A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

Lawrence Freeman

September 20, 2018

The world is witnessing an increase in attacks on Africa’s relationships with China in various articles, as well as low-level, unthoughtful, messages on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Not only does that content intend to demonize China as the new colonial empire of Africa, but it also includes vulgar demeaning caricatures of African Heads of State.

Could the reason for the uptick of these kinds of diatribes be related to the successful September 3-4, Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, attended by leaders from almost every African nation? China has reached out to Arica and formed a special relationship which is being embraced by African Heads of State. It should be clear to any intelligent historian, that China is not acting as an Imperialist manner towards Africa.

However, what has been conspicuously, egregiously omitted from this unsubstantiated vilification of China, is the history of Western nations and institutions, which have acted as an Imperialist power towards Africa. The latest accusation is that China is deliberately entrapping African nations into unpayable debt. However, this is precisely what the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, along with their allies in the City of London and Wall Street did to Africa immediately following the “Winds of Change.”

The motivation for this propaganda barrage is that China via FOCAC and the Belt & Road Initiative is offering African nations a pathway toward growth uncontrolled by the financial predators in the City of London and Wall Street. Contrary to the myth that China is stealing African resources; which the Western powers did first under slavery, then under colonialism, and have continued under neo-colonialism, China is actually providing credit for physical infrastructure; the sin qua non to spur economic growth.

Debt and Credit for What?  

A pervasive and quite serious problem affecting well-intentioned individuals from all corners of the globe is the lack of understanding of what actually creates economic growth. Neither money, nor financial transactions, nor derivatives, nor speculation, nor rising stock markets, nor the market place are the cause of growth or synonymous with real economic growth.

Credits issued for infrastructure; water, energy, rail, roads, healthcare, and education, identifying the most vital categories, if properly organized, leads to an increase in the productivity i.e. the economic power of the society. This is measured by the ability of society to increase its physical output from one production cycle to the next. By utilizing advanced technologies embedded in new capital equipment, including infrastructure, farmers and workers can produce more efficiently. Simply providing abundant energy, high-speed railroads, and water inputs to an African nation would lead to a jump in economic output.  Shortly after the death of President Kennedy, the US ceased its commitment to assist Africa nations in expanding their infrastructure.

China is committed to lending, issuing credit-yes creating a debt to fund long-term investment in infrastructure. Credit directed in this way is good debt. With non-usurious interest rates over 15-20 years, the loan can be retired from the profit it generates to society. This form of debt is not equivalent to the hundreds of billions of dollars African nations were forced to pay to the financial capitals of the world for loans to cover rigged terms of trade, and currency devaluations.

If you study the American System of Political Economy with its cornerstone; Alexander Hamilton’s national credit policy, you will realize that China is emulating the best of America’s past. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt, who successfully applied Hamilton’s principle  to rebuild the Depression riddled US with state issued credits, would have little trouble understanding the principles of President Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road.

Economics and the Common Good

There is a deeper level to comprehending economic growth. Every human being is united by a universal principle often expressed as the “common good of mankind.” Yes, all human beings regardless of religion, color, ethnicity, or place of birth, share a “common interest.” We are all created with the power of creativity. Not logic, not deduction, not induction, but the power to hypothesis new ideas. The power of discovery, to discern new principles of the universe that we previously did not know but were there waiting to be revealed to the human mind. These scientific discoveries spawn new technologies which are the primary source of economic growth. Thus, it is the responsibility, nay the obligation of every society to nurture and develop that creative potential innate in all its citizens from birth to death.

For all citizens to realize their potential, live productive lives, and raise their families without fear of hunger and security, a nation must have the economic means to expand the total physical wealth of society over succeeding generations.  An advanced industrialized nation requires a healthy manufacturing sector, which is also an essential component of a productive agriculture sector.  The absence of robust agro-manufacturing economies in Africa is crime along with its huge deficit in infrastructure.

Sadly, the West does not have the vision to assist African nations in overcoming these deficiencies. China in all, but name has launched the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for Africa.

Among the eight major initiatives that President Xi laid out at the Africa-China Summit, China will:

1.Promote industrialization; 2. Support agricultural assistance programs; 3. Work with the African Union (Agenda 2063) to formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation program; 4. Increase its imports from Africa, in particular non-resources products; 5. Train 1,000 high-caliber Africans for training in innovation sectors; provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships; and sponsor seminar and workshop opportunities for 50,000 Africans and invite 2,000 African students to visit China for exchanges.

China has come to understand that it is the common interest of its own country, and in the fact all nations, is to help Africa develop productive industrialized societies not dependent on revenue from one resource or one crop. Under these improved conditions, hunger and poverty, the underlying causes for conflict, can be eliminated. Great progress can be accomplished in Africa and the world, if the US and Europe acquire the wisdom to join China’s Spirit of the Belt & Road

Below are three articles with excerpts that provide useful background to understanding Africa’s productive relationship with China.

