AU Demands: African Integrated High Speed Railway Network

July 4, 2019

The article below written by a friend of mine is a useful over view of the African Union’s plan to build High Speed Rail-lines in Africa.  High-Speed Rail together with the production of abundant supplies of energy are indispensable for the continent’s development and the industrialization of African economies. The link to the entire article that is worth reading follows the excerpts.

“The vital plan for an African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), approved by the African Union (AU) in 2014, appears to be going forward energetically. But in fact, Africa is getting only half a loaf at best. Standard gauge rails are being built, but to “save money,” they are not being built to standards permitting the high speeds that the African Union had specified. These “higher”-speed lines are not “high-speed” by any accepted standard. Or, worse, existing lines of the old colonial gauge are being rehabilitated—again because “there is not enough money.”

“Yet having “enough money” is not the problem it seems to be: The principle of Hamiltonian credit—credit extended by government, on the strength of nothing but the skills of the population, and earmarked for projects sure to produce leaps in productivity—has been known in theory and practice for 200 years, even if suppressed by the business schools.” Read my post from earlier this year on Alexander Hamilton: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

“AIHSRN is not a master plan for all rail transport in Africa. It is, rather, a plan for rapid rail transport across long distances. And Africa has long distances. To go from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope by road or rail is more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)—the equivalent of going from New York to San Francisco and back again.

“Yet with the AIHSRN, an express train could depart from Cairo at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, travel at an average of only 220 km/h (137 mph), make only five half-hour stops—at Khartoum, Nairobi, Dodoma (Tanzania), Harare, and Johannesburg—and arrive in Cape Town in time for an early breakfast on Wednesday. The east-west trip from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dakar, Senegal—“only” 8,100 km—will be quicker. The implications of such speed for the African economy—and for African integration in all respects—are enormous.

“The continental plan is for six west-east routes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea, and four routes that run from north to south—a 6×4 grid (see map).

“Because of their high speeds, the trains must run on dedicated, standard gauge lines that will not usually accept traffic from other, slower lines of the sometimes denser, surrounding rail network.

“The plan includes the construction of railway manufacturing industries, parts suppliers, maintenance facilities, and the building up of railway training academies.

“The AIHSRN is part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a fifty-year plan for the economic, social and cultural development of the entire continent, born in 2013”

Read full article: Africa Integrated High Speed Railway Network

Second Belt & Road Forum: Infrastructure is the Bedrock of Development

April 30, 2019

2nd Belt & Road Forum-April 25-27, 2019 (courtesy TheNews.com)

Xi Jinping’s Keynote to Belt and Road Forum Emphasized Goals of the BRI

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech to the opening ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum on April 26, “Working Together To Deliver a Brighter Future For Belt and Road Cooperation,” broadly laid out the BRF approach and prospects for the future.

“Together, we will create an even brighter future for Beltand Road cooperation…. The joint pursuit of the BRI aims to enhance connectivity and practical cooperation. It is about jointly meeting various challenges and risks confronting mankind and delivering win-win outcomes and common development…. A large number of cooperation projects have been launched, and the decisions of the first BRF have been smoothly implemented. More than 150 countries and international organizations have signed agreements on Belt and Road cooperation with China….
“Infrastructure is the bedrock of connectivity, while the lack of infrastructure has held up the development of many countries. High-quality, sustainable, resilient, affordable, inclusive and accessible infrastructure projects can help countries fully leverage their resource endowment, better integrate into the global supply, industrial and value chains, and realize inter-connected development. To this end, China will continue to work with other parties to build a connectivity network centering on economic corridors such as the New Eurasian Land Bridge….

“Innovation boosts productivity; it makes companies competitive and countries strong…. China will continue to carry out the Belt and Road Science, Technology and Innovation Cooperation Action Plan and Technology Transfer.”

President Xi also used his speech to present a list of a half-dozen major policy steps China has undertaken as part of its Opening Up strategy:
“First, we will expand market access for foreign investment in more areas….
“Second, we will intensify efforts to enhance international cooperation in intellectual property protection….
“Third, we will increase the import of goods and services on an even larger scale. China has a vast potential for increasing
consumption….
“Fourth, we will more effectively engage in international macro-economic policy coordination. A globalized economy calls for global governance. China will strengthen macro policy coordination with other major economies and keep the RMB exchange rate basically stable….
“Fifth, we will work harder to ensure the implementation of opening-up related policies.”

President Xi Jinping Chairs Roundtable at 2nd BRI Forum– ‘Boosting Connectivity for New Sources of Growth’

The concluding day of the 2nd Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing, President Xi Jinping chaired the Roundtable discussion among the 39 guests–37 heads of state plus the leaders of the IMF and United Nations. A joint communiqué has been issued (see separate slug,) and the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also posted a summary of the “Deliverables” from the Forum.

After a day of presentations, as well as sideline bilateral meetings, Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan hosted a welcome banquet for the national leaders. The cordial, but high-level tone of the deliberations April 25-27, was set in Xi’s keynote opening yesterday, when he happily welcomed everyone, “Good morning! As a line of a classical Chinese poem goes, ‘Spring and autumn are lovely seasons in which friends
together to climb up mountains and write poems.’ On this beautiful spring day, it gives me great pleasure to have you with us here at the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF).”

