Celebrating Kwame Nkrumah’s Ghana With Observations from Cape Coast By Donielle DeToy

Please except an article from my wife, as my belated contribution to the March 6, anniversary of Ghana’s independence from its colonial master, Great Britain.

 Akwaaba: You Are Welcome in Ghana by Donielle DeToy

 I have just completed seven weeks of my teaching internship at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School in Cape Coast, Ghana. Living in the tropical region of Cape Coast and learning about Ghanaian culture was a unique and transformative experience that I shall always cherish. I loved everything about Ghana, the culture, people, climate- Cape Coast was welcoming and beautiful.

This is not my first adventure onto the large continent of Africa. In 2011 and 2012, I traveled to Sudan visiting Khartoum, Darfur, and the Nuba Mountains. In 2014, I had the honor of accompanying my husband to Ndjamena, Chad. He is a scientific adviser to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). We attended a conference addressing the complex dangers of Lake Chad evaporating and made proposals for workable solutions. We then explored Ethiopia both Addis Abba and the Rift Valley region. Of all my travels to Africa, Ghana was the absolute best!

There is a phrase the Ghanaian population speak when greeting visitors, “Akwaaba” which means “you are welcome” or “happy to have you visit.” Ghanaians definitely “Akwaaba” visitors and make you feel very relaxed. That welcoming spirit shines in every classroom at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School.

If you don’t like warm weather or tropical creatures, you won’t like Ghana, but I loved it! Ghana is close to the equator and the sun sets very quickly. Cape Coast is on the ocean and it is often hot and humid. However, there is a cool and refreshing breeze throughout the night.

As for the tropical creatures- I shared my room with 4 (probably more) Geckos and no they don’t have funny Australian accents. These creatures are EVERYWHERE!! Outside, inside, under, over, above, absolutely everywhere. I learned to live with them (I didn’t really have a choice). I was outnumbered AND in that tropical climate there is an advantage of having roommates who eat bugs. I gave some of them names which personified them and discovered where they “live” within our house and school. There are two other common lizards in this region, the first is a slower moving Agama Lizard, there is one that lives on the school campus, he is nicknamed “Charlie.” The other managed to evade my camera- it is called a Monitor Lizard; my students call them “dragons” probably because they can weigh up to 200 pounds.

Are there cultural differences?? Absolutely. One of the amusing and challenging tasks was trying to explain winter temperatures, snow, and ice to my kindergarten age school children. They have never experienced temperatures below 70 degrees and only know two seasons; raining and dry. I taught a unit on weather and showed pictures and videos of Maryland’s bitter cold, but it was still too abstract. Finally, I made a huge block of ice and asked each student to hold her/his hand on it for as long as possible. They loved it!! Although most could not keep their hands on the ice for more than 30 seconds.

My students were very respectful and greeted us by our first names, but with the pre-fix “Teacher”, so I am “Teacher Donielle.” Education is universal, all children love to laugh, discover, and learn. The more fun I can have teaching my lessons, the better their learning experience.

In Ghana, Friday is Africa dress day, everyone wears traditional African attire. I decided to join the fun and wore a lovely African dress. All the teachers at my school were very happy that I joined in the tradition. I believe when visiting (and teaching) in another country one needs to participate in cultural activities. The teachers appreciated it and my students loved the fact that I got dressed up for their special day.

One of the saddest moments was my visit to the infamous slave castles/dungeons. I toured two different ones. The first, was in Elmina, this is the largest slave castle, built by the Portuguese in 1482. It had been sacred land for the people, but the European empires were callous and erected a hideous structure of death over this revered area. This “castle” was used as an export point for African men and women for over 400 years. The brutality in which the Europeans treated the people of Africa is revolting and horrifying. One tour guide estimated that over 20 million slaves were shipped from Africa. The other Castle was in Cape Coast. Our guide briefly locked us in one of the dungeons…the stench of blood and death still lingered, 200 years later. Both castles have a “door of no return” this is a narrow opening where the slaves where forced onto a ship leaving their homeland forever.

During a brief stay in Accra prior to my departure, I visited the museum and mausoleum of Kwame Nkrumah. He was the founding father of Ghana, achieving independence from the British empire in 1957.  He was also a key component in the creation of the OAS- Organization of African States. I was struck at the strong connection between Nkrumah and America. The museum had dozens of artifacts from his 1939-1944 studies at University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University. During his lifetime he reflected a deep understanding of the true meaning of American System of Economics. This is most evident in his speech at the founding conference of the OAS, which called for a commitment to a scientific and infrastructure renaissance in Ghana and Africa, echoing both Franklin Roosevelt and John F Kennedy.

Two happy Presidents, John Kennedy and Kwame Nkrumah, Washington DC March 1963. Nkrumah was Kennedy’s first Head of State to visit the White House.

