China & the US Can End Poverty by Exploring Space: Africa Gains

Exploring outer space is a natural driver of economic growth. Discovering the universe beyond earth stimulates the mind, excites the imagination, and challenges our human understanding of the physical laws-principles that govern our planet. Discovering new scientific principles leads to new technologies that transform our economic mode of production. Knowledge, understood in this way, changes i.e. improves our relationship to nature-the physical universe. There is no so-called environmental limit to continued economic growth for the human noetic-creative species. The last great burst of productivity in America was a result of President John K Kennedy’s vision for man to land on the Moon. All the new discoveries that were required to accomplish that feat created new technologies here at home, on planet earth. Kennedy’s space program resulted in a 14:1 return on investment. This will happen again as mankind continues to probes further into space. China has taken the lead. However, if the US, instead of demonizing China and Russia were to collaborate with space fairing nations, in searching out new scientific principles of the universe, we would cause a revolution in science. In possession of this scientific knowledge we could end hunger, poverty, and conflict throughout the world. Africa has much to gain by supporting new endeavors into outer space.

“Get Rid of Poverty, But Also Aim Deeper into the Sky”

In the context of the press conference today by China National Space Administration (CNSA), CGTN conducted an interview with lunar mission chief designer, Wu Weiren, with its “face-to-face” reporter. The title of the interview is: “face to face Wu Weiren: a big step for mankind.” He was asked more than once about cooperation with the U.S. Wu responded that there is, in fact, some cooperation with the U.S. on this mission. The Chang’e-4 relay satellite “will extend its service life, and they can use it at that time, after the Chang’e-4 mission… The U.S. made a request to know the landing time and location in advance, so that their satellite can be adjusted to [pass over] the landing site, and record the precise location of the landing site.” This would be of benefit to China.

He continued: “This is a golden opportunity for the United States. It always wants to measure the meteorites hitting the Moon, which can raise the state of the moon dust. This is very difficult. The probability [of observing a meteorite hit] is too small; it is difficult to achieve. But this time we have such an opportunity, so Americans want to seize it, and we are willing to provide them the opportunity.” Asked numerous times about cooperation, Wu said, that “the scientists of the two countries still hope to cooperate together,” providing examples of areas of complimentary science investigations.

When asked by a reporter, “Our country has spent so much money and used so many scientists to do this. Why do we have to help people [do this]?” Wu Weiren responded: “China has fallen behind in the past few hundred years. From the perspective of modern science and technology, we still benefit from the Western countries. We have bathed in the rain of world science and technology development, and we enjoy the benefits. Now that we have the ability, our economy has developed, and our science and technology are gradually catching up with the pace of world development. As General Secretary Xi said, big countries must take on big tasks. I think we should contribute to the world’s science and technology now. We can do this in an era of contribution.”

Wu added: “A nation needs to look up at the stars, and China’s deep space exploration will fly further and further. [We have had] the successful landing of the Chang’e-4, the relay link connection, payload start-up, two-unit separation [of the rover from the lander], rover moon-day dormancy and wake-up, and two-way mutual [photograph] shootings were completed. Every move and every step attracts the attention of the world.”

“Of course, we must do our own things well,” advised. For example, the tens of millions of people in our country have not yet gotten rid of poverty. This should be solved. However, we should also aim deeper into the sky. One philosopher has said that if a nation does not look up at the starry sky and only buries its head and feet, this nation has no hope and no future.

We have 1.3 billion people and we are a big country. I hope that in our generation or the next generation, we can turn our big space power into a strong space power. Now we say that we can catch up with the world’s advanced level. Next we can lead the world. That is the dream of our generation.”