“The recently concluded China-Africa Summit offers a new deal for Africa’s recovery. The Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has the making of a 21st century equivalent of the Marshall Plan, America’s massive economic rescue programe that President Harry Truman unveiled for Europe on April 3, 1948.

AFRICA’S INDUSTRIALISATION

On its part, China is taking a Pan-African approach targeting projects with regional impact such as Kenya’s standard gauge railway.   Like the Marshall Plan that prioritized the reindustrialization of Europe after the war, China is laudably giving a pride of place to Africa’s industrialisation.

Industrialization was top on the list of President Xi Jinping’s eight-point plan to guide Chinese aid to Africa in the next three years. Recipients of Marshall Plan had to invest 60 percent of these funds in industry. The funds also involved Technical Assistance Programes to create a skilled labor force to drive industrialization.”       Read: China’s Marshall Plan for Africa-Debt or New Deal ?

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“Speaking as the Chairman of the African Union, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, expressed the will of Africa very clearly: “Africa wishes to be a full and integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative.” And in spite of the myriad attacks in the Western media regarding the Belt and Road’s alleged “debt trap”—and its description of China’s extensive involvement in Africa as a “new colonialism”—this “fake news” has not blurred the vision of Africa’s leaders, who have stayed focused on the future of the continent.

Ramaphosa also praised the work of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “Why do we support the Belt and Road Initiative?” “Because we are confident that this initiative, which effectively complements the work of FOCAC, will reduce the costs and increase the volume of trade between Africa and China.  It will encourage the development of Africa’s infrastructure, a critical requirement for meaningful regional and continental integration.” Read: FOCAC Summit: Turning Point in History

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“It can be said that this sentiment is near universal among the African nations now participating in the BRI. Indeed the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit, “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.” Read: Changes Underway as FOCAC Convenes

New Course on African History: The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa

I will be teaching this course in the Fall at the Community College Baltimore County, and Frederick Community College, Maryland, USA

The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa

New! The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa
7 sessions, 14 hours

Africa is the poorest continent with hundreds of millions of people living on $2 per day. African nations have the greatest deficit in basic infrastructure like roads, rail, and energy. It’s the only continent where cholera is endemic. African nations are also spending billions of dollars importing food when they have an abundant amount of fertile land. Learn about the causes for Africa’s current condition due to it’s unique history of slavery and colonialism. With the recent China-Africa Summit-(FOCAC) in Beijing, one should be optimistic that economic conditions on the continent are changing for the better

Instructor: Lawrence Freeman has been involved in Africa for almost 25 years and has made over two dozen visits to the nations of Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, and Ethiopia. He has studied the history and political economy of several Africa nations. Lawrence has attended weekly seminars and forums on Africa in Washington DC including Congressional hearings on Africa. As a result, Lawrence has attained an in-depth knowledge of both historical and current developments of Africa. He has written dozens of articles analyzing the political economies of Africa nations including Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He specializes in promoting policies for physical economic development, and has presented his ideas to government and non-government circles alike in both Africa and the United States. Lawrence is the Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and played a prominent role in the International Conference to Save Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria from Feb 26-28, 2018. He is promoting the Transaqua water project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad

LR565 The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa
5-Digit  Number: 16290
Tue, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., 11/6 – 12/18 Location:  Conference Center/E-106
Tuition: $50.00          Fee: $114.00     Total: $164.00
MD residents age 60+ pay fee only

FOCAC Summit: President Xi “China and Africa will walk together towards prosperity.”

{I have been telling my friends for years that China-Africa cooperation will change the African continent. With investments in vital categories of infrastructure, African nations can industrialize and develop advanced agro-manufacturing sectors. Economic sovereignty is now possible for African nations after 500 years of slavery and colonialism.

This recent FOCAC summit has placed Africa-China relations on center stage in front of the whole world. As Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Union Commission said at the conference; China-Africa cooperation is a solid foundation for a new international order.(Watch the video of his remarks below)  

I will be writing more on the significance of the new era of China-Africa cooperation, but for now, we can and should rejoice. The world has changed for the better, even though there are dangerous pitfalls ahead. }

 

China To Invest $60 Billion in Africa over the Next Three Years; Xi Says: ‘Explore a New Path of International Relations’

Sept. 3, 2018

Chinese President Xi Jinping in his keynote of the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), announced that China would be investing $60 billion in Africa over the next three years, which would include $15 billion of interest-free and concessional loans, $20 billion of credit lines, a $10 billion special fund for development financing, a $5 billion special fund for financing imports from Africa, and encouraging investment by Chinese companies to the tune of $10 billion in Africa.

