To Understand Zimbabwe and Sub-Saharan Africa One Must Know Evil Colonialism

September 15, 2019

Robert Mugabe, deceased President of Zimbabwe

Below is an insightful article on the death of Robert Mugabe. One cannot honestly and competently analyze African nations today, unless one thoroughly studies the affects of colonialism, and before that slavery.  When I look at the current state of affairs in Africa. I see the consequences of the long waves of hundreds of years of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. For example, can one truly understand Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and  South Africa, without examining the evil role of British Imperialism and colonialism? Is Kenya not suffering today from the removal of the Kikuyu from the the Highlands, which were turned into the “Whitelands” by the British in the early 20th century? Similarly, it is impossible to truthfully discuss Zimbabwe, and its now deceased leader, Robert Mugabe without revealing the failure of the 1980 Lancaster agreement to rectify the stealing of 70% of the nation’s most fertile land from millions of “black” Zimbabweans that was given to 4,500 “white” farmers. Why are African nations, with abundant  fertile soil, still using primitive methods of farming and have weak agricultural sectors? Why does Africa suffer from the greatest deficit of infrastructure in the world per land area, which is only beginning to be reversed by China with its Belt and Road Initiative? Why is Africa the least industrialized continent on the planet?  Are we going to blind ourselves to the ugly history of what was done to Africans over hundreds of years, and naively and simplistic blame conditions today on a lack of good governance? This error, this lack of understanding Africa’s history, perverts the the thinking of Western institutions and Africa specialists, yielding flawed analysis.

Mugabe’s Obituaries Rife with White Supremacism

 

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

August 30, 2019

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

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

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

Excerpts: 

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

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

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

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

ReadFor Africa the Winds of Hope are Growint Stronger

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

Namibian Students Animated by Visit of Chinese Astronauts

August 24, 2019

African nations should develop active space programs, if for no other reason than; space exploration stimulates the human mind. It is natural for our uniquely human creative imagination to be excited about mankind exploring the solar system, and the galaxies, to discover new laws of the universe. This is what humanity does when we are optimistically looking up at the stars, and not pessimistically starring down at the mud below our feet.

Chinese Astronauts Invite Namibia for Space Venture.

Chinese astronauts invite Namibia for space venture
Chinese astronauts: Chen Dong-right, and, Liu Yang-left

Chinese astronaut Liu Yang told President Hage Geingob on Thursday that her government is looking forward to Namibia’s participation in future space missions with China.

Speaking at State House during a courtesy meeting, Liu said China will build its space station in 2022, which will be a platform for all the other countries to cooperate with each other.

“Win-win cooperation and mutual benefits is what we want to do,” she said. The 41-year-old Liu was China’s first female astronaut among a three-member crew aboard the Shenzhou-IX spacecraft that flew into space in 2012. Also speaking at the meeting was Liu’s male colleague, 41-year-old Chen Dong, who is the record holder for the longest stay in space among all Chinese astronauts.

In 2016, Cheng and his crew flew the Shenzhou-XI spacecraft into space and docked successfully with the Tiangong-II Space Laboratory.

During his 33 days in space, Chen conducted several scientific experiments, including the first space interview, the first space jog and the first vegetable planting in China’s space history.

Cheng concurred with Liu, saying in the future his wish is to fly in space with a Namibia astronaut. “We are very much looking forward to that dream to become true,” he noted. Replying to the astronauts’ call, Geingob jokingly asked if there’s an age restriction for the China-Namibia space venture. He further thanked the astronauts for taking time to visit Namibia and inspire the local youth.

“The most important thing is we can share the space experience. Those [of us] who are unfortunate and can not afford to launch a spacecraft, for a friendly country to share that with us is already enough,” Going said.

Earlier the same day, the astronauts, along with their delegation, which included the Chinese ambassador to Namibia, Zhang Yiming, paid a visit to the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). Attending the gathering were students from NUST, University of Namibia and pupils who were given the opportunity to ask questions and gain information from the astronauts.

Chinese Astronauts Inspire Namibian Youth

When the “Chinese Astronauts Landed at Namibia’s University of Science and Technology” scores of students from both the NUST and the University of Namibia came to hear about Liu and Chen’s experiences, and to discuss the benefits of going to space and Namibia’s role in China’s space missions.

