Interview With Lawrence Freeman: Strategic Importance of Africa For The World

The Mel K Show, February 24, 2023

Watch my interview above.

March 10, 2023

In this interview, I explain the strategic importance of the African continent for the global economy in this century. I advocate for a complete reversal of U.S. policy or Africa. It is past time for the U.S. to stop complaining about China and correct our own foreign-economic policy toward the nations of Africa. What African nations need most is: long term, low interest loans for the financing of vital infrastructure projects. China and other nations are contributing to this type of development; the U.S. is not.

The U.S. has lost its commitment, its vision of helping the nations of the Global South, especially Africa, to develop. Instead, they give speeches on the need for their Western version of  democracy and good governance, when Africans die every day due to poverty, brought on by the lack of infrastructure. Africa is suffering from the lack of electricity, high-speed railroads, roads, hospitals, etc. The private sector is essential for economic development, but it will never finance the infrastructure required to build modern industrialized economies in Africa.

In my interview, I also discuss my visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and its significance for Africa. Ethiopia’s financing and building of the GERD, which will generate 5,150 megawatts of electricity for the Horn of Africa, can be a model for other nations.

The U.S. and the West have to move away from the insane geopolitical doctrine that views the world as a zero-sum game, which carries overtones of racism and colonialism for Africa. The true measure of the success of U.S. policies is: do they lead to an increase in the material standard of living for Africans.

The foolishness of U.S. and Western policies towards Africa is that they are shortsighted and economically thoughtless. With Africa projected to have one fourth of the world’s population by 2050, the largest number of youth, and the biggest potential workforce in the world, not to develop Africa nations is just plain stupid. The African continent can be the center of economic commerce or a breeding ground for coups and violent extremism. That future is being decided by what we do today.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Jeffrey Sachs Agrees With Me: Financing Infrastructure Essential for Africa’s Development

Watch this video of Economist Jeffrey Sachs addrressing the African Union (coutersy of

Jeffrey Sachs and I agree 100% on the absolute necessity to provide long term-low interest financing for infrastructure in Africa. The global financial system, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the so called international rules based order, do not understand the importance of building infrastructure in Africa, or they don’t care, or they want Africa to remain underdeveloped.

I, like Professor Sachs, understand, that the only way forward for African nations is; development: massive investment in physical and human capital. Democracy and good governance are empty constructs, cynically meaningless words, without economic development. If one genuinely desires democracy, than you must have abundant electricity! Without real, physical economic growth, which is not possible without financing trillions of dollars of infrastructure, African nations will not realize their potential in this century.

This requires a new paradigm based on development, which I have been advocating for decades.

Excerpts from Prof. Sachs, speaking before the African Union, on February 17, 2023, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia:

And that is that African governments should take on a lot more debt and use it to keep the kids in school, to build the electricity, to build the rail, to build the transport systems because it can`t wait. And if you do it right the growth will be rapid, so what looks like a lot of debt today , 25 years from now won`t be very much debt at all.

But the problem with my analysis obviously is that I believe that Africa needs financing on 30 year borrowing , not on 5 year Euro Bonds, which is nonsense! Because development is a 30 year process

But you have lots of sources of capital and by the way, the cost of a thirty year loan , AAA is 3%. Imagine if Africa could finance its development at 3%. 30 year borrowing. Believe me , the issues would be finished! Because you would be on your way, this would be the biggest construction site in the whole world history, roads, power, housing, new factories.

Now the problem is that Africa right now borrows at 13% on 5 years. This Euro Bond stuff is useless, worse that useless! I wouldn`t take any borrowing with less than 20 year maturing, anything. Because you cannot run development on a year by year basis. And that is what Prof Oromo was just showing, all these [up and down/high and low] swings are just finance swings. Commodity prices are high, finance is easy, you borrow, commodity prices come down, finance is tough, then austerity. All that Africa is suffering is finance swings. (All emphasis original)

Read the full transcript below provided by PD Lawton, created of the blog:

Read my earlier posts:

My Thoughts: Poverty & Ethnicity Kill Democracy in Africa

Alexander Hamilton’s Credit System Is Necessary for Africa’s Development

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

In Addition to Adwa Day, March 1, Ethiopia Should Look Forward to Celebrating “GERD Day “

Ethiopia’s victory against Italy at Adwa on March 1, 1896, profoundly shaped the future of Ethiopia.
Celebrate Ethiopia’s March 1, 1896 Victory at Adwa- A Victory For Africa and All Nations

February 27, 2023

Below are excerpts from my brief analysis of Adwa Day, which I first wrote in 2017. It was published in the newsletter of the Ethiopian Embassy in Washington DC. I have republished it every year since, with different timely introductions.

As I have understood the importance of Adwa Day as an inspiring event of nationalism for the people of Ethiopia, I reflect on my joyful experience of touring the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), during my visit to Ethiopia last December. GERD: Utilizing the Blue Nile to Create Energy for Development in Ethiopia & The Horn of Africa)

The GERD is truly an engineering marvel that displays the most excellent characteristics of Ethiopian civilization and culture. It will be a driver for economic development in the Horn of Africa. The GERD can also serve as a nationalistic and unifying achievement for the Ethiopian people following a divisive and destructive two year war.  