In his speech, President Xi said that China-Africa cooperation was based on the following principles;  The Five “No’s”:

No interference in African countries and pursuit of development paths that fit their national conditions;

No interference in African countries’ internal affairs;

No imposition of China’s will on African countries;

No attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa;

No seeking of selfish political gains in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.

“We welcome Africa to the fast train of Chinese development,” Xi said. Central to the cooperation has been the Belt and Road Initiative, which in Africa is in synergy with the African Union’s “Agenda 2063,” which marks the centennial of the official end of colonialism in Africa in 1963.

President Xi laid out the eight major initiatives that China would implement in collaboration with Africa in the coming three years:

1. In industrial promotion, China will set up a China-Africa trade expo in China in order to encourage Chinese investment in Africa.
2. It will also carry out 50 agricultural assistance programs, provide $147 million in food aid to African countries affected by natural disasters and send 500 agricultural experts to Africa.
3. With regard to infrastructure, China together with the African Union will formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation program.
4. With regard to trade, China will increase its imports from Africa, in particular non-resources products.
5. On green development, China will undertake 50 projects focusing on climate change, ocean, desertification prevention and control, and wildlife protection.
6. On capacity building, China will set up 10 workshops in Africa to offer vocational training for young Africans. It will also train 1,000 high-caliber Africans for training in innovation sectors; provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships; and sponsor seminar and workshop opportunities for 50,000 Africans and invite 2,000 African students to visit China for exchanges.
7. In health care, China will upgrade 50 medical and health aid programs for Africa. On people-to-people exchanges, China will set up an institute of African studies and enhance exchanges with Africa on civilization.
8. And on peace and security, China will set up a China-Africa peace and security fund and continue providing free military aid to the African Union and will support countries in the Sahel region, and those bordering the Gulf of Aden and the Gulf of Guinea, in upholding security and combating terrorism in their regions.

African Union’s Moussa Faki Mahamat, Addresses FOCAC Conference

Please review this excellent speech by Faki Mahamat, Chair of the African Union Commission, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation. In his remarks the AU Chair called forthe urgent reform of the international financial institutions…That China-Africa cooperation is a solid foundation for a new international order…Our partnership [with China] can reshape the world’s geo-political landscape”He went onto say that the AU welcomes the Belt and Road Initiative and its synergy with AU’s “Agenda 2063.”

 

Presidents Ramaphosa and Kegame: Africa Supports the Belt and Road Initiative

In his speech to the FOCAC Summit, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, the Belt and Road Initiative was in the interests of the African nations. China-Africa cooperation, he said, was in the interests of the African nations. “In the values that it promotes, in the manner that it operates, and in the impact that it has on African countries. FOCAC refutes the view that a new colonialism is taking hold in Africa, as our detractors would have us believe...It is premised on the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a vision that has been crafted in Africa, by Africans. It is a vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”

“Why do we support the Belt and Road Initiative?” Ramaphosa asked. “Because we are confident that this initiative, which effectively complements the work of FOCAC, will reduce the costs and increase the volume of trade between Africa and China. It will encourage the development of Africa’s infrastructure, a critical requirement for meaningful regional and continental integration.”

Ramaphosa was followed by Rwandan President Paul Kagame, the current rotating chairman of the African Union. “Africa wishes to be a full and integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative. The gains will be enjoyed by everyone.” Kagame praised in particular the personal commitment of President Xi to this initiative. “He has visited every region of our continent, including my country Rwanda. China has proven to be a win-win partner and dear friend,” Kagame said. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave support to the message expressed by the African leaders, who said that “it is vital that current and future development cooperation contributes to peace, security and to building a ‘community of shared future for mankind,'” reiterating a concept that lies at the basis of President Xi’s conception of a new form of international relations. Guterres also expressed support for the importance of the strengthening South-South cooperation.

 

Big Plus for Africa: Belt & Road, BRICS, and Africa-China Summit, Converging for Development

{Heading into the 7th  Forum On China-Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC) we are already witnessing significant changes in the physical infrastructure of Africa as a result of China’s One Belt and Road Initiative, the BRICS and previous FOCAC summits. Next week’s China-Africa Summit portends greater cooperation for investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, leading to the long over due industrialization of the continent. Thus finally liberating Africa from the effects of 500 years of slavery and colonialism. In addition to China, many nations are investing in Africa in constructive ways, but unfortunately not the United States, which is retreating from Africa. President Trump can and should reverse this trend by joining China’s Belt and Road development of this great continent, which in less than two generations will be the population center of world. Please review the articles below.}

Chinese Envoy to FOCAC: `Twin-Engines’ of BRI and FOCAC Will Transform Africa

Aug. 29, 2018 –Zhou Yuxiao, Chinese Ambassador to the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), spoke of the historic impact of the Sept. 3-4 FOCAC summit, in an interview with Xinhua yesterday. His observations come as many African heads of state are already arriving in Beijing, even before the Sept. 3-4 formal sessions of the Forum take place. Founded in 2000, FOCAC has had two previous heads-of-state meetings, one in 2006 and one in 2015.