‘A Nation Needs to Look Up at the Stars’

The China National Space Administration (CNSA) held a press conference this morning on the on-going Chang’e-4 mission, and future lunar exploration missions. Giving the briefing was Wu Yunhua, deputy chief commander of the agency, and Wu Weiren, general designer of the lunar program. Wu Weiren
said that CNSA is organizing Chinese experts to work on the follow-on lunar missions, and that three future missions are being planned:
* Chang’e-5, which will launch at the end of this year, will return a sample from the near side of the Moon * Chang’e-6 will conduct a south pole sample return. Whether it will be conducted on the near side or the far side of the Moon depending on the results from the sampling mission of Chang’e-5.
* Chang’e-7 will conduct comprehensive exploration of the south pole, including its land forms, material composition, and environment
* Chang’e-8 will test key advanced technologies on the far side, and companies will be invited to industrialize the technologies. {China Science and Technology Daily} reports that Wu Yunhua added, “On Change-8 we are planning even more crucial experiments for our lunar exploration, including to determine the
possibility of establishing a lunar base for scientific research, if we can do 3D printing on the Moon, and whether it is possible to use the lunar soil for the construction of buildings, in order to jointly construct a lunar base for further exploration of the Moon.”

Previously it has been stated by CNSA that the first Chinese lunar base will be robotic, with periodic visits by astronauts. China has said that its first manned lunar mission will take place around 2030.

At the press conference, the importance of international cooperation was stressed by a number of speakers. All countries are welcome to participate in China’s follow-up lunar exploration and deep space exploration projects, he said.

Ouyang Ziyuan Gives His Views on Chang’e-4 and Future Exploration

Geologist and Academician Ouyang Ziyuan, in an undated, but recent, interview on CCTV, commented on the Chang’e-4 mission. The program was titled “Why We Want To Go to Far Side of the Moon?” Ouyang said that it had been the dream of scientists immemorial to find out about that side of the Moon that we never see. In addition, the far side, which is open to the universe — and all its effects — would no doubt contain ancient rocks that would reveal the secret of the origin of our Solar System. Scientists have chosen a level area of the Moon in the Aiken Basin and have concentrated on an ancient crater, the Von Karman Crater, Ouyang said, which could be one of the oldest parts of the Moon.

Eventually, he said, one task would be bringing ancient rocks back from the crater for examination on Earth. In addition, the Moon could serve as a base for future exploration.

“Our task in the final analysis is twofold. One is the low-frequency radiation. The other is the record contained in the ancient rocks. Our next phase on the Moon must be scientific research, and we have to plan a base for scientific research and gradually improve that base for our work. I am convinced that in
this way we will look forward to new knowledge and to new breakthroughs,” he said.

AU Chairman, and African Leaders Congratulate China’s “Dark Side” of the Moon Landing

China is Making History with Moon Landing

January 8, 2019

Senegalese President Macky Sall congratulated China for the success of its Chang’e-4 mission to deploy a lunar rover on the far side of the Moon, when he met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Jan. 6. Senegal, which is currently co-chair of the Forum of China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). This was the last stop in Wang’s four-nation tour of Africa that began in Ethiopia.

According to Xinhua, Sall said that “this major technological breakthrough has shown that China is taking the lead in the field of technological innovation…. China’s African friends are proud of its achievement.” He added that they hope to strengthen their cooperation with China in scientific and technological innovation.

African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat had said much the same thing, when he met with Wang on Jan. 4 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where the AU has its headquarters. Expressing his congratulations on the successful landing of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, Faki told Wang, “for humans, the Moon is out of reach, but with its super-scientific capabilities, China has successfully achieved this landing event, making history.” He, too, said that Africa, as a friend of China, is happy about its success, and hopes that African countries will strengthen cooperation with China in science and technological innovation.

Xinhua reported that Wang, in responding to Sall, said that China’s achievements are also achievements of developing countries, “stressing that developing countries have the right and ability to achieve rapid development in the field of scientific and technological innovation.”

Between those two stops, Wang visited The Gambia and Burkina Faso, two countries which had only established relations with China in 2016 and 2018. Cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative was on the agenda in each stop, as was China’s commitment to helping bring peace to Africa, which is fighting off terrorism. Wang told AU Commission Chair Faki, and Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré and Foreign Minister Alpha Barry, in particular, that China will “soon” provide its $45 million commitment for the anti-terror force of the Group of 5 Sahel countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger), plus additional support for equipment as well as equipment for the fight against terrorism. One Burkina Faso newspaper called Wang’s pledge “a breath of fresh air,” because while the G5 Sahel counter-force is backed by the United Nations Security Council, international funding has been way below commitments.

