Trump Administration Intervention Against Ethiopia Undermines Africa’s Progress

October9, 2020

While I have rarely, if ever agreed with any position of the {London School of Economics}, or for that matter, the {Washington Post}, and don’t’ support all the content that is contained in the article below, it is undeniably true; President Trump’s cutting aid to Ethiopia is harmful to the Africa continent. There is no justification for supporting a British colonial legacy that denies Ethiopia the right to develop its nation by harnessing the power of the Blue Nile. Ethiopia, with its large population, is aspiring to improve the conditions of life for its people, and eliminate poverty. It is attempting to become a leading manufacturing nation in Africa, which will not be possible without access to electrical power. The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), with its capacity to generate, 6,200 megawatts, is potentially not only a “game changer” for Ethiopia, but also for its neighboring nations in the Horn of Africa. Sadly, the Trump administration continues to repeat unfounded allegations against China, which include claims that China has imperialist designs for Africa. And  without a shred of evidence, claiming that China is attempting to trap African nations into unpayable debt so they can seize their assets. Reality is, Africa needs massive investments in infrastructure to industrialize its economies. China is collaborating with African nations to build energy plants, railroads, airports, etc., and the US, under President Trump, has followed the same wrong headed policy of his predecessors, who foolishly repeat the mantra-“the US doesn’t build infrastructure.”

Far better than undermining the progress of Ethiopia, an emerging African nation, President Trump should reverse course and support the development of Africa. It is not too late. Read my earlier post: Trump’s Aid Cut Harmful to Ethiopia and All of Africa

A conflict is brewing on the Nile — and the Trump administration is making things worse-

Excerpts:

“This summer has seen significant escalation between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan over the filling of the new Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the latest front in a longstanding dispute between the countries over rights to the Nile’s water. The United States has tried to play the role of a mediator in such disputes. But in September, the Trump administration announced it would slash Ethiopia’s aid budget by $130 million, intervening in support of Egypt and exacerbating tensions.

“Ever since construction began on the dam in 2011 — and indeed for decades before that — it has been a flash point in the region. The problem is that all parties have a point. The GERD would provide Ethiopia with clean, cheap and abundant energy — a much-needed addition to a country in which 55 percent of people lack electricity and 27 percent live in poverty. Failing to move forward with the dam’s filling would deprive 65 million Ethiopians of substantial energy potential, condemning them to inadequate living standards and sluggish economic prospects.
“Yet to dam a river that provides 90 percent of Egypt’s freshwater will deepen that country’s perilous water crisis. In recent years, Egypt’s persistent water deficit has strained its agricultural industry and upended life in many parts of the country…
“The issue is complex and requires careful mediation, but the Trump administration has taken a different approach. By cutting aid to Ethiopia, Washington appears to be pressuring it to accept Egypt’s demands: to slow the dam’s filling and sign up for deferential water-sharing quotas. In practice, the abrupt move has worsened the dispute — hardening Ethiopia’s resolve, emboldening Egypt’s nationalism and undermining the United States’ own credibility as an international mediator.”

Read: Egypt-Ethiopia Standoff on Nile

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

Nigeria and Egypt Building Railroads: Great News For Africa

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]

October 7, 2020

For those of us who understand physical economy, these two developments reported below are truly great news for Africa. Africans have suffered from a paucity of infrastructure in rail construction and energy production. When African nations liberated themselves from colonialism beginning in the 1960s, following 400 years of slavery, they were intentionally left with no infrastructure.  By denying African nations rail systems that connected the continent and electricity to industrialize their economies, the African people have been forced to lived in poverty brought about by imposed underdevelopment. Ghana’s founder, Kwame Nkrumah understood this well. He discussed the necessity of infrastructure to achieve true economic independence in his opening speech to the Organizing of African Unity on May 25, 1963 and his his book, Africa Must Unite. It is a crime that 60 years after the liberation from colonialism, African nations remain grossly deficient in basic infrastructure. Therefore let us rejoice in the progress that African nations are making today, in the 21st century to provide vital infrastructure for their people. We should all celebrate all measures taken to rectify the legacy of colonialism, that denied Africans the right to economic development. To their credit, Presidents Buhari (Nigeria) and el Sesi (Egypt) have pursue the expansion of infrastructure in their respective nations.