Zhou said that the China-Africa collaboration had proceeded in small steps, but successfully over the years. All the while, China’s ability to “walk the walk,” and Africa’s success in collaborating, made things work, to the point of widespread trust and effectiveness. At the 2015 FOCAC meeting in South Africa, China pledged financing in the range of $60 billion for implementing ten cooperation plans announced at the time. Now financing is also coming from the Silk Road Fund, the BRICS New Development Bank, and private Chinese firms.

Xinhua summarized, “A key aspect to watch, Zhou said, will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans.” This year, diplomatic relations were established between the African Union Commission (currently headed by Rwanda) and FOCAC. Zhou referred to the the BRI and FOCAC being “twin engines” for driving cooperation further in Africa. Many African leaders and experts are forecasting what lies ahead.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, said in an Aug. 22 Xinhua interview, that the upcoming summit, “is a landmark in the world aiming to improve itself for the survival of the human race, which faces multiple challenges today … the commitment is not only to specific countries in Africa, but to Africa in general.” China is a “true friend” of Lesotho, not “by word of mouth … but through actions, actions that push us to go from the situation of being underdeveloped to a situation of being developed. What more can you wish for from a friend than to stretch a hand of friendship in order to raise you up when you were flat on your stomach?”

Thabane further pointed out that relations with China are “mutually beneficial.” In the past, for Western countries, the benefit was “always for what they call `the Mother country.’ Now, China is not like that, that is why we feel like we have a true and loyal friend in China.”

Hisham AbuBakr Metwally, an Egyptian researcher with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry, wrote an Aug. 21 opinion article for CGTN, reviewing accomplishments in rail, agriculture, energy, education, and other areas in Africa, thanks to work with China to date. {“FOCAC — Unprecedented Successful Mechanism, Reshaped Africa”} But he forecast more and bigger projects and a bright future. “After the completion of all mega infrastructure projects and industrial zones, the continent will change completely.”

Note that CGTN has prepared a five-episode documentary entitled “A New Era of China-Africa Cooperation,” to show the development of African countries and to present the achievements of China-Africa cooperation.

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China-Africa Research Initiative-(CARI) at Johns Hopkins in Washington DC, provides a useful report on the progress of China-Africa collaboration. It also dispels the myth that Chinese loans are bankrupting all Africa nations. Many decades before China started investing in Africa, the continent had been suffocated by hundreds of billions of dollars of parasitic debt from Western institutions.

Excerpt from its conclusion highlight:

“Belt and Road. The language of the 2018 FOCAC will likely include more mentions of the Belt and Road Initiative, given that it is a priority of President Xi Jinping. Chinese contractors are keen to win Chinese finance for infrastructure projects desired by African governments, many of whom have been inspired by China’s industrialization and infrastructure capacity. Chinese-financed infrastructure projects in Africa such as the standard gauge railway transport projects in Kenya and Ethiopia, and new trade and industrial zones in Djibouti, Egypt, and Morocco, have been marketed as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Read the complete report: The Path Ahead: The 7th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

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This article discusses the “deepening relations” with Africa by the rest of world, and appropriately asks: “Where does this Leave the United States?” Read: The World is Coming to Sub-Saharan Africa. Where is the United States?

 

“The Path to Growth Has No End” China-Africa Summit (FOCAC)

President of Togo: “The Path to Growth Has No End”

{Togo First}–Ahead of the upcoming  China-Africa Cooperation Summit-(FOCAC) in Beijing, Togo’s President, Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, gave an interview to Chinese TV CGTN on August 23.

During the interview, the leader praised relations between his country and China over the past 40 years. He declared also that the coming summit will further improve these relations.

Faure Essozimna Gnassingbe, optimistically proclaimed, “The path to growth has no end.” President Gnassingbe’s interview, and the collaboration between Togo and China in the One Belt-One Road Initiative, encapsulates in one African country, the optimism that is radiating through each and all 54 countries in Africa, in the realization that the age of colonialism is ending and the era of development is underway.