It is projected that in the next 2-3 years the GERD will have all 13 turbines functioning and generate 5,150 megawatts of electricity. Therefore, I suggest that upon completion of this great dam, Ethiopians, with pride, declare “GERD Day” to celebrate along with Adwa Day.

The author standing in front of a painting of the completed GERD pointing to the Amharic words that mean “Our Pride.”

Victory at Adwa-A Victory for Africa

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…understanding the indispensable role of the state in fostering economic development that distinguishes Ethiopia today from all other sub-Saharan African nations…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 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 rails 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.

Celebrate Ethiopia’s March 1, 1896, Victory at Adwa: Ethiopia is Fighting Another Battle Today to Protect its Sovereignty

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

“Electricity is the lifeblood of a nation” Nuclear Energy Can Be A Solution To The Continent’s Dearth of Electricity

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, developed in South Africa, can be a solution to Africa’s lack of energy (Courtesy of the International Atomic Energy Agency)

Dr Kelvin Kemm, a South African nuclear physicist, deleivers a cogent argument for nuclear energy in Africa, in his presentation below, “A Reliable Electricty Supply.,” (Provided by PD Lawton, creator of the blog:

Africa Needs Electrcity

There is no more urgent task for the nations of Africa than expanding the construction of energy plants to generate a massive increase in electricity for distribution by their national electrical grids.

W. Gyude Moore, who formerly served as Liberia’s Minister for Public Works, recently wrote:  

The International Energy Agency now estimates that Asia is set to use 50% of global electricity by 2025. China, with its 1.4 billion people, who account for a majority of that. Although Africa has a comparable population to China, its 54 countries will use just 3% of global electricity. That disparity is an eloquent and concise a treatise on Africa’s poverty as there can be…By 2030 the continent is set to host 84% of the world’s extreme poor. Without access to cheap and reliable electricity as well as expensive road [and railroad] systems, Africa’s terms of trade will not improve, and its poverty will remain entrenched.

The devastating impact on the absence of electricity for African nations was also dramatically highlighted by the well-known African philanthropist, Mo Ibrahim. In a February 9th interview on Straight Talk, he explained without exaggeration, the consequential stark reality of the deficit of electricity for African nations. He said:

600 million African people are without access to electricity. Without access to electricity, you don’t have access to life. You don’t have education. You don’t have health. You don’t have businesses. You have nothing!

Gyude Moore and Mo Ibrahim, understand, as every rational human being should; without electricity, economies and nations can’t function. I will go further: people are dying in African nations today due to the catastrophic deficit in electrical generation. There is no more vital issue to be addressed by African leaders and friends of Africa around the world, than reversing the dire shortage of electrical  power throughout African continent.

African Solutions For African Problems

Perhaps surprising to many Africans and Westerners alike, nuclear energy is another example of the potential of African nations to provide solutions for African problems.

Dr. Kemm points out that South Africa was a leader in pioneering the development of a Small Nuclear Reactor-SMR. South Africa designed the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor-PBMR mnany years ago, a SMR that  could have been utilized throughout Africa to deliver desperately needed energy, if the program had continued.

Quoting Dr. Kemm:

So, in 1993 a decision was made to start investigating the potential in developing a Small Modular Reactor (SMR) to be placed in South African areas in which there were no major supplies of water. South Africa has minimal spare inland water.

So South Africa became the first country in the world to start designing a commercial SMR. The project grew to a significant size, with a total workforce of some 2,000 people, and by 2008 the reactor was ready to be built. The pressure vessel was ordered, and it arrived in South Africa…

African countries and others around the world became interested in nuclear power as they realised the importance of solutions which really work for African conditions, or for the local conditions of diverse countries.  A few African leaders have made powerful public statements about their intention to take their countries down a nuclear path. That is totally reasonable, by using Small Modular Reactors which do not need large scale water cooling.

African countries can also easily form a collaborative ‘club’ to link to each other with daily operations, training, and regulatory oversight, amongst other functions. Such an approach will lower costs further and also induce a spirit of cooperation which will be beneficial to all.

Investors need to have the confidence in an advanced energy solution development coming from Africa. Some established mindsets need to change. The SMR from South Africa is an investment opportunity waiting for people with vision, and some courage, and who also have some self-confidence, and a belief in abundant and reliable green power for the future.

To elimiate hunger in Africa. To industrialize African economies. To lift hundreds of millions of Africans out of poverty. Africa must have nuclear energy as its power source.


Read my earlier posts below:

A Nuclear Energy Economic Platform Is The Future for Africa

Nuclear Energy Will Create Jobs and Raise Skill Levels in Africa

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

GERD: Utilizing the Blue Nile to Create Energy for Development in Ethiopia & The Horn of Africa

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, built on Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River will be completed in 2025 with an installed capacity to generate 5,150 megawatts of electricity. This will not only provide increased access of electricity to the Ethiopian population, but supply much needed energy to the nations of the Horn of Africa as well.

