It’s Time for Africa
Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent
It’s Time for Africa
Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent
Some Western media and politicians have recently created the phrase “debtbook diplomacy” to accuse China of “miring nations in debt” and “undercutting their sovereignty.”
According to CNN, a new report presented to the US State Department claims the “Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debt to gain political leverage with developing countries.”
“This phrase ‘debtbook diplomacy’ shows the West is nervous of China-Africa cooperation. ‘Debtbook diplomacy’ is what they did to Africa for decades, but now China is actually helping African nations rid themselves of ‘the debt trap’ set by the West,” said Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University of China in Beijing.
The West left African countries with a heavy debt on projects and failed to support their sustainable development, or to increase productivity and help them realize self-reliance, Wang noted. “Western countries wanted Africa to become their raw materials supplier while maintaining their post-colonial influence over the continent. This prevented African countries from realizing their own industrialization, Wang said.
China, on the other hand, is helping the nations move toward self-reliance and industrialization. The West doesn’t like that and this is why it is attempting to slander China, Wang added.
Xu Weizhong, deputy director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations’ Institute of West Asian and African Studies, said that “Africa needs a lot of investment to build infrastructure, and China’s loans, which have increased African countries’ debt, are necessary for their development.”
China’s assistance to Africa differs from what the West offers. China has a “crucial principle,” which is to respect African countries’ will and conditions. China has never forced African countries to accept loans on large infrastructure projects beyond their ability to pay, Wang said.
“China and Africa have walked an extraordinary path in developing relations and cooperation, and our peoples have benefited greatly from it,” Assistant Foreign Minister Chen Xiaodong said at the opening ceremony of the Seventh China-Africa Think Tank Forum in Beijing on July 4.
“A minority of Westerners are blinded by their ‘pride and prejudice’ and choose not to see this… maybe that is what they call ‘sour grapes’?” Chen said.
West is largest debt holder
Data shows that Western countries and West-led organizations are the largest owners of African debt, not China, Shen Shiwei, a research fellow at the Charhar Institute and former government relations and business consultant for Chinese enterprises in Africa, said in an article published on CGTN’s website.
Research from SAIS and the China Africa Research Initiative at Johns Hopkins University shows that China has provided loans worth $114.4 billion to Africa from 2000-2016, which accounts for 1.8 percent of Africa’s total external debt.
“The IMF and World Bank own 36 percent of African debt. These multilateral financial institutions and other giant investors in Europe and the US have far stronger leverage [than China],” Shen noted in his article.
“For historical reasons, the West has many interests in Africa. Those that are reasonable should be respected when we cooperate with Africa. But for those that are unreasonable, should China and African countries continue to respect them? Before accusing China, the West should think about this carefully,” Xu said (emphasis added)
It has been my firm belief for several years that, if China and the US jointly partnered with African nations, we can eliminate poverty and hunger across the continent. Development of Africa is not a “zero sum game.” Africa’s infrastructure deficit is estimated in the trillions of dollars for energy, rail, ports, roads, new waterways, and much more. There is no part of Africa that could not be developed, if the two largest economies worked with African nations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an excellent vehicle for such collaboration between Presidents Xi, and Trump. Below is a useful article reporting on US and Chines companies working together in Africa
“When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges…
“As China expands its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, government-level U.S.-China cooperation in Africa continues to be scarce. However, this trend contrasts sharply with the growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects on the continent. Indeed, although the Chinese projects and financing have the tradition of favoring Chinese contractors and providers, the technical advantages of some American companies have made them the beneficiary of the Chinese BRI campaign…”
The just-concluded EU Summit on migration has come up with measures like securing centers for migrants to process asylum claims, strengthening external border controls, and boosting financing for Turkey and countries in North Africa. But these are old solutions to old problems.
Since 2015, the EU has been working at full capacity to overcome the migration crisis. EU member states received over 1.2 million first-time asylum applications in 2015, more than double that of the previous year. But it seems that the European continent is still working in the same old way to try to prevent the entry of immigrants and not to address the causes of migration. Even if we assume these measures bring success in reducing immigration for some time, the EU will later be surprised when migrants use other means and methods to migrate, because the causes of migration still exist.
The root of migration is poverty. The African continent has suffered occupation and war for many decades. Many African countries have not yet been able to achieve the path of reform and development. This has put the people of these countries under unbearable pressure from poverty, ignorance and disease. They have pushed themselves into the abyss and tried to cross the border to reach Europe. They have faced danger and horror, believing a chance at a better future is worth dying for, if necessary.