As reported by {Togofirst.com}, CGTN asked, “Which types of China companies do you wish to attract to Togo?”. President Gnassingbe responded, “[Chinese] investments have helped Togo grow and advance in its development. However, you know that the path to growth has no end. There is no limitation to our progress, so far. We have achieved some progress, but more can be done…. Regarding our preferred sectors for new investments, I would obviously say agricutlure, since it is the most important for our economy. Our agricultural sector needs to be modernized and industrialized, transformed into an agro-industry. I would say we need Chinese firms to invest in that sector.”

Later in the interview, the Togolese President added, “While some economic powers try to do things on their own, the foundation of the relationship between China and Africa lies in dialogue, focusing on a win-win cooperation. Both sides win…. In regards to economy, I believe we will have the opportunity to discuss a major project, which I praise, the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project. We will discuss how Africa can contribute to this ambitious, generous and revolutionary project….[I]t is quite rare to see a country, even a huge one such as China which is currently the world’s second leading economic power, launch such a major project that would involve almost every continent.”

He added that he recently read President Xi Jinping’s book on ways to fight poverty.

President Faure Gnassingbe has a stuffed schedule in China from Sept. 2 through 10. He will attend the FOCAC forum from Sept. 3-4. He will attend Sept. 5 hearings with Chinese financial and state institutions, including China Merchant Group, the Eximbank of China (which is very active in Togo), the China Development Bank, as well as the managing director of the BRICS bank. He will meet with Xi Jinping the following day, to be followed by a trip to Zhiejiand, China’s fourth largest economic province, where discussions will be held on implementation of Togo’s National Development Plan. 

Foreign Minister Wang Yi Previews Upcoming FOCAC Summit–‘A New Phase of China-Africa Development’

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi outlined the format and the program for the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation Summit in Beijing, which will be held on September 3-4.

The Summit, which Wang Yi characterized as a “reunion of the China-Africa family” will have four major foci:

1) it will renew the call for a shared future for China and Africa bound by their common interests;

2) it will initiate a new phase of China-Africa development, enhancing the African countries’ participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, and focusing on upgrading cooperation on trade and infrastructure and people-to-people relations;

3) it will introduce pathways to a higher level of cooperation over the coming three years, and there will be the signing of a number of cooperation agreements with some of the countries, focusing on areas critical for Africa;

4) it will enhance the story of China-African cooperation historically with new measures to be introduced, which are people-centered. Wang Yi also said that there would be a great focus on young people in order to carry the relationship further down the road.

The morning of the first day will consist of an opening dialogue between participants, focusing on issues of practical cooperation, increasing synergy and improving trade ties. President Xi and the other African leaders will participate in this discussion, as well as business leaders and other delegates. In the afternoon, there will be the opening ceremony where President Xi will give a keynote speech. This will be followed by more formal discussion will take place, focusing on industrial cooperation, the development of trade, health issues, peace and security issues. The discussion will be tailored to the needs of the African countries. The co-chairs of this meeting will be President Xi, and Cyril Ramaphosa, South African President and the chairman of the African National Congress. In the evening there will be a grand banquet and entertainment program for the delegates.

On September 4 there will a round-table discussion, with the morning session chaired by President Ramaphosa and the afternoon by President Xi. They will discuss the three-year plan moving toward the year 2021. On the sidelines, there will be bilateral meetings with President Xi and the African leaders. Xi’s wife, Peng Liyuan,  will also be chairing a forum on AIDS.

China at Center of Zimbabwe’s Electricity and Total Development

Zimbabwe will require 11,000 megawatts of electricity to achieve its vision of becoming a middle-income country  according to its 2030 Plan, stated Ministry of Energy Director of Policy and Planning Benson Munyaradzi.  Munyaradzi stated, in Xinhua’s paraphrase Aug. 25, that “the huge demand for power presents vast opportunities for China to further invest in Zimbabwe’s energy sector.”  He spoke at a two-day international conference on China’s Belt and Road Initiative organized by the University of Zimbabwe in conjunction with the Confucius Institute. The ideas and plans worked out at the conference will, undoubtedly, flow into the Sept. 3-4 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation conference to be held in Beijing, at which most of Africa’s 54 countries will participate, as well as the head of the African Union Commission.

Zimbabwe, a landlocked country of 16 million people in southern Africa currently has 2,000 MW of installed generating capacity. So to get to the 11,000 MW target, would require building 9,000 MW of capacity, which is a tall order, but which China, in collaboration with Zimbabwe, has shown it can meet. In March, Sinohydro, the Chinese state-owned hydro-power engineering and construction company completed the 300 MW Kariba South Hydro Power expansion project, and in June, Sinohyrdo began the expansion by a further 670 MW of the coal-fired Hwange Power station.