January 16, 2023

On December 19, 2022, I was given a VIP tour of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, known as the GERD. It was an exciting and joyful experience for me to examine this massive infrastructure project constructed by an emerging sub-Saharan African nation. It is proof that humankind is capable, nay obliged, to intervene upon the physical universe for the betterment of the human race i.e., progress for our civilization. The GERD, when completed, will generate from its thirteen turbines a total of 5,150 megawatts (MW) of electricity for Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa. The GERD is a dam for development. Already, with just 750 MW being produced from two of the GERD’s functioning turbines, Ethiopia is already exporting electricity to Djibouti, Kenya, and Sudan. Additionally, Ethiopia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Sudan to sell electricity.

Upon completion, the GERD will be the largest hydro-electric dam on the African continent and the seventh largest in the world. For this accomplishment, the Ethiopian people and their leadership should be praised for initiating such a grand endeavor over a decade ago, that is today contributing to the transformation of the African continent.  

The GERD left, author being briefed the Deputy Project Manager

A Source of Pride

The GERD is located at the Guba district in the Benishangul-Gumuz regional state of Ethiopia, 20 kilometers (km) (13 miles) upstream from the Sudan border, a driving distance of 729 km (453 miles) from Addis Ababa. Construction began in 2011 to capture the hydro-energy potential of the Blue Nile, a winding river of 1,450 km (910 miles) flowing down from Lake Tana, nestled in Ethiopia’s dense range of mountains. The Blue Nile, which joins the White Nile in Sudan under the bridge connecting Khartoum and Omdurman, provides over 80% of the volume of Nile waters that flow north through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. Ethiopians, refer to the Blue Nile, which contains 70% of the country’s river systems, as Abay River. “’Abay’ is derived from the Ge’ez word for ‘great’ to imply that it is ‘the river of rivers’.”* 

The Ethiopian people self-financed the $5 billion cost of the GERD. No international loans were issued by Western financial institutions. Nor did China provide any financial assistance, contrary to those maligning China’s relationship with Ethiopia and with Africa. As a result, the GERD is sovereignly owned by the Ethiopian people. It is a well-deserved source of pride and national identity, much like the victory of Menelik II against the invading Italian army at Adwa, on March 1, 1896. Recognizing this accomplishment, I have suggested that upon completion of the GERD, Ethiopia should establish a new holiday that will be called, “GERD Day.”

The author standing in front of a painting of the completed GERD pointing to the Amharic words that mean “Our Pride.”

Humans Create Wealth

Standing at the top of the dam’s wall, the GERD, erected between two mountains, with its vast reservoir, is resplendent in its beauty. However, it is more than simple splendor. The GERD is a potent demonstration of the power of human creativity, and humankind’s harmony with the physical universe. All infrastructure is the product of human intervention. We human beings alter the physical universe by creating improvements. This noetic-creative process of the mind is actually transforming our planet, and implicitly the universe, for the advancement of humankind . It is the lack of infrastructure that is killing  Africa and harming my United States as well.

The modern form of Lake Tana is estimated to be 5 million years old. Therefore, it is reasonable to estimate, that the Blue Nile, which emanates from Lake Tana’s waterfalls, is millions of years old as well. Thus, the Blue Nile has flowed into the White Nile, unexploited for millennium, before creative Ethiopians willfully decided to make this “lazy river” do some work i.e., produce energy for the progress of civilization.

The GERD situated between two mountains over the Blue Nile River

Given the staggering paucity of energy in sub-Saharan Africa, this injection of  5,150 MW is essential to preserve human life, which depends on energy for all its productive activity. The GERD will significantly improve Ethiopians access to electricity, which is currently estimated at 50%. Energy from the GERD will contribute to powering the industrialization of Ethiopia and will also benefit the greater Horn of Africa.

It is all but impossible for any visitor to the GERD not to marvel at this engineering achievement, but for me, it has additional significance. As a physical economist, I understand the vital role that infrastructure performs in a successful economy. Unlike simple financial transactions, services, and even tourism, all of which macro economists include in computing the GDP of an economy, hard infrastructure is unique. It  inserts value by enhancing the productive process, which results in the  creation of additional wealth for society. Infrastructure, a physical input, increases productivity, enabling  the economy to expand (produce more tangible wealth) at a faster rate during the ensuing production cycle. All economies function on and within a given integrated infrastructure platform. A more technologically advanced platform creates more wealth and profitability for the entire economy/society. An economy without energy, a density of paved roads, and railroads per area, is doomed to create misery and death for its population.

Thus, the GERD, a human intrusion into nature, not only produces desperately needed energy, but raises Ethiopia’s infrastructure platform to a more advanced level that will permeate the entire productive process of the economy.

The author examining the control panel above, and in front one of the operating turbines below.

A Scientific-Engineering Wonder

The height of the dam is 145 meters and is 645 meters above sea level. Its length is 1,780 meters. The reservoir surface area is 1,874 km squared, and will hold 74 billion cubic meters of water. When the water level in the reservoir reaches a height of 640 meters above sea level, it will start flowing into the power generation structure of the dam. There will be 13 independent waterways supplying water to the turbines below through installed pipes, 8.5 meters wide. This directed water flow will rotate the turbines, producing a maximum of 400 MW of electricity per turbine. The water from the reservoir will descend by gravity 123 meters from the head (where the water enters) to the turbines below, at a flow rate of 330 cubic meters per second. These two parameters determine the potential electrical power that can be generated through rotating the turbines 125 times per minute across a magnetic field. U.S. based General Electric (GE) is supplying 5 of the 13 turbines. Presently there are two GE made turbines producing 375 MW each, which has added 500 MW of electricity to Ethiopia’s national grid. This has enabled Ethiopia to export 275 MW of electricity to its neighbors; 75 MW to Djibouti, 100 MW to Sudan, and 100 MW to Kenya. Both these turbines went into operation in 2022. The additional 11 turbines will produce 400 MW each, yielding a total output of 5,150 MW, with average annual energy production about 16,692 gigawatt hours, generated from the GERD.

