Live in the Future to Foster Regional Integration With Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa

WATCH Interview with OBN Horn of Africa, January 10, 2024

January 16, 2024

Let us work to make the Horn of Africa and East Africa a model of regional economic integration. This process has already begun, with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam exporting electricity to Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti. Ethiopia having long term port access to major shipping routes through the Gulf of Eden and the Red Sea, will expand Ethiopia’s economy and has the potential to develop the regional economy of East Africa. There are three primary conceptual obstacles that people have in understanding how to develop this region, which I discuss above in the video interview with OBN, and below in the written interview with ENA.

One, the majority of people do not understand the physical scientific principles to economic development, having been miseducated by our schools and society.

Two, the legacy of colonialism has perverted the thinking process of many Africans, leading to fixed prejudices that prevent one from seeing what is possible.

Three, most people live in the past, or at best in the present. I try to live in the future, where my mind can see the fruitful potential of that which we humans can create but does not yet exist.

Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU Model for Economic Development of Africa: American Analyst

Interview with Ethiopian News Agency, January 2, 2024

Addis Ababa, January 4/2024(ENA)- The current MoU signed by Ethiopia and Somaliland could become a model for economic development of the continent, Political-economic analyst for Africa Lawrence Freeman said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the analyst said that the Memorandum of Understanding signed on Monday could be a “useful example for the rest of the African continent.”

Moreover, the MoU for Partnership and Cooperation inked by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Muse Bihi Abdi includes wide scopes of cooperation in social, economic, political, and military fields.

It is also intended to serve as a framework for the multisectoral partnership between the two sides, and shall pave the way to realize the aspiration of Ethiopia to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports.

In this respect, Freeman believes the agreement is a breakthrough that could accelerate regional and global trade.

“If you look at it optimistically, the situation in the Horn of Africa could actually become a model for economic development and in the whole African continent. Now, this is what we’re looking for, regional integration, economic-regional linkage into international trade among nations, instead of exporting everything outside the nation. So this could be a useful example for the rest of the continent.”

However, there are political forces within the Horn of Africa and around the world who would like to continue destabilizing the region, the American analyst noted.

He particularly pointed out that there are manipulators and political forces screaming war constantly.

When the prime minister talked about the port in October 2023, dozens of articles were published predicting war. But, there was no indication of war, he stated.

According to Freeman, the historic MoU was signed in a peaceful manner and has the potential to bring other countries to cooperate with Ethiopia in this geopolitically strategic part of the world.

He advised specifically Somalis to refrain from inflammatory statements and resolve the issue calmly.

Given the conflict between Somalia and Somaliland for many years, Somaliland has been conducting its affairs differently in the spheres of currency, economy, governance and others.

The MoU “can offer economic growth to actually both nations because if Somaliland is growing, Somalia is growing too…. Statements like ‘we’re not going to give one inch of our territory’ is the kind of talking that is not helpful. We’re going to have to move forward. We can’t stay the way we are. We need to have a resolution between those two between Somalia and Somaliland.”

Beyond that the problems in the Horn of Africa are very complicated and emanate from a whole bunch of leftover problems from the days of colonialism, he noted.

There is a lot of antagonism and complications that come from colonial history.

“As for the amount of anger and hatred that I see from people against one country versus another, we’re not going to give up. We’re not going to let them know that you’re stuck in the mind of the old colonists picture. My message to people is to move forward,” the analyst underscored.

For Freeman those people who are screaming about war are either fools or they’re being manipulated by other forces in the wrong way.

In general, the American analyst stated that the MoU is very important for Ethiopia to realize the advancement of import-export trade and allow the nation to have greater access to the rest of the world.

Ethiopia also being the largest economy and population, the area can make perfect sense to build a naval capacity it once had when it accessed the Red Sea, he added.

More importantly, Ethiopia is also now going to play a major role as the country has become a new member of the BRICS, the leading institution of the global South, with a new paradigm for development of emerging nations.

That gives Ethiopia a great deal of an opportunity to begin to deal with all the political-economic frailties and create a new level of regional cooperation in the region.

Read my earlier posts:

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

GERD Talks Must Shift To Higher Level: Developing the Nile Basin

Lawrence Freeman being interviewed by the Ethiopian Herald on Dec 23, 2023 about the 4th round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

December 27, 2023

The colonial mentality has to give way to the mandate for development –

BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM, THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD

“I didn’t expect that these discussions would lead to anything because you have to change the topic of the discussion” says Laurence Freeman, American Political Economic Analyst for Africa (www.lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com), asked about the outcome of the 4th round of the latest series of tripartite talks on the first filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The negotiation which took place from 17-19 December 2023 in Cairo, Egypt was held to deal on the final rules and regulations for the filling and operation of the dam. Unfortunately, the talks ended up with no deal concluded following which Ethiopia and Egypt issued statements expressing their stance during the negotiations and why they blame the other side for the failure to reach agreement.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia says that Egypt’s efforts to maintain it historical rights based on the colonial period agreements were the impediments to reach agreement. “During these four rounds, Ethiopia endeavored and keenly engaged with the two lower riparian countries to address the major issues of difference and reach an amicable agreement. Egypt, in contrast, maintained colonial era mentality and erected roadblocks against efforts toward convergence.” The statement read.

Freeman on his part argues that the topic of dialogue among the riparian countries, i.e. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt should not be to maintain historical rights, but to plan future cooperation on how to use the water together. “It should not be how do we guarantee so much water which the Ethiopians can’t do. But how do we proceed on a development program that would advance the standard of living of all the people living in and now basic. If there’s going to be another round of discussion that should be the main topic.”