Read President Xi’s Key Note address

Second Belt & Road Forum Joint Communiqué States Development Commitments; Lists 35 Specific Economic Corridors–Including “The New Eurasian Land-Bridge”

The 37 national leaders were listed in the very first point of the Communiqué, and the following points identified the role of the “ancient Silk Road” to “the strengthening of the connectivity and the expansion of the world economy in the spirit of promoting peace and cooperation, openness, inclusiveness, equality, mutual learning and mutual benefit” and the role for today’s “Belt and Road cooperation” to do the same thing for the future. The remaining points were grouped under these headings: “Strengthening Development Policy Synergy”; and “Boosting
Infrastructure Connectivity”; and “Promoting Sustainable Development”; and “Strengthening Practical Cooperation”; and “Advancing People-to-People Exchanges”; concluding with, “Way Forward,” which stated, “We envisage the Belt and Road Forum on regular basis with possible follow-up events…[looking forward] to the 3rd Forum.”

Here is the full list of “Economic corridors” identified in the Communiqué:

(1) Addis Ababa-Djibouti economic corridor, including the
development of industrial parks along the economic corridor
(2) Agua Negra Pass International Tunnel
(3) Baku-Tbilisi-Kars new railway line and Alyat free
economic zone in Baku
(4) Brunei-Guangxi economic corridor
(5) China-Central Asia-West Asia economic corridor
(6) China-Europe Land-Sea Express Line
(7) China-Indochina Peninsula economic corridor, including
Laos-China economic corridor
(8) China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan International Highway
(9) China-Laos-Thailand Railway Cooperation
(10) China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park
(11) China-Mongolia-Russia economic corridor
(12) China-Myanmar economic corridor
(13) China-Pakistan economic corridor
(14) Eastern Economic Corridor in Thailand
(15) Economic corridor in Greater Mekong Subregion
(16) the EU Trans-European Transport Networks
(17) Europe-Caucasus-Asia International Transport corridor
and Trans-Caspian International Transport Route
(18) the Industrial Park “Great Stone”
(19) International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC)
(20) the Lake Victoria-Mediterranean Sea Navigation
Line-Linkage Project (VICMED)
(21) the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia Transport corridor
(22) Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park
(23) the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional
Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China cross-border railway
(24) New Eurasian Land Bridge
(25) the New International Land-Sea Trade Corridor of the
China- Singapore (Chongqing) Demonstration Initiative on
Strategic Connectivity
(26) Northern Corridor Trade Route in Africa linking the
maritime port of Mombasa to countries of the Great Lakes region
of Africa and Trans-Africa Highway
(27) North-South Passage Cairo-Capetown Pass-way
(28) the Port of Piraeus
(29) Port Sudan-Ethiopia Railway Connectivity
(30) Regional Comprehensive economic corridors in Indonesia
(31) the Suez Canal Economic Zone
(32) Transcontinental shipment of cargo using the capacities
of the Northern Sea Route
(33) Transoceanic fiber optic cable
(34) “Two Corridors and One Belt” Framework
(35) Uzbekistan-Tajikistan-China International Highway

Read entire communique of Belt-Road Forum

Belt and Road Is Unstoppable: `Critics’ Are Strong Supporters

The extraordinary attendance of governments, heads of state and government, and thousands of businesses at the Second Belt and Road Forum, comparing with the largest international meetings in history, was already proof that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has expanded greatly since the first BRF in 2017 and is now  an unstoppable new paradigm of economy. After the Second BRF, certain myths of “backfire” and “criticism” in Asia also fell away.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed gave interviews in which he expressed full confidence in the BRI and surprise at its scope. Speaking to Bernama News Agency April 28, he said: “We feel that the [One Belt, One Road] OBOR initiative is not a domination plan by China, which would end up being controlled by China. Instead, it is a policy developed by all the countries, and not only focused on China. Previously … including the Trans-Pacific Partnership, developed countries made the proposals and asked us to accept them. This is not like that; the forum attendees are from small countries and they are sitting with China…They sit together at the same level, and talk about how to develop infrastructure projects.”

In an interview with China’s TV network CGTN, Dr. Mahathir said he had thought the Belt and Road was an infrastructure project for Asia.

“Now it is quite clear that it is, practially, a worldwide project …to improve connectivity and infrastructure development all over the world…I’m very glad I’m here, because now I understand better the character of the project. China has a lot of new technologies, and we need these new technologies.” He forecast large-scale Chinese investment and exports into Malaysia.

Indonesia’s investment minister, Harvard graduate Tom Lembong, who had been critical of China’s rail investments, told {South China Morning Post} that Indonesia has “found China’s openness to its feedback on improving the Belt and Road Initiative highly encouraging…. I believe in the next 5 to 10 years, BRI will stimulate additional investment in probably tens of billions of dollars [in Indonesia],” Lembong said.

In Europe, Italy and Austria are joining Portugal in planning issuance of “Panda Bonds” — infrastructure bonds issued by other countries in yuan, to be issued into China’s bond market. Even Germany Economics Minister Peter Altmaier found the Beijing forum “better than expected,” and is headed back with a Mittelstand delegation.

China’s Belt and Road Aids Africa’s Growth in New Globalization

(China’s CGTN published my article today, on the eve of the historic 2nd Belt and Road Forum)
Opinion-April 24, 2019

Belt and Road Initiative: Another path to globalization

by Lawrence Freeman

Editor’s note: Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. The article reflects the author’s opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

On the eve of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), it is irrefutable that the world has been transformed in the five years since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).China’s archetype for global development is based on the more elevated concept of each country contributing to the “common destiny of all nations” and mankind’s “shared future.”

By focusing on “global connectivity” through massive investments in infrastructure, linking China to the rest of the world through its land and maritime new Silk Roads, China has presented the world with a new paradigm for development – in effect, redefining globalization.

