Amb Fitsum Arega Explains Why Ethiopian Dam is A Matter of Life and Death for Ethiopia

The Op Ed below by Ethiopia’s envoy to the United States, Ambassador Fitsum Arega, is an excellent presentation on the importance of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, for the future of Ethiopia and Africa.

“Therefore, for Ethiopia, building the GERD is not a matter of choice, but an economic and developmental necessity and the way out of poverty for a nation of 112 million people.”

Reprinted from BlackPressUSA,, July 14, 2021

OP-ED: The Untold Story of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

NNPA NEWSWIRE — In 2011, Ethiopia announced to build a hydroelectric dam on its Abbay River, known to outsiders as the Blue Nile or Nile River. The dam was named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) because it was designed to bring about the economic and renewal of Ethiopia, a nation mentioned in Genesis 2:13 as the Land in which the River Ghion (or Nile) flows. The GERD will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and when completed it is expected to generate more than 5,000 MW installed power generation capacity and will have more than two times the capacity of Hoover Dam.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

By Fitsum Arega, Ethiopian Ambassador to the U.S., Special to the NNPA NewswireFitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

Fitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

There is a great story unfolding in Africa. It is a story that literally throws light on what has been called, “The Dark Continent.”

In 2011, Ethiopia announced to build a hydroelectric dam on its Abbay River, known to outsiders as the Blue Nile or Nile River.

The dam was named the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) because it was designed to bring about the economic and renewal of Ethiopia, a nation mentioned in Genesis 2:13 as the Land in which the River Ghion (or Nile) flows.

The GERD will be the largest hydropower dam in Africa and when completed it is expected to generate more than 5,000 MW installed power generation capacity and will have more than two times the capacity of Hoover Dam.

The total capacity of the reservoir is 74 billion cubic meters to be filled over several years. It will cost nearly $5 billion to complete the dam.

The GERD has now reached 81 percent completion that includes 98.5 percent of civil, 55 percent of electromechanical, and 55.3 percent of the hydroelectric structure works.

As seen on the photo, the two water tunnels have been completed and started operating in April this year.

Out of the 13 turbines the first two will be completed and are expected to generate 750 MW in September 2021. The dam is expected to be completed within two years.

The GERD is completely financed by the contributions of the Ethiopian people without any foreign aid or loans. It is being built with the blood, sweat and tears of the Ethiopian people.

Ethiopia generates 85 percent of the Nile River flow, but colonial-era and postcolonial agreements on the Nile, to which Ethiopia was not a party, have given Egypt the disproportionate amount of water while giving Sudan a lesser amount. These agreements gave zero water allocation to Ethiopia. Egypt today wants to keep the old colonial arrangement in place in one form or another.

According to a 2018 World Bank report, “About 70 percent of the population in Ethiopia live without electricity.”

The purpose of the GERD is to provide access to electricity to more than 60 million Ethiopians and provide affordable electricity to the service, industrial and agricultural sectors.

It also aligns with Ethiopia’s green development ambitions as it represents a sustainable socio-economic project replacing fossil fuels reducing CO2 emissions.

Therefore, for Ethiopia, building the GERD is not a matter of choice, but an economic and developmental necessity and the way out of poverty for a nation of 112 million people.

The GERD will also provide many benefits to the entire Horn of Africa region and beyond. It will provide affordable and renewable energy to Sudan, Egypt and other countries in the region.

It will also significantly help in regulating the supply of water to Egypt and Sudan during dry and wet seasons and provide regional water storage capacity with less evaporation and prevent flooding to Sudan and Egypt, all these at no cost to both countries.

In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of Principles, per which the downstream countries [Egypt and Sudan] should not be negatively affected by the construction of the dam.

Hardly a day goes by without complaints from Egypt and Sudan about the harm that could result from construction of the GERD. They claim they will get less water because of the dam.

That is far from the truth because the GERD releases the water downstream once the water is used to spin the turbines that produce electricity. GERD is not an irrigation or water consuming project.

Ethiopia has been open and transparent in its construction of the GERD. Ethiopia has invited both Egypt and Sudan in good faith to participate in the International Panel of Experts (IPOE) to discuss the design, work together on technical issues and resolve any issues of concern in the spirit of African brotherhood.

Unfortunately, Egypt has tried to pressure Ethiopia by coordinating action with the Arab League, which has issued various statement of solidarity with Egypt and against Ethiopia.

Egypt has also tried to use the Trump administration to pressure Ethiopia. In September 2020, the Trump administration “paused” U.S. aid to Ethiopia because Ethiopia would not agree to a deal on the GERD drafted by Egypt and the U.S.

Egypt has also taken the issue before the U.N. Security Council to pressure Ethiopia. Just last week, the Security Council considered the matter and determined that the African Union is the best forum to deal with the issues.

Ethiopia’s position on GERD negotiations is guided by a simple principle. “African solutions to African problems.”

While the Arab League and the U.S. could play a role in encouraging the three countries to resolve their differences diplomatically, the fact remains that the three African countries must use their own resources at the African Union to deal with their problems.

Ethiopia’s principle of African solutions to African problems is based on the belief that Africans are fully capable of taking care of their own problems without interference. Indeed, after nearly seven decades of independence, Africa has the leadership and resources to deal with its own problems.

Ethiopia is acutely aware of the fact that Africa’s post-colonial experience and more recent trends in foreign interference in African affairs has not been positive.

Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan signed their joint Declaration of Principles (DOP) in 2015. The DOP is based on 10 basic principles which require the three countries to work cooperatively and in good faith to negotiate and resolve differences on the GERD.

They agreed to work cooperatively among themselves, without external interference, to ensure regional integration, prevent significant harm from construction of the dam, share data on the dam’s performance, increase dam safety and commit to peaceful resolution of disputes.

Egypt has given lip service to African Union involvement in resolution of GERD disputes.

Egypt’s reliance on the Arab League and efforts to use the U.S. to pressure Ethiopia, reflect either lack of confidence in the AU or a determination that external pressure can even override AU efforts and give Egypt greater negotiating advantage. This may account for Egypt’s lack of serious commitment and unwillingness to negotiate within the AU framework.

To date, no significant harm has been caused to Egypt or Sudan as a result of the ongoing construction of the GERD.

The first filling of the dam in July 2020 went uneventfully. The current filling which is ongoing since early July 2021 has presented no issues as well. Egypt has issued a public statement to that effect.

Ethiopia believes the GERD will bring many benefits to the Horn region and beyond. A comprehensive agreement on the GERD between the two countries is possible today if Egypt and Sudan genuinely commit to the AU-led negotiations. The negotiations could be expedited and bear fruit if Egypt and Sudan undertake the following:

  • Fully and wholeheartedly commit the negotiations taking place under the sponsorship of the African Union.
  • Apply the 2015 Declaration of Principles in guiding the negotiations.
  • Refrain from engaging in propaganda and disinformation wars during the AU-led negotiations.
  • Depoliticize the GERD, exert maximum political will and focus on resolving technical issues.

A negotiated, mutually beneficial and equitable solution is the only way to achieve long-term interests in the region.

Ethiopia is committed to continue to push for a constructive negotiation to reach a mutually beneficial agreement that ensures the legitimate interests of the three countries.

Ethiopia believes the only way to resolve the differences regarding the filling and operation of GERD is through dialogue and by resorting to technically informed consultations.

The Nile is bountiful for all countries to share and use wisely. We must all think in terms of regional and collective benefits.

Paraphrasing the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan are part of “an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” We must work together in good faith and good will for the betterment of our people.

Fitsum Arega is the Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Successful Ethiopian Election Proves Critics Wrong

Successful Ethiopian Election Proves Critics Wrong

Lawrence Freeman

July 7, 2021

On June 21, the Ethiopian people voted in peaceful fortitude to advance their nation towards democracy. Voting in their 6th General Election, the Ethiopian people exhibited with their hands and feet how important it was to choose their leadership, despite the many challenges the nation faces. The Ethiopian people exposed the patently false predictions of violence and chaos, by the Western media and governments. Nothing but political propaganda in an attempt to tarnish the election as illegitimate. However, most revealing of their intent, the same news outlets that falsely portrayed the Ethiopian election prior to its occurrence, have thus far refused to publicize its actual success. Ethiopians with calm determination, voted for unity, peace, and development as they stood in lines for hours in such large numbers that polling stations stayed opened hours longer then scheduled.

Voting on election day (courtesy nebe.org.net)

Africans Give Elections A ‘Thumbs Up’

The African Union Election Observer Mission-AUEOM, headed up by H.E. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, had a total of 65 election observers, who covered five regions, visiting many dozens of polling stations.

The June 23rd African Union preliminary statement reads:

“The Mission concludes that despite some operational, logistical, security, political and COVID-19 related challenges, overall, the pre-election and Election Day processes were conducted in an orderly , peaceful, and credible manner. There was nothing in the Mission’s estimation, that distracted from the credible conduct of the elections. The Mission, therefore, commends all Ethiopians for the demonstrated commitment to the democratic development of the country.” (emphasis added)

One day earlier, on June 22, the Eastern Africa Standby Force (EASF) Election Observation Mission (EOM), which consisted of a total of 28 observers drawn from eight East African nations released their preliminary report with similar conclusions to that of the AU. The EASFEOM were able to observe the voting process in eight regions of Ethiopia on election day.

There were no election observers from the West except a handful of Americans, who were unable to issue any report due to their small numbers and inability to observe a credible sampling of polling stations. Thus, the only two observer missions, both from African institutions, recognized the Ethiopian General Elections as legitimate. Instead, of  the U.S. and other Western nations congratulating Ethiopia, they have been conspicuously silent.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (behind microphones) addressing the press on June 23, 2021 (courtesy of L. Freeman)

Media Caught Speechless

At a packed press conference in the Skylight Hotel, Chief Obasanjo released the findings of the AUEOM to representatives from the media. The journalists present were virtually silent during the question- and-answer period. 

This author asked the first question to Chief Obasanjo, which put the scores of press attending on the defensive.  I asked, if the success of the Ethiopian election had proven all the predictions by the West and their propaganda outlets of a “violent, chaotic, and illegitimate” election were shown wrong. He answered in a parable. He said: If a person comes to Africa intending to see a ghetto, and that is what is in his mind, even if you show  him a palace, he will insist he sees a ghetto. My question, and Chief Obasanjo’s answer, effectively muted the press. The only other two questions came from a South African newspaper and the London Times. Shortly after a second question from this author,  the press conference ended. The silence from the reporters attending was deafening, and ironically amusing as well.

