China’s Inroads into Africa Trigger Envy and Allegations

By Mark Kapchanga

Globaltimes.cn 2018/2/20

Allegations of spying and surveillance pop up every day on the global political stage. They are, however, not always true but driven by malice. A database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists shows that as of August 2015, there were 1,419 active satellites in orbit around the earth mainly used for the collection of intelligence.

From time immemorial, revelations of spying always provoke outrage. In his famous treatise The Art of War, Chinese general Sun Tzu says: “Enlightened rulers and good generals who can obtain intelligent agents as spies are sure to make great achievements.”

As recent as 2016, new documents made public by Wikileaks revealed that the US spied on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s private conversations with world leaders. The secret files showed that the National Security Agency listened in as Merkel had private conversations with other European heads of government and with former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. But even before the dust settled on this accusation, in late 2017 Berlin claimed Beijing was using LinkedIn to infiltrate political and business circles in Germany. The assertion followed claims from a German intelligence service that 10,000 of its citizens were targeted by Chinese spies, an allegation that China refuted.

In most cases, allegations of spying and surveillance cause strains between countries, and at times, even sever diplomatic ties. Informed that such claims can create a rift between regions, a French paper Le Monde carried a story on allegations that China has been spying on African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa for six years. In what appears to have been a manufactured story, Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who said the alleged transfer of data was taking place at night. The story went further to say the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building was opened.

Trade between China and Africa has been rising thanks to policy benefits from a cooperative plan laid down by Chinese and African leaders in South Africa in 2015. At the summit, President Xi Jinping announced plans to invest $60 billion into African development projects, saying it would boost agriculture, build roads, ports and railways and write off some debt. 

As an example of strong relations between Africa and China, trade between them rose by 16.8 percent to $38.8 billion in the first quarter of 2017. On the other hand, China’s non-financial direct investment in Africa expanded by 64 percent in the first quarter of 2017 as countries such as Djibouti, Senegal and South Africa all saw a more than 100 percent rise in the quarter. 

The negative reportage about Sino-African relations by Western media has also been fueled by envy due to strengthening ties. The ambitious global trading strategy, known as the Belt and Road initiative, which appeared to be gaining traction recently, particularly in parts of East Africa where major infrastructure and defense projects are being built, is also likely to buoy China’s growing investments in Africa. The spying allegations are not the first media story being published by Western media with the aim of creating a gulf between Africa and China.

While free media is desired in any economy, there needs to be a sense of responsibility and professionalism in the practice. China’s presence in Africa has had its challenges no doubt. But Western media cannot spend acres of editorial space criticizing China for “increased corruption in Africa, for exploiting Africa’s natural resources, for environmental degradation, poor wages for employees, among others.”

In particular, the media has become obsessed with the claim that Chinese firms are winning mega tenders in African countries by paying bribes. This is absolutely not true. Chinese firms have not only shown that they qualify to execute these major infrastructural projects but they have also shown their unrivaled muscles in completing them in record time at a relatively low cost.

Perhaps it is now time that the Western countries upped their games in investing and trading with Africa if they are to compete favorably with China in Africa. Claims that Chinese firms bribe locals to win tenders are utterly false. Crucially, media should engage in constructive reporting for posterity.

The author is a researcher and expert on China-Africa cooperation based in Nairobi, Kenya. Follow him on Twitter:@kapchanga. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Jan. 29, 2018–“The African continent was part of the ancient maritime Silk Road and now is in a good position to be China’s natural partner,” said He Wenping, Director of Africa Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, portraying the Belt and Road (BRI) activities in Africa, on the sidelines of the just-concluded African Union Summit.

In South Africa alone, there are more than 300 Chinese enterprises, half of which are major and medium-sized businesses, investing $13 billion in electronics, automobiles, financial information network infrastructure, and construction engineering, said a report compiled by the South Africa-China Economic and Trade Association in 2016.

Despite fears, frustrations, and challenges from unexpected hardships, misunderstandings, and cultural conflicts, China is accelerating the advancement of its all-around cooperation with Africa, He Wenping continued. It is expected to set a good example of deepening regional cooperation for the so-far reluctant Western countries. “BRI deserves to be a platform for the overall exchange and intensified cooperation between China and the world,” she urged.