Here is the detail of the brief interview with Lawrence Freeman on the latest development around the GERD talks. Enjoy reading!

Could you tell me your reflection on the 4th round of GERD dam talks which took place recently in Cairo?

When Prime Minister Abiy was in Egypt in July, he suggested to President El Sisi, that they continue the discussion was another round of talks on the implications of the GERD, which just occurred last week was the fourth round of these talks, which, from what I read in the media, nothing really happened that changed the position of either country. And I didn’t really expect that it would. I think that both countries now have made very clear what their positions are. Ethiopia claiming the right of sovereignty over its river systems and energy production. And I don’t think much is going to change from that. 

And I don’t think there’s anything Egypt is going to do that’s going to change it. And the Egyptians have maintained that they must have so much water guaranteed for them every year, which is impossible for Ethiopia to do. I don’t think anything more is going to happen. Hopefully, there is no political or other escalation in this disagreement.

(Curtesy of researcgate.net)

After the conclusion of the talks with no deal Ethiopia and Egypt are trading blames for failing to reach agreement. How do you see the stance of the two sides in this regard?

I think the Egyptians are motivated by a type of ideology, rather than an understanding of the implications of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the GERD is a dam for producing hydropower for development. I mean, electricity is ready to be exported to Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan. And we should look at the potential of this increase injection of 5150 megawatts as a potential to develop nations in the Blue Nile and the White Nile. Well, now basically, the Egyptians do not want to have I believe in Ethiopia as a major economic competitor or see Ethiopia as a major economic competitor, which is a false way of looking at the potential rather than countries uniting together for economic development. I think Egypt was caught up in trying to suppress economic progress in Ethiopia.

And of course, the Egyptians claim that the historical rights now and they don’t have historical rights, nobody has historical rights. Plus the fact that the dam is on the Blue Nile, not on the White Nile, so there’s no real argument there. I think the Egyptians want a guaranteed amount of water that will flow to the Aswan dam and that cannot be delivered and the Ethiopians would be remiss and wrong in my view if they guaranteed it, because they can’t. But there can be joint collaboration and Egyptians for the moment are rejecting it.

This tripartite talk on GERD has failed after progressing for four rounds starting from August 2023. Do you think it is being influenced by internal and external factors, or Egypt is intentionally changing its stance every time?

I don’t think the Egyptians have changed their stance at all; this has been their policy going back to 2015. I think the Egyptians have to accept the fact that this, as we say, is a fait accompli. This has occurred, the dam is at proximately 41 billion cubic meters of water filled. I think it’ll go up to 47 or so around there. 

And then that’s the level of which we’ll be operating on. Each year, it will go down to that level as it’s filled up to 74 billion cubic meters from the rain. And this will produce electricity, which can be used for the development of the nations of the Nile Basin; the Egyptians have a different view. But it’s not going to happen; it is not going to work. There’s no way of Egypt, challenging a dam for energy development. And it’s already been built. So it can’t be unbuilt. So I don’t really understand all the political motivations for Egypt. 

Except what I said earlier, I think they want to maintain the dominant position and retard Ethiopia’s economic development  potential. I didn’t expect that these discussions would lead to anything because you have to change the topic of the discussion. It should not be how do we guarantee so much water which the Ethiopians can do? But how do we proceed on a development programme that would advance the standard of living of all the people living in and now basic, if there’s going to be another round of discussion that should be the main topic.

Egypt has insisted on safeguarding its interest which is a vestige of colonial period agreements. Do you see any possibility of coming to terms with a negotiated deal where one of the sides is insisting on colonial era agreement?1

Well, if you look at the reality of this of the situation, one is Sudan, only gains from the GERD and I think the Sudanese before the crisis that began several years ago, and I believe even now, they’ve made statements to the effect that they’re not suffering at all from reduction of the flow of the Nile through the country in Khartoum. I don’t think Sudan is part of this at all at this point. I think that they were early on, I think they were pressured by the Egyptians. 

The problem that the Egyptians have and people who support their position is that the water that flows into the White Nile, I mean, 80% of it comes from three rivers in Ethiopia, the largest Blue Nile but then you also have two other rivers that contribute to the White Nile. And the power plant; The hydroelectric power plant is on an Ethiopian soil and Ethiopian rivers I visited myself I also visited Blue Nile falls, I’m very familiar with it. And fact of the matter is there is more potential. A designated site is three mores sites for dams that have been revealed in a survey done many years ago, that could be also hydroelectric dam.

So there’s a potential in the Blue Nile Basin for more power beyond the 5150 megawatts that the GERD is producing. It would be in Egypt interest to let’s discuss this type of potential for the future. The problem is colonial rights. The Egyptians believe that the British gave them control of the Nile. Because in the history, the British controlled Egypt and Sudan under the 1899 agreement, the Anglo Egyptian condominium, and they think that they have this right. No, they don’t have a right to other people’s waters, especially since the headwaters for both the White Nile and the Blue Nile do not originate in Egypt. 

Now, Egypt built the Aswan Dam, which was their right to provide electricity for their population. But they can’t demand that other countries cannot build on the Blue Nile, what is that lead into the white Nile and that’s the problem is you had a colonial agreement in 19, it was 1929 with British and the Egyptians and the Sudanese that’s, that stipulated no blockage of the water could be no blockage of the water was permitted to the white nile. 