According to the World Economic Forum (September 2018), “the BRI will encompass 70 percent of the world’s population (4.4 billion) and 63 percent of the world’s GDP (21 trillion U.S. dollars),” primarily from construction of rail lines, highways, ports, airports, hydro-energy plants and pipelines.

The first BRF held in May 2017 included 29 foreign heads of state, 11 heads of international organizations and over two dozen attendees on the ministerial level. Because of the expansion of the BRI over the last two years, already 40 world leaders have confirmed their attendance for this year’s conference.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Africa

Nowhere, outside of China itself, are the positive effects of China’s BRI more evident than on the African continent. At the 2017 BRF, the only African heads of States who attended were Ethiopia and Kenya, and ministers from Egypt and Tunisia. With Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa, officially joining the BRI in 2019, and increased collaboration with China throughout all geographical sections of Africa, participation at this year’s BRF from Africa will undoubtedly be higher.

Engineers from the Addis Ababa Information & Communication Technology Development Agency in Ethiopia, Africa, train on Huawei’s networking equipment at the training center at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, September 15, 2011. /VCG Photo

Prior to the announcement of the BRI, China had already forged a close working relationship with Africa by convening China-Africa Summits (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) every three years beginning in 2000, rotating the venues between China and Africa.  At the seventh summit held last year in Beijing, all but one of the 54 African nations attended.

Unfortunately, the West lost its vision of development for Africa after the death of President John F. Kennedy, instead adopting a no-infrastructure policy. What Africa has needed most since the 1960s “Winds of Change” liberation from colonialism is infrastructure, water, energy, rail and roads. China has a different view on this.

Ambassador David Shinn, a respected scholar on Africa, wrote last month: “China has been indisputably the single most important builder of infrastructure in Africa since the beginning of the 21st century.”

Take, for example, Djibouti, which is a BRI hub. China is building the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone in this northeast African nation, strategically located right off the Indian Ocean and on the Gulf of Eden. It is estimated that one-third of global shipping passes by this port.

In 2016, the first electrically driven train in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, to the port city of Djibouti was inaugurated. This rail line built by Chinese companies utilizing and training African laborers and engineers is key to the develop-ment of the Horn of Africa, providing Ethiopia a port to export the products of its nascent manufacturing sector.

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua that “projects involving cooperation with China are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region… which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as seaports and railway connections.”

Chinese workers help to build a new train station in Beliatta in a southern province near Hambantota, which is Chinese managed and designed in Beliatta, Sri Lanka, November 18, 2018. /VCG Photo‍

Hadi called the “debt-trap” propaganda against the BRI, “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

African nations are attempting to industrialize their economies with growth in their manufacturing sectors. China is assisting by creating special economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial zones in Nigeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, and Rwanda. Industry and infrastructure generate jobs, raise skill levels and transfer technology.

Will the West Join the BRI?

Africa’s requirement for infrastructure is enormous, allowing Western nations the opportunity to join with China to industrialize this vast undeveloped continent, which is projected to have 2.5 billion people by 2050. President Xi, at the first BRF, said: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation” and “development holds the master key to solving all problems.” Regrettably, western nations have been hostile to joining the BRI. However, last month’s ground-breaking signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by Italy – the first G-7 nation to join China’s BRI – portends a potential change towards a new constructive dynamic.

Read: China’s New Approach to Globalization

China, Belt & Road: Eliminate Poverty, Not “Debt-Trap”

April 21, 2019

President Xi Jinping Hands-on Drive to Eliminate Poverty

As part of his government’s plan to entirely eliminate poverty from China by the end of 2020, President Xi Jinping carried out “an inspection tour to southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality” earlier this week, Xinhua reported, in which he pledged to address the issue like “a hammer driving a nail.” Xi first flew to Chongqing, China’s fourth largest city, and then spent another three hours, first by train and then by road, to reach Huaxi Village, where 302 people living in 85 households are registered as living below the poverty line.

Xinhua added: “Huaxi Village is a typical case of China’s impoverished regions. The basic needs for food and clothing have been met, but more efforts are needed for compulsory education, basic medical care and safe housing.”

It is to be noted that China’s criteria for poverty reduction are not strictly monetary, but include key physical-economic parameters such as education, health, and housing. As of 2018 there were still 16.6 million rural residents living in poverty in China. The government plans to lift about 10 million of those out of poverty during 2019. Xinhua then quoted Xi during his tour:

“The battle against poverty has entered a decisive and critical stage. We must press ahead with our full strength and strongest resolve and never stop until we secure a complete victory. After visiting the village, I feel reassured. We may have about 6 million impoverished people and 60 impoverished counties left at the beginning of 2020. If we make sure this year’s work is well-implemented and push ahead next year, we will eliminate poverty. We are confident about accomplishing the mission.

“Less than two years are left before fulfilling the objective of poverty alleviation. This year is particularly crucial,” Xi said at a symposium held Tuesday afternoon in Chongqing. “The most important thing at this stage is to prevent laxity and backsliding.” Xinhua’s account emphasized the top-down involvement of government officials in achieving this national goal. “Throughout the years, more than three million officials from governments above the county level, state-owned enterprises and public institutions have stayed in impoverished villages to offer assistance.

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FOCAC Summit 2018 (courtesy africa.cgtn.com)
I am posting the following article even though it is from last year, because the author accurately disproves the “debt-trap” propaganda being used by western institutions against China-Africa cooperation.

“2018 FOCAC: Africa in the New Reality of Reduced Chinese Lending”

August 31, 2018

W. Gyude Moore is a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He previously served as Liberia’s Minister of Public Works with oversight over the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure from December 2014 to January 2018.