Germans Invited To Invest in Zambian Infrastructure

Jan. 29, 2018–During an encounter with Stefan Liebing, the chairman of the German Africa Association, in Berlin on Jan. 17, Zambia’s Ambassador Anthony Mukwita presented a document titled “Zambia’s Investment Project,” which had been prepared by the embassy.

“This document contains areas that are ripe for investment in Zambia which you must share with your membership in Germany,” said Mukwita to Liebing.

The areas of possible investment he presented include: construction, agriculture, energy, transport, and tourism, to mention but a few. The Zambian diplomat urged German business to take full advantage of Zambia’s invitation: “Our President H.E. Edgar Lungu is keen to see a reduction in poverty and rise in GDP via foreign direct investment; our peace, stability and predictability, including ease of doing business, continues being a great ingredient of attracting business.” Liebing expressed confidence of stepping up business with Zambia.

German-Zambian contacts were continued at a meeting with leading officials of the Canadian Bombardier rail-tech firm on Jan. 27.  Bombardier Head of Rail for Africa Christian Bengtsson told Mukwita that a functioning railway grid is required for transportation of goods and services in order to enhance economic growth in Zambia. A memorandum of understanding was already signed in 2016, but not much has happened since, because no financing has been made available by the German government or private banks. The Zambian project would be crucial for Bombardier, which, for lack of new contracts in Germany, has been considering reducing its workforce in Germany from 8,000 to 6,000, also by selling the railcar-producing unit in Görlitz.

Bombardier, whose transportation headquarters is in Germany, has carried out feasibility studies on Zambia Railway’s 900-km network, half of which needs to be refurbished. Once the railway is replaced and railcars are purchased, the company is expected to create 5,000 jobs and increase its cargo transportation (mostly iron ore and other minerals) from the current 700,000 tons to about 5 million tons annually, and eventually 8 million tons.

China’s Belt Road at Davos World Economic Forum

Jan. 28, 2018–Under the above headline, the {New York Times} journalist Keith Bradsher bemoans the fact that, like it or not, it was China’s New Silk Road that dominated the Davos World Economic Forum, not the efforts by many to demean the Belt and Road Initiative as merely China’s effort to “spread its influence” and to “bury the recipients in debt and cause considerable environmental damage.”

Under a picture of a smiling Liu He, Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor who gave China’s keynote speech at the Forum, Bradsher acknowledges that that Liu He’s presentation was “one of the best-attended speeches,” and that throughout the Forum, the Belt and Road was the leading subject of discussion.

“At one end of town, President Michel Temer of Brazil welcomed an unexpected offer from Beijing for Latin American nations to work closely with a Chinese initiative,” writes Bradsher. “At the other end of town…, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi used his talk to praise the rapidly expanding Chinese investments in his country, including to build power stations and a large port…. National leaders seemed to vie with one another in Davos in calling for closer cooperation with China.”

“The China One Belt, One Road is going to be the new WTO — like it or not,” Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, told the {Times}.

But China’s actions were not limited to Davos, Bradsher notes. “On Friday, the Chinese government used a policy document issued in Beijing to call for a Polar Silk Road that would link China to Europe and the Atlantic via a shipping route past the melting Arctic ice cap…. At a summit meeting for Latin American and Caribbean foreign ministers in Santiago, Chile, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China called for close cooperation and participation by the regions countries.”

Belt and Road ‘Heatedly Discussed’ in Davos; ‘China Is Committed to Providing Solutions to World Problems’

Jan. 27, 2018– As reported in the Chinese Foreign Ministry website, a journalist asked spokeswoman Hua Chunying about China’s role in building a common future for the world which they characterized as s “heatedly discussed” in Davos. “Considering that the theme of this annual meeting is ‘Creating a shared Future in a Fractured World,’ what do you think of China’s role in promoting common development and building a common future for the world as the second largest economy?”

Hua Chunying answered by recalling that “the international community still remembers President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the WEF annual meeting last year. President Xi evaluated the world economy and came up with his prescription, gave an in-depth analysis of global pressing problems and put forward major proposals to promote the re-balancing of economic globalization, which still has broad and far-reaching influence in the international community.