Now, Ethiopia wasn’t at that discussion, even though it was an independent country in 1959. If the Sudan and Egypt became independent, they had another water agreement. And this water agreement, we affirmed the 1929 agreement. And again, Ethiopia was not at that discussion. So the Egyptians really don’t have any legitimate basis, despite claiming colonial rights that have given to them by the British Queen. 

They don’t really have any historical basis for telling Ethiopia what to do. And in fact, the British and other Neo colonial powers never wanted Ethiopia to develop this dam. They wanted to use Lake Tana as a giant water tank to feed their agriculture in Sudan and Egypt. So they’ve always been opposed to this. I mean, this goes back 300 years to the present. 

They’ve been opposed to the development of the Blue Nile Basin, they’ve been opposed to electricity and that position cannot stand up to the needs of providing electricity, employment, agricultural development, for not only Ethiopian people, but from the neighboring nations, which the good will provide. So the colonial mentality has to give way to the mandate for development.

Blue Nile Basin has potential for more hydro-electric dams for development of the Nile Basin (Courtesy sierrarios.org)

How do you think could the two sides break the stalemate and strike a deal in the future?

As I said earlier, we have to change the subject. The topic of providing a guaranteed amount of water to the Aswan Dam each year is a dead issue. That cannot happen. It’s over. The dam has been built as only a small amount. More has to be collected in the first phase up to I think 49 billion cubic metres. 

We have to leave that subject and we have to go to a higher plan; we have to go to a different thinking; a different manifold no longer discussing water guarantee to the Aswan Dam, but discussing how do we use the GERD and potentially other developments of more dams in the Blue Nile Basin for the benefit of all of the downstream nations in the Nile basin. This requires a higher level of thinking. It requires a level of thinking where your concern is the future development of all the people. 

Those who are living in the Blue Nile, basically, that’s several 100 million people over I think, 10 countries? How do we get together and improve the standard of living of our people? How do we end poverty? How do we use this energy, which is a potential 5150 megawatts, and more energy potential. 

So we have to stop thinking about my country’s historical right. And the same thing comes up in discussions in the Horn of Africa. We have to get beyond that. And think about what is the benefit for the futures of our people in the next one to two generations, like we have to expand our thinking, improve our thinking, to this level, and get away from this is mine. This is yours. You can’t take mine. This petty, geopolitical mentality is really stupidity. And I and the leaders of African nations on many different fronts have to learn to rise above this and think about the future. What is going to help their people in the future? And how do we work with other nations? Not how do we demonize other nations. That’s what’s discussion has got to be. 

The Ethiopian should be actually promoting this discussion. Go beyond where they’ve been at this point, and actually promote a conference have let’s have a conference in Addis Ababa, on the future development of the Nile basin, and which then we can discuss how to cooperate with each other for the benefit of our people.

Thank you very much for your collaboration!

Read my earlier posts:

GERD: Utilizing the Blue Nile to Create Energy for Development in Ethiopia & The Horn of Africa

Freeman Speaks On The GERD: An Engineering Marvel-A Necessity For The Nile River

New Book on Ethiopia’s GERD: Historical Battle of the Nile-Colonialism vs Development

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

“Ethiopian Seaport is Win-Win for East African Nations”: Physical Economic Analyst Freeman

November 19, 2023

In my interview above with OBN (11/6/2023), I discuss the importance of understanding the concept of physical economy to competently analyze the future of the Horn of Africa. Sadly, the vast majority of Africans, like Americans, do not chose to look into the future. It is only by knowing what physical economic inputs are necessary to sustain an expanding population 20-40 years into the future that one can determine the best policies of their nation in the present. Claims of “my nation first” or “my ethnicity first,” express a short sighted mentality that is detrimental to the interests of the nations of the region. Full economic integration of the Horn of Africa, driven by investments in infrastructure, is the most reliable path to achieving peace, stability, and economic growth, and avoiding conflict.

Read my comments in the Ethiopian Herald: Why Ethiopia CDjian No Longer Ignore Interests On the Red Sea – allAfrica.com

Read my earlier posts:

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Potential Ports for Expanded Ethiopian Trade

November 4, 2023

In his new article, Ethiopia needs a reliable seaport and a navy, Ken Opalo provide a great deal of useful information on the necessity for Ethiopia to have access to a sea port to continue its progress towards of industrializing its economy. It is imperative for all the nations in the Horn and East Africa to understand, it is in their self interest for Ethiopia, East Africa’s largest and fastest growing economy, to have access to a reliable port. A prosperous Ethiopia benefits the African continent.

Excerpts below from Ethiopia needs a reliable seaport and a navy

Ethiopia’s economic case for reliable and cost-effective seaport access is strong. In order to secure its economic future, the country must minimize or completely erase the economic costs associated with being landlocked. Overall, landlocked countries tend to be 20% less developed than they would be if they had access to the sea. This is partially due to cost of trade, with transportation costs being between 50%-262% higher for landlocked countries.Subscribe

Given the significant economic costs associated with being landlocked, it is a no-brainer that for Ethiopia to achieve its ambitious developmentalist agenda — which will necessarily require export-oriented industrialization and improved agricultural productivity — it needs to have more control over trade-related costs and policy (or procure stability on both fronts from its neighbors). According to the Ethiopian government, transportation costs gobble up 16% of the value of international trade (which seems really high). Foreign trade currently amounts to 24% of GDP, and needs to grow by orders of magnitude. With an annual output of US$127b, Ethiopia is already Eastern Africa’s biggest economy (Kenya is second at US$113b) but with lots of low-hanging opportunities for even bigger trade-driven output.