A computer science senior excitedly told Xinhua afterwards, “I believe Namibia should not be left behind, and hopefully one day we can tangle with the stars,’ when we have our very own home-made astronaut.” A young woman said Liu “has inspired me. One never knows, maybe one day I will be in her shoes.” Another student said afterwards, “who knows, it might not be long before we have our very own Namibian astronauts explore space.”

Namibia has played an important role in China’s space program. After the two nations signed an agreement to collaborate in space technology in 2000, China built its first tracking station in the Southern Hemisphere. That China Telemetry, Tracking and Command Station at Swakopmund is used to monitor Chinese manned space vehicles.

“With the kind of support we received from Namibia, we have established an important space tracking station in Swakopmund,” which is a starting point for our aerospace cooperation, Liu told President Geingob. “In 2022 China will build our own space station, which will be a platform for all the nations to use. We look forward to Namibia’s participation and hope to fly together with Namibia to space.”

 

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

August 19, 2019

United Nations Headquarters, August 5-6, 2019

On August 5-6, I had the opportunity to participate in the “Third International Conference on the Lake Chad Basin Region: SDG Implementation-UN System and Non-State Actors Exploring New ways of Cooperation.” The two-day conference at the United Nations Headquarters was hosted by the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the United Nations, under the guidance of Dr. Ibrahim Umar. The assemblage was first addressed by ambassadors from three of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin; Permanent Representatives from the UN Missions of Chad, Niger and Nigeria.

Lawrence Freeman with Dr. Ibrahim Umar, Nigerian Mission to the United Nations

The convening of this UN session is in response to the worsening living conditions for approximately 30 million Africans living in the Lake Chad Basin, whose livelihood is centered around the shrinking Lake Chad. Today the estimated area of Lake Chad varies from 1200-1300 square kilometers to upwards of 2,000; a 90% contraction from its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers.  During the afternoon panel of the first day, the conditions of Lake Chad were addressed by Charles Ichoku, Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Howard University, and this author, who is Vice Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission.

Transforming is Superior to Managing 

Dominating the conference were speakers representing NGOs and international organizations, who accurately depicted the extent of the horrific humanitarian, refugee, and food crises prevailing in the region in detail. Regrettably, there were those who accepted the diminutive size of Lake Chad as unalterable. Some of the participants offered short term solutions and others believed that the recharging of the lake is not an easy or viable option. However, they miss the point; that to comprehensively address the issue of the Lake Chad Basin will require nothing less than the full recharging of Lake Chad. It is only in this way that the humanitarian issues, poverty and underdevelopment can be tackled in the long run. In my presentation I challenged some of the pessimistic thinking in the conference by stating unequivocally: “None of the solutions that have been discussed will work, unless the lake is recharged.” It should be noted that United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has pledged to collaborate with President Buhari of Nigeria, to raise the $50 billion necessary for the recharging of the lake.

Lawrence Freeman addressing the United Nations Conference on the Lake Chad Basin on the first day

My slide presentation demonstrated how the lake can be recharged to its previous level through Transaqua, an inter-basin water transfer project. Transaqua, designed in 1980 by Dr. Vichi of the Italian engineering firm, Bonifica, proposed to build a 2,400-kilometer canal created from 5-8% of the water in the Congo River Basin. The navigable gravity-driven canal would connect to the Chari River, in the Central Africa Republic, which releases its flow into Lake Chad. This bold innovative project is a “win-win” for the twelve nations of the Lake Chad and Congo River Basins, and for all of Africa. Responding to the necessity of recharging the shrinking Lake Chad, the project provides a unique opportunity to create a super economic “development zone” amongst the nations of the two basins. Trade, and commerce would increase by orders of magnitudes, hydroelectric power would be produced, millions of additional hectares would be irrigated, new roads created, new fisheries and manufacturing centers would be built. This author also presented to the audience the conclusions from the three-day International Conference to Save Lake Chad, held in Abuja Nigeria-February 26-28, 2018, at which the Heads of State from the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, endorsed Transaqua as the preferred method to expand the lake.

Both before and after my presentation numerous presenters spoke out against “big projects” and “diverting water” as if the Africans suffering in the region want the lake to remain at 10% of its previous level. International intervention and technology to alleviate the conditions in the basin were also eschewed in favor of local projects and listening to the so called “voice of the people.” Manage! Manage the existing deplorable conditions; don’t even dare think of changing-improving was echoed repeatedly.