Election Board Prevails

Chief Obasanjo and AUEOM emphasized the accomplishments of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) in conducting an orderly election free of any type of harassment or intimidation. This environment allowed each voter to choose their member of parliament without interference. Ethiopians expressed their pleasure to be able to vote freely in what is now praised as Ethiopia’s most open election.

Quoting from the official statement released by the AUEOM:

“It is noteworthy that the June 2021 general elections took place within the context of reforms that opened the political and civic space which enhanced the enjoyment of more basic rights and freedoms in comparison to the 2015 elections. Among the many positive political developments, the most prominent were the institutional strengthening of the National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE), the release of political prisoners and the return of exiled political activists.”

The report continues:

“Based on the overall assessment of the constitutional and legal framework for the June 2021 general elections, the AUEOM notes that it was largely adequate and meets regional and international standards for the conduct of democratic elections.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is BM-NEBE.jpg
Birtukan Mideksa, Chairperson of National Election Board of Ethiopia NEBE (courtesy aa.com.tr)

NEBE is recognized with overcoming many election challenges in this diverse nation of a 110 million people immersed in ethnic conflicts.   Yet in this historic election, 47 political parties were on the ballot, including opposition parties, with 9,300 candidates vying for 745-seat federal parliament positions and regional councils. There was a noticeable increase in participation by civil society in the election process prior to and on election day.

Much of the credit is given to Birtukan Mideksa, who was recruited to return to Ethiopia from the U.S. as part of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s reform movement, and she was immediately elected  her position as Chairperson of the NEBE in November 2018. Her history as a lawyer, a judge, an opposition party leader, who was twice detained in jail by the Ethiopian government, gave her the qualifications and authority to make NEBE independent, and free from government control.

“The AUEOM notes NEBE enjoys the trust and confidence of stakeholders. This is mainly due to the transparent and consultative process constituting NEBE as well as the positive perception of the Chairperson, Ms. Birtukan Mideksa, a former Judge and political detainee.”

At the press conference, Chief Obasanjo rejected any notion that the June 21 election was illegitimate due to the absence of voting in a  minority of the nation’s 550 voting districts. There will be a second election in September for citizens of those regions unable to vote, excluding Tigray.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Ethiopia Election: A Vote for Peace, Unity, and Prosperity

Lawrence Freeman speaking with Dr. Birhanu Lenjiso of Prime Media

Below is a 30 minute interview with on the Ethiopian national elections conducted on June 21, 2021. It was conducted in the studio of Prime Media on the June 23rd, in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian people proved all the critics, pundits, Western media, and Western governments, especially the United States and Great Britain wrong in their predictions of violence and chaos for Ethiopia’s national elections. The Ethiopian people surprised even some government supporters with their orderly, calm, and peaceful manner in electing Prime Minister Ably Ahmed and the Prosperity Party.

Hours after my interview, former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, representing the African Union declared that the election was conducted in a “peaceful, orderly and credible manner.” Obasanjo echoed the observations made by the East African Standby Force in a press conference on Tuesday following the election. Both ESAF and AU has observers monitoring the election process.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Africa Continental Free Trade Area Must Have An Integrated High Speed Rail Network

Map of main corridors of a proposed African Integrated High Speed Rail Network

May 18, 2021

Watch the video below, an comprehensive discussion with Rowland Ataguba, Managing Director of Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure on the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN). He is a driving force to have AIHSRN up and running in Africa by 2033. For Africa to realize the potential of the newly inaugurated, Africa Continental Free Trade Area AfCFTA, there must be an integrated rail network connecting the major capitals, cities, ports, and regions of Africa. Such an integrated network of freight and passenger transportation is necessary to reverse the dismal amount of trade among African nations, estimated at 15%. With the population of the African continent projected to have almost 2.5 billion people by 2050, the AIHSRN proposal is essential and cannot wait until 2063 as planned by the African Union (AU).

The African Integrated High Speed Railway Network will deliver  connectivity across the huge continent via 6 main East-West and 3 North-South corridors, using standard gauge tracks with electric locomotives running at a speed of 160 kilometers per hour. These rail lines will become corridors of economic expansion for manufacturing and agriculture.

As the history of the development of great nations, such as the United States, Russia, and China demonstrate; railroads build nations,  traverse continents, link oceans, and create a spine for manufacturing centers. Properly understood, infrastructure is much more than a simple collection of projects. Economic progress is determined by the relative level of the scientific-technological design embodied in the integrated infrastructure platform which undergirds the manufacturing and agricultural sectors of an economy. An individual infrastructure project, such as a railroad, may not yield an immediate profit itself. However, as physical economists like myself know, viable infrastructure projects contribute to increasing the productivity of the labor force, thus enabling the economy as a whole to generate a profit. Massive investments in infrastructure, such as AIHSRN, are essential to industrialize Arica, which is necessary to eliminate hunger and poverty across the continent.

Mr. Ataguba proposes that the entire network be completed in the next 12-13 years. The only way that AIHSRN can be FAST TRACKED is through centralizing the project. He says that too much valuable time has been lost in connecting the railway network, which is indispensable for improving the standard of living of the average African. He emphasizes  that this rail network needs to affect the economy today, not tomorrow! Mr. Ataguba understands that for African nations to develop, this quality of infrastructure is urgently required.