Traditionally China’s foreign minister makes the first overseas trip of each year to Africa.

{China Daily} Reflects on Chang’e-4 Mission

In an article headlined “Exploring Outer Space for Benefit of Mankind,” the semi-official {China Daily} takes stock of the significance of the ongoing Chang’e-4 mission.

“The successful landing of China’s Chang’e 4 probe on the far side of the Moon on Jan. 3 marks a significant step forward in the exploration of outer space and paves the way for future space missions…. Both the country and its people have a good reason to take pride in this pioneering achievement, which contributes to the efforts to learn our homes planet’s satellite, the Solar System and the universe beyond…. Following the Chang’e 4 mission, China is expected to quicken its steps in exploring outer space.

“In recent years, each significant achievement made by China’s space industry has drawn global attention. Although its space industry is comparatively young, China’s commitment to the exploration of outer space has always been crystal clear and consistent. It is committed to the principle of using outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes the militarization of or an arms race in outer space. Its door is open to international cooperation in space exploration….

China’s commitment to international cooperation demonstrates its unwavering belief that outer space is a common home for all humanity and that its space
dream is part of the dream of all humankind.”

China, Africa, and exploring the Universe for Mankind

Displaying China’s commitment and friendship to Africa, the first foreign trip of the new year by China’s Foreign Minister began in Ethiopia, and included a meeting African Union Chairman,  Moussa Faki Mahamat. Landing on the dark side of the Moon for the first time history with China’s new rover is a step forward for Mankind.  

Wang Yi Opens New Year with Visit to Africa

Jan. 4, 2019

As has become the tradition of Chinese Foreign Ministers, Wang Yi’s first foreign trip of 2019 is to Africa. It began yesterday with meetings with Ethiopia’s highest officials, followed by his meeting today with the head of the African Union, headquartered in Ethiopia. Wang will then travel to Burkina Faso, Gambia, and Senegal. China reported that Wang hopes through this trip to strengthen coordination with Africa for the implementation of the decisions taken in last September’s historic summit in Beijing of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Wang met with both Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and Foreign Minister Workneh Gebeyehu. The statement posted by the Prime Minister after his meeting with Wang praised China’s “immense contribution to Ethiopia,” reported that Abiy had “highlighted” that for Ethiopia, “the new frontier of a  strengthened relationship [with China] needs to capitalize on introducing new forms of technology,” and to continue the support in infrastructure development.

Neighboring Kenya’s {Daily Nation} covered Wang’s meetings in Ethiopia with a blast at the “China debt trap” lies. Citing statistics from the “conservative” American Enterprise Institute), the paper emphasized that from 2005 to 2018, China’s total on investment and construction in Sub-Saharan Africa was $298 billion. Making China “the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa, exceeding the combined total of the African Development Bank, the European Union, International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Group of Eight countries.”

Wang had “initially sidestepped concerns, often made by Western nations, about whether the debt payments were sustainable,” the {Daily Nation} reported, but he then he answered: “Generally, debt in Africa has been a protracted issue left from history. It didn’t come up today, still less is it caused by  China,” Wang said. He added that China is well-aware that some African nations have encountered financing difficulties, and “we’re always ready to extend a good hand when African countries need it.”

According to Anadolu Agency, Wang discussed plans to start a dialogue on security with Africa, when he met with African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat today, arguing that “peace in the African continent is very important for stability in the whole world.” Faki, for his part, praised China’s help in capacity building in Africa, being the biggest partner of Africa in building roads, ports and energy facilities.

Chang’e-4: “Exploring the Unknown Is Human Nature”

There is extensive coverage in the Chinese media, both TV and print, of the astonishing Chang’e-4 achievement, and the ongoing activities of the lander, the rover, and the relay satellite. Comments by a number of China’s top scientists involved in the project are also reported: “Exploring the unknown is human nature. The Moon is a mysterious world to us. We have a responsibility to explore and to understand it. Exploration of the Moon will also deepen our understanding of Earth and ourselves,” said Wu Weiren, chief of China’s lunar program. On CGTN’s “China 24” program this morning Wu said that although China started late in its lunar program, unlike the U.S. program it is not a race, but scientific, and started from a higher ground. He said China’s lunar program welcomes contributions, even in subsystems and system integration.