Building new pipes above to carry water to new turbines being built below

The GERD Is For Africa

The GERD will insert over 5,000 MW of renewable electricity into an  African sub-continent starved for power. With its already existing sources of energy, the GERD will make Ethiopia second to South Africa in generation of electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. While this amount of additional electricity is desperately needed, my calculations are that to transform African nations into modern industrialized economies, a minimum of 1,000 gigawatts of power has to be added to national grids. It would be wise for more African nations to emulate Ethiopia’s bold visionary initiative. This is the pathway for poverty and hunger to be finally eliminated on the continent.

There is no danger to downstream nations from the GERD. Ethiopia has extended the time it will take to fill the GERD’s reservoir beyond the original plan of 3 to 4 years, in order to mitigate any substantial reduction in the flow of the Nile River. Annual fillings will continue until achieving completion. Ethiopia is making every effort to maintain the flow of the Blue Nile while this huge reservoir is being filled yearly during the June and July months of the rainy season. After 3 fillings (2020-2022), the reservoir now holds 22 billion cubic meters of water. Sudanese officials report no noticeable decrease in the water levels of the Nile traveling through their nation.

The author being interviewed by Ethiopian News Agency

The GERD will regulate the flow of the Nile, preventing both deadly flooding in Sudan, and the dwindling of the Nile during drier seasons. The GERD will have three spillways with a discharge capacity of 19,000 cubic meters per second to prevent flooding of the Nile. At the higher altitude of the GERD’s reservoir, evaporation, which can account for 10% of the Nile’s total volume of 84 billion cubic meters, will be reduced. Due to the size and depth of the GERD’s reservoir, there will also be a reduction in the transfer of sediments from the Blue Nile.

The drainage area of the Nile Basin includes 11 African nations whose total population is over 400 million and growing, with Egypt and Ethiopia accounting for over half of the people. A long term development plan that provides for the well-being of the people residing in the nations of the Nile Basin, should be established. However, we must be cognizant that the waters of the Nile River are not sufficient to provide for the expanding population of the region. Other alternatives must be sought.

For future generations of the Nile Basin nations to prosper, we should create the equivalent of a second Nile River through nuclear powered desalination. Nuclear power plants can be built along the Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts. This would deliver millions of tons of fresh water and provide thousands of megawatts of electricity to the Nile Basin nations. Application of nuclear energy, would also crucially upgrade the infrastructure platform of a large section of the African continent by introducing advanced nuclear technologies. Many pessimists will complain that this is impractical and will never happen. In response to these naysayers, I say: let us aspire to the same audacious optimism of Ethiopia when they conceived of creating the GERD where only mountains and the Blue Nile existed.    


Schematic diagram of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

My Thoughts: Poverty & Ethnicity Kill Democracy in Africa

Lawrence Freeman in Addis Abebe-December 2021

An African friend of mine recently asked me to express my views on democracy in Africa to her organization. “Watch Democracy Grow.” Contrary to the incessant babbling by Western officials, NGOs and advocacy groups, you can read below a summary of my thoughts on what constitutes real democracy and how to create the conditions conducive for growing democracy in Africa.

I will focus my presentation on the relationship of elections to the deeper principles of fostering a true democracy. Many Westerners, European and American institutions and governments falsely assert that elections are the sign of a functioning democracy. This narrow understanding or interpretation of democracy is insufficient. It contributes to the poor conditions of life throughout most of Africa today, and actually undermines the creation of sustainable a Democratic Republic on the continent.

A Thinking Citizenry

A republic is not a democracy, and for good reason. A majority,  consisting of uninformed opinion, should not rule unfettered over a nation. That is why in a functioning Democratic Republic, we prefer the wisest people to govern. But how do we choose the most knowledgeable representatives? Yes, we do it physically at the polling booth in periodic and orderly elections. However, the act of voting itself does not guarantee viability of a nation, much less a thoughtful policy. The only guarantee that the voters are electing or even nominating the most intelligent guardians of their society is; an educated citizenry.

A true democracy requires all its citizens to think and discuss the most appropriate policies for their nation to adopt in order to secure a future for their children and grandchildren. In other words, the citizen should accept the responsibility for shaping the future of their nation, as if they were running for office themselves. Individuals seeking public office, who purport to have the qualifications to decide policy for their nation, are distilled from the population at large. Therefore, to ensure the selection of qualified leaders similarly requires an informed and thoughtful citizenry. A continuously advancing society, both materially and spiritually, existing within an educated science oriented culture, is the underlying platform for a viable Democratic Republic.