But as in many African countries, the power-generation is one aspect of the capital goods transfer and infrastructure building that China is engaged in to help Zimbabwe to leap forward. China has pledged to set up a “cutting-edge” urological-surgical center in Zimbabwe, and in an agreement signed in July 2017, Beijing pledged to send medical experts, supply medical equipment, and train Zimbabwean doctors in China. China also built a supercomputer center at the University of Zimbabwe, making it the fifth African country to host a supercomputer.

China will also create the 1,700 km Trans-Zambezi Railway, connecting Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique on the Zambezi River, from Binga, Zimbabwe to Nampula near the Mozambique coast. The first phase of this project consists of a 400 km railway between Shamva, Zimbabwe and Moatize, Mozambique.

At the Aug. 24-25 conference at the University of Zimbabwe, University Dean Charity Manyeruke underscored that the BRI offers an exciting opportunity for Africa “to leapfrog its economic development. Zimbabwe is under sanctions from the West, and China stands as a very important strategic partner.”

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

Ethiopia‘s Optimistic, But Challenging Path Forward

Lawrence K Freeman

August 3, 2018

On June 28, thousands upon thousands of smiling Ethiopians poured into the Washington DC convention center to listen to their new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed. They began gathering in the morning hours before the noon starting time of the event. Standing for hours, on a line that snaked around the convention center, with the last of the crowd finally entering the hall at 3pm. I was fortunate to witness this joyous occasion. The entire ground floor hall of the convention center was filled, as far as the eye could see, by the Ethiopian community that came to celebrate the new leadership of their nation.

Only three days earlier on July 26, in Addis Ababa, Simegnew Bekele, the chief engineer of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam-GERD, was found murdered in his car. His assassination was followed by a large funeral at Meskel Square where he was mourned by tens of thousands.  His body was taken to Holy Trinity Church where he was honored by being buried alongside Emperor Haile Selassie, and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

The juxtaposition of these events, an ocean apart, foretell the challenging course ahead for Ethiopia. A future brimming with optimism, but fraught with danger. There is more than symbolism involved.

Progress Under Attack

Engineer Bekele, in the minds of Ethiopians, embodied a true patriotic spirit, who led their nation forward. He will be remembered for his lasting commitment to develop Ethiopia into growing sovereign economy in the Horn of Africa. Before overseeing the construction of the GERD in 2011, he worked on the Gibe I and II dams. The completed Gibe III hydro-electric project generating 1,872 megawatts, has doubled Ethiopia’s power supply. When the construction of the GERD- 6,450 megawatts-is finished, Ethiopia will be the second largest producer of electricity in Sub-Sahara Africa behind South Africa. The multi billion-dollar GERD, is being built with help of China, but financed by Ethiopia. The GERD is on the Blue Nile close to the border of Sudan and will be the biggest dam in Africa at 1.8 kilometers wide and 155 meters high.

Ethiopia’s ambitions to create a modern-advanced economy and lift its 100 million people out of poverty is evident in its commitment to also expand its rail and road infrastructure. The operational Addis-Ababa to Djibouti electrified train (the first of its kind in Sub-Saharan Africa) will transport manufactured goods from Ethiopia’s industrial parks, to the port of Djibouti for export. Their Growth Transformation Plan II (2014-2019) emphasizes Ethiopia’s intention to expand its manufacturing sector by 25%.

It is Ethiopia’s unwavering devotion to progress to “eliminate poverty, not manage it” that is the real target of Simegnew Bekel’s assassination. 

(Artist drawing of completed GERD, whose completion will allow Ethiopia to become an energy exporter)                       

Abiy’s Life Threatened

In a mere four months since assuming office in April of this year, the 42-year-old Prime Minster has created a fervor in the population, causing waves of unbridled excitement, not seen since the overthrow of the bloody Derg regime in 1991 by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front led by Meles Zinawi.  In what is being called a revolution, Prime Minister Abiy has released thousands of political prisoners, reached out to all ethnic regions of the nation, and unexpectedly ended the state of war with Eritrea in a ceremony held in the Eritrean capital Asmara on July 8. By taking this giant step to normalize relations with its neighbor Eritrea after a generation of armed hostility, Prime Minster Abiy has now become a living symbol for peace and security in the Horn of Africa.

Let us not forget that a month before coming to the United States, Prime Minister Abiy escaped an assassination attempt when a grenade was thrown at a rally where he addressed millions of his fellow citizens.  Although he was not harmed, over one hundred were wounded and two died from this attack on June 23, in Addis Ababa’s famous Meskel Square.