On the second day, this author was compelled to speak out against the condescending attitude that assumes Africans do not want to enjoy the same standard of living as all the speakers from the US and Europe. I asked, if they thought that those people struggling for daily survival within the Lake Chad Basin wouldn’t desire clean running water, and having access to 1,500 watts of electricity 24 hours a day all year?

 

A slide presented by Mr. Freeman at the UN conference displaying the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project

Underlying Cultural Beliefs About Mankind

Approximately five to six thousand years ago Lake Chad was a mega lake comprising 1,000,000 square kilometers. There are reports that several hundred years ago, Lake Chad almost disappeared. The lake sits on top of three aquifers and are adjacent to the gigantic Nubian Sandstone Aquifer.  Clearly the growth and shrinkage of the lake over millennia predates so called anthropomorphic caused climate change. Lake Chad is fed by river systems from Nigeria and Cameroon, the most significant contributor being the Chari River from the Central African Republic. With the southern movement of the Tropical Conversion Zone there is less rainfall thus reducing the flow of water into the lake. The closest source of water to refill and maintain Lake Chad is the super moist Congo River Basin, hundreds of kilometers south. A feasibility study should confirm the Transaqua hypothesis for the potential of a continuous flow of water into Lake Chad, resulting in transforming the entire region.

The failure to test and analyze the Transaqua proposal for almost four decades, even though many people were concerned about the worsening conditions resulting from the shrinking lake, leads us to examine a deeper cultural problem.

Over the last half century, Western societies have become victims of cultural pessimism. Our cultural paradigm has shifted away from one of optimism and confidence in human’s ability to discover new scientific principles that lead to technological revolutions for the betterment of humanity. In the years following the historic 1969 landing of humans on the Moon, inspired by the leadership of President John Kennedy, our culture has been dramatically altered for the worse. The previously discredited Malthusian dogma reasserted itself, with false assertions that if population growth was not stopped the planet would run out of resources. This was accompanied with hysterical calls for population reduction. Over time, as our culture became more decadent, the very progress of our society was assailed with attacks on science, technology, and industrialization.  In this new perverted ideology humankind, (made in the image of the Creator) became the devil-the source of evil itself in the world.

Ambassador Tijjani Muhammad Bande speaking at a reception hosted by the UN Nigerian Mission for the Lake Chad Basin conference

Contrary to declarations  that humans are destroying the environment, there is no such adversarial relationship. The physical universe is organized on the principle of continuous development and is predisposed to respond positively to the intervention of human creativity. Humankind is not just a caretaker or a steward. Humanity was created to interact with the universe for unending growth. Reflect on the biblical injunction in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Yes, we can and must transform the Lake Chad Basin. We can end suffering, hunger, and poverty in that region, and across the African continent. That is what humankind was created to accomplish. Let us not reject our fundamental human essence: to willfully transform our planet (the universe) for the perpetuation of our uniquely creative species.

 

Distributed at the UN conference reported on above: UN Statement on Transaqua for Lake Chad

Distributed at the Abuja, Nigeria conference 2/26-28/2018:  Now Is the Time to Think Big and In the Future 

How the Imperialist CFA franc Suppresses Growth in Africa

Africa’s ‘colonial’ CFA currency (courtesy dw.com)

The article in the link below is a detailed and useful expose of how the CFA franc, controlled by France, contributes to the suppression of economic development in Africa. We have now past a half century since many nations in Africa liberated themselves from colonialism. Yet the French banking system still exercises colonial domination over the finances of African nations that should be economically independent. African nations will never be truly independent until they are economically sovereign. This means having sovereign control over their own currencies and the issuing of credit for internal improvements of their economies. African nations should have National Banks and Development Banks for the issuing of credit, as first conceptualized by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s concept of government-national credit was essential for the creation of an industrialized USA from thirteen agrarian based colonies.