With the emergence of the new system of globalization, the world became a small village and Africans opened their eyes to the luxury and good life enjoyed by Europeans, which inspired them to move to these countries. The majority of people from African countries continue to blame European countries for their backwardness and believe they should shoulder their responsibilities toward Africa. As a result of the failure of European countries to play the role that the African people were waiting for, these masses migrated to Europe to try to gain these rights. Europe, when dealing with refugees, looks at them from a perspective of human logic or empathy and does not view migration as a symptom of a disease. European countries must change their thinking and strategy to deal with the disease in order to make the causes of migration disappear.
It is time for Europe to look at the Chinese experience in Africa. The Chinese policy has always focused on development. Economic relations between Africa and China have grown enormously, especially since 2006. The African continent is playing an important role in the Belt and Road initiative. China provides infrastructure funding and a workforce, and this infrastructure allows Africa to increase its production and exports, improving the quality of life and improving the conditions of millions of Africans.
Hope is the solution. The people of the African continent need hope. At least this last summit has come out with some words about more investment in Africa to help the continent achieve a substantial socio-economic transformation. China has been focusing on African development for a long time and has seen the results. The EU should work closely with China to push for the B&R to fight poverty in Africa and promote development. (emphasis added)
He Wenping is a senior research fellow at the Charhar Institute in China, and Hisham Abu Bakr Metwally is the first economist researcher at the Central Department for Export & Import Policy under the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry. email@example.com
Mr. Kelvin Kemm, in this in-depth interview, excerpted below, discusses the realm of energy choices for South Africa as well for other African nations. More are considering nuclear energy as a safe and reliable power source for their economies. Mr. Kemm also discusses the anti-nuclear lobby and the causes for climate change. I recommend you spend the time to read through the entire interview.
Interview With Kelvin Kemm, who is chairman of the board of the government-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, known as NECSA,
Kemm: “The current situation is that nuclear is still on the agenda exactly as it was; it’s unchanged. There’s been somewhat of a delay because of various issues—we have a new President now, as of a couple of months ago, and a new Minister of Energy. But nothing has changed with the plan to add 9,600 MW of nuclear—to the existing total from all sources of 45,000-plus MW of electric power.
“However, the wind and solar people have been making a lot noise and made quite a few inroads, in that they’ve influenced the public thinking a lot. In doing this, they’ve done quite a bit of sabotage of nuclear, in the sense that they spread false stories that nuclear power will kill your children, and that there’s an unsolved waste problem, and that South African workers will not be able to meet exacting nuclear standards.
“In contrast…We say that you’re not going to run electric trains across the country on solar and wind, you’re not going run the gold mines; but we have no objection to solar and wind where they can work—in rural areas and in small applications, dedicated applications, which is in stark contrast to the anti-nuclear people, who condemn anything that has the word “nuclear” associated with it.
“I’d like to branch into something else, that there’s a lot of nuclear technology which is not nuclear power. So while the extreme greens are attacking the nuclear concept, they’re doing a lot of other damage. For example, South Africa is currently the second biggest supplier in the world of nuclear medicine; we’re major suppliers to the United States. In Pretoria we’ve got the only nuclear reactor in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing nuclear medicine for the world, with deliveries taking place three or four times a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays. We send this nuclear medicine around the world. It is a great life-saver for cancer patients, for example, and in diagnosing other diseases.
“Last year, in 2017, I was invited to speak at the inaugural African Union Economic Platform meeting in Mauritius. One of the things I mentioned in my presentation was nuclear power for other African countries, and I was inundated with reaction.
“Half-a-dozen-plus countries, now, have already spoken to us directly, asking if we can supply nuclear power to them. Now, that is in the form of the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR), which South Africa developed a number of years ago. That reactor got to the point where we were ready to start constructing the first prototype, when the government of the day then put the project on ice. They didn’t actually close it down, but they put it into such low gear that it eventually stumbled to an effective standstill.
“Golly, how can you have an African country dependent on rainfall to keep the lights on? You just can’t do that. And numbers of them said they had no coal, oil, or gas.
“They said, what’s next? The anti-nuclear lobby has been going on with their hand-waving and demonstrating, to get solar and wind, but many of them have been very senseless. Hey, wait a minute—you don’t get solar at night. And so hopefully the wind blows. What happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Now, you’ve got nothing. And the
green just say, well, that’s the way Mother Nature designed it: Live with it.
“And so, many African countries have gotten wise about it, saying, wait a minute, we’re about to get suckered here into this thing. And they’ve realized now that the only solution they’ve got is to go for PBMR-type nuclear. because with nuclear, you can stockpile fuel very easily, for a very long period of time. It’s very easy to keep a year or two, or three, or four of nuclear fuel supply in a couple of bunkers, because the volume is so small; whereas you could never keep two or three years’ worth of coal in a pile around a power station. Here in South Africa, we try to keep a two-week emergency supply of coal at power stations, and even that is a mountain of coal “the size of an Egyptian pyramid.” And they go through that very quickly”
What is Transaqua?
