Interview With Lawrence Freeman: The Time is Now For TRANSAQUA-to Save Lake Chad and Transform Africa

Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.

Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman

Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.

You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.

 

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord

L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.

The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.

Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?

L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.

Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.

image: The Schiller Institute

The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

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Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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Chinese Engagement, Investment and Trade With Africa

China’s New Silk Road–Belt and Road Imitative is providing indispensable investment and construction of infrastructure in Africa. Infrastructure development in energy, railways, roads, airports, and water management are critical for African nations to develop their agricultural and manufacturing sectors. Below are excerpts from the report: “The Belt and Road” in Africa 

Read entire report

“China’s close engagement with Africa continued through the succeeding decade and accelerated toward the end of the 1990s and into the 2000s. By 2008, China’s Export-Import Bank was funding more than 300 projects in 36 countries across Africa. The value of bilateral trade increased from US$6.5 billion in 1999 to US$73.3 billion in 2007 (Figure 1). According to the China-Africa Research Institute at Johns Hopkins University, by 2008 it exceeded US$100 billion, and it peaked at more than US$200 million in 2014, before slipping back in 2015 and 2016 in response to poorer global economic conditions. In 2009, China overtook the United States as Africa’s major trading partner. The largest African exporter to China from Africa in 2015 was South Africa, followed by Angola and Sudan. In the same year, South Africa was the largest African market for Chinese goods, followed by Nigeria and then Egypt.”

“In 2015, China investments into African infrastructure projects were three times the sum of those of France, Japan, Germany and India combined (Figure 7). The bulk of Chinese funding has been in the form of government-to-government loans, used then by the borrowing African governments either to develop the project itself, or to leverage it with private capital through a public-private partnership (PPP). As of the date of writing (late 2017), at least 76 PPP projects appear to be in the pipeline in African countries associated with BRI. Not all have values ascribed, but the 14 that do imply a cumulative investment of nearly US$6 billion for them alone. Sixty percent of these projects are in the transport sector.”

 

Nigeria Wisely Collaborating with China in Railway Development

This report by the United States Institute of Peace provides a useful overview of current and future rail projects for Nigeria. Hard infrastructure in rail, energy, and water management provide an essential platform for real economic growth. China understands this principle as demonstrated in the expansion of the New Silk Road across the globe. It is a credit to President Buhari that has taken leadership in collaborating with China to build a modern rail system in Nigeria that will connect the entire nation.

“China’s Role in Nigerian Railway Development and Implications for Security and Development”

April 18, 2018

“The Economic Benefits of Railway Investment”
    “Railway development has been featured in China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative across Eurasia and East Africa. In Eurasia, as in Africa, Beijing emphasizes the contribution of the BRI to peace by promoting the development and prosperity that come from economic connectivity. Railways are an integral part of this formula. The intrinsic advantages of railways over road networks lie in their economies of scale: railways need less  frequent maintenance and have higher speed and efficiency over long-distance routes, making them a highly advantageous low-cost option for freight traffic and offering huge potential for trade promotion.
     “Railway development also has positive spillover effects for complementary industries in upstream manufacturing supply chains, such as steel and construction materials, and generates demand for retail and services, all of which promote employment. A central trunk corridor would open up agricultural and mining industries in the middle-belt and plateau states. Likewise, the development of the western Lagos-Kano corridor would benefit northern  cattle and leather industries, which are currently disadvantaged against cheap imports given the costs of transport.”  (excerpted from USIP report)
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Read entire report

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Floating Energy Plants Will Help Light-Up Africa

Turkish floating power plant will supply 150 megawatts of power to Sudan’s national energy grid

Turkish floating plant starts power supply to Sudan

By Huseyin Erdogan

ANKARA

Turkey’s floating power plant, the Karadeniz powership Rauf Bey, started electricity production in Sudan, a member of the Istanbul-based Karadeniz Energy Group, Karpowership, announced Tuesday.

The powership, which has 180 megawatts (MW) of installed capacity, will supply 150 MW of power to Sudan’s national energy grid.

The plant is important for the stability of the country’s national grid as it caters for the country’s increased energy demand.

The company announced on April 27 that it signed an electricity production and sales agreement with Sudan’s electricity company, STPGC.

Karpowership is the sole owner, operator and builder of the first powership fleet in the world. Since 2010, 15 powerships have been completed with total installed capacity exceeding 2,800 MW.

An additional 5,000 MW of powerships are either under construction or in the pipeline.