Debt Trap or Much-Needed Investment?

The debt trap diplomacy case, however, has never been convincingly argued and its application in Africa is, at best, tenuous. The reality of Africa’s debt to China is not particularly remarkable when taken against the sources of continent’s external debt stock (see figure below). A number of African countries’ (Djibouti, Kenya, and Angola) debt obligations to China are alarming—as they would be regardless of creditor. China’s $115 billion credit to Africa between 2000 and 2016 is still less than 2 percent of the total $6.9 trillion of low and middle income countries’ debt stock. Recent studies have shown that China is not a driver of debt distress in Africa—yet. The language of debt trap diplomacy resonates more in Western countries, especially the United States, and is rooted in anxiety about China’s rise as a global power rather than in the reality of Africa.

A column chart of external government debt for Sub-Saharan Africa by official, private, and Chinese creditors

Continue reading entire article

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China’s Belt And Road Forum to Gather 37 World Leaders, and Representatives from Five Continents

There will be no less than 37 heads of state and government attending China’s Second Belt and Road forum in Beijing next week, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday. In addition there will be 360 attendees at ministerial level, 100 leaders of international organizations and 5,000 participants. 4,000 reporters will also be attending the Forum, whose theme is “Belt and Road Cooperation, Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.”

“The second Belt and Road Forum will be held in Beijing on April 25-27. It will become China’s largest international event this year. Thirty-seven leaders of state and government will participate in the forum,” Wang told a press conference.  This will include the leaders of Austria, Egypt, Hungary, Italy, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and others. “Senior representatives” of France, Germany, Britain, Spain, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the European Union will also participate; other diplomatic representatives of the United States and North Korea will also be there. International Monetary Fund Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, and Antonio Guterres, the UN secretary- general, are also expected to participate, according to Wang.

This is the highest level event for cooperation on the Belt and Road Initiative, Minister Wang said. He said this year’s event will be characterized by a clear direction, a solid foundation, a warm response from participants, a program of practical cooperation and clearly defined results. A Leaders’ Round-Table Summit will issue a Joint Communique to show the political consensus of the leaders in building the Belt and Road.

The long-term effects of the Initiative will be to strengthen multilateralism, to enrich the principles of cooperation, to build a network of partnership and to build a strong support system for continued development. Wang Yi also underlined the connection between the BRI and China’s new phase of “opening up.” The new phase of  China’s “reform and opening up” will “bring more opportunities for promoting the ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ and the common development of all countries,” he said. “I believe that the forum will inject stronger impetus into the world economy, open even broader horizon for the development of the countries, and contribute to the building of a community with a shared future for humanity,” Wang continued.

China’s BRI Expanding Trade in Africa With Infrastructure Where the West Has Failed: Djibouti

March 28, 2019

Djibouti Port Director: The BRI Has Vastly Expanded All African Trade and Development

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum that “projects involving cooperation with China (such as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway and the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone) are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region.” Hadi said that more than $40 billion in exports and imports has been recorded through Djibouti ports, “which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as sea ports and railway connections.” He went on: “I am expecting more movements of goods, infrastructure develop-ment from the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for April in Beijing, as well as stronger interconnection between Africa and the rest of the world,” speaking with Xinhua News.

Hadi also said that the accusations against China made by Western countries about letting some African countries fall into a debt trap due to cooperation on the BRI, are “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

China Prevails Where Europe Has Failed Miserably

“The New Silk Road is the biggest economic venture in mankind’s history,” former chief economist of Bremen Landesbank Folker Hellmeyer told Sputnik, saying it would be quite absurd if Europe did not take a part in it.  “The West could have built infrastructure in these countries in the past 50 years. We have not done this. China is now filling this gap–and we are criticizing that. That is also power play to a certain extent. That is also why it meets resistance. But we are developing human capital and a sustainable growth potential which is enormous. We could have done it, but we haven’t done it. And that is why we should not accuse others.”

Hellmeyer also said that “what I hear here in Europe in terms of criticism, I rather see as a kind of front line politics serving the interests of the U.S.A.”

Newly Elected President of D.R. Congo Addresses Issue of Lake Chad Water Transfer

Newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Félix Tshisekedi addressed the issue of water transfer to save Lake Chad at the just- concluded Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. Speaking at the concluding panel together with host, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Tshisekedi said that someone is proposing to pump water from the Congo River to save Lake Chad, but there are better options than that.

“On the water issue, which is a battle expecting us in the future, we can think about solutions at the mouth [of the Congo River], before the meeting with the ocean waters. There is a way to catch that water from the river and send it through pipes to countries that need it, rather than doing what has been proposed at some point in Chad — i.e. diverting the course of the Ubangi River. This can have consequences, including on energy, because of the peat bog system that helps the CO2-absorbing natural lungs. We believe that there are other solutions and the D.R.C. is ready to offer them to its partners to build this integration which is so important for us.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pKAsR0qhtQ

President Tshisekedi is right when he rejects foolish ideas such as pumping water from the Congo River or diverting the course of the Ubangi. However, he should know that “other solutions,” namely the Transaqua project, have already been approved by the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) at the February 2018 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria, which was attended by a representative of the D.R.C.. He also should drop the narrative of the peat bog system, created by the British to block the development of the Congo basin.