Why we’re extending rail construction to Niger Republic – Nigerian govt

“The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on Nigeria Television. Authority (NTA) live programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”

“The programme which focussed on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising” was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“Specifically, the minister said the rail extension is intended for Nigeria to take economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso which are landlocked countries.”

Continue Reading: Nigeria Extending Rail Construction to Niger

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Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Egyptian companies Samcrete and the Arab Organization for Industrialisation have won a $9bn contract to build a 543-km-long high-speed railway in Egypt, reports newspaper The Egypt Independent, citing “senior sources”.

“Accommodating train speeds of 250km/h, the line would link the Mediterranean coast at El-Alamein to the Red Sea at Ain Sokhna, cutting the journey between the two cities to three hours.

“The scheme’s importance to Egypt was compared to the Suez Canal by the chief executive of Samcrete, Sherif Nazmy, who told Arab-language newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that it would be the first new electric railway in Egypt since 1854.”

Continuing Reading: (Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

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

Ivory Coast Increases Manufacturing Capacity to Advance Their Economy

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Laying of the first stone of the cocoa bean processing plant, the warehouse and the training center for cocoa trades Abidjan on September 22, 2020. President Alassane Ouattara chaired this Tuesday the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the cocoa bean processing plant, warehouse and training center for cocoa trades. Abidjan.net by Atapointe
September 23, 2020
The article below, posted on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 on Abidjan.net highlights the efforts by the government of Ivory Coast to increase its processing capacity of coca beans. This expansion of Ivory Coast’s manufacturing sector is positive. For emerging African nations to develop and improve the living standards of their people, it is necessary to increase their manufacturing sector as thy move to industrialize their economies. African nation nations cannot any longer allow themselves to be dominated by extraction of their natural resources. 

National Development Plan: Alassane Ouattara launches construction work on two cocoa bean processing units

The Head of State, Alassane Ouattara proceeded on Tuesday, September 22, to the laying of the first stone of a cocoa bean processing unit at the PK24 industrial complex in the town of Anyama. The Chinese Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire and several ministers took part in the ceremony.

“These facilities will contribute to the industrialization of our country and promote job creation for the populations,” said Alassane Ouattara. The head of Eta has expressed the wish that by 2025 Côte d’Ivoire will be able to transform 100% of its cocoa production on site. “Next year, projects of this kind will allow us to achieve a growth rate of 8%, which means that it is an essential project,” said Alassane Ouattara. This official ceremony of the laying of the first stone marks the launch and start of construction work on two cocoa bean processing units on two sites with an area of ​​21 hectares each in Abidjan and San-Pedro. The two cocoa bean processing units will have a capacity of 50,000 tonnes each. In addition to these two processing units, two 300,000-ton storage warehouses will be built on each site. The products can be stored there for a period of two years. Finally, the PK24 site will host a training center for cocoa trades to participate in the development of human capital.

The Director General of the Coffee and Cocoa Council, Koné Brahima Yves announced during the ceremony that the overall cost of this project is estimated at 216 billion FCFA. “The financing was only possible thanks to the excellent relations between Côte d’Ivoire and China, the support of the Ministries of Agriculture, Economy and Finance as well as that of Trade and industry, ”revealed the CEO of the cafe-cocoa council. Still according to Koné Brahima Yves, the work will end in 24 months on the two sites. “It should be noted that in the implementation agreement for this project, 40% of the production of factories will be intended for the Chinese market,” said the CEO of the coffee-cocoa council. Finally, the regulator announces that after the completion of these factories, the capital will be open to the private sector.

The implementation of this pilot project by the Café-Cacao council is part of the National Development Plan (PND). It will help make the coffee-cocoa sector more efficient and able to meet internal demand. Also, this project will promote innovation and technological development.

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

Africa Development News: Ivory Coast and Ghana Move Forward With Infrastructure

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IVORY COAST: The government launches the construction of a hydro-agricultural dam in Koro

The Ivorian government has just launched the construction of a dam in the council of Koro in the northwest of Ivory Coast. The water reservoir on the Yirima River is intended for the development of agriculture in this part of the country.

“The realization of this dam will improve agricultural yields and ultimately, the income distributed to farmers. Its realization is therefore in line with the second phase of actions taken to accelerate the emergence of the Bafing region,” said Minister Moussa Sanogo.