“China’s contribution to the development of the world is embodied in many aspects. China’s economic growth has injected a strong impetus into the world economy. In 2017 alone, China’s foreign investment reached $120 billion and it imported goods worth 12.46 trillion yuan, which provided a vast market and ample investment and development opportunities for all countries. It is safe to say that  China is the stabilizer and engine of the world economic growth.

“China provides popular public goods for international cooperation. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is one of the most popular international public goods for today’s world, pointing out new directions for improving global governance and providing a new model for international cooperation. The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation hosted by China last year [in May 2017] has produced more than 270 fruitful outcomes.

“China is committed to providing solutions to the world’s problems. We have been attaching great importance to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, actively responding to the challenge of climate change and making remarkable progress in pollution prevention and treatment. Last year, 10 million people in China were lifted out of poverty. By taking these concrete actions, China has made tangible contributions to meeting global challenges and realizing common development.

“At present, China’s economy has shifted from a phase of rapid growth to a period of high-quality development. We believe this will surely provide more and more positive energy to the common development of the world and the building of a common future,” she said

China Is Working on “the post-high-speed rail age;” Has In-Depth Development Program for Maglev Trains

Jan. 27, 2018–An entire generation of medium- to low speed maglev trains that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kmh, is being developed in China, with plans to operate 5 to 12 magnetic levitation rail lines in cities including Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou by 2020. Altogether 12 Chinese cities, including Tianjin, Hangzhou and Shenzhen, are planning to launch maglev services by 2020, especially between their city center and airports, the city and suburban areas, and the city and surrounding counties.

Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute, explained that this project is one of 18 national key research and development plans set by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016, researching both high-speed passenger and freight trains. The project will be completed by 2021 at a total investment of over 9 billion yuan ($580 million). The project includes six types of trains — three for freight, one high-speed passenger train, and two types of maglev trains. Freight trains with speeds of 250 kmh can transport seafood from Haikou in South China’s Hainan Province to Beijing in north China in one day, according to a project officer at CRRC.

Research into maglev includes a train that can reach 600 kmh and another that travels at 200 kmh. Research is to prepare for “the post-high-speed rail age” in technology, said Sun. The cost of a 600 kmh maglev train is almost the same as a 400 kmh version. The first Chinese-made high-speed maglev train will roll off the operation line in 2018, the report said. Design and construction will begin immediately. A sample carriage will be built in 2018, and a complete train will be ready for a 5-km test run in 2020, said Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co.

Chinese Economic Policy Came Out of Study of Great Depression, 2008 Crisis

Jan. 27, 2018– Chinese economist, Liu He, in 2013, in his position as Deputy Director of the Development Research Center of the State Council conducted a comparative study of the 1930s Great Depression and the 2008 crisis. In a report on their conclusions he wrote: “After the outbreak of the crisis, we have been pondering over the possible period of the crisis, its possible international influence and our countermeasures. Since the Industrial Revolution, the crisis of the capitalist world has been frequent. In the 20th century, The Great Depression and the current international financial crisis were the two most widespread and devastating ones. Starting in 2010, we started to carry out a comparative study of the Great Depression of the 1930s and this international financial crisis. Except for Central Government In addition to co-workers, researchers from People’s Bank of China, China Banking Regulatory Commission, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, National Research Center and Peking University were also invited to participate.”

The following three conclusions were listed as the principle results of the report.

First, grasp the major changes in the connotation of the period of strategic opportunities in our country and seek the maximum intersection of China’s interests and global interests. The conclusions of the comparative study can tell us that the connotation of the strategic period in which we are located has undergone significant changes. In the economic sense, before the crisis, China’s strategic  opportunities mainly represented the expansion of overseas markets and the inflow of international capital. China seized the opportunity to become a global manufacturing center in one fell swoop. After the crisis, the world has entered a long process of insufficient aggregate demand and de-leveraging. Our strategic opportunities are mainly manifested in the tremendous stimulating effect of the domestic market on the global economic recovery and the opportunities and foundations of technology mergers and acquisitions in developed countries, their facilities and investment opportunities. We should firmly grasp these substantive changes, conscientiously analyze the enormous intersection of interests that have emerged with the new historical conditions in our country and the major economies, and clearly propose a solution to the global dilemma of growth. We will steadily implement the plan when the external conditions are clear.