After my first week in Cape Coast, I thought the biggest challenge and most difficult adjustment was not being plugged into the internet or access to emails 24 hours a day. But as I prepared for my departure, I realized the most difficult task was saying good-bye. The school theme for Mary Queen of Peace is Shine Forever, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, students, staff, and community shall Shine Forever in my heart.

The Urgent Need for a New Paradigm in Africa

Re-posted from africanagenda.net

Below are excerpts from a useful presentation that provides an overview on crucial areas of development in Africa. It echoes many  of the ideas I have written about over the years, and has helpful maps on energy, water, and rail transportation. The presentation concludes with a discussion on the Transaqua water project, which I have advocated for over 20 years with a modest level of success.

 

“In contrast, is the really exciting development of relations between China and the nations of Africa. Every three years, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meets, alternating between China and the capital of an African nation. At the last meeting, which was held in 2018, the meeting was in Beijing, and in 2021 it will be held in Senegal. What China has been doing with its cooperation with Africa, has been making available large amounts of credit for the kinds of projects that just make sense: rail lines, power systems, water systems, transportation, road networks, industrial parks—these kinds of significant investments.

“This is not charity; this is not a case of somebody saying “We’re going to step up to the plate and donate to those poor Africans who can’t help themselves.” That’s not the case. The United States is a bigger donor to Africa than is China. But I think if you speak to many African nations in terms of which nation is doing more at present to provide a long-term future, it’s not aid that lasts for a year; it’s taking the lid off and saying, “We’re going to develop a full economy here, not perpetually slightly alleviate poverty; that’s not a future…

“Compare that with National Security Study Memorandum 200, authored under Henry Kissinger in 1974, which stated, for about two dozen countries in the world, that the growth of their populations represented a threat to U.S. strategic interests. Because it would be more difficult, essentially, to get materials from countries that were developing and prosperous than countries that are disarrayed and poor.

“Compare this to when the British ran their official empire. Consider India, for example. Some people say that at least Britain helped develop India, building railroads, and so forth. No, Britain ruined India. India was one of the world’s leading manufacturers of cloth, for example, and had a major ship-building industry, which was destroyed by the British. Empire destroys the economic potential of its colonies, and that is the reason that development has been deliberately held back in the world

Read: The Urgent Need for a New Paradigm in Africa

Will Africa Emulate China in Eliminating Poverty with BRI? More Electrical Power Needed

March 7, 2019

Rwanda Acknowledges Partnership With China Is Beneficial for Both Nations

President Xi Jinping left and President Paul Kegame-right (East African)

Answering a media query in Kigali on March 5, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said that the Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and China, and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Xinhua reported. China is an important partner for Rwanda at all levels, and Rwanda welcomes the growing partnership with China, he said, adding that Rwanda and China have important relationships in infrastructure development, party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges, and at the political level.

Last August, {China Daily} reported Rwandan Ambassador to China Charles Kayonga telling the newspaper, through e-mail, that in Rwanda, “we have had financing for a number of roads, and we have seen direct investment by Chinese companies in a number of businesses rise.” 

 Africa is in need of infrastructure, among other things, to achieve sustainable economic transformation, he said, adding that cooperation with China will help finance the infrastructure projects to help spur the continent’s industrial development, which will, in turn, favor China in its vision of going global.

Prescient Xi: China is Eliminating Poverty

Speaking today with deputies from Gansu Province, President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of reaching the goal of eliminating poverty by 2020.

“There should be no retreat until a complete victory is won,” Xi said. “Decisive progress has been achieved in the country’s tough fight against poverty over the past years, marking a new chapter in the poverty reduction history of mankind.” Xi stressed, that the goal to eradicate extreme poverty must be achieved on time. He warned that the tasks ahead remain arduous and hard, as those still in poverty are the worst stricken. He also warned that, “the practices of ‘formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism hamper the effective advancement of poverty reduction.” He also warned against the tendency to celebrate short-term gains when it comes to addressing the problem of poverty. He insisted that claims of success should be grounded in reality, and that the results of poverty alleviation work must be able to stand the test of time.

 Also today, a comprehensive briefing was given on the success of poverty reduction over the last few years by Liu Yongfu, Director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. He held a press conference outlining the progress of the poverty-alleviation campaign. Liu noted that between 2012 and 2018, some 80 million people had been brought out of poverty at an average of 13 million people a year. Of the nine eastern provinces, eight were now free of poverty. He said there are 832 counties still enmired in poverty. In 2016, there were 28 counties that had been lifted out of poverty, and in 2017, some 125 counties, and in 2018, an estimated 280 counties. In 2013 there were 128,000 villages in poverty, while in 2018 there were 20,000. Poverty has been reduced during that period by 85%, Liu said, and the goal this year is to bring 10 million more people out of poverty. In 2019 the government will increase the funds devoted to poverty alleviation by 18.9%


African Development Bank Funding New Power Transmission Line For East Africa

In an article on its website, the African Development Bank (AfDB), pointing to regular power cuts in the East African countries from Kenya to Tanzania, from Uganda to Ethiopia, said this is about to change with the upcoming commissioning of a power transmission line to interconnect Kenya and Ethiopia. This project falls under one of the AfDB’s ‘High 5 priorities’ to ‘Light up and Power Africa.’ Working with
institutional partners, the Bank has mobilized resources to ensure the success of this project. At a cost of $1.26 billion, the project was co-funded by the African Development Bank ($338 million), the World Bank ($684 million), the Government of Kenya ($88 million), and the Government of Ethiopia ($32 million), the article noted.