LCBC observers see the glass as half-full and emphasize the good news of the D.R.C. government addressing publicly the issue and expressing its readiness to help. Notably, this was the first time that a President of D.R. Congo and of Rwanda have appeared together in public. Rwanda President Kagame stressed this in his speech, explaining that Africa will move forward only if personal animosities are put aside. Kagame has recently strongly supported China’s Belt and Road Initiative and blasted the West for having failed in its Africa policies

 

March 1: Celebrate Ethiopia’s Defeat of Italy At Adwa; A Victory Against European Imperialism

This article was published in the March 2017 Newsletter of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. If you read the headlines of  the European press following Italy’s defeat in 1896, you will see that this battle shook the foundations of European Imperialism to its core. 

Victory at Adwa- A Victory for Africa

Ethiopia’s victory against Italy at Adwa on March 1, 1896, profoundly shaped the future of Ethiopia.

Lawrence Freeman

March 1, 2017

The battle of Adwa is probably the most renowned and historic battle in Ethiopian history. This celebrated victory by the Ethiopian army helped define the future of their nation, as one of only two non-colonized countries in Africa. The defeat of a European colonial empire by an African country, following the “Scramble for Africa” after the 1884-1885 Berlin conference a decade earlier, is not only a source of enduring pride and nationalism for Ethiopians, but also an inspiration to other Africans, who took up the fight for independence six decades later. Some historians suggest that this victory also led to the idea for the Pan-African movement. As a result, it is no surprise that on May 25 1963, Ethiopia under the rule of Emperor Haile Selassie was a founding member of the Organization of African States-OAS.

Adwa, also known as Adowa, and in Italian Adua, was the capital of the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. A late comer to grabbing territory in Africa, Italy began colonizing Somaliland and Eritrea in the 1880s. It was from the vantage point of Eritrea from where Italy launched its campaign against Ethiopia. The immediate pretext of the invasion was a dispute of Article 17 of the 1889 Treaty of Wuchale. Italy insisted that the treaty stated that Ethiopia had to submit to its imperial authority, thus effectively making Ethiopia a colony of the Kingdom of Italy. The Ethiopians resisted Italy’s military enforcement of its version of the treaty, leading to the outbreak of war in December 1894, with the Italian imperialists occupying Adwa and moving further south into Ethiopian territory. On March 1, 1896, King Menelik II, who, commanded a force of over 70,000, defeated the Italian army, killing 7,000 of their soldiers, wounding 1,500, and capturing  3,000 prisoners, routing their enemy, and forcing them to retreat back to their colony of Eritrea. It has been speculated that, if Menelik had pursued the retreating Italian troops, and driven them off of the continent, it might have prevented a second Italian invasion. On October 3, 1935, Italy led by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, launched its second military incursion into sovereign Ethiopia territory. Five years later in 1941, Ethiopia once again drove the Italian invaders out of their country. The 1896 defeat of a European nation, considered an advanced country, by Ethiopia, viewed as a backward Africa country, led to riots on the streets of Italy and well deserved consternation in the capitals of European powers.

Without taking the time now to review the ninety years of Ethiopian history following this famous battle, the military defeat of Ethiopia’s dictatorial Derg Regime in 1991 brings us to the beginning of contemporary Ethiopia. When the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front-EPRDF assumed control of the government in 1991, it was led by the now deceased, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who initiated the economic policies that have guided Ethiopia for over 25 years. It was Meles Zenawi’s intellectual leadership, in particular his understanding of the indispensable role of the state in fostering economic development that distinguishes Ethiopia today from all other sub-Saharan African nations. For him the state was not “a night watchman,” but rather an active participant promoting economic growth for the benefit of its people. Ethiopia is a poor country. with a population approaching one hundred million, not endowed with rich mineral or hydrocarbon resources, and repeatedly struck by drought. Yet it has emerged in recent years with a rapidly growing economy. This is the result of Zenawi’s legacy that created a leadership with a self-conscious commitment to use the powers of the state to build an integrated infrastructure platform, which has served to drive the economy forward. This is clearly evident in Ethiopia’s Growth and Transformation Plans I and II, which set ambitious economic goals five years into the future, along with its proposed thirty year road construction plan. Since the EPRDF took over the responsibility of governing the nation, more than thirty new universities have been created, graduating more students that can be easily employed.

In collaboration with China, Ethiopia operates the first electrified train in sub-Saharan Africa, traveling 750 kilometers in seven hours from Addis Ababa to Djibouti, establishing a port to export Ethiopia’s products. Their highway system consisting of toll roads, highways, and all weather roads will connect their light manufacturing industries to the port in Djibouti via their new rail line.   As a result of coherent policy planning in energy infrastructure, the Gibe III hydroelectric power plant has now added 1,872 of megawatts to the country’s electricity grid, and over the next two years, the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) will add an additional 6,000 megawatts, making Ethiopia the second largest producer of power in sub-Saharan Africa, behind South Africa.  The next step to develop the Horn of Africa is for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Kenya to extend their rail lines to become the eastern leg of an East-West railroad. Thus would transform Africa by connecting the Gulf of Eden/Indian Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean , creating an economic corridor that would literally revolutionize the economic power of the continent; contributing to the ending of poverty, hunger, and war.

One cannot deny the success of Ethiopia’s unique path of development, nor can one omit the important role contributed to this process by Ethiopia’s successful resistance to foreign occupation; thus never having to suffer the dehumanizing effects of colonialism.