 

September 9, 2020

China-Ghana cooperation thriving despite COVID-19:

The site of the upgrading project of Ghana coastal road in Accra Photos: Courtesy of CGICOP

China and Ghana are continuing to promote bilateral trade despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as the two sides actively push several programs ahead….

“Meanwhile, a 26-kilometer-long road project linking Ghana’s capital city Accra and Ghana’s largest port city Tema, one of the Belt and Road Initiative’s landmark construction projects, recently kicked off. ”

Read the full article: http://enapp.globaltimes.cn/#/article/1199432

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

Trump’s Aid Cut Harmful to Ethiopia and All of Africa

Artist rendition of the completed Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

August 6, 2020

Trump’s Aid Cut Harmful to Ethiopia and All of Africa

By Lawrence Freeman

President Donald Trump has instructed Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to pull back from a commitment to provide $100 million in security related aid to Ethiopia, a leading developing nation on the African continent. According to the New York Times, the State Department indicated this would be a “temporary pause” on some aid in response to “Ethiopia’s unilateral decision to begin to fill [its] dam before an agreement was reached…” This action by the Trump administration is more than an outrageous encroachment of Ethiopia’s sovereignty. It is an assault on the right of emerging nations to take actions to improve the living conditions of their people.

In response to the decision by the State department, Eyob Tekalign, Ethiopia’s state  finance minister said correctly, “We don’t think that the U.S. has thought this through carefully…We are hopeful that they will reconsider because Ethiopia is doing what is absolutely right and in all senses of the word legally, morally as well.”

The Ethiopian people have funded the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) themselves. This fulfills a bold vision to develop their nation with the 6,200 megawatts (MW) of electricity that the dam will generate when completed. Ambassador Fitsum Arega aptly expressed the desire of the Ethiopian population, when he tweeted, “we will pull Ethiopia out of the darkness,” which is literally and metaphorically true.

Trump’s Bias

All indications are that President Trump acted on the insistence of Egyptian President el Sisi, who has claimed “historical rights” to the Nile River. In truth he is asserting “colonial rights” to the Nile bestowed on Egypt by the British Crown.

At the end of 2019, at the request of President el Sisi, President Trump instructed Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to act as an independent broker in discussions with Sudan, Egypt, and Ethiopia. Over four months, several meetings of the three Nile riparian nations were held in Washington DC discussing the “fill rate” of the GERD. There are legitimate concerns about how much water would be withdrawn annually in the next several years to fill the GERD’s reservoir of 74 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water. Technical issues like the rate of which water should be withdrawn from the Nile to fill the reservoir should be resolved by the three nations with the understanding that a functioning GERD will benefit all the people living in the Horn of Africa.

The heavy rains at the beginning of Ethiopia’s rainy season this summer have already filled the GERD with the required 4.5 bcm of water to test two turbines. This was accomplished without any reduction in the flow of the Nile.

As the tripartite discussions, with the US Treasury and World Bank in attendance continued into February 2020, it became clear that the US was “putting its thumb on the scale” for Egypt, in the words of retired US Ambassador David Shinn. By the end of February, Mnuchin secured an “agreement” regarding the Nile with Egypt, without the participation of Ethiopian representatives.  On February 28, 2020, an official statement from the US Treasury Department praised Egypt’s “readiness to sign the agreement,” and instructed Ethiopia that “final testing and filling should not take place without an agreement.” For more information read my earlier post: Africa Requires Ethiopia Fill Its Dam.

Eventually, the unresolved issue of the Nile shifted to the proper venue for African nations to settle disputes, the African Union. The dialogue has continued under the personal supervision of South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the African Union.

The GERD is built in Ethiopia on the Blue Nile River, which supplies 85% of the Nile when it joins the White Nile north of Khartoum, Sudan

Bringing Africa Out of Darkness

What President Trump does not understand; is that his “pause” in aid is not only harmful to Ethiopia, but it is detrimental to the entire African continent. Whether he is aware of it or not, is establishing a dangerous precedent in foreign policy, and not just for Africa.