The interconnection will function by means of a 1,068-km, 500-kilovolt high-voltage direct current transmission line, 437 km in Ethiopia and 631 km in Kenya with related facilities at Wolayta-Sodo (Ethiopia) and Suswa (Kenya). By December 2020, it will have a transmission capacity of 2,000 MW. This will make Ethiopia the energy giant of East Africa, while Kenya will become the epicenter of electricity trading in this part of the continent.

“The project will initially be able to transfer 400 MW from Ethiopia to Kenya, but negotiations are under way to better match the capacity of the line to Kenyan demand,” said Joseph Njogore, first secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, at an energy forum held in Nairobi in August 2018, the website noted.

 

China Friend or Foe? Published in AU’s “Invest in Africa” magazine

Below is my article on China: Friend or Foe?-January 2019, that was published (abridged) in the African Union magazine: “Invest in Africa“-2019 vol 1. You can find it on page 65 (85 on the link to the magazine). There are many worth while articles to read in this volume of the AU magazine  

By Lawrence Freeman

January 1, 2019

          The short answer is a China is friend and contributor to Africa’s progress. Ignore all the propaganda, ignorance and outright lies claiming that China is the new colonizer of Africa. There is absolutely no truth in the contorted comparison between China’s involvement in Africa today, and 500 years of slavery and colonialism by Western nations.

          Following the successful September 3-4, Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, we have witnessed an escalated disinformation campaign alleging that China is attempting to snare African nations in a new “debt-trap.” New vicious rumors have emerged that China is taking over ownership of key infrastructure projects in Africa. Every African Head of State who has spoken out, has refuted these allegations and praised their cooperative relationship with China.  

According to a report by the British based Jubilee Debt Campaign, “Africa’s growing debt crisis: Who is the debt owed to?” China is owed a minority of external debt. Their figures compiled from the World Bank and the China Africa Research Institute show that 20% of African government external debt is owed to China in contrast 32% to private lenders, and 35% to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.

Of these 14 countries that have they examined: 11 owe less than 18% of their debt to China (Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe); and three owe more than 24% -Djibouti (68%), Zambia (30%) and Cameroon (29%).

The proponents of the “debt-trap” accusation conspicuously, egregiously omit from their chronicle the history of the financial imprisonment of the then newly independent African nations by the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, and their kith and kin in the City of London and Wall Street. Through manipulation of terms of trade, controlling prices, and forcing currency deviations, African nations found themselves shackled in several hundred billion dollars of new debt to the West shortly after African nations achieved liberation from imperialist colonial masters. Western debt replaced slavery and colonialism as the new method of looting Africa of its wealth, reinforced by the ill-fated Structural Adjustment Programs-SAPs, otherwise known as the “Washington Consensus.”

So, who is kidding whom about a “debt-trap?”

Debt for Infrastructure is Necessary

Railroads from the colonial period versus railroads of the future. The East-West and North-South railroads are long overdue

Credits issued for hard infrastructure; energy, railroads, ports, roads, bridges, and soft infrastructure in well equipped; schools, libraries, universities, and hospitals will always result in an increase in productivity i.e. the economic power of the society. By employing advanced technologies embedded in new capital equipment, including infrastructure, farmers and workers can produce more efficiently. Simply providing abundant energy, high-speed railroads, and water inputs to an African nation would lead to a jump in economic output.

All nations that have experienced real economic growth and raised the living standard of their citizens have created credit i.e. public-sector debt or borrowed debt at non-usurious interest rates for targeted physical economic growth.

China is the single largest nation contributing to financing and constructing of infrastructure projects in Africa according, to Deloitte’s 2017 edition of Africa Constructive Trends. The report examines 303 infrastructure projects begun in the first half of 2017 that costs over $50 million. Appropriately, energy& power, and transport comprise 167 of these projects-over 55% of the total. While African governments fund 27.1 % of the funding, China accounts for 15.5% of the funding and 28.1% of the construction for these projects. The US accounts for 3% and 3.3% respectively. Both Italy and France are larger than  the US percentage in building infrastructure in Africa. 

African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, speaking on November 28, 2016 accurately linked the deadly migrant crisis to deficiencies in Africa’s economic development and infrastructure.

“I believe that Africa development deserves significant support, even in the midst of these challenges. We must not forget that the reason several thousands of Africans have been (illegally) migrating to Europe, is because of the lack of jobs and shrinking economic opportunities at home. Our result must not be to reduce support, but to increase support to help build greater resilience, boost its economies, address its structural challenge, such as closing its huge infrastructure gap, strengthening intra-related trade, and creating jobs for its teeming youths.”

