INFRASTRUCTURE: Africa’s Primary Need–Case Study of Eastern Congo

INFRASTRUCTURE : AFRICA`S PRIMARY NEED
Case Study of Eastern Congo

Interview with Dr David Muhindo Biryage from AfricanAgenda.net

“Congo is sitting in the centre of Africa and when you have got no infrastructure in DRC, you are hindering the whole process of trade among the other countries of Africa.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo is roughly 2.5 million km2. That is slightly greater than the combined land surfaces of Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and Norway. The DR Congo is Africa`s second largest country. The largest being Algeria.

The capital of DR Congo is Kinshasa which is located in the west, on the border with the neighbouring Republic of Congo or Congo Brazzaville , as it is sometimes called. Bukavu is the provincial capital of South Kivu which is in the east, near the borders of Rwanda and Burundi. The distance between the 2 cities of Kinshasa and Bukavu is 2,494km which is slightly less than the distance between London and Moscow.

Congo is ranked among the 3 worst cases of national infrastructure deficits in the world. The other 2 cases being Yemen and the Central African Republic which is considered to have the highest level of extreme poverty globally.

It is not possible to traverse the DR Congo by road or railway. There is no infrastructure connecting Kinshasa with the eastern regions. It is not possible to travel from Bukavu to Kinshasa by road or rail. It is not possible to travel by road or rail from Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu to Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu. Nor is it possible to travel south from Goma or Bukavu to Bunia, the provincial capital of Ituri.

A road is defined by its composition which is tarmac. People in the eastern Congo travel on `tracks` which turn to mud and become impassable. The only other means of transport is by air which is unaffordable for 99% of the population.

Infrastructure and energy deficit causes poverty

Despite the natural resources in Congo, which are more diverse and plentiful than in any other country on Earth, the Congolese live with some of the highest levels of abject poverty globally to which we can also add alarmingly high and increasing malnutrition and food insecurity.

The really basic need for the people in Congo, and the east of Congo, particularly, is infrastructure. That basic need , besides insecurity, because we know that trade is not possible when there is no peace, but we need urgently, the people, as a nation need infrastructure.If you have no roads, you cannot have an agriculture sector developed. If you have no railway how can you carry goods from one corner of the province to another, or one province to another?”
“The whole cost of living and the poverty that Congolese are subjected to, is related to lack of infrastructure.”
“How can you establish a manufacturing sector when you don`t have electricity? And this has really been a tremendously big issue for trying to resolve the problem of food shortage in DRC because when you don`t have electricity how do you process agricultural goods!”

Building infrastructure is the most important humanitarian assistance

Talking of DRC, I really appreciate the aid ngo`s working on the ground and helping people and the funding supplied to them, but personally I think what we need is not humanitarian aid. We need infrastructure. Because humanitarian aid will make you depend on the giver. But if you have infrastructure, you are able to build your future, you are able to do something to earn a living, not for one day or two weeks or a month but for a year for years. So I think the basic need we have is for infrastructure. We need roads, we need railways, we need electricity in the country.”

Food shortage and child malnutrition are caused by lack of infrastructure

“If we have roads, the malnutrition, the food shortages cannot be had in DRC. People will be able to transport their goods, the maize, the cassava, the potatoes from one region to another. It is a very fertile country where anything can grow. The cost of transporting by air ,which is the only option for most regions, makes the cost of the food, potatoes for instance, too expensive to be affordable.The whole issue of food shortage, of malnutrition in DRC is related to lack of infrastructure, lack of roads, lack of railways, lack of electricity.”

AfCFTA : a chain is as strong as the weakest link

Congo is sitting in the centre of Africa and when you have got no infrastructure in DRC, you are hindering the whole process of trade among the other countries of Africa. For example: when you look at this map, where you see Tanzania, you cannot ship goods from Tanzania to Congo Brazzaville because in order for you to do that, you have to go through DRC! Unless you can do it by boat but if you want to use roads, you cannot because there is no infrastructure in DRC. And this has been hindering the whole process of development for the region itself and the continent as a whole. The lack of infrastructure in DRC is affecting the whole region and the whole continent.”