Ethiopia, with a population approaching 110 million, has made a commitment to eradicate poverty. To that end, Ethiopia has embarked on erecting significant infrastructure projects in roads, railroads, and hydro-electric dams. The GERD has the potential to generate over 6,000 MW of power, doubling Ethiopia’s present capacity, and placing Ethiopia only second to South Africa in energy production in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Ethiopia would also become an energy exporting nation potentially providing electricity to neighboring South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, and Tanzania.

The root cause of virtually every crisis that African nations are facing today, including ethnic conflicts, can be traced to underdevelopment. This is especially true when one examines the dearth of hard infrastructure in SSA with a population nearing 1.5 billion that is projected to reach 2.5 billion by 2050. Electricity for SSA is estimated between 100,000-130,000 MW. This level of output is criminally deficient for a population over 1 billion, with 600 million Africans having no access to online electricity. The lack of electricity is literally a death sentence for millions of Africans.  Is this not a form of genocide?

Without abundant and accessible electricity Africa will not progress at the level necessary to provide for its present, much less its expanding population. Energy is the sine qua non for economic growth, and to eradicate poverty. It is required for; agriculture, producing fertilizer, pumping water, cleaning water, transportation, lighting hospitals, vaccine production and storage, shipping food in refrigerated cars, powering industry, constructing and lighting modern homes, schools and libraries. For Africans to enjoy the same access to electricity 24×7, as we experience in modern nations, Africa needs a minimum of 1,000 gigawatts or 1 million megawatts of electricity.

Does anyone in the Trump administration, or any individual in the leadership of the Democratic Party think on this level?

President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act-TVA on May 18, 1933. (courtesy inthesetimes.com)

What Roosevelt Would Do?

Rather than being threatened with cuts in aid, Ethiopia should be supported in its bold efforts to build and operate the GERD. A thoughtful US policy would be assisting all African nations in addressing the enormous multi-trillion dollar infrastructure deficit, with long term-low interest loans to finance massive investments in life saving infrastructure. Instead of President Trump and his foolish advisors hurling geo-political condemnations against China, it would be far better for the US to join China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which is building vitally necessary infrastructure in Africa and around the world.

Both the Democratic and Republican Party, including President Trump himself, from time to time utter fond references of President Franklin Roosevelt. However, I have found that no leader in either party has any comprehension of the genius of President Roosevelt’s economic policies. FDR as he is known, understood the importance of infrastructure. This was abundantly evident in his New Deal, his creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and his Good Neighbor policy. During the war he sternly reprimanded Winston Churchill for his Imperial-Colonial policies in Africa. President Roosevelt intended to end the British Empire’s political and financial control in the world. He had a vision to develop Africa, including greening the desert, with the same methods he had successfully implemented in the US: great infrastructure projects. I can assure you, that President Roosevelt would have championed and aided any developing nation that embarked on energy production.

Sadly, in the seventy-five years following the death of President Roosevelt, the only President, who had shown enthusiasm for the economic development of Africa, was John F Kennedy.

Let the Trump administration pause to rethink this wrongheaded policy that not only violates Ethiopia’s sovereignty, but undermines a strong US ally in East Africa. Let us recognize Ethiopia’s endeavors to improve the living conditions of its citizens, and pause again to ask, how would President Franklin Roosevelt respond.  His TVA harnessed the power of the mighty Tennessee River generating electricity to transform the lives of millions of poverty stricken Americans living in seven undeveloped southern States.  Is it not in the strategic interest of the US to support nations working to eliminate poverty in Africa using Rooseveltian methods?

Read: Africa Requires Ethiopia Fill Its Dam

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

The West Continues to Attack China to the Detriment of Africa

A new Cold War is coming. Africa should not pick sides

August 28, 2020

The author, W Gyude Moore, a senior policy fellow at the Center for Global Development, and a former minister of public works in Liberia, makes some insightful observations about the difference between the US and China in their economic strategy for Africa.  China’s investment in infrastructure in Africa is unsurpassed and would not be replaced by the West, if China withdrew from Africa. 

Excerpts below:

“It is, thus, frustrating that in its complicated, enmeshed, centuries-long history in Africa, there has never been a Western proposal for continental-scale infrastructure building. Outside Cecil John Rhodes’s racist “civilising” project of connecting Cape to Cairo from the 1870s, there has never been any programme, backed by financial resources, to build Africa’s rail, roads, ports, water-filtration plants, or power stations. It was the Chinese who sought to build a road, rail and maritime infrastructure network to link Africa’s economies with the rest of the world.