Like the individual seeking a leadership position in government, the citizen should have a vision for their nation that extends two generations into the future. Every citizen should believe that his or her participation is vital in shaping the policies that will determine the wellbeing of their progeny for generations to come. As eloquently articulated in the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution, elected government exists to “… promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

The fundamental unalterable principle that is the foundation of economics, national and foreign policy, and democracy, is the knowledge that each human being is sacred. It is necessary to acknowledge what it means when one states, that human beings are in the image of the Creator. Every member of the human race is born with the potential for creative thought that is in harmony with the creative principle embedded in the design of our lawfully ordered universe.

Does a mother searching for food for her child have the leisure time to study the best policies for the future of her nation? UN Photo/Albert Gonzalez Farran

Poverty Kills Democracy

Every human being is precious. Degradation or any preventable death, of a member of the human race is a violation of this natural law. Every human being has the right to live a dignified, meaningful, productive existence that affords a better-quality of life for future generations.

Thus, if we truly desire to increase the involvement of civil society in elections and in shaping the future of their nation, we must end poverty and hunger. There is no bigger threat to democracy than allowing substantial portions of a nation’s population to suffer in abject poverty and hunger, with death looming. The gross failure of groups advocating democracy and human rights, is their refusal to comprehend that development is a fundamental human right.

The dearth of electrical power in Africa is appalling and criminal. Producing less than 100,000 megawatts of electricity for a billion or more people in sub-Saharan Africa guarantees that Africans will not have the minimal standard of living necessary for democratic institutions to thrive. Over 600 million Africans have no access to grid electricity and 900 million Africans cook without electricity or gas. Without energy no nation can survive. Yet this shameful state of affairs has existed unaddressed for decades.

Some may object that I have brought extraneous concerns into the discussion of building democratic institutions. I can assure you that I have not. The ability to have access to energy, to feed one’s family, for parents to have a productive job, and for youth to look forward to a hopeful future, are absolutely germane. In fact, these concerns are at the heart of sustaining a democratic government.

If a majority of a nation’s people are hungry, not employed, living in substandard conditions, simply trying to survive, democracy is a mirage.

To reiterate: a true democracy requires a discussion and exchange of ideas among the citizens on what are the best policies for the future of their nation. All citizens and their elected representatives should have a vision for their nation. Society should select those candidates that have the qualifications to implement that vision. Do parents anxiously trying to find food to feed their children have the mental luxury to discuss with their friends and neighbors the most pressing issues facing their nation? Do citizens have the leisure time for such a discussion, and hours of relaxation to read and study the issues of the day? Does adequate housing exist with separate rooms for the children, and electricity to light rooms for long hours of study? Are there enough adequately supplied libraries for parents and children to learn history, philosophy, and science?

Without a prospering economy that offers a sufficient material quality of life, simply lining up at voting stations every four years is insufficient. The questions I have addressed above, are essential to sustaining

democratic institutions.

Africa lacks abundant and accessible electricity. Without electrical power there will be no development, poverty will persist, people will die, and democracy will fail to flourish. (Map courtesy of

No Democracy With Ethnicity

Ethnic nationalism does not permit democracy. I can assert this with authority, having examined, up close, for thirty years, African nations, whose societies are ethnically divided. Ethnicity is antithetical to a Democratic Republic. Human beings are not determined by their bloodline or their geographic location. The very existence of ethnicity is anti-human. It attempts to falsely differentiate people, rejecting the  universal quality of the human species; its unique potential for creativity. Every child born in any location on this planet has the same innate potential for creative thought. Only we human beings have been gifted with a creative imagination. It is this quality of the mind that uniquely characterizes a single universal human race.

A true Democratic Republic recognizes the contributions of all of its people equally and provides for the general welfare of all its citizens, regardless of ethnicity. Ethnic nationalism in Africa, which has existed for decades, in some cases for centuries, as a legacy of colonialism, tears apart the fabric of society and undermines the sovereignty of a nation. Ethnic nationalism contributes to weakening the central government, making it easy prey for foreign instigated destabilizations and attempts at regime change. The self-governance of a nation by its citizens, to create a better future for its people, cannot co-exist with ethnic nationalism. This type of ethnicity prevents democratic systems from taking root and flourishing.


To help build democratic institutions throughout Africa, we need to go beyond simply encouraging nations to have free and fair elections every four years. A viable Democratic Republic is much more than having its citizens show up at the polls every four-five years. Many advocates have not understood that democracy is not possible without development. Nations deprived of economic growth will not be able to provide its citizens with the basic material essentials of life, a prerequisite for a thoughtful deliberative process of governing. It should also be understood that an economically deprived population is desperate and can be easily manipulated against its own government, and its own interest. Economic destitution and the loss of hope for a better life, are the combustible fuel for violence and dictatorships. Conversely, a divided nation can be united when its leaders articulate a visionary program for economic growth that serves the interests of all its citizens,

It is high time we learn this indispensable lesson: democracy cannot succeed without development.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

A Nuclear Energy Economic Platform Is The Future for Africa

The only nuclear power plant on the African continent, is in Koeberg, South Africa

Nuclear Energy gives you the benefit of industrialization, and beneficiation within the [African] economy, translating to a higher and inclusive growth path and job creation.”