End insecurity by building infrastructure

“The issue of wars and insecurity in Congo is mainly not the issue of Congolese people themselves. It is an issue of the multi nationals who desire to control the minerals. For us to have the end of the war in DRC, the multi national companies have got a role to play. But also we have to acknowledge that the people on the ground are the ones executing this mission in order of controlling the minerals in DRC. And the fact that they are not working, that they have no jobs, they have no other way to earn a living, they always become a potential target for the multi national companies to use them, because they have nothing else to do to earn a living. So when you build roads in Congo, in east of Congo, Goma, Bukavu, Ituri and other provinces; when you build railways, when you set up manufacturing systems in DRC it is obvious these infrastructures are going to create jobs for the people. And these young men are going to find themselves working, having another way of earning a living.Therefore they cannot be recruited easily to go and fight or create war in the country.

So I really believe that the physical economy, the infrastructure development, it is also a key element we need to implement in DRC if we want to end the war in DRC. Because if those multi national companies come and want to create a war in an area because they want to control minerals , and they have no back-up on the ground, it is going to be difficult for them to do it. So building the physical economy is key to bringing stability in Congo and in the region.”

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: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Lawrence Freeman Discusses Key Principles For Developing Africa

Watch the 8 minute video above, where I outlined succinctly the essential policies necessary for the development of Africa. I participated in a July Fourth celebration webinar sponsored by “Watch Democracy Grow.”

In the longer video below I discuss a range of topics regarding Africa’s development. After visiting Nigeria (Kaduna and Abuja) for two weeks and Ethiopia for one week, I became more convinced than ever, that peace and stability will come only when the basic necessities of life, such as food, water, electricity, land, and railroads are provided by industrialized African nations.

Lawrence Freeman: Stories from Africa – East to West

LAWRENCE FREEMAN, POLITICAL-ECONOMIC ANALYST FOR AFRICA…
He is a highly respected researcher, writer, and speaker on a variety of topics concerning Africa, who has visited African nations 30 times.. An outspoken critic of neo colonialism and the ICC. Insisting that Africa no longer be forced to live in a dark age, he has consistently brought African governments a roadmap for transformative infrastructure projects. As the author of dozens of articles and reports on Africa. Freeman served as a member of AFRICOM’s Advisory Committee under U.S. General Kip Ward. Most recently, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Scientific Committee and is currently working on a project to replenish the shrinking Lake Chad. Presently, he is teaching courses on the history of Africa, utilizing his decades of experience and knowledge. In this video he takes us through a journey in Africa where he has just returned from visiting both Ethiopia and Nigeria.

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: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

‘Green Energy’ Means More Economic Misery for Africa

March 19, 2021

Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minister of Public Works, has published an superbly perceptive article on what the “green-decarbonization” of energy means for Africa: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels. (See excerpts below)

Many years ago, I reached the same conclusions as Mr. Moore; without abundant affordable energy, Africa will not develop, it will not eliminate poverty.  African nations need energy, lots of energy, at least 1,000 gigawatts more energy to advance their agricultural sector and industrialize their economies.  Shutting down existing fossil fueled energy or limiting future energy production to “green energy” will not only retard economic growth; it will increase poverty and kill Africans. If I may be granted a poetic license, I would say, a green energy policy for Africa will lead to a black death.

Let me interpolate my perspective on so called green energy, which  goes beyond Mr. Moore’s excellent analysis.  I find no convincing evidence that human activity is causing climate change. Rather, it is geological and astronomical cycles pertaining to our Sun and our solar system that is the primary cause of changes in our climate. Just ask yourself, how many ice ages and warming periods has our planet experienced over the last one million years before anthropomorphic activity emerged?

Unfortunately, our culture has adopted a false belief system about the nature of human beings that was revived in the 1960s under the slogan of “limits to growth.” This belief structure advocates the necessity of limiting the number of human beings and reducing human activity, guided by a false conviction that the planet is running out of resources.