Second, we should avoid moving to an over-indebted economy and attach importance to regulating and controlling financial fluctuations. We must uphold the essential requirements of

financial services for the real economy. The departure of the U.S. financial industry from its core service function has become the perpetrator of the global financial crisis. This is related to the abandonment of the traditional value of the industry by the U.S. financial industry and excessive pursuit of wealth and innovation. The good performance of the German economy in this crisis is closely related to Germany’s conservative financial tradition and the fact that the financial industry can operate soundly. Various effective measures should be taken to both improve the business environment of the real economy, consolidate the foundation for the development of the real economy,  and to curb capital from empty money-making-money schemes so as to prevent excess self-circulation and inflation in the fictitious economy.

Thirdly, in the process of establishing a new global economic governance structure, the active participants should become  leading policy shapers. Against the backdrop of accelerating changes in global power and the drastic changes in the global economic governance structure and in finding a new equilibrium, China should play a similar role to the United States in taking the initiative in shaping an international new system as a “creditor country” after World War II, China’s overall national strength and rising international competitiveness are favorable conditions for accurately judging the reality and trend of the international situation, clearly defining the interests of our country, breaking through existing institutional frameworks set by Western countries to reflect and convey the interests of our country Unanimously and with the Chinese characteristics on the global economic and financial governance and major international issues of the core ideas and propositions, set the “China agenda”, the introduction of “China program” to strengthen international personnel training and accelerate the institutionalization of China’s international rights and eventually secure the future.

China Remains Committed to Africa’s Development

Jan. 14, 2018–Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Rwanda and Angola over the past two days, the first of four African nations he will visit on his first trip abroad in 2018. With Rwanda assuming chairmanship of the African Union for 2018 at the end of January, Wang discussed with Rwandan Foreign Minister  Mushikiwabo and Pres. Paul Kagame, preparations for this year’s summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). The aim of the summit will be to “dovetail China’s Belt and Road Initiative with African countries’ development strategies, thus boosting industrialization and modernization, and raising the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and Africa to a new level,” Xinhua reported as Wang’s message.

FOCAC, joining the 52 African nations, China and the African Union, has held a summit every three years, alternating between Beijing and an African capital, since its founding in 2000. A three-year action plan between China and the African countries is adopted at each summit. Beijing hosts the FOCAC summit in 2018.    At the conclusion of his visit to Angola today, Wang told a joint press conference with Angolan Foreign Minister Manuel  Augusto, that China will continue to support Angola in its efforts to diversify and modernize its  economy through “accelerated industrialization … on behalf of peace and unity on the African continent,”  Angolan media reported.  Wang also stressed that China is not concerned about Angola’s debt, and Domingos Augusto reported that they had discussed mechanisms to make the debt sustainable without interrupting current and future projects which require a financial cushion.

Angola’s foreign debt is over $40 billion now, much of it owed to China. With the price of its major export, oil, still low, Western bankers talk of Angola’s “debt crisis.”

Xinhua reported that Wang discussed the debt in response to a reporter raising the Western canard that “China’s financing has increased the debt burden of African countries,” and carries political conditions attached. Wang was blunt: “Such a claim, which is made with ulterior motives, is an outright false accusation…. China’s financing is in response to Africa’s demands for self-development. A country has a huge need for capital in its primary stage of economic take-off and industrialization and Africa is no exception,” he said. He added that “China also passed through this process; these are temporary problems,” as reported by Angolan media.

Furthermore, China does not attach political conditions. “Like African countries, China also had memories of a bitter past when, with its economic lifeline controlled by foreigners, it was unfairly treated and even exploited and oppressed. Therefore, when providing aid to and engaging in cooperation with Africa, China will not repeat what Western countries did and will never impose its own views on others.” China follows the principle of mutual benefit and win-win results, Wang stated.

China will continue to do its part in helping Africa develop itself, Wang concluded, citing two Chinese sayings: “only the feet know if the shoes fit,” and “people have a sense of natural justice.” The African people are in the best position to decide who is Africa’s true friend and most reliable partner.

In its Third Year, AIIB Will Expand Lending to African and South American Nations

As the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) enters its third year of operations, its President Jin Liqun explained in an interview with the {South China Morning Post} that in the coming year, it intends to expand lending and operations to South American and African nations, as well as further into the Middle East as soon as that is possible.