Read: Towards a Political Economy of Monetary Dependency

For more analysis of Alexander Hamilton’s credit policy read: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

Africa Update: African Union Discusses DRC’s Grand Inga. African Bankers Reject ‘Noise’ On Chinese Debt

August 3, 2019

African Union Meeting Revives Grand Inga Dam Project in Congo

The six-phase Grand Inga Dam Project in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.) has shown signs of coming back to life when the project was discussed at the African Union Extraordinary Summit meeting held Niamey, Niger July 4-7,

{Construction Review Online} reported July 31. On Congo River, two other dams, Inga-I and Inga-II had long been completed, generating about 1800 MW peak power. Inga-III, whose construction had fallen through for a number of reasons, is projected to create nearly 5,000 MW of power. Grand Inga is a considerably ambitious project. With 52 turbines, it would dam the entire river and flood 22,000 hectares of the Bundi valley, which is home to as many as 30,000 people. Five additional hydropower stations would considerably increase the generating potential of the falls. Once these additional hydropower stations were brought online at the dam site, the  whole project would dwarf any other hydropower facility worldwide. The Inga project is estimated to produce 40,000 MW. This is enough to provide power to nearly half of the continent, reported {Construction Review Online}.

D.R. Congo, in Central Africa, where the total electrical power installation is close to 15,000 MW.  Central Africa constitutes of ten countries: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville), D.R. Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and Rwanda. Most of Central Africa’s power is generated from hydro.

African Bankers Reject “Noise” on Chinese Debt–We Have To Borrow for Development!

John Rawangombwa, chairman of the African Association of Central Banks, whose annual meeting in Kigali, Rwanda ended Aug. 1, told Xinhua that “the noise around the Chinese debt to African countries”–this was the subject of a presentation at the gathering–was “unfounded.” Chinese debt, as a percentage of total African debt, is not a problem, he said.

Rawangombwa pointed out that borrowing is good, and borrowing outside the country is acceptable, although internal borrowing would be preferable to reduce foreign exchange risk.

The reality, however, he stated, is that Africa faces a financing gap; so, nations must improve their debt management capacity, and borrow for the right purposes, an build up their capital markets.

He emphasized that countries must ensure that they invest in the right projects, that generate foreign exchange in order to be able to repay their debt. He also said that the fact that Africa’s debt has increased is not unique to Africa. Rather, it is a global phenomenon, that requires global management, Xinhua reported

Ebola Crisis: How Many Africans Must Die Before the World Acts?

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept 9, 2018 file photo, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo. Top Red Cross official Emanuele Capobianco said Friday April 12, 2019, that he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus in Congo after a recent spike in cases. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, File)

Today is the one-year anniversary second eruption of Ebola in sub-Saharan Africa in five years. On August 1, 2018, an outbreak of Ebola was declared in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), when four cases of Ebola in town of Mangina were verified. After 426 cases of Ebola were confirmed, the World Health Organization-(WHO) on November 29, declared this to be the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history. The largest outbreak was from 2014-2016 in West Africa that caused 11,310 deaths.  By May 3, of this year over 1,000 human beings had perished from Ebola. As of June 4, the number of cases exceeded 2,000. Yet, it wasn’t until July 17, 2019, after more than 1600 people had died from this deadly disease that the WHO declared a “public health emergency of international concern”. This declaration by the WHO is far short of what is required to combat this killer disease. To date, there are 2,593 infected with Ebola and more than 1,770 have died, according to the The New Humanitarian on line journal.

The fear of Ebola spreading to the city of Goma, a transportation center with a population of 2 million, bordering Rwanda, was realized on July 14, with Goma’s first confirmed case. July 30, health officials confirmed a second case, unrelated to the first. However, on August 1, two additional cases were discovered, of relatives to the second deceased, thus establishing the transmission of Ebola in Goma itself, as reported by AP. Thursday, BBC News reported that the border between Goma and its neighbor Rwandan city, Gisenyi, was closed in response.  On June 11, Uganda reported the first of two deaths cause by Ebola.

The WHO should declare a full international health emergency, not “a matter of concern.” Although the WHO does not have the resources to fully combat this latest outbreak of Ebola, such a declaration would sound the alarm. This could mobilize international institutions like the World Bank, United Nations et al, along with forcing western nations to act.  However, for such an emergency declaration to be issued more Africans must die to meet the criteria of at least 20 deaths in several countries. For now, the world is watching, as Ebola murders more and more Africans. The government of the DRC should also be making appeals to the rest of the world, including Russia and China, who have indicated their willingness to help, if approached officially by the DRC.  A full scale emergency mobilization could potentially provide the impetus to expand the healthcare capacity of sub-Saharan Africa, which is urgently needed.

There is no time to waste. The population of the DRC exceeds 70 million, and it has one of the weakest infrastructure systems in the world. Is Africa, and the rest of the world willing to gamble with thousands, if not tens of thousands or more, lives?