This is a warmed over version of the population reduction theory espoused by the wicked Parson Thomas Malthus (1766-1834). Even though the Malthusian dogma proclaims that human population growth will exceed the resources of the planet, has been proven wrong, again, and again, Malthusianism never seems to die.

There are two principal  fallacies of this view. First, there are no fixed resources. As humankind discovers new scientific principles of the physical universe, new resources of energy are discovered, such as coal, gas, oil, nuclear, and of course electricity itself.  Second, the physical universe, which is a growing organism, is well-ordered to respond to the creative mental powers of the human mind. In scientific terms, both the universe, and the human creative mind, intrinsically cooperate in anti-entropic growth, i.e., continual expanding development. As the great philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote, there is a pre-established harmony of causality between the mind and physical substance. When we humans exercise our creative potential, we are in harmony with universe, not antithetical  to its environment.   

Sadly, for civilization, western culture, has adopted a prejudicial view of the human race itself, viewing it as an inherently evil monster wantonly destroying the environment. The folly of the “New Green Deal” as it is called, will hurt the United States, Europe, and the entirety of the advanced sector. However, for African nations  and other developing nations, it will have deadly effects sooner.

 

Nuclear energy for Africa: Fulfilling Eisenhower’s dream
Nuclear energy for Africa: Fulfilling Eisenhower’s dream.  Atoms for Peace. (Courtesy of cfact.org)

The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) is needed to come into operation post-haste for Africa to progress. The GERD has the capacity to generate over 6,000 megawatts of electricity, which could be added to the East African grid in the coming two to three years . There are other hydro-electric dams being constructed in Africa. There should be no holding back on constructing as many new power plants of all types, as quickly as possible to expand African’s access to electricity. Over 600 million Africans have no access to their nation’s electrical grid. Plus, for African nations to build their manufacturing sectors, industrial consumption of electricity will have to dramatically increase. Nuclear energy, presently fission, and in the future fusion, is the most efficient source of power for Africa. Almost one third of the continent’s nations are presently involved in various stages of acquiring nuclear energy plants. African nations should give the highest priority to securing production of nuclear energy.

(See link below for presentation of nuclear solution)

Excerpts from Gyude Moore:

“Africa has many of the poorest people in the world. For most African countries, the priority is economic growth — first in agriculture, where much of the population still works, and then in industry and services. Worries of an increased carbon footprint generated from economic growth are second to worries that growth may not happen at all

“But people in poverty don’t just need to power a single lightbulb at home; they need abundant, affordable energy at work too. Energy is essential to creating productive agriculture systems, as well as to the expansion of economic opportunity in cities, factories, and modern industries. African countries need energy to grow, and to eliminate poverty — and they can’t do it with small-scale green power projects alone.

“Africa’s first priority is to grow more food. Composting and recycling can only go so far — farmers need synthetic fertilizer to raise yields, and natural gas is the most efficient energy source for fertilizer production… 

“Poor farmers in Africa need much better access to irrigation… Large scale, energy-intensive water control projects that rely on fossil fuels must be in the mix — just as they are in wealthy countries.

Domestic food supply chains provide the vast majority of food across Sub-Saharan Africa, but they’re hampered by poor roads and the unreliable fuel supplies. Construction of much-needed roads requires energy and the transportation sector as a whole remains almost entirely dependent on oil and gas.

“Beyond agriculture, a continuous supply of power from the grid is critical for expanding factory production. Countries like Ethiopia, which have ambitions to become manufacturing powerhouses, are increasingly looking to China for the construction and operation of large-scale power projects that will provide reliable electricity. Off-grid technologies are useful for extending basic energy services but cannot power the industrial activity needed to create millions of jobs and drive economic diversification. There is no world in which Africa can meet its energy needs with carbon-neutral power plants and off-grid solutions

“The continent’s needs are too great to be met solely with current energy technologies…” (all emphasis is added)

Read: Economic growth in Africa will not be achieved by a ban on fossil fuels.