“It is a perfect display of human intelligence,” said Jia Yang, deputy chief designer of the Chang’e-4 probe, from the China Academy of Space Technology CAST). “Solving those problems might help lay the foundation for future space exploration. High-precision landing is a necessity for further exploring the Moon and asteroids. We hope to be able to reach the whole Moon and even the whole solar system,” said Sun Zezhou, chief designer of Change-4 probe, from CAST.

“Exploring the far side of the Moon is one contribution China is making to the world. Although we still don’t know what we might find, this exploration might influence several generations,” said Shen Zhenrong, a designer of the lunar rover.

Presidents Kagame and Museveni Discuss; Democracy, China, Infrastructure, and Jobs

President Paul Kagame: Time for Europe To Invest in Industry and Infrastrucure

December  26, 2018)

In an exclusive interview with Austria’s {Die Presse} news daily, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated that “Europe has invested billions upon billions of dollars in Africa. (But) something must have gone wrong…. Part of it is that these billions had a return ticket. They flowed to Africa and then back to Europe again. This money left nothing on the ground in Africa.” The European money was invested in the wrong place, he said.  Instead it should go to investments “in industry, infrastructure, and educational institutions for Africa’s youth, whose number is growing fast. That is the only way to create a  demographic dividend.” It would be a better way of preventing migration of young Africans to Europe, which the Europeans were so much worried about. Europe could cooperate with China, Kagame hints: “China is active in Rwanda, but not in an inappropriate way. The new roads in Rwanda are largely built with European money. Sometimes there are Chinese subcontractors.”

 What Africans do not need, is Europeans trying to give them lessons on democracy, Kagame said. The European model of democracy is a failure, Europe is in a profound political crisis, as shown by the recent mass protests and other aspects, this model cannot be one for Africans to follow. Europe finally has to give up its attitudes of fake generosity, and begin accepting Africa as a real partner, he said.

Presidents Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda

China Creating Tens of Thousands of Jobs for Ugandans in Infrastructure Projects

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni revealed in an interview with {Xinhua} with its focus on infrastructure development, the country wanted to attract more invest-ment from China: “We are likely to advance the project of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)… in the government-to-government (talks).” Extending the Chinese-built SGR line from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa, which is expected to reach the border areas with Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Uganda would make sense as a catalyst of economic growth. To finance its infra-structure development agenda, Uganda looked at China because of the country’s favorable lending terms compared to some of the Western global financiers.

Other major infrastructure projects in Uganda will benefit from Chinese support as well: A few months ago, the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, linking the capital Kampala to Entebbe Airport, the country’s gateway to the world, was completed. China financed the construction of the mega road  project, the first of its kind in the country. China is also financing the expansion of Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport. Official figures show that after completion of the first phase of expansion, the cargo center can handle up to 150,000 metric tons of goods, compared to the previous 69,000 metric tons.

In the northern part of Uganda along the River Nile, the world’s longest river, China is constructing the 600MW Karuma Hydropower Plant. While touring the facility in July, President Museveni said he was amazed by the progress noting that the plant will not only address Uganda’s inadequate power supply, but also that youths have become skilled through the construction process.

Farther upstream on the River Nile, in the central Ugandan district of Kayunga, construction of a Chinese-funded 183MW Isimba Hydro-power plant that is nearing completion according to the Chinese engineers on site, power generated by the plant is expected to come onto the national grid early next year.

The power development plan is crucial for the Uganda’s industrialization policy, which has designated over 22 industrial parks across the country where investors can set up base, taking advantage of the incentives that come with establishing their factories in the parks. In October, President Museveni launched the first phase of a $620 million Chinese industrial project in the eastern district of Tororo. The project has dubbed the Uganda-China Free Zone of International Industrial Cooperation, undertaken by the Dongsong Energy Group, will manufacture glass, steel, and organic-fertilizers, creating about 3,000 jobs at peak when completed in 2020.