The article below, by Debra Freeman, a public health specialist, provides a good overview of the Ebola crisis. She concludes:

“…stopping this latest outbreak and others like it requires more than vaccines and short-term measures…eradicating the threat of this most deadly of viruses, and others that may emerge in Africa, requires nothing less than an international crash-program mobilization to provide adequate economic conditions (sanitation, water, power, housing) along with the development and implementation of a first-class public health system.”

Read entire articleEbola: World Health Emergency

 

 

Failed US-Africa Policy Exposed Yet Again

August 2, 2019
March 1961-President Kennedy provides real leadership by collaborating with President Nkrumah to industrialize Ghana

The article below, “More than Just Investment: Why America Was Once So Popular in Africa” by Nick Danby, published in World News, is a useful contribution to analyzing President Trump’s flawed African policy.  He accurately reports that the Trump’s administration’s “Prosper Africa” will not contribute to the development of Africa. He also highlights, as I have done, the leadership provided by President John Kennedy to support the rights of Africans to achieve economic sovereignty.

More than Just Investment: Why America Was Once So Popular in Africa

“On June 19 of this year, the Trump administration unveiled a new plan, known as “Prosper Africa,” to engage and invigorate the oft-forgotten continent. At the 2019 U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Mozambique, American leaders and allies heralded the $60 billion investment plan as a “once-in-a-generational opportunity” for Africa. But the U.S. government is not strengthening greater commercial and trade connections between U.S. companies and Africa’s ICT sector out of the kindness of its own heart. Both publicly and privately the deal has been construed as a way to “provide financially sound alternatives to state-led initiatives from countries like China” and to prevent countries from falling into “opaque and unsustainable debt traps being laid by Beijing throughout the developing world.” At face value, the White House is working to promote a prosperous Africa by focusing on multilateral investment and trade. Yet the altruism of such an approach is undermined when administration officials, like national security advisor John Bolton, suggest that the new strategy predominantly serves as a counterweight to Chinese and Russian “predatory practices.”

“Countering Chinese and Russian influence in Africa remains a top priority for the U.S., but the most prudent way to win over African leaders and citizens is by demonstrating that American officials truly care about Africa’s well-being. China has built useful connections and alliances on the continent because it acts as though its efforts directly benefit Africa more than themselves. China’s powerful hold on the continent through its dominant commercial presence and debt diplomacy schemes were further developed when Xi Jinping invited dozens of African foreign dignitaries to Beijing and then pledged $60 billion in financial aid for the continent. Xi has also visited Africa on numerous occasions, hob-knobbing with leaders, boosting China’s public relations, and enlisting nations to join the “Belt and Road Initiative.” Even Russian President Vladimir Putin will host 50 African leaders in Sochi for the first Russian-African Summit in October.

“If the Trump administration wishes to engage African leaders and dissuade them from partnerships with the Chinese and the Russians by teaming up with U.S. companies, it must develop a strategy that goes far beyond an anachronistic amalgam of trade and investment. The U.S. must first build off of the goodwill and trust it fostered with PEPFAR by not only continuing to fund PEPFAR (which has been nominated for the chopping block since the Obama days) but also other programs that can improve Africa’s standard of living, whether that be through strategic health diplomacy or the vast array of other issues their civilians must endure on a daily basis.

“President Kennedy always had a special interest in Africa that predated his own time in the White House. In the 1960 campaign, he lambasted Eisenhower for not exerting enough effort or attention on the continent as it underwent decolonization. During one campaign speech, Kennedy told his audience, “We have neglected and ignored the needs and aspirations of the African people. The word is out – and spreading like wildfire…that it is no longer necessary to remain poor or forever in bondage.” The U.S. should heed Kennedy’s words and work toward improving Africa with the Africans. By caring about the continent’s welfare, Chinese and Russian influence will soon dwindle.”