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African nations desperately need energy to develop their economies, build industries, and to expand their agriculture and manufacturing sectors. With hundreds of additional gigawatts of power, the continent can be transformed; hunger and poverty can be eradicated . Energy is an essential category of infrastructure that every nations needs to achieve higher levels of economic growth. Africa should have nuclear energy, and floating nuclear power plants can contribute to supplying power to the continent. I have been advocating this idea for decades, and now its time has come!

New Era of Floating Nuclear Plants Begins

May 22, 2018—With great ceremony, the Russian city of Murmansk welcomed the floating nuclear plant Akademik Lomonosov on May 19. The plant had traveled from St. Petersburg where it was built. It will receive its supply of nuclear fuel in Murmansk, and then proceed to the Arctic circle town of Pevek, where it will begin to supply power to the population of approximately 50,000 people in the area next year.

New Era of Floating Nuclear Plants Begins

Russia’s floating nuclear plant, the Akademik Lomonosov

Constructed by the state nuclear power firm, Rosatom, the 144×30 meter, 21,000-ton barge holds two 35-MW nuclear reactors similar to those used to power Russian icebreaker ships. The barge can produce enough electricity to power a town of 200,000 residents, far more than the 5,000 who live in Pevek, Russia’s northernmost town.

Small, portable nuclear reactors have long been employed by the U.S. Navy, and presumably other militaries as well, but previous attempts to produce them for civilian purposes have met with sabotage. The United States actually did have such a plant in operation in Panama in the late 1960s, but it is being dismantled, and plans for production for use off the Eastern Seaboard of the United States were ditched in the 1970s. This, despite the nuclear Navy’s sterling safety record, and the obvious advantages of such plants for isolated areas suffering from a lack of electric power.

Among the obvious places crying out for such a deployment is Puerto Rico, which has now suffered the second-longest electricity blackout in history. (The longest was in the Philippines in 2013.) At least 20,000 homes in Puerto Rico still lack electricity as a result of Hurricane Maria (which hit last September), and a new hurricane season is about to begin. Indeed, the “repaired” system is so fragile that most of the Island was plunged into darkness about a month ago, as a result of a contractor accident.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry actually mooted the possibility of using small modular nuclear reactors to reach remote places in Puerto Rico last fall. But despite a verbal commitment to nuclear energy, the Trump Administration’s embrace of deregulation has so far been unable to halt the whittling away of the mainland nuclear fleet, much less been able to initiate the nuclear renaissance which is needed to move the U.S. economy into the next level of productivity.

The American System of Economics rests firmly on a commitment to constant increases in scientific progress and productivity, of which nuclear fission and fusion are prime examples

The Legacy of British Colonialism in South Africa Today

The article below discusses the problem of the denial of land ownership to South Africans that was imposed by the British Imperialist Empire. A similar British colonial policy of denying land ownership to native Africans existed in Zimbabwe. After the failure by the US and UK to honor the 1980 Lancaster House Agreement to financially support the transfer of land, President Mugabe took matters into his own hands, and gave fertile land held by white Rhodesians to black Zimbabweans. This led to various efforts of regime change against President Mugabe instigated  by the UK. Providing equitable land ownership in South Africa could cause a deeper crisis than in Zimbabwe. The transfer of  farm land under consideration in South Africa does not include the land containing trillions of dollars of valuable mineral resources that are still owned by the London based financial and commodity cartels. 

“This Land Is Our Land”

South Africa’s ruling party has failed to redistribute land to the black majority for over two decades. Can the new president defuse a ticking time bomb?

By Lungisile Ntsebeza-May 3, 2018

For almost 24 years after the end of apartheid, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) supported a land reform program that was based on a willing-seller, willing-buyer policy. The policy required the consent of both the seller and buyer for the purchase of the land, with the consequence that sellers, almost exclusively white, would determine which land they wanted to sell. After decades of ignoring criticism of that policy, the ANC’s leadership has changed tack, at least rhetorically. It is now advocating a radical policy of land expropriation without compensation.

The unresolved land question in South Africa is a time bomb. One out of every two South Africans was classified as “poor” in 2015, with the poverty rate increasing to 55.5 percent from a low of 53.2 percent in 2011. This translated into more than 30 million out of 55 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015. Ongoing struggles for housing in urban areas and grazing in rural areas reveal the full extent of the country’s poverty crisis. The ANC government now seems to realize that for both its survival as a ruling party and the preservation of democracy, something drastic must be done to reverse the vast inequalities that plague land ownership in South Africa.