AIHSRN will revolutionize African economies in providing standardized, fast, efficient, and safe transport at a far cheaper cost than road.

Once completed, freight and passenger transport across Africa will be transformed. For the first time in history, it will be possible to travel and send freight on a modern railway from: Dakar in Senegal to Djibouti or Pointe Noire; Congo Brazzaville to Dar Es Salaam; Tanzania to Walvis Bay; Namibia to Maputo Mozambique. Traversing the continent from east to west. Likewise, it will be possible to travel the entire length of the African land mass from Cape Town, South Africa along the Indian Ocean to Alexandria in Egypt or from Cape Town to Tripoli in Libya along the Atlantic coast.

For those passionately concerned about securing a prosperous future for Africa; watch this video.

 

Please view my earlier post from January 2021. The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Hunger in DRC-Criminal Stupidity Not to Help African Nations Manufacture Covid-19 Vaccines

(Courtesy of acted.org)

April 10, 2021

Watch my brief interview (below) on the Covid-19 crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and across Africa.

Covid-19 has worsened the already desperate condition of lack of food for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other nations in Africa. As reported below, a staggering  one third of the population of the DRC are “acutely hungry.” The DRC has the largest amount of unused arable land in the world. If developed, it could potentially feed the continent of Africa. It is the lack of development, not any objective conditions that is the cause of hunger in the DRC. 

Vaccines must be given to African nations now to inoculate their populations. However, if were are to vaccinate 1.5 billion people living in Africa, which we must, Africa will need 3 billion doses. This requires assisting African nations in building up their domestic manufacturing capability to produce the vaccine and vaccinate their populations. Anything less is shortsighted, if not criminally stupid.

Read my earlier posts:    Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19 ;  Hunger Stalks Africa: Nations Should be Food Self-Sufficient

                              

Acute Hunger Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Excepted report from EIR News.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable. China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.”

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19

A health worker at a local health centre in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, prepares a vaccine injection. (Courtesy UNICEF/Sibylle Desjardins)

March 29, 2021

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa

Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Nicaise Ndembi, senior science advisor for the Africa CDC, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank President, have all spoken out on the need to vaccinate Africa’s more than one billion people. Dr. Adesina speaking earlier this month at the launch of the Bank’s African Outlook 2021 report said, “We need global solidarity and vaccine justice for Africa…as long as Africans remain unvaccinated the world will go back to square one.”

On a March 25 webinar, organized by the Advocacy Network for Africa, and Africa Rising, Dr. Nkengasong echoed the same immediacy for Africa to vaccinate its people against Covid19. He told his audience; we have more Africans dying from the second wave of Covid19 and there is potential of a third wave. “We need vaccines today” he said.

All African Must Be Vaccinated!

Dr. Ndembi, speaking on the same webinar, outlined the minimal goal of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s population by the end of 2022. Based on his low estimate of Africa’s population at 1.2 billion, he calculated  vaccinating 720 million people, requiring 1.4 billion doses of the two dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The one dose Jonson and Johnson could significantly speed up the vaccination process. However, it is unacceptable to plan to vaccinate only 60% of Africa’s growing population over the next 21 months.

Only a small number of vaccines has been delivered to Africa, about 14.6 million doses, according to Dr. Adesina, reported by Reliefweb. The main vehicle for acquiring the COVID-19 vaccines for Africa is the COVAX initiative, led by the World Health Organization and backed by the United Nations. President Biden has authorized $2.5 billion to fund COVAX and pledged another $1.5 billion. However, the U.S. unlike China and Russia, has not donated a single dose of any its three  vaccines to Africa.

As all epidemiologists know, as long as large numbers of human beings remain unvaccinated, the virus will mutate, potentially to more contagious and virulent strains, endangering the whole human race. Therefore, it is not only immoral for vaccine producing nations not to vaccinate the populations of all lower and middle income nations, but insanely irresponsible.

(Courtesy statista.com)

For the sake of preserving the wellbeing of the human race, our goal has to be nothing short of complete vaccination of the planet’s eligible population. It is foolish to have poorer nations competing for limited supplies of vaccines. According to Matthew Kavanagh, who participated in the March 25th webinar, sharing the limited supply of vaccines will not be sufficient to defeat the virus. He estimated that given the appropriate support, some African nations could begin producing vaccines themselves in six months. Dr Adesina pointed to the core of the solution; “Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and begin manufacturing.” There is no viable solution to protect Africa’s expanding population from this virus, other than immediately building up the capacity of African nations to produce and distribute vaccines to their people.

This will require releasing the patents-the secrets of the vaccines, to other nations. Kavanagh, from the Center for Global Health Science and Security, rightly demands that governments “will need to use their legal and political authority to push companies to share their patents and know-how.” He pointed out that the creation of the Moderna vaccine was supported by $2.5 billion of American taxpayers’ money. President Biden’s administration must use every kind of effort to insure that intellectual property rights do not trump the obligation to save lives.