Steeped in the ideas of Meles Zenawi, Ethiopia, unique among African nations, has demonstrated an understanding of principles fundamental to economic growth. To wit: the necessity for the state to direct public credit into vital categories of infrastructure necessity for the economic security of a nation (dirigisme). The government not only has the right, but the obligation to intervene into the economy to foster “pro-growth” polices that benefit the general welfare of its people. Ethiopia’s relative success in this effort has produced enemies internally, regionally, and internationally, who oppose any progress towards achieving economic stability in the Horn of Africa. Economic independence by Africa nations challenges the dominance of financial predators, who still view Africa as a pawn on their “geo-political” chessboard.

Author with Ethiopians inside DC Convention Center

Ethiopia Should Stay the Course

For many years there has been enormous pressure by the international financial community including the IMF to force Ethiopia to “liberalize” its economy by; decentralizing its economy, reducing regulations, allowing foreign investment in state-owned enterprises, and deregulating its banking system. Thus far Ethiopia has resisted, but under increasing duress, there are reports that some in the leadership of Ethiopia may be ready to open the floodgates to intrusions by international financiers, who are not interested in the welfare of the citizens.

Ethiopia, a poor country that suffered from a wrecked economy twenty-five years ago, has emerged as a leader on the Sub-Saharan continent. Ethiopia’s commitment to expanding its physical infrastructure has served the nation well, though it still faces serious impediments. Providing meaningful employment for the 500,000-young people, who are seeking to join the work force each year will remain a significant challenge. However, Ethiopia should not permit itself to be coerced into deviating from its thus far successful economic policy.

Putin To Light Up Africa; African Leaders Gather at BRICS Summit

Russia will light up Africa – Putin

Russia will light up Africa - Putin
The African continent is in huge need of energy investments, and Russia could become one of its key partners, according to President Vladimir Putin speaking at BRICS summit in Johannesburg.

“I would especially like to note that Russia is planning to step up its assistance in development of national energy in African states,” said the Russian president during the BRICS-Africa Outreach panel on Friday.

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Commercial port of Novorossiysk, Russia © Vladimir Astapkovich

The leaders of governments of BRICS member states (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) were holding a panel dedicated to economics cooperation between the bloc and African countries. The rationale behind the BRICS Plus concept is to create a platform for greater interaction and partnerships amongst countries to win more power for emerging economies globally.

According to Putin, Russia is in talks with Angola, Mozambique and Gabon on implementing promising oil and gas projects. “In the field of nuclear energy, where Russia is the technological leader, we offer African partners to build an industry from scratch,” the Russian president said. These projects are crucial for Africa since about 600 million people on the continent live without electricity.

Energy is not the only sphere where Russia and Africa could cooperate, according to Putin. “Russian business shows interest in working with African partners in a wide range of areas, including agriculture, healthcare, the development of mass communications, geology and subsoil use,” Putin said.

As examples, Putin mentioned Angola, where Russia’s Alrosa is interested in mining diamonds, a joint venture between Russia and Burundi on the production of lighting products for exports to East Africa, and agriculture projects in Senegal.

Modi Emphasizes India’s Commitment to Africa’s Development at the BRICS

July 27, 2018

Addressing a BRICS Outreach Dialogue Session today in presence of a large number African heads of state, Indian Premier Narendra Modi said: “The coming together of so many African leaders during this program is a wonderful thing. India’s ties with Africa are time-tested. The Government of India has deepened engagement with Africa. Economic and development cooperation between India and Africa have touched new heights,” India’s WION TV news reported from Johannesburg.

Among the African heads of state were: Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Yoweri Museveni (Uganda), Edgar Lungu (Zambia), Hage Geingob (Namibia), João Lourenço (Angola), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe), Ali Bongo Ondimba (Gabon), Mokgweetsi Masisi (Botswana) and Peter Mutharika (Malawi). The African leaders were invited by the host nation, South Africa, to discuss ways of pursuing inclusive growth on the continent with the BRICS heads of state, reported China CGTN television network.

South Africa’s BRICS website points out that since it last hosted the summit in 2013, all BRICS hosts have included an out reach format: “In 2013, South Africa took the initiative to activate the provision for a BRICS Dialogue with partners from the Global South, as per the Sanya Declaration that stated: ‘We are open to increasing engagement and cooperation with non-BRICS countries, in particular emerging and developing countries, and relevant international and regional organisations.'”

In his address, Modi, highlighting the ongoing cooperation between India and the African nations and welcoming the effort for regional economic integration by the African countries, he said “in the last four years, we have had more than 100 visits and meetings at the levels of heads of state and various government levels and these have taken our economic relations and development cooperation to a new high. India has offered 180 lines of credit worth $11 billion in more than 40 countries in Africa.”

In addition, he said that “every year 8,000 African students get scholarships to study in India” and pointed out that his country now has an e-network in 48 African countries for telemedicine.