Jin noted that with “quite a number” of South American nations joining the Bank, it will be a good idea to finance some middle-income projects in South America to “bring South America and Asia together,” and reduce transaction and shipping costs.

But, he stated, “I would also pay attention to supporting African member countries. Asia is developing quickly, but it cannot sustain itself well without collaborating closely with African countries.” Jin emphasized that the  geographical scope of the Bank’s activities makes clear its role “in pushing broader-based social and economic development in the member countries in which we invest.”

Responding to the claims from some quarters that the Bank is merely an instrument of China, Jin said quite the contrary is true. China “is committed to building the Bank into a multilateral development institution with 21st Century governance.” The AIIB is separate from the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he said, but that it is inescapable that some projects in which the AIIB is involved would be connected to the BRI, simply because of the scale of this global development project, which covers 60 countries across multiple land and maritime corridors.

Jin Liqun was emphatic that China strictly adheres to the Bank’s principle of multilateralism and internationalism. “There has never been any interference by the Chinese government in the decision-making process.”

Donald Trump’s “Win-Lose” Model Versus Xi Jinping’s “Win-Win”

This is an interesting and insightful article contrasting the different policy orientation between US President Trump , and China President XI. The excerpts below highlight the possibilities for economic progress, if  the US would collaborate with China’s  on new “Silk Road.”

Adam GARRIE, September, 2017, OrientalReview.org

A joint venture of US and Chinese investment could have been used to create new land highways and corresponding maritime routes across the Americas–on either side of the Panama canal. In turn these belts and roads could be strategically linked to China’s Pacific belts and roads with the US ports in Los Angeles being a natural hub. Furthermore, joint US-Chinese investment schemes could have poured investment into US ports such as those in Los Angeles to bring them in-line with some of the modern ports in China which are far more technically advanced.

2017 should have been the year that the US decided to embrace the win-win model. This is not to say that the US would have or should have become China. The Chinese model is highly flexible in this sense. Donald Trump could have created a kind of Trans-American Belt and Road with US Characteristics for a New Era. Instead, Trump has opted to Make America Lose Again.

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Africa Advancing With Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Long-Term Impact on African Countries

Dr. Alexander Demissie of Ethiopia, an expert in China-Africa relations, spoke in Germany, November 26, 2017.

Below are excerpts from an excellent presentation by Dr. Demissie on the increasingly productive relationship between China and Africa to develop the continent’s infrastructure, which Europe and the Unites States have refused to do.

‘My third point: the BRI is primarily an infrastructural undertaking. We don’t yet have political institutionalization. We have infrastructural ideas. We have corridors, but we don’t yet have political institutions. So, if we talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or the Silk Road Bank, these are just connected
to infrastructure; they are not political ideas.

“Interestingly, this idea fits perfectly into the current African need—infrastructure development. Africa wants infrastructure, going back here to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 strategic framework that has also, coincidentally, been coming up. Together with the BRI, Africa wants a good infrastructure connection, a good internal interconnectivity. So, the idea of the BRI coming from China is perfectly fitting into the idea—actually happening or being discussed—within the African continent.

“China has also been very clear since Johannesburg in 2015 that they want to cooperate more with Africa more on infrastructural projects that create regional connectivity. That is where the BRI comes in. That’s why I mentioned earlier that the BRI is primarily an infrastructure topic.

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Putin and El-Sisi Sign Economic Deals in Cairo; Russia To Build Nuclear Power Four-Plant Complex for Egypt

December 11, 2017–Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement to construct Egypt’s first nuclear plant, which will be followed by construction of three more. Costing $21 billion, the porject is scheduled to be finished by 2028-2029.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They discussed economic matters, energy, and politics, as well as the possibility of resuming air travel between Russia and Egypt, which was suspended in November 2015 after the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai in what is believed to have been an act of terrorism.

President Putin stated, “I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead.”

President al-Sisi responded, “Since the 1950s and ’60s, Russia has always supported Egypt and still supports our country: both with metallurgical plants and the construction of the Aswan Dam, and today we will sign a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant.”