The New Silk Can Create A New Global Paradigm

Excerpts from a presentation by Schiller Institute founder and President Helga Zepp-LaRouche in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 17. It was titled, “The New Silk Road and the End of Colonialism: A New Shared Future for Humanity,

…Now, ever since Xi Jinping announced the New Silk Road in Kazakhstan in 2013, about 100 countries have joined this effort. There have been investments in all of these countries, 12 times the size of the Marshall Plan, and all based on “win-win” cooperation. An enormous amount of infrastructure corridors, industrial parks, power plants; various agricultural projects have been built. And in the recent time, you have the building of a completely new system of international relations based on the respect for the sovereignty, and respect for non-interference in  the affairs of the other country, respect for the perspective of a different social system, and this has created a different dynamic in the world.  This has, for example, recently led to the integration of the Shanghai Cooperation organization(SCO) with the Belt and Road Initiative.  There is a new formation of South-South relations which became very apparent at the recent annual BRICS meeting in Johannesburg, where you had the formation of Global South, which was practically all the organizations from the developing sector, the G77, the Organization of Islamic Countries, Mercosur, the African Union, many regional organizations.  And then, subsequently, you had the very big Africa-China summit, FOCAC [Forum on China Africa Cooperation] in Beijing at the beginning of September, where you had about 48 presidents and 5 heads of state of governments participating from Africa, announcing a new age in the friendship and historic relationship between China and the African continent

Now, Putin at the BRICS summit, had already promised that Russia would light up Africa in providing electricity, not from oil and gas, but through helping African nations to build nuclear power.  And Xi Jinping at the same meeting, had said that Africa, of all the places in the world, has the biggest development potential in the world.

The New Silk Road Spirit, which has captured this dynamic is transforming geopolitical conflicts in many parts of the world. For example, the very successful developments around North and South Korea, who are now fully on the way to possibly announce a peace treaty before the end of the year, going in the direction of unification. This is definitely one of the great successes of President Trump, who at the Singapore summit where he met with Kim Jong-un, is promising to help the make North Korea a prosperous country if  denuclearization continues to proceed. And China has promised to integrate the Koreas into the Belt and Road Initiative.  Russia has promised to help the economic prosperity in North Korea. This is a model, where you can see how this new spirit is helping to transform previous crisis situations into real miracles.

A similar thing is happening in the Horn of Africa, where as a result of the construction of the fast railway between Djibouti and Addis Ababa, you have now Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea and Ethiopia developing new diplomatic relations and cooperation which was unthinkable a very short period before.

Now, the biggest breakthrough in this development was the signing of a MOU-Memorandum of Understanding between the Italian government and the Lake Chad Basin Commission on the realization of the Transaqua project. Transaqua is a project which the LaRouche organization has been fighting for, for over 30 years, and the fact that it is now agreed upon between China, Italy and six African nations to build is a game-changer for the entire African continent. Transaqua is the idea that you refill Lake Chad, which is now down to about 10% of its previous volume, bringing 3-4% of the water from the tributaries of Congo River, from about 500 meters high, through a system of canals into Lake Chad.  And this will provide an inland waterway for participating countries: It will provide hydro-power, it will provide huge amounts of water for irrigation, it will fill up Lake Chad, and it will still provide for a large areas in the Sahel zone to be irrigated: And that way you can really improve the life about 40 million people who are living there.

This is a tremendous breakthrough, and I think this is really the kind of project which can happen around the world everywhere. Now, in the context of the New Silk Road, there have been also an enormous amount of strategic realignment of countries which previously, for historical reasons and past wars, were at complete odds.  For example, now there is a new cooperation between Japan and China, where both of them said that there is the possibility of joint projects in Africa.  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, just two days ago, said that Japan and China can cooperate in third countries and the pivot of it could be Thailand.  And as we have been fighting for another great project, also for more than 30 years, the Kra Canal, there has been recently a conference putting that back on the agenda:  And that would be a game-changer for the entire transport route in Southeast Asia.

A wonderful example of cooperation with the New Silk Road is Austria, where Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will conduct a big forum, a Europe-Africa Forum, before the end of the year, because Austria has the presidency of the European Union for this present half-year; and many institutions in Austria and Vienna are completely enthusiastic.  For example, the head of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce [WKW] is pushing for the complete integration of Austria into the New Silk Road.  And he said the New Silk Road is very easily explained:  It is our economic future.  The Mayor of the city of Linz called the connection of Austria to China the “Trade Route of Creativity.”

Also the Italian government, the new government, which is being attacked by the mainstream media practically every day, is practically going for a full strategic alliance with China. Various cabinet ministers, Michele Geraci and Giovanni Tria were just on trips to China making huge deals, inviting China to rebuild the Italian infrastructure.  And the substitute commerce minister, Paolo Savona, who made a wonderful speech in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, calling for the new economic plan of Italy is Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, and he advocated the cooperation of China and Italy in Africa.  And in the Transaqua memorandum of understanding, there was previously  memorandum of understanding between China and Italy to engage in this great project:  So this can be a model of any Western country….

There is a new concept of great power relations, developed by China, and proposed to the United States.  The {Global Times}, a government-related newspaper recently, in light of the tensions between China and the United States, asked the question:  What should the relations be between China and the United States in 30, 40, 50 years from now, or even towards the end of the century?…

And I would like to remind you of what Friedrich Schiller, [a great German poet] said, in “Why We Would Study Universal History,”- and I’m saying it now in my own words:  We should look at the long chain of generations before us, who gave us the tremendous heritage. And should it not be our proud and passionate desire to connect our ephemeral life to that long chain of human generations, and contribute with our own life, that soon that generation will be living a better life as a result of what we have done?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

West Uses “Debt Trap” to Thwart Alliance of China & Africa for Economic Development

September 8, 2018

“The term “debtbook diplomacy”—with the meaning that China builds influence over other nations by deliberately causing them to take on more debt than they can handle—was coined in a report commissioned by (and custom designed for) the U.S. State Department and written in May 2018 by Sam Parker of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. This report was then used by the U.S. State Department to ring alarm bells all over the world about the potential impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. But the report’s author, Sam Parker, is not known to have any expertise in economics or to have written anything about the economies of China or other developing countries.