This is the edited transcript of the presentation of Gaopalelwe Santswere to Panel 2, “Physical Economy: Developing the Nӧosphere,” of the Schiller Institute’s Nov. 12, 2022 Conference, “The Physical Economy of the Noӧsphere: Reviving the Heritage of Vladimir Vernadsky.” Mr. Santswere is a nuclear physicist and senior scientist at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation. He is the President of the African Young Generation in Nuclear (AYGN). (EIR magazine. Nov 25, 2022)

Africa’s Need for Nuclear Power and Nuclear Medicine

Gaopalelwe Santswere (Courtesy of EIR magazine)

Gaopalelwe Santswere: Thank you very much for the opportunity to be part of the speakers today on a very important topic of the growing youth movement for nuclear power and nuclear medicine in Africa. We’ve seen that Africa has adopted what is called the Agenda 2063. One of the ancestors of Agenda 2063 is the need for integration, as one of the key foundations for assuring Africa achieve its goals for inclusive and sustainable growth and development. There we have seen that within the African Agenda 2063, there are about seven aspirations. Just to give you one of the most fundamental ones, which is Aspiration 2 of this Agenda 2063, placing import on the need for Africa to develop world-class infrastructure that criss-crosses Africa and which would improve connectivity through newer and bolder initiatives to link the continent by rail, road, sea, air, and develop regional and continental power pools, as well as ICT [Information and Communication Technology].

So there’s a need for us, if you look at the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, to assure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.

Now, if you take a look at Africa, we’ve got about 620 million Africans who are sitting without power. So out of 1.2 billion, you can see that almost half of Africans don’t have access to electricity. Therefore, Africa has not the opportunity to industrialize to have a future in the continent which would create sustainable jobs, to improve the conditions of the Africans in order to ensure that they can move forward.

There has been quite a robust debate within the continent as to what sort of technology should the continent adopt in order to ensure that we can move forward, and also develop the continent for the sustainability of most of the continent’s population, which are young people. So, when we look at the types of energy sources that we have, we know that there is some potential hydro in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which can potentially give us 40,000 MW of electricity. But we know what is the problem there: The geopolitical instability, regional instability that has caused the delay of this project seeing its life.

So we have seen, recently also, in the topic of hydro, Ethiopia has just launched or commissioned a hydropower plant that is supplying most of the East African countries there. But it also was not completed without political tension with Egypt and Sudan, because they’re saying that as it continues to fill up, it could potentially dry up some of the [downstream areas in Sudan and Egypt] and also affect the income.

Now we have seen the potential contention between the use of coal or hydrocarbons within the world: The world is saying that we need to move away from hydrocarbons and move to more clean energy that will sustain the world moving forward. But that being said, we’re seeing that world has not been achievable because of what we have seen in terms of the energy crisis in Europe and so forth.

So for Africa to develop, one of the energy sources that we foresee potentially could develop Africa is the use of nuclear power. We know that in Africa we’ve got two units at Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant in South Africa, that are continuously supporting South African electricity to almost 2,000 MW. But it’s the only two power reactors that are currently existing in the continent.

We have seen a number of countries expressing interest within the African continent, countries like Kenya, countries like Nigeria, countries like Ghana and so forth, who want to introduce nuclear power, due to the demand or energy poverty that their populations are subjected to. We have seen recently that Egypt has started construction on 4,800 MW of new nuclear power plants in the continent. This is very much welcome, because we have seen that now nuclear is starting to expand within the continent, and this will bring much relief in terms of the energy poverty that the continent has been experiencing for decades. We know that Africa is mostly referred to as “the darkest continent” because of lack of access to electricity.

So, one of the things that we need to do, in Africa in terms of energy, is to have a strategic plan that will ensure its society or citizens’ wellness within the continent; energy security which takes consideration of the environment; and competitiveness, including affordability and funding, in order to ensure that we have got economic growth and transformation, job creation, and equitable share in fulfillment of the African objective.

Now, when we look at a nuclear power plant, it is one of the most affordable [sources of] electricity. We can take cognizance that when you look at the power generation in South Africa in terms of the cost per kilowatt, nuclear is very, very low compared to other energy sources. Most of the developed countries in the world, they exist because the economy is based also on the development of nuclear power, so therefore, Africa must take some of the lessons from the world to ensure that they also can emphasize energy security, they also improve the lives of their citizens, by developing the nuclear power plan.

So, one fact is that we have over the years developed what we call the African Young Generation in Nuclear, which has enabled the young generations within the continent to emphasize why there is a need for us to go nuclear. We have emphasized that the bottom aspect of this is because Africa has to develop its own capacity and ensure that it addresses the socioeconomic issues of the continent through the promotion of nuclear power technology in Africa.

So, we need to do this. We have been doing it by degrees, to define, first, nuclear technology and educating the public about the benefits of nuclear for the public. We have facilitated the student government platforms and knowledge transfer platforms between the current generation of leading nuclear experts and the young generation about the nuclear profession.