President Museveni, in March of this year launched another Chinese-owned Mbale Industrial Park. The park owners, Tian Tang Group, said it will attract more than 30 investors with a total investment of about $600 million and an annual output value of $1.5 billion. The park will directly employ about 12,000 locals.

 The $220 million Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park, is another park that will play a critical role in transforming the economy. According to government figures, almost 80% of the country’s population derives its livelihood from agriculture.

 When fully operational, Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park is expected to produce about 600,000 tons of agro-products annually to meet the domestic and regional market demands.

 It will also create 25,000 jobs as well as making opportunities for training local people available, according to the managers of the park.

Pres. Trump’s Non-Africa Strategy

The so-called US African strategy articulated by National Security Adviser John Bolton, with the approval of President Trump has little, if anything to do with Africa. It is essentially a geo-political strategy aimed primarily at China and to a lesser extent Russia. The true believers of the bankrupt geo-political ideology live in a “global zero-sum game”-a world with only winners and losers among the super-powers. All other (lesser) nations are treated as movable pieces in their fantasy game. In other words, in this administration’s policy, Africa is a pawn on their geo-political chess board. Sadly, this so called African strategy does nothing to improve the conditions of life for the African people, and nothing to enhance US security. Bolton’s explicit attack on China’s successful Belt and Road policy, which for the first time since the days of imperialist/colonial domination of Africa, is providing vitally needed infrastructure across the African continent, demonstrates how little the Trump administration actually cares about the economic welfare of African people. The Trump/Bolton policy has already failed from the start. It is too late to stop China’s on-going collaboration with African nations. However, if the Trump administration was more thoughtful about Africa, they would join with China and Russia to assist in developing the continent, which is still suffering from massive deficits in vital categories of infrastructure. There is still time for the US to reverse course, but this would require jettisoning their adherence to the age old British geo-political world view.

Image result for us africa
The US Lacks A Development Strategy for Africa

Read Bolton’s Non-Africa Strategy

Despite Claims From the West: Report Reveals That China’s Africa Infrastructure Projects are Reducing Economic Inequalities

 

China’s New Silk Road/Belt Road Initiative is developing many parts of the world with infrastructure that are yielding positive economic results .

Chinese Investments in Developing Sector Decrease Inequality

December 12, 2018

A study done by the AidData institute at William and Mary College in Virginia showed that China’s investments in the developing sector between 2000 and 2014, unlike many western investments, reduce economic inequality in the targeted countries.

Financed by the UN, the Singapore Ministry of Education, the German Research Foundation, USAID, and several other foundations, the study collected data on Chinese projects in 138 countries, concluding: “We find that Chinese development projects in general, and Chinese transportation projects in particular, reduce economic inequality within and between sub-national localities,” and “produce positive economic spillover that leads to a more equal distribution of economic activity.”

“Beijing has demonstrated that it is  both willing and able to address the unmet infrastructure financing needs of developing countries. These development projects—in particular, investments in highways, railways, roads, bridges, tunnels, and ports—could strengthen economic ties between rural and urban areas and thereby help to spread the benefits of economic growth to more remote and traditionally disadvantaged areas.”

“The findings from the study are encouraging: Chinese development projects—in particular, “connective infrastructure” projects like roads and bridges—are found to create a more equal distribution of economic activity within the provinces and districts where they were located.”

Read the article with a link to the report

 

 

Africa’s Infrastructure Deficit Is Literally Killing Its People

Below are slides from my 14 hour course: “The legacy of Slavery and Colonialism in Africa” that I am presently teaching at Frederick Community college in Maryland.

They clearly demonstrates the huge deficit in Africa for two vital areas of hard infrastructure; energy and rail. The colonialists and the neo-colonial policies by Western nations and their financial institutions following the liberation of African nations, opposed building infrastructure in Africa. Only now over the last decade are hard infrastructure projects being constructed in Africa in collaboration with China. These pictures below juxtapose the present conditions to the what is possible and should be what the future looks like. This is the focus of my activity.