Trump’s Policy for Africa Exists Only to Stop China

July 20, 2019

The analysis in the article below published by WPR is useful. However, I can be more blunt: President Trump’s policy for Africa has nothing to do with helping Africa, but it only to counter China’s influence! President Obama did very little for Africa, but make speeches about so called good governance and promoted his fraudulent “power-less Africa” program. Sadly, President Trump is following in Obama’s footsteps, premising his strategy for Africa on the old British geo-political doctrine of winners and losers in a zero-sum game. Read my article:  President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy  Stopping China is not a policy to help Africa, a continent still suffering today from enormous infrastructure deficits, a legacy of 500 years of slavery, colonialism, and neo-colonialism. Despite all the propaganda against China, China’s Belt and Road infrastructure initiative has done more to assist African nations in developing their economies in recent decades, that all the combined initiatives of Europe and the United States. President Trump’s “Prosper Africa” will not advance Africa’s interests. The best way to actually promote development in Africa, build robust manufacturing sectors, and industrialize the underdeveloped continent, would be for President Trump to join China in building infrastructure across the continent in the spirit of the Belt and Road Imitative. 

World Politics Review

Donald Trump’s daughter and adviser, Ivanka Trump, and Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Commission.
Ivanka Trump, and H,E, Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson, African Union

Trump’s ‘Prosper Africa’ Strategy Is Fixated on a Cold War-Like View of China

Kimberly Ann ElliottTuesday, July 16, 2019

During the Cold War, American policymakers frequently pushed nonaligned countries to take sides. The Central Intelligence Agency fomented coups against governments that flirted with communism and the Soviet Union, or that just drifted too far to the left for comfort. The State Department threatened to cut aid flows to countries that voted too often against U.S. priorities at the United Nations. Could sub-Saharan Africa find itself caught in the middle again if a cold war with China breaks out?

In a speech at the Heritage Foundation last December, President Donald Trump’s hawkish national security adviser, John Bolton, launched a new initiative called “Prosper Africa” that he said was aimed at promoting trade and commercial ties “to the benefit of both the United States and Africa.” But there are a number of reasons for African governments to be concerned about what the administration really has in mind.

First of all, Bolton cast the goal of increased economic engagement as something necessary for “safeguarding the economic independence of African states and protecting U.S. national security interests,” not as something helpful for African economic development. He pointed to the growing influence of “great power competitors,” China and Russia, which he suggested were investing in Africa mainly “to gain a competitive advantage over the United States.” While there are certainly valid concerns about some of China’s foreign aid and lending practices in Africa and other developing countries, African governments have generally welcomed Chinese aid and investment. It’s not at all clear they would agree that this is a competition where they must choose one side or the other.

A second reason to be skeptical of how seriously this administration takes the goal of helping Africa develop is the low level of U.S. engagement to date. President Donald Trump has not visited the continent; his wife and daughter have in trips heavy on photo ops but light on policy substance. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross—hardly the most dynamic member of the Cabinet—was supposed to represent the administration last month at the U.S.-Africa Business Summit in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, where details of the Prosper Africa initiative were announced. But he cancelled at the last minute because of a “scheduling conflict,” according to his office, sending Deputy Secretary of Commerce Karen Dunn Kelley instead.

By contrast, Chinese President Xi Jinping has visited Africa multiple times and has welcomed a stream of African officials to Beijing. Russian President Vladimir Putin will host 50 African leaders at a summit in Sochi later this year. Gyude Moore, a former minister of public works in Liberia (he’s now my colleague at the Center for Global Development), called the lack of Cabinet-level U.S. participation at the Maputo meeting insulting.

There are a number of reasons for African governments to be concerned about what the Trump administration really has in mind.

Finally, another reason to question the White House’s intentions with respect to trade with Africa is Trump’s view that trade policy is a zero-sum game: If another country wins, the United States must lose, and vice versa. Indeed, before getting to the mutual benefit part of his speech last December, Bolton asserted that the administration’s new Africa strategy would remain true to Trump’s “central campaign promise to put the interests of the American people first, both at home and abroad.”

So it should be no surprise that when he discussed trade, Bolton emphasized American jobs and exports to Africa. He said that the administration wants to pursue “modern, comprehensive trade agreements… that ensure fair and reciprocal exchange.” In recent congressional testimony, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also reiterated the administration’s goal of negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with an African country that could become a model for others. Negotiators for a little country, negotiating with a big country like the United States, might wonder just what reciprocity means in that context.

If more than two decades of history is any guide, negotiating a trade deal with the United States will mean more or less accepting whatever text American negotiators put in front of their counterparts, including onerous demands for strict intellectual property protections that could increase prices for drugs and agricultural inputs. Negotiating with one country at a time is also problematic because most African countries are party to one or more regional communities, which they are stitching together in a single, continent-wide free trade agreement that just formally entered into force. The continent—home to a large number of small economies, many of them landlocked—desperately needs more regional integration to increase its competitiveness by lowering transportation and other costs of trade and achieving economies of scale.