Last year Djibouti cut stay of cargo days from 45 to 8 days. In addition, the port is more expensive relative to neighbors, often lacks storage space, and suffers from untimely availability of empty containers for exports. These factors have are the motivation behind Ethiopia’s aggressive port diversification initiative. As of early last year, Djibouti City’s share of Ethiopian trade cargo had declined from 95% to just under 86%, with the Kenyan border Moyale dry port (0.02%), Somaliland’s Berbera (5%), and Djibouti’s Tadjoura (9.6%) emerging as alternatives. These latter routes, however, lack the infrastructure (roads, petrol stations, service and repair stops, etc) to support bulk haulage logistics.

His careless bluster notwithstanding, Abiy has significant leverage over Djibouti (population 1.1m). Ethiopia is Djibouti’s leading revenue generator, ahead of the naval base leases by China, France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Japan. Ethiopian trade reportedly generates more than US$1b each year for the Djiboutian economy. Rents from foreign military bases estimated to be at least US$120m per year. The service sector accounts for nearly 80% of Djiboutian GDP (US$3.5b in 2022), much of it related to ports and logistics. Ethiopia accounts for upwards of 85% of all cargo passing through Djibouti.

Source: World Bank data

II: The economic case for securing reliable seaport access

As shown below, over the last decade Ethiopia has quintupled its industrial output and is quickly catching up with its regional neighbors. If these trends are to continue and if Ethiopia is to attract both domestic and foreign investments into its manufacturing sector, the state must guarantee investors that they will be able to access global markets at reasonable prices. The same goes for investments in the agricultural sector, which still has a commanding share of exports. Agriculture accounts for nearly 38% of GDP (including 50% of manufacturing production), 80% of employment, and about 90% of forex earnings.

Ethiopia’s planned rail network (see below) reflects the country’s industrialization agenda (the same goes for the overall transport masterplan, including road infrastructure). The proposed lines are all designed to serve specific industrial parks. Currently the main rail network (red) terminates at Djibouti City (Doraleh Multipurpose Port), with a planned alternative route to the opposite side of the Gulf of Tadjoura (in Tadjoura). While the rail network will certainly serve domestic production and distribution of goods once completed, an equally important objective should be to guarantee high-enough international traffic volumes to pay for its construction and ongoing maintenance.

As revealed by the planned railway network below, Ethiopia’s seaport options are largely limited to Djibouti — which is cause for believing that Abiy’s comments, if he really meant them and was not just carelessly thinking out loud that he is the latter day Ras Alula Abanega, were a negotiating tactic vis-a-vis Djibouti. Given its importance for Ethiopia’s maritime trade, is also likely that Djibouti is Addis Ababa’s first choice for the location of the planned naval base.

Ethiopia’s industrial parks are in Jimma, Hawassa, Adama, Dire Dawa, Bole Lemi, Debre Birhan, Semera, Kombolcha, Bahir Dar, and Mekelle. Source: Wikipedia

Read my earlier post: Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Develop the ports on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to promote regional economic growth in the Horn of Africa. (curtesy of dawn.com.news)

October 31, 2023

Horn Leaders Urged to Consider Ethiopia’s Quest for Access to Red Sea 

Addis Ababa, October 31/2023 (ENA)- Leaders of the Horn of Africa nations have to consider discussing Ethiopia’s quest for having access to sea as it would increase the physical economic growth of the East African region, the American political-economic analyst Lawrence Freeman told ENA.

Prime Minister Abiy has given geographical, historical, economic backgrounds to initiate discussion about Ethiopia’s right to access sea through peaceful means.

The American analyst stated that access to sea not only reinforces the steadily growing import-export trade of the second Africa’s populous nation, but will also ensure development in the region.

For him, Ethiopia’s quest for coastal access to sea outlets “is essentially correct” as it would enable to increase physical economic growth of the people in the Horn of Africa.

“If people understand more about physical economic growth, they would understand that this is not only very reasonable, but it’s correct. If you want to raise the standard of living for 200 million people living in countries in the Horn, then you would benefit from the trade that could be increased in Ethiopia by having a port on the Red Sea.”

In this regard, the analyst urged leaders of the Horn of Africa nations to have discussion to consider Ethiopia’s quest for having access to sea.

Prime Minister Abiy has suggested potential areas like the Ethiopian Airlines, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and other offers for concession, Freeman stated.

This is perfectly reasonable for the growing Ethiopian economy, he noted.

“The Prime Minister is putting these issues on the table now. (He says) let’s discuss how we are going to bring this about. And I think that’s the approach of a statesman and I would agree with it.”

Access to port is critical to accelerate the growth trajectory of the country and contribute to regional physical economic growth.

Lawrence Freeman, a physical economist, interviewed by Ethiopian News Agency-ENA

“If we look at how we increase the physical economic growth of the people in the Horn of Africa, it is going to depend on Ethiopia. Ethiopia is going to be the dominant economic growth center. And this will benefit all the other countries.

“It’s (therefore) natural to work this out. And I believe this is now an important discussion that has been raised by Prime Minister Abiy. This will be worked out over the years ahead,” Freeman noted.

He also stressed the need for discussion about a regional economic approach since there are several ports in the Horn.

Mentioning about distorted media reports that Ethiopia is claiming access to sea using force if necessary, Freeman noted that this is a very divisive policy that has been used in Africa for hundreds of years.

“We need political leaders and statesmen who rise above this and understand that these are political operations. Some are carried out externally or internally. And the purpose is to prevent the development and sovereignty of African nations. I think the leaders of the nations in the region can sit down and discuss how the region will grow economically.”