When the ANC came to power in 1994, it inherited a deeply uneven playing field. For more than a century, land ownership, access, and use of land had been determined by race. This was the direct result of European colonialism and the arrival of white settlers who violently dispossessed indigenous black Africans of their land. Early settlers established “native” reserves for blacks and, in 1913, the white-led government of the Union of South Africa passed legislation restricting the black majority to just 7 percent of South Africa’s territory, which by then was already overcrowded and overgrazed. This paltry percentage of the land was increased to 13 percent in 1936, a situation that prevailed until the advent of democracy in South Africa in 1994.

Even after being relegated to faraway reserves, black South Africans often did not actually own their land. The state owned most of the land in the rural areas of the former reserves, granting only rights of occupation to its residents, rather than the freehold title deeds that were common for white landowners. While white colonialists
were initially committed to promoting a class of African farmers in the reserves, they changed their minds in the late 19th century, when minerals and gold were discovered throughout the country. They saw rural areas, including the reserves, as reservoirs of cheap labor to stimulate capitalist development. Lacking adequate land, black Africans were forced to sell their labor, cheaply, in the booming gold and diamond mines across the country, as well as on farms and as workers in the emerging white-controlled towns and cities.

Meanwhile, in the native reserves (later rechristened as “Bantustans”) the administration of land was in the hands of compliant state-appointed “headmen.” Having fought wars with tribal chiefs, colonialists appointed headmen as administrators of land whenever they defeated chiefs. With the advent of apartheid in 1948, chieftainship was revived — and only chiefs who were prepared to execute the apartheid government’s policies were appointed.

Although headmen and chiefs did not own the land, colonialists and the apartheid state officials made chiefs and headmen their gatekeepers by giving them land allocation powers and tremendous authority that came with it; no rural resident could be allocated land without the approval of chiefs and headmen….

When Nelson Mandela became president of a democratic South Africa in 1994, this is the deeply unequal system he inherited.

Soon after taking power, Mandela’s ANC adopted a land reform program that had three components: land restitution for those who lost their rights in 1913, land redistribution to redress racial imbalances in ownership of commercial land, and land tenure to protect the rights of farm workers and dwellers, labor tenants and those residing in the of the former Bantustans.

Read  the full article in Foreign Policy magazine: This Land is Our Land

 

 

Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Franklin Roosevelt and Kwame Nkrumah Would Concur

In 1943, after having flown over the Sahara Desert on his way to a Casablanca conference with Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt remarked to his son Elliott, that with the recreation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes?  It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”

Later in the trip, FDR made Winston Churchill apoplectic by discussing plans for anti-imperialist development with the Sultan of Morocco, including mooting American aid in providing the resources to train indigenous scientists and engineers to develop the nation.

FDR’s American System vision for African development was not taken up in the post-war era, but his outlook was echoed by at least two prominent statesmen of the next generation from very different backgrounds—Kwame Nkrumah and President John F. Kennedy. It was no mere coincidence that twenty years later, when Ghanaian President Nkrumah addressed the Organization of African Unity, he would also speak about the “possibility for the Sahara to bloom.” Nkrumah’s vision also would be temporarily crushed.

But today, finally, FDR’s and Nkrumah’s dream is beginning to be realized. A giant step toward greening the desert, and defeating the miserable living conditions which go with it, was taken this February, when a meeting of several African heads of state decided to go ahead with a massive project of water engineering called Transaqua. Although proceeding without American government backing, this project is truly in the spirit of American System development, a long-term investment in transforming the physical environment for the benefit of the general welfare.

It is with that in mind that we present this report by an American who does understand the American System, and has worked persistently for several decades to bring its benefits to Africa.—Nancy Spannaus

The Abuja Conference

After two months, the deliberations from the “International Conference on Saving Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018 are still reverberating, and will continue to do so. This historic conference, the first of its kind to be convened on the African continent, was initiated and sponsored by the Nigerian government in conjunction with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), and supported by the United Nations. It has already begun to change the thinking of what is possible for Africa’s future.

From across the globe, hundreds of water experts, hydrologists, scientists, political leaders, advocates for Lake Chad, the African Union, the Africa Development Bank, and the World Bank, joined the heads of state of the Lake Chad Basin nations for three days of deliberation on the best policy to recharge the contracting Lake Chad.