What we are doing is, we have offered the platform to share, exchange ideas, and network on issues related to nuclear science and technology. Because what we have seen is that once we have addressed the energy issues, we have addressed a lot of things. And we strongly believe that nuclear has the capacity to address what Africa is lacking currently. And just to mention a few: We’ve seen that when you develop nuclear, you develop an economy in terms of energy security and by socioeconomic development. We align with national goals in terms of national development plans for energy transfer, and diversifying the African continent’s energy mix, which opens up an array of opportunities within the energy sector. It gives you the benefit of industrialization, and beneficiation within the [African] economy, translating to a higher and inclusive growth path and job creation. Of course, this will increase the pace of inclusive growth, which will face the biggest challenges on the continent.

Also bearing in mind, for sustainable economic growth we need to develop a technology that can develop and advance the economic wellbeing of the African continent.

So what we need also to recognize is that nuclear technology is not only power related. We can also apply it in different sectors like agriculture, nuclear medicine, and so forth. We know, just from the International Atomic Energy Agency this year there was a scientific forum focusing on the Rays of Hope initiative to ensure there can be access to cancer care. So we strongly believe that the nuclear technology can address that kind of issue.

We know that the continent has been losing quite a lot of money, where the patients are taken out of the continent to get care in the East or in Europe. So therefore, we strongly believe in the development of cancer treatment within the continent through radiotherapy, through access to nuclear medicine. Of course, we understand that cancer is one of the most killing diseases of the continent. So diagnosis and treatment of cancer will ensure that the development of Africa moves forward.

Just to give you an example: For a treatment for cancer, for example prostate cancer, we’ve seen South Africa developing the [radioactive isotope] Lutetium-177 production facility, which we have seen can treat prostate cancer much better.

So with that, I would like to say thank you for the opportunity. Thank you very much, and we look forward to the discussion.

Read my earlier posts:

South African Activist Campaigns for Nuclear Energy For Africa: Essential for Industrialization

South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

PM Abiy Ahmed Raises the Bar for Human Rights in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

Ethiopians celebrate Thanksgiving Festival in Addis. Image : IOL

My colleague, PD Lawton, creator of African, confirms in her insightful article below, what I have known for many years. The most important and fundamental human right, is the right to economic development. Without economic growth, human beings suffer and die. It is the lack of economic development in Africa that is the most serious human right violation. It is about time that all advocates of human rights recognize this indisputable reality. Through Ethiopia’s aggressive economic development policy, the government is addressing human rights more seriously than its attackers.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

African Nations Desperately Need Energy for Economic Growth

June 7,2022

My colleague, PD Lawton, creator of:, has authored an excellent article on the energy needs of Africa, and South Africa in particular, published by ESI-Africa-(see above). She makes an excellent case for African nations to utilize all forms of energy as a transition to developing a nuclear powered industrialized economy.

As I shall be discussing in future articles, the objective of the dictates of the now “all-popular” green ideology is to prevent Africa nations from exploiting their natural hydro-carbon resources. The intention is to obstruct the industrialization of African. Without a platform of energy dense manufacturing and agricultural industries, African economies will not grow, thus
allowing the conditions for poverty, hunger, and death to continue.

As a physical economist, I know that by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton, we can eliminate abject poverty and starvation. This will require abundant supplies of cheap, accessible energy. Western nations grew their economies through the consumption of gas, coal, and oil, much of it extracted from the African continent. Who gave the Western governments and financial institutions the authority, the right to disallow Africans from exploiting their own energy resources for their own people? African  nations have the sovereign right and obligation to provide for the general welfare of their citizens, free from external decrees.

Excerpts from Lawton’s’ article:

“Electricity means life is better. And 80% of that better life in South Africa is from coal. So, when Europeans impose green energy policies on Africa, they do it with total ignorance of the Sleeping Giant. And by their total ignorance of condemning coal and nuclear energy, they condemn 1,4 billion people to a future of poverty when the majority of those 1,4 billion people do not use so much as one light bulb’s worth of electricity.

“Every human being wants to breathe clean air and drink pure water. Most human beings want to protect the natural kingdom which is our God-given role. No one wants to live in creativity-crippling, futureless poverty. Only creative human innovation can bring solutions.

“Nuclear power technology fulfils all the requirements of clean energy. And until nuclear energy can power African cities and industries, let fossil fuels, hydro, gas, solar and wind reduce sub-Saharan Africa’s energy deficit. Africans are tired of living in the dark and they are tired of Eurocentric energy policies.”

Read the entire article: Putting coal into the African perspective

Read my earlier posts:

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the 0blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

Why Has Fighting in Ukraine Led to Food Emergencies in Africa?

A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
Getty Image, News24

Lawrence Freeman

May 17, 2022

In recent months there have been an abundance of reports on how the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating food scarcity in Africa. The argument is that Ukraine, ordinarily a large exporter of wheat, is not shipping food to the rest of the world. This includes African nations, some of which are large importers of Ukrainian wheat, resulting in shortages of food, and higher prices, contributing to Africa’s food insecurity.