“If we concentrate on putting forth the long-term economic growth program that benefits all the nations of the region, the leaders would come to agreement.”

We should also be able to counter those media and other internal and external enemies trying to create tensions between the neighboring countries.

There is no objective reason for countries in the Horn of Africa not to work together for common aims.

Discussions should, therefore, be considered among leaders, experts in the area, including economic experts, water experts and transportation specialists on access to the Red Sea, the analyst stated.

Freeman hopes that this can be done through discussion among sovereign leaders of nation states, including presidents and prime ministers, to deal with the problem.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

African Nations Must Proceed With Needed Industrialization

Image: proposed layout of the industrial park

October 28, 2023

My colleague, PD Lawton, presents a thorough report on the creation of an industrial park in South Africa that will benefit the entire region-(read below). This directed economic development coupled with a comprehensive trans-continental rail transportation network and accessible electricity will transform the African continent. This is the method to end poverty and hunger across Africa.

Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) is a proposed industrial park in South Africa, designated with tax incentives as a special economic zone (SEZ). It is an initiative of the Limpopo Province provincial government and the flagship project of the SADC Industrialization Strategy in conjunction with  the African Union Agenda 2063. The aim is to promote industrialization through mineral beneficiation and value addition in agriculture and mineral resources. The manufacturing sector will produce processed metals such as steel, petro-chemicals and plastic production (processing of oil) as well as OEM`s (original equipment manufacturing) which is producing component parts for other industry sectors. Petro chemicals are needed to produce fertilizers. In 2022, South Africa imported US$1.51 billion worth of fertilizer. The security of food supply depends on synthetic fertilizer.

This economic hub is vital for a number of critically important reasons. It will serve as a catalyst for economic growth for the entire SADC region .Achieving of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on poverty reduction cannot be achieved without African economies manufacturing on an industrial scale including in that processing of agricultural products and processing of mineral resources which is known as mineral beneficiation.”

The African Free Trade Agreement inaugurated in January 2021,remains theoretical without operational SEZs in every region and connected by modernized high tech integrated infrastructure as epitomized by the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network which has been designed to connect economic corridors across the continent  by high speed electrified railway.

Read the entire article.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Freeman Tells Xinhua: U.S. Officials Lie About China’s Belt & Road Initiative-BRI In Africa

Chen Mingjian, Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, speaks at an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug 25, 2023.(PHOTO / XINHUA)

(BRF2023) Interview: BRI greatly contributes to Africa’s infrastructure development, says U.S. expert

Source: Xinhua, Editor: huaxia

October 24, 2023   

Staff members work on the fiberglass production line of Jushi Egypt in Suez, Egypt, June 26, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

by Xinhua writers Deng Xianlai and Xu Yuan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Lawrence Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made important contributions to improving global political and economic relations since its inception a decade ago, especially on the African continent.

He believes that the severe shortage of electricity is the most intractable infrastructure problem facing Africa, which not only exacerbates poverty, but also “kills” Africans.

“This is not a metaphor,” Freeman said, because without electricity, industrial and agricultural production and basic infrastructure such as hospitals would be impossible. China is actively working with many African countries to address this issue, he added.

Belt and Road projects in Africa cover energy, ports, airports, roads, railways, schools and other aspects, Freeman said, and it is a proven fact that China’s involvement in Africa’s infrastructure construction and economic and social development “is right now irreplaceable.”

As an expert on Africa, Freeman has advised many governments in sub-Saharan Africa on economic development policies and has witnessed several Belt and Road projects on the continent.

“One economic minister in Africa once told me: ‘If you take China out of Africa, there is no substitute that would step in,'” he said.

For years, Freeman has been vehemently advocating for the African Union’s visionary Integrated High Speed Train Network, which is a flagship project of the AU’s “Africa 2063 Agenda” adopted in 2015 and, when finished, would connect African capitals and commercial centers. As such, Freeman is particularly impressed by the several high-standard railways China helped build on the African continent.

This photo taken on Aug. 21, 2023 shows the Karuma dam at Karuma Hydropower Plant in Kiryandongo, Uganda. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)

In 2016, Freeman attended the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti electrified railway — an early harvest project of China-Africa production capacity cooperation — in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. And his decades-long dream of taking a train in Africa was realized on a Chinese-built railroad in Nigeria.

“Of the 30 years I’ve been traveling to Africa, I finally got a ride on a railroad in 2021,” Freeman said, adding it was on the railway linking Abuja — the Nigerian capital — and Kaduna, a northern metropolis and a major transportation hub in the country.

“I’ve driven that route on a poorly paved road,” Freeman recalled. With the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway, “I could sit back on a train … It was comfortable, it was smooth … I enjoyed every second of it because I’ve been waiting for decades to take a train in Africa.”

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

“China is not intervening into domestic affairs (of countries along the Belt and Road),” he said. “China lends money with no conditionality.”

“Yet we have ignorant people in the U.S. government, in the State Department, in the Congress who repeat this” (false rhetoric) about China’s Africa policy, Freeman said.

Some U.S. diplomats and members of Congress have repeatedly discredited China’s Africa policy, throwing out “unfounded or ignorant attacks on China” despite “having access to knowing better” what the reality is, he noted.