“The Western argument of Chinese debt-trap diplomacy, inferior loan terms and an insidious, covert campaign to seize African national infrastructure assets rings hollow in the absence of a like-for-like Western alternative. Until the arrival of the Chinese, the infrastructure construction space in Africa was dominated by Europeans…

“In the past eight months, Western countries have spent more than $5- trillion to prop up their economies in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. JP Morgan projects that over 14 years (2013 to 2027), China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will cost about $1.2-trillion to $1.3-trillion. That kind of gap (both in dollars and time) makes it clear that, if it wanted to, the West could equal or surpass China’s BRI with its own infrastructure programme. If Africa steps away from China’s infrastructure programme, which Western country is ready and willing to fill the gap?”

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China, the World Bank, and African Debt: A War of Words

Deborah Brautigam, Director of the SAIS China Africa Research Initiative, discusses in her article below, the duplicity of  the World Bank, in their attacks on the China Development Bank. If the US and Western Institutions would cease attacking China, stopped peddling lies about the “Africa debt–trap” and joined China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Africa’s huge infrastructure deficit could be addressed to the benefit of all Africans.

Read: https://thediplomat.com/2020/08/china-the-world-bank-and-african-debt-a-war-of-words/

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

China Eliminated Poverty With Science and Infrastructure. It Can Be Done in Africa Too!

China's Long March Out of Poverty | African Agenda – A new ...
Deng Xiaoping, who put China firmly on the path of “reform and opening up.

August 14, 2020

If one examines the long path from the end of China’s disastrous “cultural revolution” in the 1970s to China’s 2020 modern miracle of eliminating poverty for 800 million Chinese, many lessons can be learned. China’s commitment to science and building infrastructure were two essential ingredients for this accomplishment.  William Jones discusses this interesting history in his article below,”China’s Long March Out of Poverty”.

China Employs Hamilton’s Principles of Credit  for Railroads

(EIRNS) —China’s exciting announcement of its plan to increase the pace of development of maglev and its high-speed rail network, is based on its assurance that it knows how to implement that, and to finance it on top-down principles of the type proposed by Alexander Hamilton.

China announced its plans to build a system of 600 kph (373 mph) maglev vehicles, after it successfully conducted its maiden test run of a maglev vehicle at a test track at Tonji University in Shanghai on June 21. Though the train-set did not run at top speed of 600 kph, but at a lower speed, various important features were tested. Prototype vehicles are approved for construction in 2021, and up to nine new maglev lines, totalling over 1,000 km (600 miles), are planned for the future.

Equally impressive, China’s plan to double its existing 35,000 km of high-speed rail already in operation, to 70,000 km by 2035, shows how a Confucian/Hamiltonian economy actually works. Based on estimates by the Lange Steel Information Research Center in Beijing, reported by the Wall Street Journal, China would have spent $180 billion for 35 approved railway projects in 2019, most of them high-speed rail, launching the next phase of HSR development.

In the first half of 2020, according to the Aug. 13 *China Daily), China invested $207 billion in combined railway, highway, waterway and civil aviation infrastructure, of which $46.9 billion was in railways. China’s transportation infrastructure investment alone, is 5-10 times that of every country on Earth. Featured in China’s railway investment is a new, 1700 km high-speed rail system between Chengdu, Sichuan and Lhasa, Tibet; high-speed rail in landlocked Shaanxi Province, etc.

China finances the rail and other critical infrastructure, through two methods of directed credit: China’s four largest state-owned commercial banks—the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, the Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, and the China Construction Bank—make ample loans directly to the China Railway company, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC), which builds the rail equipment, etc. This is overseen by China’s three “policy banks.”

Second, the national government and local governments purchase bonds issued by China Railway Corporation, CRRC, and so forth.

China has announced its new rail construction program. The government plans to build 200,000 km of rail by 2035, about 70,000 of which will be high-speed rail. All cities with a population of 200,000 or more will be connected by rail, and all cities with 500,000 people or more will be connected by high-speed rail. China is also working on the next generation maglev train that could travel at speeds of 600 kph.