 

All-Out Economic Mobilization Required to Defeat COVID-19

As a result of responding to the spread of HIV/AIDS over several decades and more recently, from several outbreaks of Ebola, Africans have learned some valuable experiences. For African nations to produce and distribute vaccines in sufficient quantities to inoculate over one billion people, new capabilities will have to be added to their diminutive manufacturing sectors. To get the vaccine into the arms of their population, their weak health care system will have to be vastly expanded. This will require implementing economic growth policies that are long overdue in Africa, but under the necessity of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, must now be immediately executed. This includes massive investment in hard and soft infrastructure. For example. One cannot expect to win the war against this virus, without high-speed rail transportation to move products quickly in refrigerated cars between cities and ports. Without roads, the vaccine will not reach large sections of the population. Of course, more hospitals and well equipped clinics will be required to be built. Energy will be needed to produce and maintain the quality of the vaccines, as well as providing the power for the manufacturing plants and hospitals. Africa is severely lacking in these and other basic categories of infrastructure.

It is estimated that almost 40 million more Africans will be pushed into poverty this year as a result of the pandemic. I believe that estimate is too low, but it would still represent almost a 10% increase in the number of Africans living in poverty. To respond to the necessity of winning the war against this pandemic, Africa would have to be transformed with immense investments in new infrastructure, production, and industry. Hiring those eager to work in these productive jobs will provide meaningful employment for millions of youths, and those misemployed in the cancerous so called informal economy.

What President Biden Should Do

It is reported that in a recent discussion with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, proposed that western nations develop a Belt and Road initiative like that of China.  Let us start with the African continent, which is projected to have 25% of the world’s population in 2050, with 2.4 billion people.

For a just and intelligent American policy to vaccinate Africa from COVID-19, President Biden should provide leadership in:

  • Calling for a debt moratorium on principal and interest for the next two years-at least until the end of the first quarter of 2023, so nations can free up funds to pay for vaccinating their citizens.
  • Persuading the vaccine manufacturers to allow the patents of their vaccines to be released so other nations can reproduce the vaccine. Essentially, waiving intellectual property rights.
  • Providing know-how and technology transfer for the production and storage of the vaccines.
  • Providing interest free loans-grants as startup funds for vaccine manufacturing plants.
  • Providing training and logistical support for establishing mass vaccination centers.
  • Offering long term low-interest concessionary loans for the construction of vitally necessary hard and soft infrastructure in the model of China’s Belt and Road

Surely for the sake of civilization, America can and must assist African nations to accomplish more than vaccinating just 60% of their population by 2022. If we do not fully vaccinate Africa, then in addition to the loss of life among Africans, the virus would continue to mutate, travel around the world, potentially infecting and reinfecting the world’s population. From a purely economic outlook, the global economy would lose trillions of dollars from underperforming African economies. Let us act nobly and wisely in understanding that when we act in the interest of others, we are also acting in our own interest

Read: African development bank president calls global vaccine solidarity and justice africa; and To democratize vaccine access democratize production

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

 

President Kagame is Right: Africa Must Get Covid19 Vaccinations. It is Morally and Economically Just.

People aged over 70 receive free Covid testing in Kigali, Rwanda, in January. Photograph: Xinhua/Rex/Shutterstock

February 9, 2021

The Guardian on February 7, published an insightful statement from Rwandan President, Paul Kagame, on the importance of vaccinating Africans, entitled: Until Africans get the Covid vaccinations they need, the whole world will suffer.

President Kagame correctly concludes: Ensuring equitable access to vaccines globally during a pandemic is not only a moral issue, but an economic imperative to protect the wellbeing of people everywhere. But when will Africa get the protection it needs? If all lives are equal, why isn’t access to vaccines?

I completely agree with President Kagame. It is both immoral and economically stupid not to vaccinate every human being as quickly as possible, and without cost. Let me briefly summarize.

1) Every human being is bestowed by the Creator with the power of creative reason. Thus, every human being is sacred. Society should spare no effort to preserve human life. This is a requirement of civilization. After all, we are not Malthusians, who believe the world is over populated.

2) Until the Covid19 virus is eliminated across the world, no nations or peoples are safe from the virus and its mutations. Therefore, it is criminally stupid not to vaccinate every single person on the planet as quickly as possible.

3) The global economy will also suffer, if more human beings are unable to work or die due to sickness from Covid19. Economic production and trade will shrink, lowering the physical standard of living throughout the world.

4) It is cheaper to vaccinate everyone for free than pay for exorbitant medical costs to treat patients with Covid19.

5) Let us use this horrible crisis to unite all nations in a global effort to not only eradicate this deadly virus, but upgrade the healthcare system of African nations, enabling them to properly respond to the needs of their people

Below is the full text of President Kagame’s column.

The current situation with regard to the access and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines vividly illustrates the decades-old contradictions of the world order.

Rich and powerful nations have rushed to lock up supply of multiple vaccine candidates. Worse, some are hoarding vaccines – purchasing many times more doses than they need. This leaves African and other developing countries either far behind in the vaccine queue, or not in it at all.

There are worrying signs of vaccine nationalism in Europe and North America. The pressures on political leaders to vaccinate all their citizens before sharing supplies with others is understandable. But forcing smaller or poorer countries to wait until everyone in the north has been catered for is shortsighted.

Delaying access to vaccines for citizens of developing countries is ultimately many times more costly. The pandemic will rage on, crippling the global economy. New mutations may continue to emerge at a more rapid pace. The world risks reversing decades of human development gains and eclipsing the 2030 sustainable development goals.

In this context, the billions of dollars it would cost to distribute vaccines across the developing world is not particularly high, given the return on the investment. Doing so would unlock global commerce, which would benefit all trading nations during the long road to economic recovery that lies ahead of us. We need global value chains to be fully operational again and to include everyone.