A study done by the AidData Research Lab at William and Mary College in Virginia that analyzed China’s investments in the developing sector between 2000 and 2014, concluded:

“We find that Chinese development projects in general, and Chinese transportation projects in particular, reduce economic inequality within and between sub-national localities,” and “produce positive economic spillover that leads to a more equal distribution of economic activity.”

China has come to know, what the US has forgotten, that infrastructure is the sine qua non to drive economic growth. 

Africa’s huge infrastructure deficit is the causal factor for widespread poverty, and insecurity across the continent, precisely that which China has begun to address over the last decade. The Western financial system that dominated Africa from 1960-2000 contributed almost nothing to help African nations industrialize and failed to help create vibrant agro-manufacturing sectors. China with its Belt and Road Initiative has presented the world with a new paradigm to guide political-economic relations among nations; Africa is the beneficiary.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, and Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission

President Trump’s Non-African Strategy: Published in AU’s “Invest in Africa” magazine

Below is my article on President Trump’s Non-African Strategy, January 1, 2019, that was published (abridged) in the African Union magazine: “Invest in Africa“-2019 vol 1. You can find it on page 109 (129 on the link to the magazine). There are many worth while articles to read in this volume of the AU magazine  

 

 

Lawrence Freeman

January 1, 2019

After waiting almost two years for President Trump to articulate his policy for Africa, last month he unveiled his US-African Strategy, through the mouth of National Security Adviser John Bolton.  It should be called the Non-Africa Strategy because it has little if anything to do with the continent of Africa itself. Rather, it is essentially a geo-political tactic aimed primarily at China and to a lesser extent Russia. President Trump has put his stamp of approval on the age-old British inspired geo-political ideology that views foreign policy as a “global zero-sum game”-a world with only winners and losers among the super-powers. All other (lesser) nations are treated simply as movable pieces in their fantasy game. In other words, in this administration’s policy, Africa is a pawn on their geo-political chess board. Sadly, this so-called African stratagem shows no concern for well-being of the African people, doing nothing to improve the conditions of life on the continent, nor does it enhance US security.

Bolton explicitly attacks China’s new paradigm in foreign policy-the Belt and Road Initiative-while threatening African nations who do not support the US position on China and Russia. Blinded by their geo-political world view, the Trump administration displays disdain for the fruitful collaboration of China (primarily) with Africa nations in building vitally needed infrastructure across the African continent. In many cases constructing new railroads for the first time since the days of imperialist-colonial domination.

The Trump/Bolton policy has already failed from the start. It is too late to stop Africa’s momentum for economic development with its allies. However, if the Trump administration were more thoughtful, it would formulate a strategy to assist African nations in reducing their massive deficits in crucial categories of infrastructure.

Return to a Real American Strategy for Africa

The promotion of human life should (must) be the most important goal of all foreign policy. Human beings uniquely possess the cognitive-creative mental capacity to transform the physical universe. Only through new scientific discoveries by a sovereign human mind, can we ensure the continued material-biological propagation of our human race. Thus, the promotion of physical (not financial) economic growth, which sustains human progress, is the core of any competent “good neighbor” foreign policy.

Presidents John Kennedy and Kwame Nkrumah, Washington DC, March 1963

President John Kennedy was our last president who identified with and supported the development of the newly liberated African nations. His unique friendship with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah resulted in securing the funding for the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River which provided hydro-power for aluminum smelting and electricity for the people. This project stands as a monument today in Ghana (and Africa) in contradistinction to the El Mina slave dungeon, and other “slave castles” along Ghana’s coast.  We should remember that it was the African liberator, President Nkrumah, who was the very first Head of State invited by President Kennedy to Washington DC on March 8, 1961.  Four months later, the pro-African President invited Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of Nigeria to the White House.

Not one of the ten US Presidents following the death of Kennedy have emulated in practice his genuine concern for the advancement of the African people. However, President Kennedy was not original in his vision for Africa.

President Franklin Roosevelt famously scolded British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during their war-time conferences, for Britain’s imperialist exploitation of Africa. He drove Churchill into an apoplectic fit, when he threatened to do away with British Imperialism and its eighteenth-century methods, after the war was won.

President Roosevelt expressed his vision for Africa’s development when told his son Elliott, that with the re-creation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes?  It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”

This is the way US leaders true to our American System of economic progress used to think.

Africa’s Future

Africa’s population is projected to expand to 2.5 billion people in 2050- a generation and a half generation from now. The continent is well situated to become the center of world commerce, with its expanding population, vast tracts of arable land, and its abundance of natural resources. To secure this future, Africa needs trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure. There is no “zero sum” competition. Africa’s friends should cooperate in promoting the limitless number of infrastructure projects that Africa desperately needs. If, Africa and its allies fail to fully develop its enormous potential, and African nations are unable to productively employ and instill hope for a better future to the continent’s projected 2050 population of a billion young people, then we should anticipate perilously new levels instability and insecurity.