“They’re repeating something that is known to be untrue. So that is no longer ignorance. That’s deliberate disinformation,” Freeman said.■

Read Chinese translation

Read my earlier post: “Win-Win Cooperation” Is Our Goal for China-U.S. Relations

Also read: “BRI provides solid platform for global cooperation” chinadailyhk.com

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

The Racist-Malthusian Roots of the Oligarchy’s Anti-Growth Policy VS Developing Nations

Discussion between Lawrence Freeman and Rasheed Muhammad on October 2, 2023

October 14, 2023

Watch my one hour dialogue above for a no-holds barred provocative conversation. We discussed the underlying causes for the social-political-moral-economic collapse of the ”rules-based order,” which is threatening the world today.

Western leaders are incompetent, to be diplomatic, and dangerous to be frank. The essence of their geopolitical ideology that drives U.S. and Western policy, is the false view that our planet and we human beings are unchanging. This leads the foolish followers of this perverted ideology to view political relations between nations in terms of winners and losers in a “zero-sum” mentality.

However, as we discuss in the interview above, at the inner core of this belief structure is a Malthusian conviction that there are too many people in the world. Thus, population reduction, eliminating human beings, is at the root of their creed. Their anti-economic growth policy towards the developing sector, now referred to as the Global South, is an extension of their racist and imperialist view, that people of color should be eliminated first. Under the (popular) deception of protecting our planet, this arrogant Caucasian pollical-financial elite, demands that the Global South not be allowed to develop their own abundant natural resources to produce electricity. The absence of electrical power, and other categories of vital infrastructure on the African continent, kills Africans every day. This absolute refusal to allow, and assist nations to develop their economies, nakedly exposes their view, that the “lower class” of poor people living in less developed nations are expendable.

The Western dominated “rules based order” refuses to understand that economic development is the most fundamental human right. Rather, they are predisposed to “regime-change” against any leader who resists their diktats. Tragically, the U.S. has lost the vision of developing Africa since the death of President John Kennedy.  All honest and informed Africa experts know there is no meaningful US-Africa policy, except to counter China. Despite many visits by Biden administration officials to Africa, there is no concrete commitment to real economic development.  

Another important portion of our discussion centered on education. The failure of U.S. elected officials,  from both parties, to sound the alarm about the crisis of public education in the U.S., should be considered an impeachable offense. Children should be taught how to read from first to third grade, and from fourth grade on, they read to learn. The majority of children in the U.S. have not mastered basic reading skills by the time they enter fourth grade. This is the equivalent of a five-alarm fire and no leader in the U.S. has pulled the handle in the fire alarm box. U.S. failure to adequately address the education of our youth, forbodes ill for the U.S. twenty years from now, when these children are grown-up, and expected to lead our country. And yet, local, and federal governments consistently ignore the glaring needs of teachers and their students.  

The important subject of our dialogue that bears directly on a nation’s political-economic future goes beyond the common notion of education. Creativity, the potential of creative mentation, which is innate in every child, is the antidote to the warped geopolitical “zero-sum game” mind-set. Human beings, uniquely endowed with the power to hypothesize and discover the principles (not rules) that govern our physical universe, and create the conditions for the development of our planet. Nothing is fixed or static, potential growth is omnipresent. There is no “zero-sum.” With the intervention of humankind, our universe develops and expands. All nations have the same common shared goals for their citizens: satisfying their material needs and nurturing their creative imagination. Once this distinctive quality of human beings is understood, the entire edifice supporting the dogmas of Malthusianism and the “rules based order” crumbles.

Enjoy watching our dialogue in the YouTube above.  

Read my earlier posts:

Creativity Is The True Source of Economic Wealth

Ethiopian National Social Protection Conference: “The Source of Wealth is the Human Mind”

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Freeman Keynotes Abebe Bikila Awards: A Historic Figure Needed to Unite Ethiopia

Abebe Bikila running barefoot at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. The Ethiopian native took gold in that race, crossing the finish line in a record time of 2:15:16.

October 8, 2023

On Saturday, September 23, 2023, the much-anticipated 2023 Bikila Award Celebration and Gala Dinner graced the splendid venue of Daniels Spectrum in Toronto.

Distinguished guests and luminaries gathered to make this night an unforgettable experience. Hon. Dr. Jean Augustine, an iconic trailblazer and past member of the Canadian Parliament, captivated everyone with her presence. Renowned author and Africa’s trusted Political-Economic Analyst, Dr. Lawrence Freeman, shared invaluable insights.

The mission of Bikila Award is to foster academic, professional, and business excellence and promote volunteerism among persons of Ethiopian origin, primarily through award and recognition. Bikila Award is created mainly to empower young people to reach their highest potential and to celebrate their achievements.

Bikila Award realizes its mission by undertaking various relevant activities including but not limited to:

  • Honoring students, professionals, businesspersons, and volunteers deserving recognition;
  • Creating awards, scholarships, and bursaries;
  • Organizing events to celebrate and communicate the achievements of community members as well as friends of Ethiopia.

For a recap of the Bikila Award Gala, click: Abebe Bikila Award Gala

The 2023 Bikila Awards MC, Guest Speakers, Award Recipients with the President of Bikila Award. Tessema Mulugeta, President, kneeling in front.

The Bikila Award www.bikilaaward.org was conceived over a decade ago, officially founded in July 2013, and conducted its first Bikila Award celebration in 2014.

This year, the Bikila Award ceremony took on special significance, given the tensions that exist in Ethiopia, today. The accomplishments of Captain Abebe Bikila, who demonstrated unique qualities of courage and determination, are well known to Ethiopians. As a historical personage, he can also function as a unifying figure for all Ethiopians, across all ethnic boundaries. For this reason, we can say unequivocally, that those responsible for this year’s Bikila Award celebration are performing an invaluable service for their homeland, Ethiopia.