Biden’s Climate Plan Has a Nuclear Solution

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: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Ethiopia’s Addis Ababa to Djibouti Railway: A Model for the Role of Infrastructure in Fighting Hunger

Below is a useful article from EIR magazine that correctly emphasizes the role of infrastructure in providing food for Africa. The authors highlight Ethiopia, an East African nation that has aggressively pursed the expansion of infrastructure to advance their economy.

November 16, 2020

Click to access 19-25_4745.pdf

World Food Program Awarded Nobel Peace Prize. WFP Dir, Beasley Responds With “Call to Action” to Stop Starvation

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)

October 19, 2020

I whole heartedly congratulate the World Food Program (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Noble Peace Prize “for its efforts to combat hunger.” I also full support WFP Executive Director, David Beasley’s call for action to prevent starvation. Speaking in Niger on October 9, Beasley said: “Just in the last three years, the number of people on the brink of starvation had risen before COVID, from 80 million to 135 million. And now, with COVID, the number of people—and I’m not talking about people going to bed hungry—on the brink of starvation is now up to 270 million people…we are on the brink of disaster.” Earlier this year, Beasley reported that Beasley warned that from 150,000 to 300,000 people could die a day from starvation.

Fifteen African nations account for half of that 270 million. The WFP has identified the following nations as being in dire need of food: Burkina Faso (4.8); Cameroon (5.2); C.A.R. (3.1); D.R.C. (21.8); Ethiopia (18.0); Liberia (0.84); Mali (3.5); Mozambique (3.3); Niger (5.9); Nigeria (23.8); Sierra Leone (2.9); Somalia (6.3); South Sudan (10.2); Sudan (17.7); Zimbabwe (6.3); totaling 133.64 million people.

David Beasley alerted the world, that 7 million people have already died of hunger this year and that figure could increase by“3, 4, 5 times or more.” The WPF calculates that it needs $6.8 billion to prevent famine. With $1.6 billion received so far, $5 billion more is urgently needed. “The $5 billion that we’re talking about is additional money, because we feed 100 million people. It literally is—the starvation rate is spiraling because of COVID and economic deterioration,” he said. “And quite frankly, with the billionaires making hundreds of billions of dollars with COVID, we’re facing the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. They need to step up. We need an extra $5 billion to save millions of lives around the world….This is a call to action. With all the wealth in the world today, no one should be dying from hunger, not a single person.”

Referring to the most severe cases, the Beasley warned: “There are literally about a dozen or two dozen places around the world that, if we don’t get the support that they need, three things are going to happen. One, you are going to have famine, I mean, literally of biblical proportions. Number two, you’re going to have destabilization. And, number three, you’re going to have mass migration. And we can solve all that. We have a cure against starvation, and it is called food.” (all emphasis added)

South African activist, Phillip Tsokolibane has called for a “military mobilization” to provide logistics to stop the spread of hunger in Africa. He said last week from South Africa:

“While various charitable and other organizations have sounded alarm bells and have appealed for money, the issue we face, if we want to save lives, is securing massive amounts of food, as soon as possible, to hungry and starving people. Given the state of infrastructure on the continent and the fact that much of this starvation is occurring in isolated, rural areas, the distribution that must take place is well beyond the means of individual governments and those of relief agencies.

“I believe we must mobilize the logistical capacities of the world’s most capable military forces and design a strategy to bring food supplies from such food-producing nations as the United States and Canada, and bring them directly to those who need them. Let allies and adversaries alike, join forces, in this greatest of all humanitarian efforts.”

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 in Africa.
  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:

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production 

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

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

Africa Threatened With Starvation: No Objective Reason

Millions ‘on the edge’ in DR Congo now in even greater danger of tipping over. WFP food distribution to Internally Displaced People in Kikuku, North Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. WFP/Ben Anguandia

There is no objective reason for hunger in Africa. African nations have abundant fertile land and many water systems that should enable them to be not only food self sufficient, but produce a surplus. With proper investment in infrastructure and planning, stockpiles of food would be available to feed the population during difficulty periods like the present COVID-19 pandemic. With manufacturing and agricultural processing sectors, people would have more job security, then living hand to mouth in the so called informal economy. 