The preliminary agreement between the countries was signed in 2015; a loan from Russia will cover 85 percent of the construction costs. Russia’s Rosatom will service the complex’s four reactors for 60 years, its chairman Aleksey Likhachyov said today, RT reported. Representatives of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation and Russian universities have recently visited Egyptian universities to prepare engineering students to work at the Daba nuclear power plant in the future. The Russian delegation gave a number of presentations at the Russian Center for Culture and Science in Cairo.

One day after Eyptian President El-Sisi and Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of a deal for the construction of four Russian reactors in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, it is reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has already begun a study at the El Nagila site, which takes about three years, to see if it is suitable for the construction of four nuclear plants, according to sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity. The study will be carried out parallel with the construction at the Dabaa site, where the first reactor is scheduled to come on-line in 2026. When that plant is complete, it will become only the second country in Africa, following South Africa, to have a nuclear power plant.

The {Daily News Egypt} reports that Egypt has signed protocols and MOUs with 10 countries for cooperation in nuclear energy, to help with training and the utilization of expertise in reactor management, and security, safety, and the possibility to provide formal advisory services to the EAEA

Africa’s Ports Revolution: Railway Ports of the East

This an informative article written on February 23. 2017, reporting on the exciting potential for the developments of Africa’s East coast ports with railroad connections to the interior of the continent. 

The population of Africa is presently 1.2 billion and growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, more than twice that of any other continent. In two years’ time, it will gain the population of the UK; in 12 years of compounded growth it will gain the population of China.

All these extra people may add dynamism to economies, but only if the increase in labour supply can be matched by an equivalent increase in economic activity; otherwise,  rising population density may destabilise social and political systems – an effect already seen in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This challenge has led to a different pattern of development for ports on Africa’s east coast, compared to the west coast. In the west, the centres served by these ports are close by, sometimes right outside the port gate. In east Africa, by contrast, they are between 500km and 1,000km away, and most of the infrastructure needed to reach them has not yet been built. In the case of the Doraleh container terminal at Djibouti, the goal is the Ethiopian highlands and the valley of the White Nile at Khartoum, a cluster roughly equivalent to the population of Japan. In East Africa, a similar-sized population is grouped in the Great Lakes states, South Sudan and the DRC. All of these centres, with the marginal exception of the DRC, are landlocked.

Their ability to attract investment and benefit from globalisation depends, among other things, on having efficient rail, road and pipeline links to the Indian Ocean “transit  states” of Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

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Industrialization of Ethiopia With Chinese Cooperation

Below are excerpts from a speech by Mr. Mehreteab Mulugeta Haile, Consul General of Ethiopia , reporting on the progress that Ethiopia has made to develop its nation, with its emphasis on infrastructure.

Ethiopia is one of the largest Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of about 100 million people. After suffering economic stagnation for decades, its economy began to grow in the mid-1990s after a new administration led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took the helm of government.

For the last 15 years, Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of about 11% per annum. To continue with this rapid economic growth, the Ethiopian Government rolled out in 2010, an ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This plan aims to attain a lower-middle-income status by 2025. Currently the country is implementing the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which is built on Sectoral Policies, Strategies  & Program and Lessons drawn from the first GTP and the post-2015 “sustainable development goals” (SDGs). It has also taken into account global and regional economic situations having direct or indirect bearing on the Ethiopian economy.

Expanding the manufacturing sector will focus on identifying new investment areas such as biotechnology, petrochemicals, electricity and electronics, information and communication technologies (hardware and software production industries).

In the infrastructure sector, the overall strategic direction is to ensure the creation of infrastructure that supports rapid economic growth and structural transformation. This direction will create mass employment opportunities, an institution having strong implementation capacity, ensure public participation and benefit, construct decentralized infrastructure development systems, solve financial constraints, ensure fairness and profitability, and ensure integrated planning of infrastructure development.

Within infrastructure overall, rural roads are given high focus to help reduce poverty by facilitating easy access of agricultural products, at low transportation cost, to the market, improving access to basic socioeconomic services, and strengthening rural-urban linkages.

If we take my country, Ethiopia, as an example of Chinese cooperation and involvement in Africa, we find that what has been said above is false. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation in the 2012-2017 period, are on top of Ethiopia’s investment landscape, both in number and financial capital. Among these companies, 279 were operational with projects that are worth over 13.16 billion Ethiopian birr (over 572 million U.S. dollars) during the reported period, while the remaining 100 are under implementation.