Both Abebe Bikila, and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, are national treasures that dwell in the hearts and minds of all Ethiopians and can serve to unite the culturally rich great nation of Ethiopia.

I had the honor and privilege of being the keynote speaker to over four hundred guests gathered to celebrate the achievements of Ethiopians.

Lawrence Freeman addressing the Bikila Award Gala Dinner, Toronto, Canada, September 23, 2023

Lawrence Freeman’s Presentation: We Live For the Future

I am honored and happy to be with you tonight.

Captain Abebe Bikila is known for his courage and determination to succeed, as demonstrated in his victory in the Olympic marathon in 1960 in Rome, Italy;  without his shoes. I am a long distance hiker and backpacker on the mountains of the East Coast of the United States, hiking several hundred miles a year. However, I could not do it without a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

Our World Has Indelibly Changed

Over the course of the last month, the world has been transformed. Not instantly, but in potential. This emphatically includes changes for Ethiopia and Africa as well. Africa and the Global South are moving in a new direction that we have not seen for several decades. The call for a New Just Economic World Order, prevalent in the 1970s and 1980s, has been taken up again in a new form.

Let Me Explain.

First, at the 15th Summit of the BRICS, from August 22nd to 24th, it was  decided to add 6 additional nations to become new members in January of 2024. This has transformed political-economic relations among nations on our planet. The BRICS in its embryonic form creates a new potential for development, especially among what we call the Global South or the South-South nations. As a result, the world, implicitly our universe, will never be the same, and there’s no going back to the way it was before.

We witnessed just last week, at the Group of 77 plus China, meeting in Cuba, a continuation of this new direction by the Global South. These multi-polar institutions are committed to cooperating in the mission to develop their nations and provide a better quality of life for their citizens.

There is now an undeniable alternative emerging to the dominance of the Western institutions, with their perverted geopolitical zero-sum doctrine of only winners and losers. The old order no longer unilaterally controls the world with their so called, international rules-based order. Of special importance for Africa, two of the new BRICS members are: Egypt and Ethiopia.

The second major event occurred earlier this month, on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year. It is when the reservoir of water contained by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) reached the level of 42 billion cubic meters of water in its fourth filling. This is a milestone for Ethiopia, for the Horn of Africa, and  for the entire African continent. Over the course of the next two years the reservoir will reach the capacity to hold 74 billion cubic meters of water and 11 additional turbines will be installed. Thus, the GERD in 2025 will have, with 13 operating turbines, an installed capacity to generate 5,150 megawatts of power, yielding an estimated 16,000 MW hours of electricity. This changes everything for the people of Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD. Ethiopia’s transformative infrastructure project.

What I have identified are: new potentials for development of Ethiopia and Africa. This means there will be many new possibilities for families to improve the quality of life and raise their standard of living for themselves and their children. With this new injection of power from the GERD, more Ethiopians will have access to electricity. It will also enable manufacturing and agriculture to expand and allow Ethiopia’s economy to begin the path towards industrialization. Ethiopia’s GERD is already exporting electricity to neighboring nations and this will increase when the GERD is completed.

The GERD, like Abebe Bikila is a national unifying symbol for Ethiopia.

New Prospects For Ethiopia With BRICS and GERD

These new potentials will present a new geometry for Ethiopia. A developing, economically expanding nation will require more and more young people to apply themselves in advancing their economy to higher levels of productivity. To increase the productive powers of labor we require new scientific discoveries. New technologies created from these new discoveries will enable society to advance to a higher mode of economic production. This will place a premium on engineering and scientific research. The youth of Ethiopia will become an essential segment of the labor force, driving the development of their nation and securing a prosperous future for a growing population.

As a physical economist I understand that without the material improvement of life for the people of a nation, there will be no peace or stability. That said, the essence of a nation’s policy should be on the development of the minds of its population, especially its youth.

Only human beings are endowed with the potential of creativity. Creative thought is not reproducible by computers or so-called Artificial Intelligence. The human mind alone is capable of discovery, of hypothesizing and testing new physical principles of the universe. That means each mind of each human being is vital for a nation’s future. Each human being is sacred because it possesses a mind-soul. Contrary to the foolishness of pseudo economists, it is the human mind that is the source of all wealth for society.

The GERD for example, a marvelous engineering structure between two mountains, which I visited in December 2022, is a perfect example of humankind’s creative intervention on the physical universe.

Therefore, every nation should have a twofold interconnected policy for its citizens, which is:   

To ensure an improving standard of living for the population, freeing its citizens from the daily insecurities of providing food, income, and housing. With the material necessities of life secured, the nurturing of the creative imagination of each child becomes society’s primary responsibility.

These young woman are the future.

It Is All About The Future

Ethiopia with a 115 million people, and the African continent  with its population of 1.5 billion (and growing), can have a bright future employing all these potentially creative minds in contributing to the betterment of society.

Human beings, unlike all other animals, are uniquely capable of thinking about the future. Animals only exist in the here and now. We human beings are fundamentally different. Although we physically live in the present, we act for the future.

Qualified leaders think one to two generations into the future with a vision for their nation. Mothers and fathers think about what actions they can take in their lifetimes that will contribute to a better future for their children and grandchildren. Competent economists and economic planners focus on investments in technological awakenments today that will result in an increase in the productivity of the society tomorrow.

The world is entering a new epoch. We can create a new paradigm with new multi-polar institutions committed to development. We now have a new potential future in front of us if we have the wisdom and willpower to realize it. Let us have the  same determination to reach our objective for a better humanity, that Abebe Bikila had in winning the 1960 Olympic marathon.