Having served as an advisor to the LCBC and participated in several discussions with the Nigerian government on the necessity for an inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad, this author was given a prominent role throughout the entire proceeding, addressing the gathering several times in various capacities. (Written remarks by me were also circulated at the conference and to the press.)

Read entire the article: Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur

 

Africa Collaboration With China’s Silk Road Good for the Continent

Nigeria And China Are In Dialogue On The Belt And Road Initiative

–The Round Table Dialogue held recently in Abuja, organized by the Center for China Studies and chaired by Nigeria’s former Foreign Minister and former ambassador to the People’s Republic of China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, discussed the strategy of connectivity across countries, and within countries. The Belt and Road Initiative will spawn an elaborate network of land, rail and maritime transport arteries and industrial clusters along its now-inclusive global routes, Charles Onunaiju wrote in his article, Nigeria and China’s Belt and Road Initiative, published in “The Sun” on March 28.

“The dialogue recognized that the core feature of the Belt and Road, which is essentially connectivity, is at the heart of the contemporary challenge of Africa, and therefore urged Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, to play decisive roles in the mechanism of the Belt and Road by appropriate policy engagement.”

The Deputy Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Nigeria, Li Jing, speaking on that occasion, said “the continent’s development agendas are therefore in synergy with the Belt and Road initiative, and there is no doubt that Africa and Nigeria, through appropriate policy facilitation, could align to the central features of the Belt and Road to advance her modernization and industrialization.”

Belt and Road Initiative and the African Continental Free Trade Area Provide Opportunities in Africa, Says a World Bank Officer

–In an article in the “Daily Nation” of Kenya, Peter Warutere, a communications officer for the World Bank based in Nairobi, said the condition created by the new African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) “presents a window of opportunity for African

countries to transform their economies, achieve rapid growth, and create jobs for their burgeoning youth population.”

He also wrote that “Kenya is well positioned to greatly benefit from the AfCFTA and the development of the Indian Ocean maritime route connecting China with the East African coastline.

The gateway to eastern Africa, Kenya should invest heavily in upgrading its infrastructure and industrial capacity. The window of opportunity for it is to become a vibrant industrial and logistics hub for Sino-African trade, investment and exchange.”

Kenya’s Secretary of National Treasury, Henry Rotich, said his government hopes China will help to make Kenya’s Big Four economic agenda a success. The Big Four agenda consists of food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable health care, Prensa Latina reports. “We want the Chinese private sector to participate in projects related with this agenda,” the Secretary said.

‘Nuclear Could Turn Zambia into a Regional Food Basket’

–That is the plan, by the Zambia Agriculture Research Institute and the Agriculture Ministry, with help from Russia’s Rosatom nuclear agency. An article under that headline yesterday by the African News Agency describes how for Zambia, and most of Africa, nuclear technology can dramatically improve food availability and nutrition on the continent.

An agreement has been signed with Rosatom for the establishment of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology in Lusaka, which will help prepare Zambia for nuclear power in the future. Zambia suffers power rationing between 8 and 14 hours per day when water is low at its hydroelectric dams. But immediately, the application of nuclear science and technology will be in agriculture.

Crops that are resistant to disease, able to withstand environmental stresses, such as drought, and produce higher yields are developed by using nuclear radiation to change the genetic makeup of plants. Zambia is developing new crop varieties with these characteristics, which will not only improve the nutrition of the population, but also the lives of the farmers.

Nuclear radiation will also be used for preserving food, using radioactive isotopes. This will immediately increase the food supply. A large percentage of the food produced, especially

in developing countries, never reaches the dinner table. For example, 40% of the fish produced globally rots before it can be eaten. Zambia will be able to join the 60 nations in the world that currently preserve food through irradiation.

Other applications of nuclear technology in agriculture will be for pest and disease control, inspection of the quality and quantity of water resources, and soil conservation.

The Zambia Agriculture Ministry is running multiple research projects in various fields to up-shift agriculture. With the Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, they will have new tools

Benin President Wants China To Build Rail Project

–President Patrice Talon of the West African nation of Benin has asked the French giant Bolloré and a local firm to “withdraw” from a rail infrastructure project so that China could take over the project, according to an interview Talon gave to the French business magazine {Challenges}, published yesterday.

Benin and neighboring Niger have been attempting to link the Benin port of Cotonou with Niger’s capital, Niamey, since 2008.