It should be obvious to all, including President Trump and his advisers that there will be no security without economic development.

It would be best for both the US and Africa, for President Trump to jettison this terribly flawed policy and advance a real American vision for the continent.  This should include collaboration with China on building transformative infrastructure such as the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project to refurbish the shrinking Lake Chad.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, and Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission

 

Will A Marred Presidential Election Be Used to Discredit Buhari and Nigeria?

The two leading candidates in Nigeria’s Presidential election. On the left-President Muhammadu Buhari (APC). On the right-Atiku Abubakar (PDP)

Plans are afoot to potentially use violence or other means to disrupt Nigeria’s Presidential election re-scheduled for Saturday February 23, 2018, in order to discredit President Buhari, and Nigeria. I am not making an idle prediction. Knowing Nigeria and its history as I do, and the intent of financial predators to weaken the Nation State of Nigeria, one must be prepared.

Hours before the polls were to open, the Independent National Election Commission postponed the voting for one week. Leading up to the originally scheduled vote on February 16, circles in the US and UK issued unprovoked condemnations warning President Buhari to conduct a “fair and transparent” election. Why such warnings delivered weeks in advance, when Nigeria had distinguished itself in 2015 by conducting, by most accounts, the most honest Presidential election in its history? The most dangerous threat against President Buhari came from George Soros’ Open Society of West Africa. Soros, a member of the financial globalist oligarchy is notorious for using his worldwide tentacles to foster regime change. Read: External & Internal Forces Fear Continuance of Buhari Presidency

Earlier this week, Republican Congressman Chris Smith, who is the party’s point man on Africa, issued a denunciation of President Buhari. In his statement Cong Smith said: “Responsibility for the delay of Nigeria’s presidential election lays squarely with President Muhammadu Buhari and those close to him.” He went on to accuse the President of “undermining confidence that this election and subsequent gubernatorial elections will be free and fair…” Smith is no friend of Africa. He is a proponent of regime change and has joined with anti-Muslims forces in the US in calling for the removal Sudanese President Bashir. In April of 2018, when Ethiopia was celebrating the selection of Dr. Abiy Ahmed as its new, young reformist Prime Minister, Smith’s subcommittee on Africa, passed a resolution denouncing Ethiopia for alleged human rights violations.

On February 19, John Campbell (retired US Ambassador to Nigeria), published a blog for the Council of Relations raising suspicions of President Buhari’s involvement in the postponement of the February 16 election. Campbell reports that many Nigerians “are seeing the postponement as part of a strategy to throw the elections, most often to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.”  He goes on to say: “Nigerians are also concerned that the postponement provides more opportunity for the incumbent powers to buy votes and deploy security services to intimidate voters.”

Campbell in his blog, retails the allegation from President Buhari’s opponent, Atiku Abubakar, “claiming that the Buhari administration postponed the vote to ensure a lower voter turnout.”  He also repeats the accusation that President Buhari’s plan: “is to provoke the public, hoping for a negative reaction, and then use that as an excuse for further anti-democratic acts.”

Violence: A Political Weapon 

There are forces inside and outside Nigeria, who would like to undermine the nation’s sovereignty, preferring a malleable government that would permit the continued exploitation of Nigeria. Since Royal Dutch Shell descended on Nigeria with its first oil well in 1956, Nigeria has never been truly sovereign. Mega oil companies and their financial cohorts, conspiring with a cabal of corrupt “middlemen,” have looted Nigeria’s oil for decades, resulting in economic and political instability for Africa’s largest populace.

The Buhari administration has not yet acted to fully mobilize the Nigerian economy as forcefully as required to end abject poverty and generate productive jobs for millions of unemployed youth. Not nearly enough has been done to reverse the British nurtured deep ethnic divisions that have instilled great mistrust in Nigerian society. Sadly, these volatile ethnic, religious, and geographic fault lines have been easily manipulated into wanton violence. However, President Buhari has displayed a nationalist commitment for economic development, initiating the largest expansion of vitally needed infrastructure in Nigeria’s history. He has also demonstrated his determination to alleviate the horrible conditions of life in the Lake Chad Basin (where Boko Haram recruits), through his steadfast support to replenishing the shrinking Lake Chad.

The next President of Nigeria should be decided by the Nigerian people. One cannot dismiss the likely probability that violence will be instigated as means to undermine the legitimacy of the election. Not only is there a history of violence in Nigerian elections, but Boko Haram, which has brutalized the Nigerian people, is dedicated to using violence as a political weapon. In the last two weeks leading up to this Saturday’s election, over one hundred Nigerians have been killed or injured. Not just by Boko Haram, and other extremists, but also from clashes between the APC and PDP, ethnic conflicts, and attacks by suspected herdsman. This has created an opportune environment that provocateurs may exploit in their scheme to disrupt the voting process in this all-important election.