Food Crisis Staggering in Africa

According to Global Report on Food Crisis 2022, eight of the countries facing the most severe food shortages are in Africa, affecting over 81 million Africans. The breakdown is:

DRC 25.9 million people, Afghanistan 22.8 million, Nigeria 19.5 million, Yemen 19 million, Ethiopia between 14-15 million, South Sudan 7.7 million, Somalia 6 million, Sudan 6 million, Pakistan 4.7 million, Haiti 4.5 million, Niger 4.4 million and, lastly, Kenya 3.4 million, as reported by News24

These nations have been given an Integrated Phase Classification 3 (IPC3), which is defined as households that have either:

Food consumption gaps that are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition; OR  Are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies. 

News24 also reports that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2020, “approximately 323.3 million people in Africa or 29.5% of the population ran out of food or went without eating that year.”

The United Nations-(UN News) reports that “276 million people around the globe were already facing hunger at the beginning of the year. That number could rise by 47 million if the war continues according to the WFP (World Food Pogramme), with the steepest rise in Sub-Saharan Africa.” (emphasis added)

Industrialization to End Hunger

With abundant hect-acres of fertile soil and arable land, coupled with many water systems, African nations should have already achieved food self-sufficiency. Ironically, sadly, most nations are farther away from being able to feed their populations through their own production of food than they were during the 1960 and 1970s.

African nations are undermining their own economies by importing large amounts of food. According to President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, “Africa’s annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent.”  

In reality, Africa’s huge import bill is hindering nations from developing the capacity to eliminate poverty and hunger. Nations using their precious foreign exchange to buy food that they can grow themselves is more than counter-productive. What is needed to end food insecurity is for Africa nations to build their own robust agricultural and manufacturing sectors. There are oligarchical financial interests, steeped in the colonial mind-set, who do not want Africa nations to develop, to become industrialized. There are others, even well-meaning, who believe that African nations should remain agrarian societies. As an expert in physical economics, I can assure you that this approach will fail, and will only lead to more poverty and death.

President George Washington’s brilliant Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, fortunately won the battle against Thomas Jefferson and the slaved based agrarian South, to create a manufacturing industry in the newly established United states. Africa must do the same

With sixty percent of the world’s arable land that remains uncultivated, it is obvious that Africa can significantly increase food production in the short term. However, this does not obviate the need for rapid expansion of industry, beyond those businesses devoted only to the extraction of resources. Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars for imported wheat and rice that can be grown indigenously, that money should be investmented in infrastructure, and on valued-added production.

David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, visiting Sanaa, Yemen, September 2018, where the world’s worst hunger crisis continues to unfold. (courtesy WFP/Marco Frattini, September 2018)

Aid is Insufficient

David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, May 11, that $5 billion is needed to avoid famine and migration due to COVID-19 and the loss of food from Ukraine. He told the Senators, “ If you do not respond now, we will see destabilization, mass starvation, and migration on an unprecedented scale, and at a far greater cost. A massive influx of refugees to Western countries could soon become a reality.”

Morally we are compelled to acquiesce to Beasley’s legitimate request, although it is doubtful that the nations of the advanced sector will actually come up with the money.

How many hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended on providing aid to countries in need? What would be the results if an equivalent amount of money were spent on development. Emergency aid is required to prevent our fellow human beings from perishing. However, emergency aid does not contribute to creating durable economic transformation that would eliminate the conditions that are the cause for food deprivation. Aid does not increase the productive powers of labor; it does not increase the productivity of the economy. While we can do no less than be the Good-Samaritan, what is the tangible long term effect of exclusively delivering aid?

Share of population access to electricity in Africa

Infrastructure Crucial

Deficits in critical categories of hard infrastructure, especially roads, railroads, and electricity, is depriving nations of precisely those elements of physical economy required to increase the production of real wealth. Why don’t the G7 and European donor nations “grant” an equivalent amount of “aid money” for investment in infrastructure and building nascent industries? Disbursing money either through outright endowments or long-term low interest loans for development has the potential to change the dynamics of poverty and hunger plaguing African nations.

For example, consider irrigation. Bringing water to farmland would substantially increase food production. Most African nations irrigate 5% or less of their land. Worse, many nations still depend on backward modes of subsistence farming. What would be required to double or triple irrigation? Primarily, energy to pump the water is essential, but African nations are energy starved. Pipes to transport the water. Advanced machinery would be required to harvest the increased yields. Roads and railroads would be needed to transport the crops to markets.

Given Africa’s untapped agricultural potential, with investments in these basic classifications of infrastructure; hunger could be eliminated.

In October 2020, in response to an earlier food crisis, I delineated the following necessary actions (below) that should have been taken. These measures are still valid today, and should be implemented now, without delay.

Emergency Action Required

  1. We must urgently deliver food to starving people. One single human being dying from starvation is intolerable. Every creative soul that perishes is a loss to the human race.
  2. Nations producing food surpluses must allocate food shipments to feed starving people.
  3. Logistics for delivery will have to done in a military fashion or directly by qualified military personnel supported by governments.
  4. Roads, railways, and bridges constructed for emergency food delivery can serve as an initial platform for expansion to a higher plateau of infrastructure required for economic growth.
  5. Debts must be suspended to enable nations to direct money away from onerous payments of debt service to growing and distributing food.
  6. A new financial architecture-a New Bretton Woods must be established with a facility to issue credit to finance critical categories of infrastructure necessary for economic growth and food production.

Read my earlier posts:

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production 

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.