In terms of employment creation, Chinese companies have created more than 28,300 jobs in various sectors in Ethiopia during the reported period, of which over 19,000 were created in Ethiopia’s manufacturing, as it is the leading sector in attracting companies from China. China brings not only investment, knowhow, and transfer of technology, but also skills and entrepreneurship.

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Saving Lake Chad with Transaqua: An Inter-Basin Water Transfer Project

The excerpts below are from a speech by Mr. Franco Persio Bocchetto, Foreign Director for Bonifica, S.p.A., Italy, the engineering firm that designed the Transaqua proposal in  the1980s. It is an excellent presentation on a transformative infrastructure project to save the shrinking Lake Chad and develop the African continent.

We can be very optimistic, but due to the growth of the population, the long-term measures cannot be other than to think how to transfer large volumes of water from the  Congo River Basin to Lake Chad.

Well, water transfer to drying up endorheic lakes is not merely a “nature conservation measure.” Environment and wildlife deserve to be protected—human beings, too. A drying endorheic lake is proof that the water resources in its catchment area are overexploited with respect to incoming run-off. transferring water from adjacent river basins that have surplus water flowing into the sea, is a way of increasing water availability, especially for agriculture, in the context of the increasing population and declining rainfall, and to restore wildlife.

When water is in short supply in a given place, either you bring it there, or people will migrate elsewhere. Near Lake Chad, there is an immense, scarcely populated
river basin, which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean an average of 40,000 cubic meters/second—the equivalent to 1,250 billion m3 /year. That discharge is 200 times the discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely discharge of the Main River [in Germany], or 14 times that of the Rhine at its mouth. How much of this volume could be possibly and safely diverted into Lake Chad has yet to be studied.

Can we think of a “win-win” project, where all countries involved have their advantages, which is perhaps, one of the basic conditions for developing this project?
Bringing water from the Congo River Basin to the thirsty Chad region and increasing irrigated agriculture, restoring the lake, producing hydropower and improving inter-African transport and commerce, is the vision of this Transaqua Project.

A canal would have to intercept part of the discharge of the right-hand tributaries of the Congo River, and convey them across the watershed between the Congo Basin and the Chari Basin. The diverted flow would reach Lake Chad through one of the Chari tributaries, properly reshaped. A very preliminary estimate gives an amount up to 100 billion m3 /year could be diverted. That this less than 8% of the Congo discharge, ensuring thus the restoration of Lake Chad and irrigation of up to 3 million hectares.

In its fall toward Chad, the diverted flow could be used for hydropower production. Along the canal, a road should be built which would become the backbone of inter-African land transport. The hypothes is that the canal could also be suitable for navigation has been made. Those ideas stemming from the early 1920s, have been studied by Bonifica, and are presently being considered by the Lake Chad Basin Commission as a possible project for the future.

The idea of Bonifica is to transfer about 100 million cubic meters of water per year from the Congo River Basin to the Lake Chad and Sahel district. This is the Congo Basin as you can see in red, which is the alignment more or less of the canal. You cross the watershed and you go into the water catchment area of the River Chari.

What is important to note is that the Transaqua formula is not simply to replenish Lake Chad, but to give access to drinking water, revive agricultural activity, irrigation, fish farming, a navigable waterway, trade, transport, regulate flows, produce electric power, river ports, commerce, and road connections—thus creating an economic development system along the Transaqua waterway

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He Wenping-The Belt & Road: China Shares Its Development with Africa & the World

Below are excerpts from a speech by Prof. He Wenping discussing “President Xi’s Perspective for the Year 2050 and the Perspective of African Development.”

Germany, November 25, 2017

The Industrialization of Africa 

      “Let’s quickly go to the One Belt, One Road: This is just what I call—this is not official, it’s what I call it—I think this is a 1.0 version of One Belt, One Road, because all those things you see, the Maritime one and the Silk Road continental one, go through 64 countries. In this 1.0 version, only Egypt is from Africa, among these 64 countries. But now, I think One Belt, One Road is entering 2.0 version—that is, now facing all the countries in the world. As President Xi Jinping mentioned to  the Latin American countries, “you are all welcome to join the Belt and Road.” In the Chinese “40 Minutes,” Xi said, all the African continent is  now on the map of the One Belt, One Road, the whole African continent, especially after the May Belt and Road Summit in Beijing had taken place. 