Energy: Reliable estimates are that 1 billion Africans are living in sub-Sahara Africa on a mere 100,000 megawatts of power with almost 40% of that generated by South Africa. Africans are forced to live in areas on less than 100 watts per person. Compare that to Americans who have thousands of watts available for daily consumption 365 days a year. Approximately 600 millions Africans do not have access to an electrical grid. Africa needs thousands of additional gigawatts of electricity to power advanced economies.

Rail: Africa needs hundreds of thousands of kilometers of modern rail lines. All major cities in Africa should be connect by high-speed rail. There should have been East-West and North-South railroads decades ago. This is essential for economic growth.

Africa is the next frontier of development, and can be center of economic activity in the world in two generations. This requires a full-scale commitment to build transformative infrastructure projects throughout the continent NOW!. If we do, Africa’s future will be bright.

 

Colonial railroads compared to what is minimally required.

 

 

‘Investigate or Legislate’: What Will the Democrats in Control of the House of Representatives Do?

With control of the House of Representatives, the Democrats have the opportunity to provide leadership for the United States. They will have to decide. Do they want to make their primary focus attacking President Donald Tramp, by continuing their impotent investigation of his alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election? Or will they actually provide a vision for the future of the USA, by enacting bold new legislation.  Any attempt to impeach President Trump would be a farce that would virtually ensure the Democrats would be defeated in the 2020 presidential election.

President Trump has demonstrated that he lacks a comprehensive understanding of the scientific principles that created the USA. He has also displayed an unAmerican phobia to non-white foreigners from a multitude of countries arriving in the USA.  However, President Trump has distinguished himself in forming a close relationship with the President of China, Xi Xinping. He has also attempted to establish a working relationship with the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. To the detriment of the USA (and the world) many Democrats, along with some members of his own administration, have adamantly opposed these positive initiatives by President Trump. President Trump has many shortcomings, but to his credit, he is not an ideologue, and he is not a devout follower of the geo-political doctrine on foreign policy. If President Trump took the audacious step to partner with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the world could be transformed.

Important polices must be implemented now to provide for the welfare of our citizens, which will require bipartisan action in the Congress. For example. Both the Republican and Democratic parties have made verbal commitments to support a Glass Steagall banking reorganization, yet no action has been taken by the Congress or this administration. Another opportunity for bipartisanship would be the passage of legislation for a transformative infrastructure plan to rebuild the USA.

Below is a useful article discussing how President Trump working with the Congress could fund large-scale infrastructure projects. 

A New Opportunity for a National Infrastructure Agenda?

Nov. 7, 2018—One thing is definitive about the results of the U.S. mid-term elections: Neither political party put a solution to the country’s economic and financial disaster on the national agenda.  That doesn’t mean that many of the new Democratic members of Congress don’t have a strong commitment to address the economic crisis, however. They can potentially galvanize the veteran Congressmen into action. The question is, will competent, workable proposals be put on the table in the 116th Congress?

Statements from President Trump and the putative incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the immediate aftermath of the election were notable for addressing the possibility of bipartisan progress on infrastructure. Both statements were quite vague, however—and, as some will recall, Trump has offered cooperation on infrastructure before. One need only look at his current blackballing of the New York City Gateway project to see how hollow that promise was.

Rep. DeFazio in his campaign photo.

More substantive have been remarks from the incoming chairmen of two House committees. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) is expected to take over the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. According to a Nov. 7 Reutersarticle, DeFazio is prepared to put forward his previous proposal for a $500 billion plan, which would involve issuing 30-year bonds, using funds from  raising gas taxes. He believes Trump would accept an increase in the gas tax.

“There has to be real money, real investment,” DeFazio said today. “We’re not going to do pretend stuff like asset recycling. We’re not going to do massive privatization.”

Rep. John Yarmuth (D-KY), who is slated to take over the House Budget Committee, addressed the infrastructure question a few days before the election, according to an Oct. 30 Politico Pro article. He said he would be making a proposal which “involves some very long-term bonding authority that would help finance an infrastructure bank.”