“Historically, the British Empire was, and still is, the master of debt traps. Its methods have been copied in the post-1971, post-Bretton Woods era by such United States- and British-controlled institutions as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to shackle nations with unpayable debt, in order to loot them, destroy their physical economic productive capabilities and finally force them to give up their national sovereignty. Under the 19th century, British-dominated, imperialist world order, as in the case of the post Bretton Woods system, money is treated as a “global” commodity controlled by private interests, rather than a political tool controlled by sovereign governments which issuance is intended to promote the productivity of society and the general welfare of its citizens.”` (Schiller Institute’s “Why China’s Debtbook Diplomacy is a Hoax”)

African Development Bank President, Adesina, Denies Debt Crisis in Africa

Speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit on Sept 5, and addressing the western propaganda that China is drowning Africa with debt, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said: “Let me be very clear that Africa has absolutely no debt crisis; African countries are desperate for infrastructure.” “The population is rising, urbanization is there, and fiscal space is very small,” the AfDB president added. “They are taking on a lot more debt, but in the right way,” Adesina said, Xinhua reported on Sept 5.

Scoffing at the international campaign that the China imposed debt has begun to cripple Africa, Adesina pointed out that Africa’s overall debt-to-GDP went up from 22 percent in 2010 to 37 per cent last year. He stressed that the ratio is markedly lower than the 100 per cent or 150 per cent of many higher-income countries, and over 50 per cent among emerging economies.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Nikkei of Japan, the foreign minister of Djibouti, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, said his country intends to help promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but is also cautious about over reliance on China in light of Djibouti’s growing debts linked to Chinese investment. “If [the initiative] brings wealth, progress, development, we welcome it,” he said in that interview, Nikkei reported today

Nigerian President Buhari Debunks the “Debt Trap” Hoax

Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Afria’s most populous nation, Nigeria, has emerged from the hugely successful Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) with a refutation of what he called “insinuations about a so-called Chinese debt trap.”

“Let me use this opportunity to address and dispel insinuations about a so-called Chinese debt trap,” he told the press today. “These vital infrastructure projects being funded are perfectly in line with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan. Some of the debts, it must be  noted, are self-liquidating. Nigeria is fully able to repay all the loans as and when due, in keeping with our policy of fiscal prudence and sound housekeeping.”

He said: “I am happy to note that Nigeria’s partnership with China through FOCAC has resulted in the execution of critical infrastructure projects valued at more than $5 billion, over the last three years. We have completed West Africa’s first urban rail system, valued at $500 million, in Abuja. Before then was the 180km rail line that connects Abuja and Kaduna, completed and commissioned in 2016, and running efficiently since then,” the President declared.

He said that Nigeria is currently leveraging Chinese funding to execute $3.4 billion worth of projects at various stages of completion. Among these are: upgrading of airport terminals, the Lagos-Kano rail line, the Zungeru hydroelectric power project, and fibre cables for our internet infrastructure. Nigeria signed an agreement for an additional $1 billion loan from China. The money is for additional rolling stock for the newly constructed rail lines, as well as road rehabilitation and water supply projects.

“Debt Trap” Hoax Exposed by Chinese Spokesperson

At a September 4 press conference on the morning of the second day of the FOCAC Summit, Xu Jinghu, the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, was asked by Reuters about whether the $60 billion financing that President Xi Jinping promised in aid for Africa in his keynote address, would create debt problems for Africa.

Xu Jinghu went through the importance of the eight areas outlined by President Xi in order to raise the level of production and productivity of the African economy.  She also made clear that all of the projects are done in close consultation with the African countries in order to meet what they see as their real needs for further industrialization.

She added that Africa is in “the ascending phase” of its development and “faces a gap in the funding for all of their endeavors…”They need capital development and the African and Chinese economy, which is more developed, are therefore complementary.”

Xu commented, “You have to take into consideration the international situation. The  costs of financing for development on the international market has become very expensive and most of the African countries are still dependent on exporting their raw materials. And the price of these have fallen,which has increased the debt of African countries a great deal.  And if you look at the African countries, you will see that China is not the creditor of those African countries with the biggest debt burden.

China Africa Research Initiative Refutes “Death Trap” Propaganda

The China Africa Research Initiative-(CARI) at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, Washington DC refuted the “death-trap” narrative that China is subverting African nations by forcing them into debt.  Their The Path Ahead: The 7th Forum on China Africa Cooperation-(Briefing Paper #1, 2018), reports: “Finally, in just three African countries, Chinese loans are currently the most significant contributor to high risk of/actual debt distress” They are;  Djibouti, Republic of Congo, and Zambia.  

Read complete CARI  briefing paper

 

Read:

Who Owns Africa’s Debt: China or Western Nations & Institutions?

 

China’s Belt & Road Initiative Truly is Helping Africa Develop

Below are edited excerpts from a new report by the China-Africa Research Initiative-at Johns Hopkins in Washington DC (Brief #23, 2018). It provides a useful analysis that refutes the misinformation that China is “stealing” Africa’s resources.

“Silk Road to the Sahel: African ambitions in China’s Belt and Road Initiative”

Yunnan Chen

Where Does Africa Fit?

THE BRI SIGNIFIES A SHIFT IN CHINA’S economic engagement with Africa, away from the resource trade characterized by the boom of the 2000s, towards a greater emphasis on infrastructure, industrial cooperation, and connectivity. From single bilateral infrastructure projects, there has been a new term ‘corridorization’ of infrastructure: creating economic corridors and networks at a regional scale to promote cross-border trade and integration.