Watch: Will Nigerian Election Be Destabilized? Interview with Lawrence Freeman

 

China is NOT Exploiting Africa, But Investing in its Future: The Case of Nigeria

The article below, “Nigeria’s balanced and diverse relationship with China is key to sustainability,” provides a useful examination of the healthy bilateral relationship that China has developed with Nigeria, especially during the administration of President Buhari.  It is also important to note that Nigeria has officially joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative in January of this year. (excerpts below followed by a link to complete article)

1)    Infrastructure

Nigeria has one of the largest infrastructure deficits in the world; two thirds of the population still does not have access to safe water and over half of the population has no access to reliable electricity. Logistics costs are also extremely high; it costs more to transport a good from Lagos in Nigeria’s South to Kano in the North (1000km), than it does to ship a good from Shanghai to Lagos (over 12,000 km).

Nigeria’s government is investing in infrastructure, but external funding is needed. As cited in the National Integrated Infrastructure Master-plan (NIIMP) developed by Nigeria’s Ministry for Planning in 2015, it is estimated that the country requires $3 trillion over the next 30 years, with $500 billion required in the first 10 years. This estimate, which has wide sectoral scope, is reached by comparing Nigeria’s core infrastructure stock of around 20-25% GDP to international benchmarks of around 70%. Yet, even as the government increased its budget allocation for capital expenditure to 30% in 2017, this remains at least 80% short of the annual amount prescribed by NIIMP.

Alongside self-funding new infrastructure, Nigeria has also looked to the World Bank, European Commission and African Development Bank as sources of infrastructure capital. Yet while they might have the risk tolerance and investment horizons, their capital remains diluted over a number of countries. In its 60 years of operation in Nigeria, the World Bank has invested on average $100 million on infrastructure a year – significant but still a drop in the ocean versus Nigeria’s needs…

3)    Manufacturing    

While Nigeria is the richest economy in Africa, with the largest population and one of the better educated work forces, 4 in every 10 people still remain unemployed. Nigeria needs more inclusive industrialization that creates jobs for all, as opposed to focusing solely on sectors such as oil. Opportunities lie in the manufacturing sector, which creates more jobs through stronger forward and backwards economic linkages than any other sector.

Nigeria is again leveraging its relationship with China here. Some Chinese manufacturers have started relocating production to Nigeria, partly in response to rising wages in China and to take full advantage of the size of Nigeria’s domestic market. Sun Ceramics is one such example; they produce ceramics the size of 10 football fields every day, employ over 1,000 locals and also source all their raw materials from Nigeria. If it weren’t for Nigeria’s difficult business environment, Chinese firms claim they would commit greater amounts of investment.

Stronger ties to stand the test of time.

Nigeria, however, has managed to…build a balanced and more diverse relationship with China. Nigeria’s relationship with China extends beyond resources and infrastructure to security, financial planning and sharing of best-practice in manufacturing, to name a few areas of cooperation. Particularly in the realms of security cooperation; the Chinese have found an area that helps win them local support on the ground in Nigeria given a near-universal desire to eliminate insurgent forces. Nigeria also recognizes that the size of its domestic market offers the largest opportunity in Africa for Chinese companies; and that has helped to improve the balance in the relationship.

It is this combination of balance and diversification that is key to a sustainable relationship with China.

 

Read: Nigeria’s Balanced and Diverse Relationship with China

African Union Commission chief praises AU-China partnership

Moussa Faki Mahamat

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission, has extolled the partnership between the 55-member pan-African bloc and China in different arenas.

The AU Commission chief made the remarks at the opening of the 32nd AU summit on Sunday in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, with the attendance of African leaders, foreign diplomats, and other prominent personalities.

Speaking of the AU-China partnership, Mahamat said that the two sides have been enjoying unprecedentedly dynamic partnership in various areas.

The successful Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing in September 2018 demonstrated “the unprecedented dynamism” of the partnership between the two sides, he said.

In September 2018, AU officially launched the AU representational office in Beijing, he recalled, indicating that it would further strengthen the partnership.

“The remarkable success of FOCAC held in Beijing in September 2018 illustrates the unprecedented dynamism of our partnership,” Mahamat said.

“The opening of an AU office in Beijing will obviously strengthen this multifarious and fruitful partnership, including the strategic dialogue between the AU Commission and the People’s Republic of China,” he added.

Chinese support for AU peace and security totals $180 million

End French Colonialism in Africa: Terminate the CFA franc

Italy Rightly Accuses French of Colonialism in Africa

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio has accused France of running a “neo-colonialist system” in Africa through the CFA franc single currency union imposed on ten countries in Central Africa of being the cause for impoverishing Africa and for migration flows.

Di Maio, who has managed to make this the issue number one of the political debate in Italy, declared that “Europe is ignoring one thing, i.e. what some countries are doing, impoverishing Africa. France above all, prints a double currency in over ten countries, through which a percentage of French national wealth is paid and a minor part of the French deficit is financed.”