The Issue of Funding

The inevitable sticking point in Congressional discussions of an adequate infrastructure bill—which should ultimately amount to spending trillions of dollars to meet the infrastructure deficit—will be funding. President Trump has already indicated his preference for off-loading the cost to local and state governments, and proposes to even cut the Federal contribution from today’s 80% to 20%. That’s a formula for non-action. The Democratic plans have not been specific.

The danger lies in a potential “compromise” that pushes Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as the solution to the funding dilemma. PPPs are presented as a means of reducing, or eliminating, public costs, by contracting with private companies to either build, manage, or both the needed element of infrastructure. The claim is that the private company can do the job cheaper and more efficiently, and the public will benefit.

Moving ahead on Gateway would be a good place to start.

Not so fast. First, some of the cheapness comes at the cost of labor—by violation of Davis-Bacon standards–and quality. Secondly, private contractors only enter PPP agreements on the guarantee that they will receive a revenue stream to cover their costs, and provide a profit. This can amount to tolls on a road, water bills for a water company, and the like. And if the stream doesn’t provide what the company considers adequate profit, what will it do?  Cut maintenance? Cut off people’s water supply? Both results have occurred! And they are unacceptable.

So, forget PPPs. The solution lies in taking the lead from Franklin Roosevelt and Alexander Hamilton. The Federal government has a unique capability (and responsibility) to create credit to modernize and rebuild our infrastructure. That credit can in fact be issued by turning current (virtually non-performing) government debt into bonds supporting an infrastructure bank, against which it would then issue new loans to help finance the long overdue infrastructure projects.  These would not only be short-term, but also long-term projects, such as the Gateway Project, California High Speed Rail, and the desperately needed water projects in the nation’s interior, for starters.  If the right projects are selected, the infrastructure constructed will pay back more to the economy in increased productivity than is expended–as well as creating millions of new, high-paying jobs.

For a modern proposal for such an infrastructure bank, click here

 

Don’t Listen to Propaganda & Gossip. Follow the Facts: China is not Creating a ‘debt-trap’ for Africa

A useful report, “Africa’s growing debt crisis: Who is the debt owed to?” by the British based Jubilee Debt Campaign, again belies the propaganda and gossip that China is manipulating African nations into a ‘debt-trap.’  This report excerpted below, using figures from the World Bank, and the China Africa Research Institute-(CARI) at Johns Hopkins SAIS in Washington DC, shows the percentage of debt owed to China by African nations is not the cause of a debt crisis. In fact, in many cases the debt owed to China is less than the total owed to Western nations and financial institutions.

It is clear that for strictly geo-political reasons many Western think tanks and various media have gone into overdrive demonizing China with false claims of a new ‘debt-trap.’ This has also led to increased attacks on African leaders, portraying them as weak and not acting in the interest of their citizens. They have been accused of succumbing to China, which has been dubbed, the new imperial power. Sadly, many Africans have been duped, or simply out of frustration and anger, joined this western orchestrated chorus.

Of course, the truth of the matter is quite different. From the early 1980s on Western financial intuitions such as the IMF, World Bank, and Paris Club, loaded up African nations with so much debt that they were unable to service the debt, forcing them into unpayable arrears.  The vicious irony, is that several hundred billion dollars of debt lent by the West was never meant to actual develop African economies. It was in fact, intended to create a real ‘debt-trap’ for Africa. It has only been in the last ten years that Africa’s huge deficit in infrastructure is being addressed in collaboration with China’s non-western model of development. As I have written over many years, debt is not the problem when it is used as credit to improve the productive powers of a society to increase its physical wealth. Technologically advanced infrastructure is an excellent, if not the premiere method to drive an economy forward. This is exactly what China is accomplishing through its Belt and Road Initiative, and is at the heart of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC).

Unfortunately, the dominance of the “geo-political” ideology since the death of Franklin Roosevelt has thoroughly contaminated the thinking of Westerners and Africans alike. Creating a culture (with few exceptions) of people unable to think strategically, and who cynically reject the idea that a powerful nation would extend itself to actually assist other nations. China, according to all accounts, has lifted 700 million of its people out of poverty. President Xi Xinping has pledged to help eliminate poverty in Africa, the continent with highest rate of poverty in the world. Yet, many Africans reject this offer as insincere, suggesting a sinister motive lurking behind China’s offer. This attitude, is in part, the result of today’s political culture, which has failed to understand one of the most profound universal principles: all mankind shares a common interest in the development of the creative potential of each and every human being.  