Thank you for listening to me.

For a recap of the Bikila Award Gala, click: Abebe Bikila Award Gala

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

Instability in Africa Can Be Averted Through Development: China & BRICS Will Contribute

October 4, 2023

My friend, Matt Ehret, has written a new article, How the West destroyed Africa and Eurasia will revive it, that provides useful context to understand the coups that have taken place in the Sahel and West Africa. His analysis parallels some of my writing on this same subject. Read my earlier posts: To Prevent More Coups Like Niger: Eliminate Poverty in Africa; and BRICS Offers New Potential for Africa & The World: The Human Race Will Benefit

Excerpts below from Matt’s article:

“In Africa, injustice looms large, marked by poverty, warfare, and famine. Despite post-WWII political gains, economic independence, a vital component of true freedom as envisioned by Pan African leaders like Kwame Nkrumah, Patrice Lumumba, and Haile Selassie, remains elusive. 

After decades of restrictive IMF and World Bank loans, poverty, hunger, and conflict persist throughout the continent. While many attribute this to Africa’s governance challenges, in reality, a deliberate imperial agenda has hindered the continent’s development in all political, economic, and security sectors. 

Coups against neo-colonialism

But much has changed in the past few years. The growing clout of Eurasian institutions that fully embrace Global South countries as valuable, integral, and equal members – the BRICS+ and Greater Eurasian Partnership are examples – offer hope that old neo-colonial shackles will be broken and that Africa can enjoy an unfettered renaissance.

The rise of a new global pole to challenge the old unipolar order has had a notable impact across sub-Saharan West Africa which, in recent years, has seen a surge in military coups shifting power away from regimes that had long prioritized the interests of western corporations. 

These coups occurred in Chad (April 2021), Mali (May 2021), Guinea (September 2021), Sudan (October 2021), Burkina Faso (January 2022), Niger (July 2023), and Gabon (August 2023) – all resource-rich countries with abnormally poor living conditions.

In Gabon, over 30 percent of its people live on less than $1 per day, while 60 percent of its regions have no healthcare or clean drinking water despite the abundance of gold, diamonds, manganese, uranium, iron ore, natural gas, and oil – mostly monopolized by French corporations like Eramat, Total and Ariva. 

Despite its abundance of rare earths, copper, uranium, and Gold, 70 percent of Malians still live in abject poverty. Similarly, Sudan, with its riches in oil, fertile soil, and water, has 77 percent of the population living below the poverty line. 

In uranium-rich Niger, which provides over 35 percent of the fuel for France’s nuclear industry (accounting for 70 percent of France’s energy basket), mainly under the control of France’s Orano, only 3 percent of Nigerians have access to electricity. In the “former” French colony of Chad, that number is only a little higher at 9 percent, and a still-unacceptable 20 percent in Burkina Faso. 

While Altanticists desperately seek ways to keep their talons embedded into the African continent and its abundant riches, a much healthier security paradigm has emerged in recent years from Eurasia…”

Sustainable security means economic development

“The fight against the destructive effects of imperialism may seem daunting, especially when viewed solely through the lens of military affairs. But the growing influence of major multipolar institutions offers an important, consensus-based, strength-in-numbers way forward. 

The BRICS+, for instance, has made sure to add new members strategically. Last month, the organization grew from five to 11 members, which today include three geostrategic African nations of Egypt, South Africa, and Ethiopia, and major West Asian energy powerhouses Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE with extensive interests across Africa.

Then there’s China’s Global Security Initiative, unveiled in April 2022, which represents far more than just a non-western security doctrine. It embodies a fundamentally different paradigm, which at its core, places paramount emphasis on economic development as the foundation for long-term strategic peace.

Beijing has not only endorsed the objectives of the African Union’s Africa Agenda 2063 in words, but has done more than any other country in realizing those ambitious goals which call for “unity, self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity pursued under Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance”…

Over the past decade, China has advanced a policy of rail development, connectivity and building up industrial capacities, training, and skill building across partner nations. During that time, trade with Africa has risen to $282 billion in trade in 2022, marking an 11 percent increase over the previous year—a figure more than four times that of the US, which recorded $63 billion in trade with Africa in 2022. 

During that same 10-year span, Chinese companies have won $700 billion in contracted projects to build energy systems, transportation grids, manufacturing hubs, ports, telecommunication, aerospace, aviation, finance, and a myriad of soft infrastructure. 

Despite the challenges posed by western interventions, China has been able to build 6000 kilometers of rail, 6000 kilometers of roads, 20 ports, 80 large power facilities, 130 hospitals, and 170 schools on the continent.

While some western “democracies” resort to the threat of military intervention, punitive sanctions, or assassinations in post-coup Niger, China assumed the role of peace broker and re-emphasized its commitment to continue all projects in Niger, including the crucial 2,000-kilometer pipeline designed to export crude oil from the Agadem fields to the Port of Seme in Benin. 

This pipeline, currently three-quarters finished, will boost Niger’s oil output by 450 percent upon completion.

In Tanzania, the Chinese government hosted the 25 August China-Africa Vision conference promoting a myriad of economic initiatives, but its highlight was the Tanzania-Burundi-Democratic Republic of Congo railway which will likely become the first of several major trans continental rail lines outlined in the Africa Agenda 2063 Report…”

Read the full article: How the West destroyed Africa and Eurasia will revive it, written by Matt Ehret: matt.ehret@tutamail.com

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.