Talon described the Bolloré offer as “lower-end,” saying that “a private investor cannot finance the railway we want alone.” Talon also said that “China has the necessary financial means” to support the project, expected to cost around $4 billion and pointed out that “China has demonstrated its technical know-how” for building infrastructure in Africa.

Joint Projects Are a Testament to Cameroon’s Trust in China, Says President, Visiting Beijing

–Cameroon President Paul Biya is on a three-day state visit to China, and, as President Xi Jinping

pointed out, he is the first head of state to come to China since President Xi’s reelection. The two presidents met yesterday. President Biya stated that relations between the two countries has stood the test of time, and that China has become one of Cameroon’s strategic development partners. Without listing all of their specific joint projects, President Biya said that they are a testament to the trust that Cameroon has in China.

This afternoon, Biya met with China’s top legislator, Li Zhanshu, of the Standing Committee of yhe National People’s Congress, during which they discussed further bilateral relations in the future. Li said China is willing to have more friendly exchanges with Cameroon’s parliament, and expressed hope that both countries would support each other on political issues. More people-to-people exchanges were also discussed.

In turn, Biya “spoke highly of China’s foreign policy,” Xinhua reports, and said he appreciated China’s long-term support for Cameroon.

Africa Should Learn From China, Advises South African Scientist

–Africa should learn from China’s rapid advances in education, science, and technology to solve socio-economic challenges, said South African scientist Neil Turok. He is the founder of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, and director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada. Turok made his remarks yesterday at the opening of the Next Einstein Forum, being held in Rwanda. There are about 1,600 participants at the conference, which takes place March 26-28, and at least half are under the age of 42, {xinhua} reports.
“China has invested heavily in education, science, and technology,” the scientist said, “and the results are amazing. China is emerging as a new global science and technology powerhouse.” He called upon all African countries to focus, prioritize, and promote science and technology for solving economic challenges.

Abuja Conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’: A Great Victory for Africa!

A great victory was achieved at the international conference to “Save Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018.  This author, along with others has been advocating over many years for Transaqua; a transformative inter-basin water transfer project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad with water from the Congo River Basin.

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord.

 In the section of the Road-map “Outcome from the Conference” the Transaqua Project  is endorsed as the preferred option for refilling Lake Chad:

The Conference acknowledged:  The various studies carried out showing that there is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the basin. That Inter-basin water transfer is not an option; but a necessity. That failure to take appropriate and timely action, will result in Lake Chad completely drying up soon and that would cause humanitarian crisis, pose serious security challenges, not only for the region, but for the entire African continent and the World. The Transaqua Project which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,000 km channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option (Annex 5).

Annex 5: Transaqua Transfer Scheme
Therein, the Conference urged: The African Union to consider the consequences of Lake Chad disappearing not only as regional issue but, an African tragedy as part of its agenda, and endorse the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) initiative as a Pan-African project to restore the Lake for peace and security to reign in the Lake Chad region and the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin. The International Technical and Financial Partners and Donors agree to support the Lake Chad Basin initiative through the financing of LCBC Development programmes aimed at addressing the problems caused by the shrinking of the Lake. The African Development Bank to facilitate the creation of the Lake Chad Fund of US $50 billion, to be sourced from African States and donations by Africa’s Development Partners to fund the Lake Chad IBWT and infrastructure projects. Read entire Roadmap to Saving Lake Chad

Below is a statement distributed the conference. The author was a prominently featured participant during the during the three-day conference, and his statement was extensively covered in the Nigerian press.

 Now Is the Time to Think Big and In the Future

Lawrence Freeman, Political-Economic Analyst for Africa addresses conference

It gives me great pleasure to participate in this historic conference that will finally discuss the necessity to recharge Lake Chad after decades of inaction. Saving Lake Chad by transferring water from the Congo River Basin is strategically important for all nations on the Africa continent. Since the drying up of North Africa several thousands of years ago, Lake Chad remains the largest body of water in the desert. Lake Chad provides the means of existence to tens of millions of Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, who are primarily engaged in fishing and farming. Conditions of extreme poverty in the region have produced a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, and contributed to the desperate migrations of Africans to Europe. Leadership by the heads of state of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, through joint military deployments, has weakened the capability of this violent extremist organization. However, to eliminate the spawning of new terrorist movements, and, to end the waves of Africans risking their lives to escape poverty, we must give the people, especially the youth, hope for a better future. This requires more than simply humanitarian aid or charity; it requires economic transformation.

