuation of the struggle by African nations to liberate themselves from intended under-development imposed on Africa by the infamous Berlin Conference (1884-1885). She stresses that 56 years (and five days) after the founding of the Organization of Africa Unity-OAU (May 25, 1963), Africa will now be functioning as one trading bloc of nations, which is intended to equalize the international playing field. As the implementation of AfCFTA proceeds, Amb Chihombori believes that Africa will acquire the stature of a “heavy-weight” in global trade and commerce. She is also hoping that by the end of this year Africa will ratify the “Free Movement Protocol” that would allow Africans to live, travel, and work anywhere on the continent, thus complementing the AfCFTA
Amb Chihombori accentuates in this interview, that infrastructure is a level one priority for Africa in the AfCFTA. “Investment in infrastructure is an absolutely essential step for us to take as we move into the implementation of AfCFTA,” she says. The denial of basic infrastructure, power, access to water, education and healthcare, by the colonial powers following the Berlin Conference, kept African nations from developing; by design. “Leaders in Africa are now discussing the building highways and high-speed rail from Cape Town to Cairo and Djibouti to Dakar.”
Challenging those who advocate reducing Africa’s population and falsely claiming that Africa’s growing population is a major contributor to Africa’s economic problems, Amb Chihombori asserts that: “Our youth is the biggest advantage we have over the rest of the world…Youth is our biggest asset.”
Amb Chihombori wants to make the US the number one trading partner with Africa, telling Americans; “that the African sleeping giant is rising-it is a new game.”
***The AfCFTA had already come under attack, even before its birth, by the International Monetary Fund-IMF. According to the People’s News Africa, the IMF warned African nations they could lose revenue, if the AfCFTA is enacted.
Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame quickly responded: “It is important that Africa gives the necessary considerations to the views and opinions by external entities and ‘development partners,’ it is more important at the same time that Africa becomes aware of what we want for ourselves, pursue what is good for the continent, and defend what is necessary for our collective development.”
With the initiation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement on May 30, 2019, now is the time for African nations to finally jettison the CFA frank, a relic of French Colonialism. No longer should 14 African nations have their sovereignty infringed upon by a former European colonial country. Economic sovereignty is inviolate. For a nation to develop its full economic potential it must control its currency, which is a from of national credit. One of the great accomplishments of the President’s George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, was his creation of a National Bank, which unified all the currencies and debt held by the thirteen colonies. A nation that does not have sovereign authority over its currency and credit will never be truly free, and its people will suffer from underdevelopment..