Pause for a moment from your daily activity. Let your imagination look into the future, and ponder what the nations of Africa would look like if, all cities with 200,000 people or more were connected by railroads. The topology of the continent would be different. China has proved it can be done. It is not a matter of Africa following the China model. Rather, it is comprehending the scientific principles of Alexander Hamilton’s economic system. Read my earlier posts: Alexander Hamilton’s Credit System Is Necessary for Africa’s Development and Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

 

Click to access 45-54_4726.pdf

In his article below, William Jones provide an insightful analysis of the forces behind the anti-China mantra, rampant in the Trump administration.

As the ‘Five Eyes’ gear up to confront China, can anyone say that the British Empire is a thing of the past?

“A recent article published in the China Economic Diplomacy Watch pointed to the “Five Eyes” – the U.S., UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – as the key rallying group for Pompeo’s call for a containment policy toward China. The article has indicated a crucial element in the danger the world is facing. The unifying factor in this grouping is, firstly, that the “Five Eyes” are all English-speaking countries, and secondly, that they all at one time or the other belonged to the British Empire.”

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

President Buhari and China Collaborate to Build Needed Railroads in Nigeria

July 28, 2020

Nigeria, and the whole of Africa desperately require electrical power and high-speed rail lines to become industrialized economically sovereign nations. Congratulations to President Buhari and China.

Map from Lagos, Nigeria to Maradi, Niger

 

Track Laying of Nigeria`s Lagos- Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Completed.

No More Lies, No More Anti-China Propaganda: There is No China-Africa ‘Debt-trap’

June 20, 2020

China-Africa Research Initiative-(CARI) presented an interesting and useful webinar entitled : Debt Relief with Chinese Characteristics, using research presented from a Working Paper #39 and Policy Brief #46. View: CARI: Debt Relief With Chinese Characteristics

In response to China’s growing economic and political influence in the world, especially on the African continent, various propaganda outlets located in the West have launched a new assault on China. Their line of attack is to malign China and African leaders with the false narrative that China is intentionally luring African nations into a ‘debt-trap’ in order to seize control of their natural resources. This cynical view of China’s alliance with African nations flows from the age old doctrine of “geo-politics” that only perceives nations as either winners or losers in a fixed zero-sum view of the world.  In this evil world view, stronger powers, hegemons believe they can only maintain their supremacy by having their foot on the neck of weaker nations. The “geo-political” doctrine rejects the notion that all nations share a common interest.

Misinformation or Disinformation

As Deborah Brautigam, director of CARI has stated before, there is no evidence, none, not one single case of China using debt to seize control of an African nation’s assets. “We found no “asset seizures” and despite contract clauses requiring arbitration, no evidence of the use of courts to enforce payments, or application of penalty interest rates.” Despite no substantiation of China using debt as a weapon against African nations, the ‘debt-trap’ mantra is repeated by either misinformed individuals, including Africans, or by those who are deliberately disseminating disinformation with malice.

The CARI working paper reports the following:

“The rating agency Moody’s warned that countries ‘rich in natural resources, like Angola, Zambia, and Republic of the Congo, or with strategically important infrastructure, like ports or railways such as Kenya, are most vulnerable to the risk of losing control over important assets in negotiations with Chinese creditors.’ These assumptions of a malign China were repeated in publications like The New York Times, which contended that Chinese loans “frequently use national assets as collateral” and require refinancing ‘every couple years’ (our Africa data supports neither of these statements).” (emphasis added)

If there is any honesty or integrity left in our duplicitous culture, all claptrap about China’ alleged ‘debt-trap’ as a nefarious attempt to gain control of Africa’s wealth should cease immediately! If one examines the long history of China’s relationship with Africa and the more recent twenty year period, it is clear that China desires to resolve issues with African nations through consultation. China may choose other means of responding to payment difficulties, but there is no evidence that they want to take over African holdings, contrary to prevalent popular opinion. Read: Chinese ‘debt-trap’ Propaganda Exposed-Time to End Ignorance & Prejudice Against China in Africa

Debt Cancellation

As COVID-19 spreads in Africa, nations are struggling to survive economically and simultaneously defeat the deadly virus.  Debt service is onerous and must be suspended indefinitely or cancelled, as leaders of many Africans nation have rightly insisted. According to Dr. Brautigam, from 2000-2018, China has made loan commitments of $152 billion, and of Africa’ total external debt, China holds 17%, while the World Bank hold 18%, and private lenders 31%.  Thus, China will and has already engaged in debt relief, but will do it differently than western institutions like the Paris Club and World Bank.