Last year, the world came together to provide additional fiscal space for developing countries through the debt service suspension initiative at the G20. This helped governments in Africa pay for their Covid responses and provide additional social protection, thereby preventing the worst outcomes. We shouldn’t lose that spirit now and give in to an unfortunate erosion of global solidarity.

The Covax facility, led by the World Health Organization, was supposed to ensure doses for 20% of Africa’s people – right from the start and at the same time as richer countries. However, nearly two months after the first vaccines have been administered, it is still not clear when African nations will be able to start immunising people, though the first doses may begin reaching the continent later this month.

What can be done in practical terms? The rich world can help developing countries get the same fair prices that they have already negotiated for themselves. One pharmaceutical firm is reportedly planning to charge $37 per dose for “small orders”. Recently, one African country reported being asked to pay more than double the price that the European Union had negotiated for the same product.

During natural disasters, price gouging for essential supplies is illegal. It should not be tolerated for vaccines during a pandemic either. If prices are fair, and Africa is allowed to place orders, many countries on the continent would be willing and able to pay for themselves. But, given the current market structure, they will need active support from more powerful countries to do so.

The African Union and Afreximbank have set up the Africa Medical Supplies Platform to help countries secure financing by providing advance commitment guarantees of up to $2bn to manufacturers. The platform has negotiated an initial order of 270m doses, but this is still very far from the 60% coverage Africa needs to achieve some measure of herd immunity, and there is no telling when those supplies will be available.

Africa is not sitting back and waiting for charity. We have learned our lessons from the past. All we ask for is transparency and fairness in vaccine access, not the protectionism currently in play.

ReadUntil Africans Get Covid Vaccinations They Need, Whole World Will Suffer

Watch my interview on RT TV from January: Africa must be vaccinated

Read my earlier postsInternational Cooperation and Collaboration Needed to Save Lives in Africa From COVID-19New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

 

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

(courtesy bangkokpost.com

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

Lawrence Freeman

February 4, 2021

In January 2021, the world witnessed a barrage of attacks on Ethiopia aimed at undermining the efforts of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to preserve the sovereignty of the Ethiopian nation.  This is a dangerous gambit not only for the potential harm it can trigger for the people of Ethiopia, but also for the security of the Horn of Africa.  It is well known that Prime Minister Abiy launched the Prosperity Party (PP) in 2019 to create a non-ethnic centered political party to overcome the rise of ethno-nationalism. Unfortunately, ethnicity is embedded in Ethiopia’s 1995 Constitution. The PP challenged the decades long control over Ethiopia’s political institutions by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who then lashed out  against the government in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia has provided stability in an oftentimes volatile region, as well as economic leadership in East Africa. Neighboring Somalia, where Ethiopia forces have combatted Al Shabaab for many years, is in a precarious state following the removal of U.S. AFRICOM troops to its unsettled and  contentious presidential election. Somalia has also severed diplomatic relations with Kenya.

Additionally, unresolved, and sometimes quarrelsome talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia pertaining to the fill rate of Nile waters for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) are still ongoing.

War is Sometimes Necessary

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front committed sedition when they attacked the military base of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (NDF) stationed in Mekele, in the early hours of November 4, 2020. They killed NDF soldiers in their sleep and stole munitions for their militia. Prime Minister Abiy had no alternative but to launch a full scale military response to subdue the insurrection conducted by the leadership of the TPLF.

No one can argue that war is not horrible and deadly, and that it causes severe  collateral damage. People are displaced, economy is disrupted, and civilians suffer. No death of a single human being is insignificant because the human race is endowed by the Creator with noble creativity. However, to preserve the nation-state for more than one hundred million Ethiopians living today and for hundreds of millions more in the future, war, when absolutely necessary, must be waged. (Read: Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State)

I am reminded of the famous Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, and the enormous number of American deaths that occurred during the U.S. Civil War. An estimated 700,000 Americans died during this four yearlong brutal war, of which 50,000 were civilians. President Abraham Lincoln was unyielding in his commitment to save the Union, no matter the cost of human life. Lincoln possessed the inner directedness to maintain the Union as an indivisible whole, against the separatist rebels. Had he not, the U.S. would have been destroyed by slavery, and a slave economy; the world today would be entirely different-and for the worse.

Media Stokes Fears Regarding Tigray

Western media, led by the British, have use inflammatory stories to encourage the withholding of humanitarian aid from Ethiopia, at precisely the moment when it is needed most.

The Washington Post in its  January 27th editorial demands that the US and European Union “should withhold further aid until …government agrees to pursue peace talks,” after accusing Prime Minister Abiy of having “all the earmarks of Ethiopia’s previous dictators.”

More egregiously, is the headline in the January 23rd issue of the London Economist: After two months of war, Tigray faces starvation. In a blatant assault on Ethiopia and Prime Minister Abiy, the Economist accuses the government of  “war crimes” and quotes an unnamed western diplomat who says, “we could have a million dead there in a couple of months.”

Barely a week after the start of the war, with the TPLF insurrectionists still in control of Tigray, CNN printed an inflammatory headline: Mass Killings of civilians in Tigray region, says Amnesty International. CNN writing on the cruel massacre of 600 Ethiopians on the evening of November 9, in the town of Mai-Kadra, south-west Tigray, blatantly failed to report; that it was forces loyal to the TPLF, not the Ethiopian NDF, who committed this atrocity.