Let us all agree, now, that we will all act on the this principle of the common good, and affirm as did the Treaty of Westphalia, that the interest of the other is also the interest of thy self.

 

Forum On China-Africa Cooperation, Beijing, September 3-4, 2018

“Africa’s growing debt crisis: Who is the debt owed to?”

October 2018

(excerpts follow)

Summary
• African government external debt payments have doubled in two years, from an average of
5.9% of government revenue in 2015 to 11.8% in 2017
• 20% of African government external debt is owed to China
• 17% of African government external interest payments are made to China
• In contrast, 32% of African government external debt is owed to private lenders, and 35% to
multilateral institutions such as the World Bank
• 55% of external interest payments are to private creditors

Minimum amount of African government external debt owed to China as percentage of total debt is 18%

Creditor grouping, total debt owed, percentage of external debt owed, are as follows:
China $72 billion 18%
Paris Club $40 billion 10%
Other governments $18 billion 4%
World Bank $66 billion 16%
IMF $18 billion 4%
Other multilateral institutions $61 billion 15%
Private sector $132 billion 32%
Total $407 billion 

Maximum amount of African government external debt owed to China as percentage of total debt is 24%

Creditor grouping’Total debt owed, percentage of external debt owed, are as follows:
China $100 billion 24%
Paris Club $40 billion 10%
World Bank $66 billion 16%
IMF $18 billion 4%
Other multilateral institutions $61 billion 15%
Private sector (excl. Chinese
private sector)
$132 billion 32%
Total $417 billion

Checking these figures through country cases

Another way of identifying how much African government debt is owed to China is to look bottom-up at the individual data available by each government.

Of these 16 countries, 14 have figures on how much debt is owed to China (for the full analysis see Appendix 1.). Of these 14:

• 11 owe less than 18% of their debt to China (Burundi, Cabo Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Mauritania, Mozambique, Sao Tome and Principe, South Sudan, Sudan and Zimbabwe).
• Three owe more than 24% -Djibouti (68%), Zambia (30%) and Cameroon (29%).
• The mean average amount owed to China is 15% of a government’s external debt, and the median average is 8%

Read Complete Report: Who Is Africa Debt’s Owed To?

Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa Should NOT Have the Majority of Poor People.

This  is absolutely unacceptable. There is no objective reason for Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa to have the highest percentage of poor people in the world, with all its natural resources and people. This is the result of failed policies that began with the so called “Washington Consensus” beginning in the 1980s. Under the International Monetary Fund’s diktats and Structural Adjustment Programs(SAPs), the economies of African nations were destroyed and many have still not recovered.  African nations are beginning to follow a different model in collaboration with China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The IMF and World Bank models which measure statistical monetary aggregates ignore the most essential ingredient necessary to create economic growth: technologically advanced infrastructure platforms, integrating rail, energy, water, and roads. Only in the last ten years is infrastructure finally being built, after it was outlawed under colonialism and neo-colonialism, (except for roads and rail for resource to port and transporting colonial soldiers).  For example, the Sudanese people are suffering terribly from a lack of economic growth, because Sudan has been threatened not to deviate from IMF dictated macro-economic parameters. The Sudanese people will rebel, if Sudan continues to adhere to the murderous policies of the so called “free market.”

It is time for African nations to over throw the old model and break free from the monetarist grip of the IMF and WB. Inclusive growth, as it is called, will only happen when there is improvement in the real-physical economy. 

It is projected that by 2050 Nigeria will have 400 million people and Africa as a whole 2.4 billion. Despite the hysteria of the “zero-growthers,” Nigeria and Africa are not suffering from over population, but underdevelopment of its vast wealth. Each new human born can be a new source of wealth, if their creative potential is nurtured and developed. Thus, the Africa continent  with its projected large population, should become the center development (not poverty) of world economy, if we act now to massively expand infrastructure across the continent.

Nigeria to host 90% of extremely poor by 2030, says World Bank