      “So now, its face is open to all the countries in the world, now it’s inclusive. Any country that would like to join, I would like to say. You see, these are two leaders in the world: People are saying “America First” is the idea. You see from abroad, Trump in the White House saying, “America First.” If anything is not too good for America, it’s not good at all. But, for President Xi Jinping, the One Belt, One Road is to make the world better. It’s not, “make China better,” because with all this Belt and Road, the Chinese foreign exchange reserves, we’re now enjoying the number-one highest foreign exchange reserves in the world.

      “So, we’re going to use those foreign exchange reserves to build all those roads—connectivity! Connect China and other countries to join together, to build trade. And there are three connectivities we are talking about: First is the policy connectivity, China’s One Belt, One Road initiative is relevant to countries, their own development strategy. For example, Ethiopia.   Ethiopia has now been named as the “next China” on the African continent. It’s not my invention, these words—many scholars have been published talking
about which country in Africa is going to be the China in Africa, which means, developing faster! Faster and leading other countries forward. Most of them refer to Ethiopia.

    ” Ethiopia has now reached an GDP growth rate, last year, as high as 8%, but the whole rest of the continent, especially the oil rich countries, are suffering from lower oil prices. So they have developed an industrialization strategy; their strategy and the China strategy should be connected. One is called the policy connectivity

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Trans-Saharan Railway Progressing: Great News for Africa

This rail project is vital not only for Sudan, but for the African continent. Sudan is located strategically to be the nexus for the East-West and North-South rail roads that when completed would transform the entire African landmass. Imagine the revolution in economic development when the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are connected across the girth of Africa, and also linked to the Mediterranean Sea and oceans surrounding South Africa. Port Sudan and Kenya’s port of Mombassa are part of China’s Maritime Silk Road. Ethiopia and Kenya have completed new rail lines with the assistance of China as part of the Spirit of the New Silk Road. Most people cannot even dream of how life for over one billion Africans would be changed by an industrialized and connected Africa, Yet, not only is it possible, but we can make it happen.

China signs agreement to begin planning 3,400km trans-Saharan railway

8 November 2017 |

By Global Construction Review Staff

Two Chinese companies will start planning a railway across the Sahara Desert linking Sudan’s Red Sea coast to landlocked Chad after an agreement was signed yesterday with the Sudanese government.

China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company (FDDC) inked the deal with the Sudanese Railways Authority.

They now have 12 months to complete a feasibility study on the construction of the 3,400 kilometre-long railway from Port Sudan to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena.

Makawi Mohamed Awad, Sudan’s minister of transport, said that his ministry’s strategic aim was to link Port Sudan with all its landlocked neighbors. The Chad line, from its capital, N’Djamena, would join Sudan’s network at Nyala across the border. 
 

The Chad line would join Sudan’s network at Nyala, state capital of South Darfur

Plans for a Sahara railway go back some years.

In 2014, Sudan reached a political agreement with Chad to link their capitals with Port Sudan with a later extension to the Atlantic Ocean ports of Cameroon. Although both countries pledged to stop supporting each other’s rebel movements, continual instability delayed implementation. 

Further back in March 2012, Chad reached agreement with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build its portion of the line to the Sudanese border, after which it would join the Sudanese system at Nyala. The estimated $5.6bn cost of the line was thought likely be met by the Import Export Bank of China. 

The lines are to be built to standard gauge and will be allow trains to run at 120 km/h.

CRDC carries out preparatory work for railway construction. It has been a major player in the development of China’s domestic high-speed system, surveying some 7,500km of it. 

FDDC is a state-owned developer that carries out turnkey infrastructure projects outside the domestic market. 

 

Sudan: Sanctions Lifted, Now Development Is Imperative

Lawrence Freeman

October 24, 2017

            On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens. 

According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan.  Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.

This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation.  Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people.  Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward. 

However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).

Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.

Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road

Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.   

The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.

The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.

 Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.

Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies  

Sudan Is Open for Business

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism.  He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.

For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen.  As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays.  Economic development is the agenda.