Beyond these problematic trade plans, what else is in the administration’s Prosper Africa initiative? Its second stated aim is to engage the private sector and double U.S. trade with and investment in Africa. According to Kelley’s remarks in Maputo, two of the three strands of the program are aimed at helping American companies find and close deals across Africa by streamlining and better coordinating U.S. government activities that provide information, financing and risk insurance to the private sector. She also suggested that these efforts on behalf of American businesses could include “U.S. government advocacy” to “expedite” transactions, which sounds like it might involve a little arm-twisting if African officials question the terms of a deal.

Helping African countries improve the investment climate, which is Prosper Africa’s third strand, and connecting American investors to opportunities on the continent, are worthy—and indeed longstanding—goals. Overall, however, the initiative appears to be a mix of existing programs in shiny new packaging, and with little new money. The $50 million proposed budget for Prosper Africa is a drop in the bucket compared to the administration’s proposed 9 percent cut in overall aid to Africa. And efforts to negotiate bilateral trade agreements country by country would undermine the regional integration that is needed for the continent’s development.

Trade and aid to support development in Africa can and should be to the mutual interest of all involved. But putting Prosper Africa in the context of the geopolitical rivalry with China, alongside Trump’s belligerent America First rhetoric, undermines that positive message.

Kimberly Ann Elliott is a visiting scholar at the George Washington University Institute for International Economic Policy, and a visiting fellow with the Center for Global Development. Her WPR column appears every Tuesday

 

China-Africa Debt Trap Refuted Again. Belt and Road Building Infrastructure-Developing Africa

July 12, 2019

President Xi and African Heads of State (courtesy of Al Jazeera)

This excellent article, once again refutes the slander that China is imposing a ‘debt-trap’ on African nations. The author, Ehizuelen Michael Mitchell Omoruyi, executive director of the Center for Nigerian Studies at the Institute of African Studies, Zhejiang Normal University, shows how China through the Belt and Road is developing vital infrastructure for Africa. 

“Millions of articles have been written on China-Africa engagement that involve the terms “Sino-optimism,” “Sino-pragmatism” and “Sino-pessimism.” With that said, somehow, China has also been mentioned in some Western media in a negative light, including headlines with phrases such as “Can China circumvent the middle-income trap?” “China’s trapped transition,” “The Thucydides Trap” and the “debt trap.”

“As for the debt trap, the term refers to the idea that Chinese loans in the continent of Africa are a strategy by the Middle Kingdom to extract concessions and purchase allegiance. I do not concur! China’s involvement with African nations is far beyond building railways, bridges and roads…

Continue reading: Belt and Road Offers Development not Debt Trap

China Announces $1 Billion Belt and Road Africa Fund Led by South African

Announced July 3 on the sidelines of the Summer Davos Meeting World Economic Forum in Dalian, China, this $1 billion investment fund also achieves another first–in that it will be not be run by the state government–thus being China’s first “NGO.” It will also notably be led, not by a Chinese, but by a South African.

Intended to be up and running by September, this fund–to be capitalized by wealthy Chinese businessmen and their families–will be headed by Dr. Iqbal Survé, “born and educated in Cape Town” (according to his website). Survé had started his own, Sekunjalo investment fund in 1997, leaving his medical career at the call of Nelson Mandela, who was seeking local investors to lead the development of the economy. Dr. Survé had become “affectionately known as the ‘Struggle Doctor’ because of his provision of medical care towards victims of apartheid brutality,” says his “about” page.

Since then Survé came to serve as chair of the BRICS Business Council for South Africa, and most recently as a member of the Business Council Chairman for the five BRICS countries. A hedge fund operator he definitely is not. Commenting from China, Dr. Survé said, “The discussions that we’ve had with Chinese business people, state-owned enterprises and family offices, have resulted in the establishment of this fund. Africa is ready to grow and is heading towards a $5 trillion economy. The [Africans] have seen how China was able to grow from 1980, when China made up only 2% of the global GDP when compared to today, where China makes up 19% of the global GDP.

This fund is a great boost for the development of Africa.” The fund will be overseen by a Belt and Road Business Council, eventually to grow to 1,000 Chinese and African members.