Last June, in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Chinese construction giant PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica SpA signed a deal about a regeneration project of Lake Chad.
The agreement includes carrying out feasibility studies on transferring water from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo to replenish Lake Chad.
Due to less rainfall and increased irrigation, the Lake’s area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometres to just 2,000 square kilometres. Other factors, include an influx of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram, have contributed to increased demand.
The proposed major water diversion scheme would involve channeling a small percentage of water from River Congo towards the north via a navigable canal.
Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission explained that the Pan-African project is “necessary to restore peace and security in the Lake Chad region and for the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin.”
Courtesy of Schiller Institute. The Transaqua project aims to move water from River Congo to Lake Chad.
He also highlighted that the movement of the water could feasibly be used to create hydro-electricity, as well as boosting regional trade, creating new economic infrastructure like river ports, and making new agro-industrial zones.
How is China involved?
PowerChina, a large state-owned enterprise in China that built the Three Gorges Dam, has committed US$1.8 million to finance to research studies for the initial stages of Transaqua.
The canal will effectively create a New Silk Road to Lake Chad and there are plans to have a service road and eventually a rail line run alongside the waterway, creating more infrastructure and access.
This is in keeping with the values of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Wang Hao, from the Chinese Embassy in Germany speaking at the Schiller Institute’s Development of Nations Conference, explained China’s decision to put forward the Belt and Road initiative.
He spoke of how China has learned from its own experience how important transport facilities are for the development of the economy. He quoted the Chinese saying: “To get rich, you must build a road first.” This is at the core of the Belt and Road initiative – infrastructure supports economy recovery and strength.
He highlighted that China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway, with 25,000 kilometres. This infrastructure laid “a solid foundation for the rapid development of China’s economy”.
Facilities connectivity is one of the priorities of the Belt and Road initiative as China believes proper infrastructure is at the basis of economic development. This in part illuminates the reason behind China’s investment into Transaqua.
Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said Africa can become the next China if it invests in the Transaqua infrastructure with the support and partnership of China and Europe.
With investment so far of US$1.8 million from China and US$2.5 million from Italy, this project could “launch Africa on the road to economic growth, human security, industrialisation, peace, development and the attainment of the dreams of Pan-African leaders” such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, who first proposed the project in 1964.
June 27, 2018–“It is highly regrettable that we have not effectively harnessed nuclear technology for the benefit of our people,” said Education Cabinet Secretary, Ambassador Amina Mohamed, opening the meeting of Vice Chancellors and Representatives of regional institutions involved on human resources development in nuclear science in Africa yesterday. She has called for the creation of a central government nuclear Commission, to put under one umbrella, all of the country’s nuclear activities. “We in Kenya,” she said, “realize that we must establish a National Atomic Energy Commission for our country to coordinate all the work we are doing in different institutions and offices.”
“The application of nuclear science and technology avails enormous benefits,” she said, “including mitigating climate change, enhancing generation of energy, improving human and animal health, and increasing food production.”
Secretary Mohamed is a passionate supporter of science and technology for Kenya and for Africa. On June 16 she praised China’s role in supporting science in Africa, through a new joint center in Kenya. Her commitment is reminiscent to that of Naledi Pandor, Science and Technology Minister of South Africa, also an African woman who is an outspoken promoter of science and education for Africa.
On June 18 in Michigan, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed a meeting under the umbrella of the Detroit Economic Club. In a question that seemed to have made him a tad uncomfortable, the secretary of state was informed that Africa appeared to be evolving and transforming rapidly, and further, China was asserting itself in the continent.
He rightly confirmed that Africa is facing two issues. One is extremist groups threatening to tear apart the continent’s fabric of unity. But the second issue is the opportunities that lie in Africa. It is here that Pompeo seems to have stained his otherwise well researched address to the people of Michigan. With obvious jealousy that is always expected from Western countries against China’s foray into Africa, Pompeo downgraded Africa’s growth potential that is underpinned by significant Chinese investments and trade by saying that Africa will see actual growth with a Westernized model of development.
He meant that the foundation for growth in Africa is the rule of law and property rights. In his usual way of disparaging China, Pompeo further claimed that Chinese trade and investments are about exercising political influence in Africa.
African countries and their leaders have grown sick and tired of such stereotyped thoughts coming from Western nations. History has proved that America and European countries are behind Africa’s underdevelopment. They not only colonized Africa but also stripped it of resources and displaced people from their lands.