 

United Nations Deputy Secretary General meets with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (courtesy ethiopia.un.org

The Big Lie

The most often repeated allegation against the Ethiopian government, first reported by the Associated Press (AP) is; that there are 4.5 million Tigrayans in need of immediate lifesaving aid. Under the headline, ‘Extreme urgent need’: Starvation haunts Ethiopia’s Tigray, AP reports on January 17, “More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region’s entire population, need emergency food” according to an unnamed source. The article continues, “a [unnamed]Tigray administrator warned that without aid, ‘hundreds of thousands might starve to death’ and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press.” Following the AP story, news outlets all over the world including on YouTube videos, recited the same narrative; 4.5 million Tigrayans were starving.

There is a second article in issue of the London Economist sighted above, in a section labelled Famine Crimes, with the headline, Ethiopia’s government appears to be wielding hunger as a weapon, with a subhead, A rebel region is being starved into submission. In this article, the Economist equates  Prime Minister Abiy with former Ethiopian Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose policies contributed to the death of one million Ethiopians during the drought from 1984-1985. They write:

“Things were supposed to be different under Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister who was hailed as a reformer when he took charge in 2018, and who won the Nobel peace prize the following year. Yet once again it looks as if hunger is being used as a weapon in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.”

The London based Guardian on January 24, printed an opinion column by Simon Tisdal, entitled, Ethiopia’s leader must answer for the high cost of hidden war in Tigray. He wrote:

“After humanitarian workers finally gained limited access this month, it was estimated that 4.5 million of Tigray’s 6 million people need emergency food aid. Hundreds of thousands are said to face starvation.”

BBC News published the following headline on February 1, Tigray crisis: ‘Genocidal war’ waged in Ethiopia region, says ex-leader, quoting Debretsion Gebremichael, who is leading the TPLF military campaign against Ethiopia.

 Truth or Propaganda?

The estimated population living in the Tigray region is probably from 5 to 5.5 million. Thus, according to the media, 4.5 million or 82-90% of the Tigrayan population need emergency assistance. These figures are too implausible to be considered accurate. UNICEF on November 19, 2020, asserted that there are 2.3 million children in the Tigray region in need of humanitarian assistance. If that were true, it would mean between 40-45% of the Tigrayan population are children, which is improbable.

These exaggerated hysterical claims are designed to inflame public opinion against the government of Ethiopia.

Representatives of the Ethiopian government report, that due to poor infrastructure and underdeveloped land there were 1.8 million Tigrayans in need of aid prior to the military outbreak. TPLF controlled Tigray during this period. As a result of this TPLF instigated conflict, an additional 700,000 are in need, for a total of 2.5 million. While this is an extremely large number of Ethiopians who require assistance, which should not be ignored, it is much less than 4.5 million.

Information provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which coordinates global emergency response, is closer to the figures offered by the Ethiopian government.  OCHA’s January 26, Tigray Region Humanitarian Update reports 950,000 people in need of aid prior to November 4, and projects 1.3 million more Tigrayans will need assistance resulting from the conflict, for a total of almost 2.3 million. In the same update, OCHA reports: “Movements of humanitarian cargo inside Tigray is improving substantially. Last week, four of the submitted cargo requests have been cleared to be dispatched.”

Clearly, living conditions on the ground for millions of Tigrayans is deplorable. Food, non-food, medical and related assistance is urgently needed to prevent further loss of life. However, there is no evidence of mass starvation, and no evidence that Prime Minister Abiy is using food as a weapon against the Tigrayan people.

President Biden’s Message to the 34th Summit of African Union. courtesy of Namibia Embassy na.usembassy.gov)

What the U.S. Should Do

President Biden has an opportunity to create a new U.S.-Africa policy, and contribute to the well-being of Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa.

The Biden administration should support the sovereign obligation of the Ethiopian government to deploy its military in defense of the nation following the attack by the TPLF on the Ethiopia’s NDF in Mekele. This should extend to denouncing unfounded inciting accusations that the government is using food as a weapon against the Tigrayan people.

The U.S. should immediately utilize its unique military-logistical capability to deliver assistance to the Tigray region. This should include all Ethiopians and refugees who are suffering as a result of the TPLF’s reckless treasonous actions.

President Biden should immediately reverse Donald Trump’s awful decision to withhold $130 million in aid to Ethiopia. The failure to restore this aid at this critical juncture could result in increased suffering.

Contrary to Trump’s interference in the tripartite talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, the U.S. should allow African nations in partnership with the African Union to resolve the remaining concerns regarding the operation of the GERD.

Most importantly, recognizing that the Tigray region, like other sections of Ethiopia are in need of vital categories of infrastructure, the U.S. should invest in the construction of roads, railroads, energy generation, and water management. A nation that provides it citizens with the physical goods and services essential for a rising standard of living is best equipped to mitigate ethnic tensions that often arise from economic marginalization. Let this crisis in Tigray become an opportunity to usher in a new paradigm of U.S.-Africa strategy by President Biden, who should be guided by the wise words of Pope Paul VI: development is the new name for peace.

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

My Thoughts On An Improved US-Africa Policy for President Biden

 

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January 26, 2021

I was asked to participate on inauguration day in an event sponsored by African Women for Biden/Harris 2020. As an American, who is knowledgeable about Africa, I was pleased to present my ideas for an improved US-Africa policy. Below is the content of my remarks..