“Africans will stay in Africa if the French stay at home instead of colonizing,” Di Maio went on, announcing  a parliamentary initiative. “I want to ask the EU to sanction countries such as France and we will ask France to open its ports.” Di Maio threatened to henceforth ship all refugees rescued at sea to Marseille until France stops printing the CFA franc.

French sources acknowledge that the CFA franc is an issue and there is a debate in France already, but say it is not connected to the refugee flows. The countries where most refugees come to, such as Italy  are from Nigeria, Eritrea, which are not part of the  CFA  franc. The Italians have responded that the CFA franc area is nevertheless allowing the transit of refugees organized by human traffickers.

{Italy is correct. Through their monetary imposition of the CFA franc currency, the French are continuing their colonialist policy in Africa. The African Union with the full support of all African nations should immediately declare termination of the CFA in West and Central Africa. Every African nation has a right to be sovereign and control its own currency}

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The article below echoes the theme in my own earlier statement regarding the so called US-Africa Strategy: Pres. Trump’s Non-Africa Strategy

It concludes: That renewed focus gives African nations unprecedented opportunities to pursue their own interests, rather than simply act as client states. America’s drive to contain both Russian and Chinese influence brings chances to secure foreign investment and to leverage strategic advantages into a more prominent presence on the world stage. And, after centuries in the shadow of global powers, it is high time that Africa finally found its own voice.

Read: America’s New Policy in Africa is Attempt to Contain Chinese and Russia 

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Same Geo-political outlook for Africa

New National Intelligence Strategy Report: Geopolitical Focus on Russia and China

Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats presented the 2019 National Intelligence Strategy Report, which is released every four years. Similar to National Security Adviser Bolton’s so called US African Strategy released last year, it s steeped in British geo-political ideology. Like NSA Bolton’s report, it emphasizes the dangers posed by such “traditional adversaries” as Russia and China, as well as North Korea and Iran, reflecting a shift away from previous years’ focus on combating international terrorism.

It is also said to echo the intelligence community’s “unanimous” 2017 conclusion that Russia interfered in the U.S.’s 2016 presidential elections to “undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order. While documenting many other “dangers” such as cyber-threats, the “democratization of space,” the development of anti-satellite weapons, the report is primarily concerned that “traditional adversaries will continue attempts to gain and assert influence internationally  weakening of the post-WWII international order and dominance of Western democratic ideals…in the West, and shifts in the global economy.”

In its “Strategic Environment” section, the report warns of the likely continuation of “Russian efforts to increase its influence and authority” which “may conflict with U.S. goals and priorities in multiple regions.” An additional concern, is “Chinese military modernization and continued pursuit of economic and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond.”

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China Plans Biggest-Ever Investment in High Speed Rail is Good for Africa

{Global Construction Review} (GCR) reports today that “China is planning to invest a record $125 billion in rail this year as the government looks to cushion the impact of slower economic growth. This would be 6% more than was spent last year, and 10% more than was originally planned, according to a report in the {Nikkei Asian Review}.”

China is taking measures to stimulate the economy in response to the “slowdown” in growth, although growth is still 2018. These include an “acceleration in construction projects, as well as cutting taxes and boosting the money supply…” {GCR} reports.

China Railways’ annual plan envisages a 45% rise in new projects, resulting in the addition of 6,800 km to the total network, {GCR} reports. High-speed rail will be expanded by 3,200 km, more than the total of High Speed Rail in any other country. This will mean China far exceeds its previous schedule to build 30,000 km of high-speed railway lines by 2020.

 

 

China & the US Can End Poverty by Exploring Space: Africa Gains

Exploring outer space is a natural driver of economic growth. Discovering the universe beyond earth stimulates the mind, excites the imagination, and challenges our human understanding of the physical laws-principles that govern our planet. Discovering new scientific principles leads to new technologies that transform our economic mode of production. Knowledge, understood in this way, changes i.e. improves our relationship to nature-the physical universe. There is no so-called environmental limit to continued economic growth for the human noetic-creative species. The last great burst of productivity in America was a result of President John K Kennedy’s vision for man to land on the Moon. All the new discoveries that were required to accomplish that feat created new technologies here at home, on planet earth. Kennedy’s space program resulted in a 14:1 return on investment. This will happen again as mankind continues to probes further into space. China has taken the lead. However, if the US, instead of demonizing China and Russia were to collaborate with space fairing nations, in searching out new scientific principles of the universe, we would cause a revolution in science. In possession of this scientific knowledge we could end hunger, poverty, and conflict throughout the world. Africa has much to gain by supporting new endeavors into outer space.