“Let the Sahara Desert Bloom”

These are the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, the last great American President, as he flew over the desert during World War II. Now, seven decades later, we must embrace this unfulfilled task: transporting water to the desert. Through massive investments in infrastructure; water, energy, and rail, we can transform the desert, and reclaim it back from the terrorists, who thrive in desolate environments. We should not allow a twenty-thousand-year astronomical cycle that creates extreme arid weather before the return of rainfall, to determine our future. Mankind through the power of creativity and free will must intervene for the benefit of human species, whose birthplace after all is the African continent.

There are no valid objective reasons for African nations to endure abject poverty. Hundreds of millions of Africans live on less than $2 per day, and suffer from hunger, cholera, and other diseases. The dearth of electrical power, and efficient rail transportation is literally (not figuratively) killing Africa. These conditions can be overcome with continental approach to investments in vital infrastructure

Transforming the Lake Chad Basin

The most ambitious and visionary inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad is Transaqua, proposed over three decades ago.  The project’s design includes transferring 5-8% of the tributary water to the Congo River Basin via a 2,400-kilometer navigable canal to feed into the Chari River in Central African Republic, the major tributary to Lake Chad. The Congo River is the second most powerful in the world, discharging approximately 40,000 cubic meters per second or 1.2 trillion cubic meters annually into the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than allowing these huge volumes of water to be simply deposited into the vast ocean, Transaqua intends to utilize the super moist Congo River Basin to bring water to the Sahel Desert. The project envisions creating new levels of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins, in addition to generating hydro-electric power, and bringing irrigation to three million acres of land. If this bold engineering project had been taken up decades ago, approximately one eighth of the African continent would look completely different today, and millions of needless deaths would have been prevented.

Transaqua Meets China’s Silk Road

What was not foreseen thirty years ago was the emergence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative-(BRI) – a new dynamic redefining political and economic relations among nations throughout the planet. Now, we can delightfully envisage how Africa might look when China’s BRI intersects Transaqua. Consider the potential for Africa as we let our imagination peak with excitement into the future.

Port Sudan on the Red Sea is presently included in China’s Maritime Silk Road. The governments of Sudan and Chad have already discussed with China constructing a railroad from Port Sudan to Nyala, South Darfur that will continue to N’djamena, Chad’s capital. There are plans for this Sahelian railroad to continue to Cameroon and Nigeria, potentially continuing westward all the way to Dakar, Senegal. On the eastern side, rail connections from Sudan to Djibouti and Ethiopia are also anticipated. The Sahelian (proto East-West) railroad will possibly intersect the long-awaited South-North railroad in the proximity of Sennar, Sudan. From this advanced viewpoint, we can look at the new physical topology of Africa in which Transaqua will be situated.  Successfully linking the Lake Chad Basin nations to those of the Great Lakes region with the rest of Africa, through these new land and waterway economic-transportation corridors will be transformative for the whole continent.

My friends, now is time for our conscience and imagination to unite in embracing this momentous occasion with our collective decision to take responsible action for the future of Africa.

Mr. Freeman has been involved in promoting economic development in Nigeria for over 20 years, having visited all regions of the country beginning in 1994. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in November 2014.

 

 

 

Pres. Trump: Don’t Lose Sudan

Sahalian-Sahara Railroad From Port Sudan Will Transform Sudan & Africa

On October 12, 2017 the Trump administration announced the partial lifting of sanctions against the nation of Sudan to allow the government and people of Sudan to participate in the international banking system to promote trade and economic growth. Over the last twenty years since these financial, trade, and banking sanctions were imposed, Sudan has economically suffered. President’s Trump’s executive order easing restrictions on Sudan created a new mood of optimism, with the State Department indicating that this would be the beginning of new relations with Sudan. The State Department publicly mooted that this could be the first step to removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism in the future. However, after almost four months, the U.S. government has not facilitated the transfer of money for Sudan, which is contributing to the nation’s economic strife today.