This is described by Walter Rodney in his book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa where he argues that the short period of colonialism and its negative consequences for Africa spring mainly from the fact that the continent lost power. Rodney notes that power is the ultimate determinant in human society, and implies that one should have the ability to defend one’s interests and if necessary impose one’s will by any means available.
There is no doubt that when the question of power emanates, it determines one’s bargaining power, the degree to which a people survive as a physical and cultural entity. But as Rodney vividly says, “when one society finds itself forced to relinquish power entirely to another society, that in itself is a form of underdevelopment.”
Instead of Western powers always complaining about China’s presence in Africa, they should transform and improve their strategies for the continent. The old template they applied to Africa is already stale. Africa cannot be developed through conditionalities that only massage the whims of America and Europe.
Through the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, Europe and America bullied African countries for more than three decades. Those nations seeking access to the General Account of the Fund had to commit themselves to explicit conditions regarding the conduct of their international policies.
Ultimately, African countries in need of financial support to boost their infrastructure, education and health failed to do so as the conditions were too tough. Globally, economists termed the conditions inefficient and mistargeted.
With the urge for greater development, China filled in the void. Its support to Africa has been less bureaucratic and almost without conditions.
As Pompeo and his fellow Western leaders continue complaining about China and its relations with Africa, youths in the continent are grinning having secured jobs in various projects being pursued by China. In Kenya, for instance, thousands of youths continue to earn an income from the construction of the standard gauge railway whose construction is now being extended from Nairobi to Naivasha.
The enormous investments China is pursuing in Addis Ababa have totally transformed the face of Ethiopia, a country once ranked among the poorest in the world. Today, Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that can manufacture its own leather shoes, thanks to support from China. This is the kind of friendship Africa has been yearning for.
Africa’s development can only be shaped by Africans. Europe and the US can therefore involve African leaders in designing the kind of investments and relations that fit them. If they continue condemning China on its relations with Africa, the continent’s ties with Beijing will only get stronger and thrive all the more.
The author is an economist specializing in China-Africa relations. Twitter: @kapchanga firstname.lastname@example.org
The agreement that was signed will turn Zambia into a hub of nuclear sciences. The centre is to be used for peaceful purposes such has boosting the energy, health and agriculture sectors.
Nuclear is important for meeting the world’s growing need for reliable, affordable and clean energy.
Global electricity demand is expected to double by 2050 as people everywhere demand a better quality of life. All low-carbon sources, including nuclear energy, are important for meeting this demand. Nuclear energy is expected to provide at least 25 percent of global electricity by 2050 to successfully meet the needs of human development and protecting the environment.
Zambia has seen the need to embrace nuclear energy by ensuring the country does not lag behind in being a highly industrialised nation.
June 15, 2018—Schiller Institute Founder and Chair Helga Zepp-LaRouche has put forward a bold new agenda for the June 28-29 European Union summit, necessary to further transform the world, in the wake of the Singapore summit of U.S. President Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un. Her proposal concludes:
“If the Merkel government is still in place when this article appears, there is a very good way by which the present crises can be overcome—from the migrant crisis to the government crisis and the EU crisis. Taking the example set by the Singapore Summit—that real change is possible, and that the past does not determine the future—the German government should ensure that the agenda of the European Union summit on June 28-29 be quickly changed. EU cooperation with China’s New Silk Road initiative for the development of Africa should be made the sole subject on the agenda, and [President] Xi Jinping or [Foreign Minister] Wang Yi should be invited to attend, as well as some African heads of state who are already cooperating with China.
“If the EU summit, the Chinese government representative, and the African representatives then pronounce in a joint declaration the commitment to undertake a joint crash program for a pan-African infrastructure and development program, and promise all the young people of Africa that the continent will overcome poverty in a short time, such a declaration, due to the participation of China, would have all the credibility in the world in Africa, and would change the dynamic in all the countries towards definite hope for the future, and thus would immediately effect a change in the migrant crisis. It would also free the EU from its current crisis of legitimacy, and give the European nations a mission which would place the unity of Europe on a great new level.
“Will the heads of state and government of Europe manage to follow the example of Trump and Kim Jong-un? The prospective of developing Africa together with China, would also give President Trump the urgently needed opportunity to overcome the otherwise looming spiral of trade war, and to balance the [U.S.] trade deficit by increasing trade, primarily through investment in joint ventures in third countries.
“The crisis in Europe, the migrant crisis, the crisis of the German government—they have all assumed such dimensions, that the opportunity for a change of course in policy can absolutely be seized. Needed now, are the people to make it happen.”