 

 

China and US Should Jointly Partner with Africa to Transform the Continent

It has been my firm belief for several years that, if China and the US jointly partnered with African nations, we can eliminate poverty and hunger across the continent. Development of Africa is not a “zero sum game.” Africa’s infrastructure deficit is estimated in the trillions of dollars for energy, rail, ports, roads, new waterways, and much more. There is no part of Africa that could not be developed, if the two largest economies worked with African nations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an excellent vehicle for such collaboration between Presidents Xi, and Trump. Below is a useful article reporting on US and Chines companies working together in Africa

AFRICA IN FOCUS

“American companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa”

Yun Sun 

“When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges…

“As China expands its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, government-level U.S.-China cooperation in Africa continues to be scarce. However, this trend contrasts sharply with the growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects on the continent. Indeed, although the Chinese projects and financing have the tradition of favoring Chinese contractors and providers, the technical advantages of some American companies have made them the beneficiary of the Chinese BRI campaign…”

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South Africa: A Leader on the Continent for Nuclear Energy

Mr. Kelvin Kemm, in this in-depth interview, excerpted below, discusses the realm of energy choices for South Africa as well for other African nations. More are considering nuclear energy as a safe and reliable power source for their economies. Mr. Kemm also discusses the anti-nuclear lobby and the causes for climate change. I recommend you spend the time to read through the entire interview.

“South Africa Builds on Its Nuclear Success”

Interview With Kelvin Kemm, who is chairman of the board of the government-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, known as NECSA,

Kemm: “The current situation is that nuclear is still on the agenda exactly as it was; it’s unchanged. There’s been somewhat of a delay because of various issues—we have a new President now, as of a couple of months ago, and a new Minister of Energy. But nothing has changed with the plan to add 9,600 MW of nuclear—to the existing total from all sources of 45,000-plus MW of electric power.

“However, the wind and solar people have been making a lot noise and made quite a few inroads, in that they’ve influenced the public thinking a lot. In doing this, they’ve done quite a bit of sabotage of nuclear, in the sense that they spread false stories that nuclear power will kill your children, and that there’s an unsolved waste problem, and that South African workers will not be able to meet exacting nuclear standards.

“In contrast…We say that you’re not going to run electric trains across the country on solar and wind, you’re not going run the gold mines; but we have no objection to solar and wind where they can work—in rural areas and in small applications, dedicated applications, which is in stark contrast to the anti-nuclear people, who condemn anything that has the word “nuclear” associated with it.

“I’d like to branch into something else, that there’s a lot of nuclear technology which is not nuclear power. So while the extreme greens are attacking the nuclear concept, they’re doing a lot of other damage. For example, South Africa is currently the second biggest supplier in the world of nuclear medicine; we’re major suppliers to the United States. In Pretoria we’ve got the only nuclear reactor in the world that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, producing nuclear medicine for the world, with deliveries taking place three or four times a day, every day of the year, including weekends and public holidays. We send this nuclear medicine around the world. It is a great life-saver for cancer patients, for example, and in diagnosing other diseases.

“Last year, in 2017, I was invited to speak at the inaugural African Union Economic Platform meeting in Mauritius. One of the things I mentioned in my presentation was nuclear power for other African countries, and I was inundated with reaction.

“Half-a-dozen-plus countries, now, have already spoken to us directly, asking if we can supply nuclear power to them. Now, that is in the form of the pebble-bed modular reactor (PBMR), which South Africa developed a number of years ago. That reactor got to the point where we were ready to start constructing the first prototype, when the government of the day then put the project on ice. They didn’t actually close it down, but they put it into such low gear that it eventually stumbled to an effective standstill.

“Golly, how can you have an African country dependent on rainfall to keep the lights on? You just can’t do that. And numbers of them said they had no coal, oil, or gas.

“They said, what’s next? The anti-nuclear lobby has been going on with their hand-waving and demonstrating, to get solar and wind, but many of them have been very senseless. Hey, wait a minute—you don’t get solar at night. And so hopefully the wind blows. What happens when the wind doesn’t blow? Now, you’ve got nothing. And the
green just say, well, that’s the way Mother Nature designed it: Live with it.

“And so, many African countries have gotten wise about it, saying, wait a minute, we’re about to get suckered here into this thing. And they’ve realized now that the only solution they’ve got is to go for PBMR-type nuclear.  because with nuclear, you can stockpile fuel very easily, for a very long period of time. It’s very easy to keep a year or two, or three, or four of nuclear fuel supply in a couple of bunkers, because the volume is so small; whereas you could never keep two or three years’ worth of coal in a pile around a power station. Here in South Africa, we try to keep a two-week emergency supply of coal at power stations, and even that is a mountain of coal “the size of an Egyptian pyramid.” And they go through that very quickly”

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