“Get Rid of Poverty, But Also Aim Deeper into the Sky”

In the context of the press conference today by China National Space Administration (CNSA), CGTN conducted an interview with lunar mission chief designer, Wu Weiren, with its “face-to-face” reporter. The title of the interview is: “face to face Wu Weiren: a big step for mankind.” He was asked more than once about cooperation with the U.S. Wu responded that there is, in fact, some cooperation with the U.S. on this mission. The Chang’e-4 relay satellite “will extend its service life, and they can use it at that time, after the Chang’e-4 mission… The U.S. made a request to know the landing time and location in advance, so that their satellite can be adjusted to [pass over] the landing site, and record the precise location of the landing site.” This would be of benefit to China.

He continued: “This is a golden opportunity for the United States. It always wants to measure the meteorites hitting the Moon, which can raise the state of the moon dust. This is very difficult. The probability [of observing a meteorite hit] is too small; it is difficult to achieve. But this time we have such an opportunity, so Americans want to seize it, and we are willing to provide them the opportunity.” Asked numerous times about cooperation, Wu said, that “the scientists of the two countries still hope to cooperate together,” providing examples of areas of complimentary science investigations.

When asked by a reporter, “Our country has spent so much money and used so many scientists to do this. Why do we have to help people [do this]?” Wu Weiren responded: “China has fallen behind in the past few hundred years. From the perspective of modern science and technology, we still benefit from the Western countries. We have bathed in the rain of world science and technology development, and we enjoy the benefits. Now that we have the ability, our economy has developed, and our science and technology are gradually catching up with the pace of world development. As General Secretary Xi said, big countries must take on big tasks. I think we should contribute to the world’s science and technology now. We can do this in an era of contribution.”

Wu added: “A nation needs to look up at the stars, and China’s deep space exploration will fly further and further. [We have had] the successful landing of the Chang’e-4, the relay link connection, payload start-up, two-unit separation [of the rover from the lander], rover moon-day dormancy and wake-up, and two-way mutual [photograph] shootings were completed. Every move and every step attracts the attention of the world.”

“Of course, we must do our own things well,” advised. For example, the tens of millions of people in our country have not yet gotten rid of poverty. This should be solved. However, we should also aim deeper into the sky. One philosopher has said that if a nation does not look up at the starry sky and only buries its head and feet, this nation has no hope and no future.

We have 1.3 billion people and we are a big country. I hope that in our generation or the next generation, we can turn our big space power into a strong space power. Now we say that we can catch up with the world’s advanced level. Next we can lead the world. That is the dream of our generation.”

‘A Nation Needs to Look Up at the Stars’

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) held a press conference this morning on the on-going Chang’e-4 mission, and future lunar exploration missions. Giving the briefing was Wu Yunhua, deputy chief commander of the agency, and Wu Weiren, general designer of the lunar program. Wu Weiren
said that CNSA is organizing Chinese experts to work on the follow-on lunar missions, and that three future missions are being planned:
* Chang’e-5, which will launch at the end of this year, will return a sample from the near side of the Moon * Chang’e-6 will conduct a south pole sample return. Whether it will be conducted on the near side or the far side of the Moon depending on the results from the sampling mission of Chang’e-5.
* Chang’e-7 will conduct comprehensive exploration of the south pole, including its land forms, material composition, and environment
* Chang’e-8 will test key advanced technologies on the far side, and companies will be invited to industrialize the technologies. {China Science and Technology Daily} reports that Wu Yunhua added, “On Change-8 we are planning even more crucial experiments for our lunar exploration, including to determine the
possibility of establishing a lunar base for scientific research, if we can do 3D printing on the Moon, and whether it is possible to use the lunar soil for the construction of buildings, in order to jointly construct a lunar base for further exploration of the Moon.”

Previously it has been stated by CNSA that the first Chinese lunar base will be robotic, with periodic visits by astronauts. China has said that its first manned lunar mission will take place around 2030.

At the press conference, the importance of international cooperation was stressed by a number of speakers. All countries are welcome to participate in China’s follow-up lunar exploration and deep space exploration projects, he said.

Ouyang Ziyuan Gives His Views on Chang’e-4 and Future Exploration

Geologist and Academician Ouyang Ziyuan, in an undated, but recent, interview on CCTV, commented on the Chang’e-4 mission. The program was titled “Why We Want To Go to Far Side of the Moon?” Ouyang said that it had been the dream of scientists immemorial to find out about that side of the Moon that we never see. In addition, the far side, which is open to the universe — and all its effects — would no doubt contain ancient rocks that would reveal the secret of the origin of our Solar System. Scientists have chosen a level area of the Moon in the Aiken Basin and have concentrated on an ancient crater, the Von Karman Crater, Ouyang said, which could be one of the oldest parts of the Moon.

Eventually, he said, one task would be bringing ancient rocks back from the crater for examination on Earth. In addition, the Moon could serve as a base for future exploration.

“Our task in the final analysis is twofold. One is the low-frequency radiation. The other is the record contained in the ancient rocks. Our next phase on the Moon must be scientific research, and we have to plan a base for scientific research and gradually improve that base for our work. I am convinced that in
this way we will look forward to new knowledge and to new breakthroughs,” he said.