WFP Chief warns of grave dangers of economic impact of Coronavirus as millions are pushed further into hunger

Transcript as delivered of remarks by UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley to today’s virtual session of the UN Security Council, September 17, 2020.

“Five months ago, I warned the Council the world stood on the brink of a hunger pandemic. A toxic combination of conflict, climate change and COVID-19, threatened to push 270 million people to the brink of starvation. Famine was real. It’s a terrifying possibility in up to three dozen countries if we don’t continue to act like we’ve been acting…

“As COVID-19 pushed countries everywhere to lock down, the equivalent of 400 million full-time jobs have been destroyed, and remittances have collapsed. The impact has been felt hardest by the 2 billion people who work in the informal economy around the world – mainly in middle and low-income countries. Already only one day’s work away from going hungry, in other words living hand to mouth…

“Let me turn to the countries on today’s agenda. In the DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO, conflict and instability had already forced 15.5 million people into crisis levels of food insecurity. These are people on the brink of starvation. The latest assessment indicates that the upsurge in violence, coupled with COVID-19, has sent this total sky-rocketing to nearly 22 million people, an increase of 6.5 million people. And I should warn you these numbers assume WFP is able to maintain current levels of food assistance. If we are forced to scale back operations, the outlook is even worse

“NIGERIA: COVID-19 is also forcing more people into food insecurity. Analysis shows measures imposed to contain the virus reduced incomes in 80 percent of households. You can imagine the devastation with that alone.

“In the northeast of the country, 4.3 million people are food insecure, up by 600,000 largely due to COVID-19. While in the large urban area of Kano, the number of food insecure people during that lockdown period from March to June went from 568,000 to 1.5 million people – an increase of 1 million people. Very troubling.

“SOUTH SUDAN: The outlook there is similarly worrying, where even before the pandemic, 6.5 million people were expected to face severe food insecurity at the height of the lean season, made worse by the violence in Jonglei State in recent months. This has resulted in the displacement of tens of thousands of civilians, a large number of abducted women and children, and widespread loss of livestock and livelihoods. In addition, virus outbreaks in urban areas such as Juba could put as many as another 1.6 million people at risk of starvation.

Finally, even though it is not on today’s agenda, I also want to highlight the disaster unfolding in Burkina Faso, driven by the upsurge in violence. The number of people facing crisis levels of hunger has tripled to 3.3 million people, as COVID compounds the situation…displacement, security and access problems. For 11,000 of these people living in the northern provinces, famine is knocking on the door as we speak.

Read: WFP Warns Grave Economic Dangers From COVID-19

Food Is Now Up to 250 Percent More Expensive Across Africa

‘With crop reduction comes food scarcity, and prices go up with demand. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network found that Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Zimbabwe, DRC, Mauritania, Nigeria, Guatemala and Haiti are the countries that have been most affected by the drop in crop production.

‘In the Republic of Congo, the average price of a basic food basket has increased by 15 percent, while a similar pattern has emerged in Sudan, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia, with an above-average increase in the price of staple foods.

‘Then there’s the rising cost of sorghum – a drought resistant cereal grain that’s popular across the continent. In July, sorghum prices exceeded the five-year average by 150 to 250 percent in Sudan, 50 to 240 percent in South Sudan, 85 percent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and 20 to 55 percent in Southern Somalia

Read: Food Up To 250% More Expensve in Africa

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

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production

Dieudonne Twahirwa, 30, who runs Gashora Farm, examines chili plants at his farm in Bugesera District in eastern Rwanda on August 23, 2018.(Thomson Reuters Foundation/Thin Lei Win)

June 12, 2020

The article, Africa: COVID-19 Recovery Is a Chance to Improve the African Food System, reprinted below raises important issues concerning Africa’s food supply. The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed the failures of the global economic system. To wit: The gutting of healthcare in the so called advanced sector over the last half century left nations unprepared for what should have been expected, a new contagious zoonotic disease.  Nations that depended on thousand mile long supply chains for basic necessities, including medical supplies and drugs, proved to be disastrous for their populations. The absence of vitally essential products led to increased rates morbidity and mortality.