January 20, 2021

Hello, this is Lawrence Freeman. I am happy to join you this afternoon in celebrating the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris.

I have been working in Africa for the last 30 years promoting development policies for the people of Africa; particularly transformative infrastructure projects. I teach classes in the Maryland area on African history. I am a  consultant, researcher, writer, and lecturer. I created my own website: LawrenceFreemanAfricaandtheworld.com to help spread my ideas.

I have traveled to Africa many times and have visited several countries in sub-Saharan Africa. From my work in Africa over many years I have a good understanding of the dynamics of the continent. This administration will bring change to Washington. My hope is that this change will include initiating a new policy for Africa. One that is in the interest of United States, and one the serves the interest of Africa and raises the standard of living of all Africans.

Africa today has close to 1.5 billion people. It is expected that in 30 years by 2050, Africa will have close to 2.5 billion. It will have 1 billion young people and have the largest labor force in the world. If we do not address the needs of Africa today, then we could be looking at a dangerous situation in the years to come, and one that will make African nations less stable and less secure. It is in the interest of the United States and the world to help secure a stable future for Africa. We need new innovative policies that address those concerns.

After 500 years of slavery, colonialism, and neocolonialism, sub Saharan Africa especially, has been left without the basic infrastructure needed to develop its economies. African nations  have very limited, if any infrastructure. The kilometers of railroads and roads in Africa is minimal, although it is beginning to change. The most troubling deficit in infrastructure is the reality of a mere 100,000 to 130,000 megawatts of electricity for all of sub-Saharan Africa!  This is literally killing Africans. This lack of infrastructure has to be reversed. It is a matter of life and death.

In order for African nations to develop their full capacity, and  realize their rich potential, African nations require a massive investment in infrastructure, especially railroads, electricity, and roads.

African nations also suffer from small manufacturing sectors. Africa has the smallest manufacturing capacity of any continent in the world. And this has to change as well.

African nations need to develop a manufacturing sector. I have been advocating for many years that we have to apply the same economic approach for Africa  that we applied to build the United States from 13 agrarian based colonies into an industrial powerhouse. The U.S. accomplished this feat by implementing the American System of economics developed by Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, under the direction of President George Washington.

Hamilton understood two principles that were essential for  developing the United States that can be applied to Africa today. One, the government has the power to issue credit. African nations desperately need credit for development. Two, Hamilton understood that the U.S. would not be an economically sovereign nation if we had to buy all our manufacturing goods from abroad. He and his followers were strong advocates of building up a manufacturing based economy, which is exactly what Africa needs today.

Africa needs Investment in infrastructure across the continent including high speed railroads connecting major ports and cities, which is being proposed by the African Union. This will take massive amounts of credit. It cannot be done by the private sector alone. The United States should extend long-term low interest credit to African nations for development of infrastructure. The United States should also extend economic assistance to building up the manufacturing capacity in Africa which is quite minimal at this point.

It is in our interest to develop Africa not because we are competing with other nations, but because we want to assist in the development of the African continent. Robust African economies with growing populations will provide larger markets for American capital goods. This will also contribute to creating real security. Poverty is the underlying cause of most conflicts in Africa. The lack of food; lack of water; and lack of jobs generates conflict. Thus, by assisting Africa in developing its economies in these critical areas we will be creating the foundation for peace and security. Simply giving aid alone, which the United States is the leader, will not solve the problem. Providing counter terrorism training alone will not solve the problem. If people are desperate, if they are poor, if they are hungry, they can easily be  manipulated into conflict against their brothers and sisters.

I believe Africa can have a very bright future–the more people means the more creative minds. Africa will have the youngest population of any continent in the world. The U.S. should help Africa develop the capabilities to nurture these creative minds because creativity is the source of all wealth.

Presently China is active on the continent. I do not think this has to be a competition between the U.S. and China. The needs of Africa are so large that there are more than enough opportunities for investment by the United States, China, and other nations. Remember the profound words of Pope Paul VI, who in his 1967 encyclical letter Populorum Progressio, said: the new name for peace is development.

It is my hope that with this new administration and in a time of change and optimism we will usher in a new policy of development for Africa. I have written, taught, and lectured on the Hamiltonian economic system and I know this is an approach that will work. It has worked over hundreds of years. It was implemented by President Franklin Roosevelt, who used public, government issued credit, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to fund his great infrastructure projects that brought us out of the depression. FDR intended to green the deserts of Africa after the war, unfortunately, he died.

Let us apply those same Hamiltonian economic principles for the development of Africa today. Now is the right time for the United States to extend its moral and economic leadership across the ocean, and act on behalf of the common good, which is in the shared interests of all nations and all people.

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Please watch the 30 minute video below, which is a provocative interview with Roland Ataguba, Managing Director of Bethlehem Rail Infrastructure Limited. He discusses in detail the feasibility of An Integrated Railway  Network

Please watch the 8 minute video below on the The African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), “An Agenda 2063 Flagship Project” proposed by the African Union.

 

 

This article: http://africanagenda.net/african-new-paradigm/, by PD Lawton, creator of the website: AfricanAgenda.net, reviews major rail and related infrastructure projects that African nations are planning and presently constructing.

 Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com