Sudan Opens a Second Front

The failure by the U.S. to implement fully the easing sanction is the result of a conflict between President Trump’s agenda and dissident factions in the State Department, supported by many in the Congress, who are incapable of relinquishing their fanatical desire to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir removed from office.  These contradictions became obvious when Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Khartoum on November 16, 2017, and conspicuously avoided meeting with President Bashir, using the excuse that the president of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, it is well known that previous administrations supported efforts to have President Bashir removed from office. The zealots of this international alliance for regime change, who have been behind this nefarious campaign for decades, reject even tentative overtures by President Trump to chart a new course for U.S.-Sudan relations. There are unconfirmed reports that the U.S. State Department, not the executive branch, is demanding the removal of President Bashir as a precondition for further progress in U.S.-Sudan relations including removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

One week following the diplomatic snub by Sullivan, the most senior State Department official to visit Khartoum, President Bashir shocked everyone in Washington, and many in Khartoum, when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 23.  This surprise move was not expected by Washington. Reflecting the sentiments of most Sudanese, especially in the ruling National Congress Party, that the U.S. once again was not acting in good faith, President Bashir made his very first visit to Russia. Fearing that the goalposts have been moved again, as they have been repeatedly, and that the regime-change faction is still desirous of his removal, President Bashir asked Russia for protection from aggressive acts by the U.S. Sudan’s Rapprochement With Russia

The two presidents discussed increased economic and military cooperation, including the possibility of Russia securing a military base on the Red Sea that forms the eastern border of Sudan. According to knowledgeable sources, President Bashir will continue to look forward to improved cooperation with the U.S. and the West, but simultaneously pursue a closer alliance with Russia.  President Bashir believes Russia’s veto on the United Nations Security Council, along with its military capability as demonstrated in Syria, will provide a bulwark against any future reckless policy against Sudan by the West.

U.S. Needs Sudan

For Sudan, there is no turning back from their “dual-front” policy with the world’s two superpowers, but it didn’t have to come to this. The failure to fully implement the easing of trade/financial sanctions after years of refusal by the U.S. to talk face-to-face with President Bashir, accompanied by the severe economic hardships suffered by the Sudanese people from U.S.-led sanctions, contributed to President Bashir’s first overture to Russia.

Sudan is strategically situated in East Africa in the Nile River system that connects sub-Saharan Africa to North Arica. Moreover, Sudan has for years been a valuable ally in the war against ISIS, providing useful intelligence to U.S. security forces. Also, it must be unequivocally stated, that there will be no solution to the crisis in South Sudan that the U.S. and Britain have contributed to, without the direct participation of the President of Sudan. Susan Rice, in charge of African policy in the second term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency is personally culpable for the horrific conditions in South Sudan today.  She and other so-called liberals hated Sudan’s leadership, and were fierce advocates for the creation of South Sudan. Their intention was to use South Sudan as part of their arsenal for regime change, without the slightest concern for the welfare of the people of South Sudan.

Sudan is a nation rich in mineral resources, and has large tracts of arable land, not yet under cultivation.  It has been known for decades, long before the creation of South Sudan in 2011, that Sudan had the potential to feed a billion people, about the size of sub-Saharan Africa’s population today. It should be recognized (if not admitted) that successive U.S. administrations have strategically failed in their policy towards Sudan, lacking a vision of how to participate with African nations to develop their huge wealth in land and in its people.

Africa needs huge investments in infrastructure to realize its potential in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing. Instead of the West fixating on extractive industries, i.e., gas, oil, and minerals, which have a minimal role in job creation, their focus should have been on railroads and energy. When the South-North and East-West railroads are finally built, their nexus will be in central Sudan. Trains carrying freight and people will be able to travel from Port Sudan on the Red Sea into West and Southern Africa, thus ensuring that Sudan will become a mega manufacturing-agricultural-transportation hub for the continent.

The Way Forward

There is a relatively easy path for President Trump to follow, to engage Sudan fruitfully. Port Sudan is already included on China’s Maritime Silk Road. China’s involvement in building infrastructure throughout the African continent is unparalleled. Were President Trump to join with China’s New Silk Road for Africa in vital infrastructure to Sudan, the U.S. would form new partnerships with Sudan and other African nations.

President Bashir demonstrated his ability to negotiate and compromise when he signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with President George W. Bush to allow an independence referendum in South Sudan. This resulted in the peaceful separation of Sudan seven years ago, with Khartoum voluntarily giving up 75% of its oil production.  With this historical perspective in mind, President Trump can put U.S.-Sudan relations on a positive course by arranging for direct, if informal, talks with President Bashir, and carrying through on the easing of sanctions pertaining to trade, finance, and banking.  These actions will be well received in Khartoum and reciprocated.

Lawrence Freeman has been visiting and writing about Sudan for over 20 years, discussing economic development and US-Sudan relations with members of parliament, the NCP, and leaders of opposition parties.