“Our [CARI] study found that between 2000 and 2019, China has cancelled at least US$ 3.4 billion of debt in Africa. There is no “China, Inc.”: for interest-bearing loans, treatment for inter-governmental debt and Chinese company loans are negotiated separately, and often loan-by-loan rather than for the entire portfolio. While rescheduling by increasing the repayment period is common, changes in interest rates, reductions in principal (“haircuts”), or refinancing are not. We found that China has restructured or refinanced approximately US$ 15 billion of debt in Africa between 2000 and 20190…Chinese lenders prefer to address restructuring quietly, on a bilateral basis, tailoring programs to each situation.”   

China, up this point has only cancelled zero interest loans, which represent only 5% of loans from China, and are issued from China’s Ministry of Commerce. It is unlikely that there will be unilateral debt suspension.  Thus, we can expect that China will negotiate debt relief bilaterally with each nation, and each loan reviewed separately.

Even if debt cancellation is continued into 2021, which has not yet been agreed to, it will be insufficient. The level of investment required to meet Africa’s’ minimal infrastructure needs is in the trillions of dollars, which belies the “geo-political” nonsense of zero-sum assumptions.  Debt relief must be accompanied by issuance of credit for infrastructure and related sectors of production, otherwise Africa and the world will suffer from the spread of COVID-19 and future zoonotic diseases. Poverty is a co-factor for all diseases. Lack of electricity is a co-factor for the spread of disease and hunger, as is the lack of clean water, and inadequate transportation.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative over recent years has begun to address Africa’s infrastructure deficit, but much, much more is required. Collaboration between the U.S. and China on the development of Africa would be consequential for the continent.

I have addressed this issue in earlier posts: World Needs New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19, New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

ViewCARI: Debt Relief With Chinese Characteristics

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

Science and Space Exploration Essential For Africa’s Economic Growth

I present below a new paper by the China Africa Research Institute (CARI) and remarks by Marie Korsaga, an astrophysicist from Burkina Faso. The common theme binding these two presentations is the importance of space technology and science education for Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Not discussed by the two authors is the essential understanding that scientific discovery is the true source of economic wealth, contrary to the foolish views that Africa’s wealth is measured by the quantities of mineral resources found underground. The mind with its innate ability to hypothesize, to discover new physical principles, if imperfectly, is the underlying wellspring of progress for humankind. African nations expanding their involvement in space exploration are making an invaluable contribution to their future. Africa’s education of its large and growing youth population in science should be a source of hope, antithetical to Thomas Malthus’ evil over-population claptrap  I will be posting an article on this in the near future. 

 

May 28, 2020

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Marie Korsaga is the first female astrophysicist in West Africa.

Dr. MARIE KORSAGA* I am an astrophysicist and originally from Burkina Faso. My research focuses on the distribution of dark matter, and visible matter in galaxies. In simple terms, it must be said that visible matter, that is to say, ordinary matter made up of protons, neutrons, electrons, everything that is observable with our devices, represents only about 5% of the universe — the rest is invisible matter, distribute as follows: 26% dark matter and 68% dark energy.

Dark matter, with its gravitational force is used to explain the fact that galaxies remain close to each other, while dark energy causes the universe to expand faster over time. So we cannot speak of understanding the universe if we only know about 5% of its constituents. So, to understand our universe, that is to say, to be able to account for its formation and evolution, it is essential to understand what dark matter and dark energy are.

Dark matter, as its name suggests, is something that you cannot see with even the most sophisticated telescopes. So far, no dark matter particles have ever been detected, nevertheless, we feel its presence thanks to its impact on gravity. The purpose of my research is to study how dark matter is distributed inside galaxies in order to better understand the formation and evolution of our universe, and therefore, the origin of life on Earth.

Beyond my research, I am interested in the development side of astronomy in Africa. For this, I work at the Office of Astronomy for Development on a project which consists in using astronomy as a factor of development almost everywhere in the world, but especially in the developing countries, by supporting projects related to education, educational tourism and so on.