East and North Africa have been the focus of the BRI in Africa, though countries in West and Southern Africa have also signed cooperation agreements under the framework of the BRI.  As part of the ‘maritime silk road’, Chinese actors have been linked to several major port and transport projects. Chinese firms have invested heavily in Egypt’s Suez Canal corridor, with plans to expand to a second canal as well as new terminals at the port of Alexandria.

China’s Maritime Silk Road connecting Asia to the East-coast of Africa

In Sub-Saharan Africa, Djibouti has emerged as a BRI hub. As well as being the location for its first overseas naval facility, China has financed multiple economic infrastructure projects totalling US$1.8 billion in the small African state, including a new multipurpose port at Doraleh (with specialized terminals for livestock and LNG), as well as a new free trade zone complex adjacent to the port, commissioned in July 2018 . In Kenya, Chinese firms have also won construction contracts for three berths for the new deep-water port in Lamu.

Politically, the BRI’s presence in Africa has been expanding. The most recent Johannesburg Forum of China Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC)  declared as one of its goals: “[to] actively explore the linkages between China’s initiatives of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and Africa’s economic integration and sustainable development agenda”. Countries linked to the BRI; Morocco, Egypt, and Ethiopia, have also been singled out in FOCAC among ‘industrial cooperation demonstration and pioneering countries’ and ‘priority partners for production capacity cooperation countries’; these countries have seen a rapid expansion of Chinese-built industrial zones, presaging not only greater trade but also industrial investment from China. However, it may also suggest further stratification in China’s political engagement with Africa as a region, increasing the geopolitical importance of select countries.

Continue reading Silk Road to the Sahel

China Helps Ethiopia Build ‘Industrial Belt’

Ethiopian attendants walk along a train at the Lebu station in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 1, 2018. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

“Ethiopia takes inspiration from China’s success for own development”

Ethiopian attendants walk along a train at the Lebu station in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, Jan. 1, 2018. (Xinhua/Michael Tewelde)

ADDIS ABABA, May 10, 2018 (Xinhua) — Ahmed Shide, Minister of Ethiopia Government Communications Affairs Office (GCAO), told Xinhua that China hasn’t only become Ethiopia’s top economic partner but a model for Ethiopia’s economic ambitions.

Learning from Chinese economic growth experience, Ethiopia will have about 15 industrial parks by June, most of them built with Chinese money and expertise.

Ethiopia has also heavily invested with Chinese assistance in road, rail and air infrastructures to alleviate transportation problems for Ethiopia’s exports.

Shide said landlocked Ethiopia has seen China’s success in having an efficient and effective infrastructure to facilitate exports from industrial parks and as such is building a “development belt” to copy the Chinese success story.

The “development belt” will see Ethiopia build industrial parks located along the path of existing or under-construction rail lines to speedily transport products made in industrial parks to ports in neighboring Djibouti.

After reaching Djibouti, the products are then loaded and shipped to their final export destinations including China.

About half of the 15 industrial parks Ethiopia is constructing or has constructed are located along the 756kms Ethio-Djibouti electrified rail line built with Chinese expertise and finances at a cost of 4 billion U.S. dollars.

The rail line which recently started commercial operations has cut transportation time for Ethiopian goods to Djibouti ports from two days to 10 hours, giving a leg up for Ethiopia’s economic dreams of becoming a light manufacturing hub in Africa and middle-income economy by 2025.

Shide said Ethiopia is also looking to further boost ties with China on air infrastructure, as the Asian economic powerhouse is the single largest market for its national carrier Ethiopian Airlines (ET).

ET currently flies to five destinations in China — Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong and Guangzhou, and plans to add Shenzhen as its sixth destination in June.

With China working on being an airplane manufacturing center, Shide adds he foresees ET will soon be a customer of fully developed Chinese airplanes.

LEARN MORE FROM CHINA

With Ethiopia utilizing Chinese hard infrastructure expertise and money to support its ambitious economic plans, Gedion Jalata, CEO at Center of Excellence International Consult, an Ethiopian consulting firm, told Xinhua Ethiopia should also be learning from Chinese success in creating a meritocratic bureaucracy.

“China succeeded in bringing out of poverty 700 million people in 30 years not just because it built physical infrastructure, but it worked on its human capital helping create an efficient state bureaucracy, that’s a soft infrastructure Ethiopia should build,” Jalata said.

He said there are simple things the new Ethiopian administration of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed can do if Ethiopia is to effectively learn from China’s remarkable economic development.

“Ethiopian leadership, just like Chinese leadership, should have the political will, determination and commitment to meet the country’s economic ambitions,” Jalata added

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“China committed to strengthen relations with Ethiopia”

Chairman of the National People’s Congress of China (NPC) and speaker of the congress, Li Zhanshu, confirmed that his country is determined to strengthen its diplomatic relations and continue its multi-faceted development support for Ethiopia.

On an official state visit in Ethiopia since Wednesday, the chairman met and conferred with different officials of the Ethiopian government including the president, the prime minister and speakers of both the House of People’s Representatives (HPR) and House of Federation (HoF) over bilateral and mutual interest.

Apart from this, the chairman has also signed an agreement of loan and humanitarian assistance.

In this regard, the chairman met with President Mulatu Teshome (PhD) on Thursday to discuss bilateral and regional issues. According to Meles Alem, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the chairman confirmed that China gives priority to the bilateral ties with Ethiopia and needs Ethiopia to continue its pivotal role in Sino-Africa partnership.

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