Speaking of education, it is important to remember that according to the African Union, Africa has the youngest population in the world, with more than 40% of its young people under the age of 15, which will produce a demographic explosion in the next 10 years. This population growth has disadvantages, but also advantages. The downside is that if measures are not taken, such as access to quality education for boys and girls, especially in science, these young people, instead of becoming a source of development for the continent, risk, rather to be a source of socio-economic political instability and conflict, which will further plunge the continent into misery.

However, the advantage of this population growth is that through a well-developed education system, this demographic growth, if accompanied by strong measures both on the side of public policies and the private sector, will be a great source of sustainable development, at the economic and political level of the continent. For this, it is very important to make significant investments in the field of education, with a focus on innovation, science and technology.

It should be noted that today, African graduates mainly graduate from the literary and human sciences fields. STEM students — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — represent only 25% of the workforce on average, according to the World Bank. In addition, women are underrepresented in these areas. Take my case: I am the first woman to obtain a doctorate in astrophysics in Burkina, and even in West Africa. It may sound flattering, but it reveals a rather disturbing diagnosis, despite being a light of hope. Indeed, even if the region has a dozen doctorates in the field, there are almost no women among them.

Unfortunately, this shows that we are still a long way from achieving gender parity in science, and there is still much to do. This requires a change in mentalities and the accessibility of science to women, especially among the underprivileged. It is not unknown that a career in astrophysics requires a course in physics, which is not obvious for women in our societies where the majority of people think that the scientific fields are dedicated to men, and that women must go to the literary streams. This has the effect of discouraging women from opting for long studies, especially in the scientific fields, and even if they opt for them, they tend to give up at the first obstacles, due to the lack of encouragement.

Today, I can say that I have broken this barrier, at my level, and I would like to take advantage of the privilege to inspire and encourage as many young girls as I can, to opt for it.

It is true that today there are efforts being made by several governments to break these stereotypes with, for example, the NEF, the Next Einstein Forum in Rwanda, which is a platform for popularizing science, and which offers opportunities for students through scholarships of the network of women in science, called OWSD, the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World, which gives opportunities to girls and women in STEM fields.

However, there is still a lot to do, because the representation of women in science is far from being reached. Beyond research, I intend to contribute to the training of young people in science in Burkina Faso, and in Africa in general, by giving courses at universities, and also supervising masters and PhD students. I also plan to take action to popularize science education in general, and astrophysics in particular in countries where access to science is limited. This will serve to motivate young girls and boys, especially young girls, to take up scientific studies. There are also other future actions that I plan to undertake, in collaboration with other researchers, namely the establishment of scientific schools in Africa, particularly dedicated to women; the organization of workshops to enable female scientists to speak about their inspiring work, and cultivate self-confidence. The creation of an astronomy club for children, etc.

In addition to being fascinating as a science, astronomy can also be used as a development tool through, for example, education and tourism. The International Astronomical Union understands this and is making a lot of effort to address this development component in developing countries, and working to achieve a Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

The typical example, in Sub-Saharan Africa is the case of South Africa, where the installation of telescopes in localities has not only facilitated the popularization of science and the creation of jobs for young people, but also has boosted the economy, and the development of infrastructure in these localities.

The current context in which we, notably the COVID-19 pandemic, reminds us of how important science must occupy our lives and our education system. This importance must convince the African authorities that it is more than necessary to devote a large part of national budgets to the support and the promotion of studies and of scientific research, because investment in human capital remains a secure means for the growth of a country. Above all, we must understand that to get our continent out of underdevelopment, we will have to review our way of executing these programs, focusing on education, training in science, technology, and innovation, especially space science, could not only increase our human potential, which is a source of sustainable development, but also enable the management of our natural resources and thus impact the economy in the continent.

Africa has an immense amount of natural resources, essential to the development of industry. It is necessary to arrive at a point where these resources are exploited, first for its development, by women and men trained on the continent and with compatible techniques.

Thank you for offering me the opportunity to share my thoughts on the necessity of education in science in Africa.

*Unedited remarks delivered to an international online conference organized by the Schiller Institute, April 25-26, 2020

Read: West Africa’s First Female Astrophysicist