Tragically, Africa has been forced to devote large portions of its foreign exchange on debt service rather than building up its healthcare infrastructure. Adequate healthcare requires not only more hospitals, beds, physicians, and modern advanced equipment, but electricity, clean water, sanitation, roads, rail roads, adequate supply of nutrition, and elimination of poverty. A poorly fed population suffering from malnutrition provides an auspicious host for the spread of disease. Poverty is a co-factor of all diseases.

Last month, David Beasley, Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), warned that, if economic conditions continue to deteriorate and endanger the production and distribution of food to impoverished nations, we could witness famines in Africa, and other parts of the world. He said, “You could have 150,000 to 300,000 people die of starvation every day for several months.”

Africa has millions of acres of fertile but uncultivated land. The continent is reported to have over 60% of the world’s land lying fallow that could be developed for food production. It has been known since the early 1970s that the Africa continent has the potential to not only produce enough food for its own population, but could become a net exporter of food to help feed other nations.

The deadly COVID-19 pandemic has revealed what was there to see all along; Africa and large sections of the world have remained underdeveloped for decades due to the horribly defective policy of globalization.

To accomplish an agricultural revolution in Africa, we will also need to create an industrial revolution in Africa as well. The failure to industrialize Africa, to build manufacturing industries along with mechanized farming is a major contributing factor in reduced life expectancy, poverty, disease, and instability. The Physiocratic doctrine that all wealth comes from the land was efficiently refuted by President Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.* The super productive family farms in the United States matured alongside manufacturing cities, and had access to abundant supplies of energy  for irrigation.

Let is use the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic to initiate a program to develop Africa’s full economic potential that will finally end poverty and hunger. To realize this absolutely achievable objective, we will need to create a New Bretton Woods System to drive economic growth. President Franklin Roosevelt intended the original Bretton Woods to be an institution to export his New Deal for developing nations, as was discussed with the Ethiopian delegation at the 1944 conference. Now, over a half century later we must realize this goal.

*Report on Manufacturers- December 5,1791

The World Food Programme has warned that the COVID-19 pandemic could cause one of the worst food crises since World War II. It predicts a doubling of the number of people going hungry – more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. While wealthier people stay inside and practise physical distancing, the economically marginalised populations risk going out in search of food. They take decisions between livelihoods and life in the most extreme cases. Such food inequities show the need for system-level action.

So far, the global food system has proven to be resilient to the COVID-19 pandemic. Food is still being produced, processed and distributed. Unfortunately, the system’s underlying injustices and inequities continue too. Around 1.58 billion people globally can’t afford healthy diets.

These inequities are especially stark on the African continent. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the African food system was ailing. Food is perennially in short supply. In 2018, more than 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa experienced severe food insecurity, incomes for farmers are lower than anywhere globally in real terms, and more than 30% of children are stunted partly due to poverty and poor diets.”

Read: COVID-19 Recovery: Chance to Improve African Food System  and Repositioning Agriculture for Africa’s Youth

Read my previous posts:

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

UN Chief: Virus Could Push Millions of Africans Into Poverty

A woman wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, has her temperature checked by a security personnel before entering a grocery shop at Tembisa township in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
A woman wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus, has her temperature checked by a security personnel before entering a grocery shop at Tembisa township in Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, May 19, 2020. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

May 20, 2020

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, warns about the danger of the COVID-19 in Africa, both from the disease itself and causing increased levels of poverty.

“It will aggravate long-standing inequalities and heighten hunger, malnutrition and vulnerability to disease.  Already, demand for Africa’s commodities, tourism and remittances are declining…. millions could be pushed into extreme poverty

“The U.N. said the low numbers could be linked to minimal testing and reporting, pointing to a World Health Organization warning that the pandemic “could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in 47 African countries in the first year, mostly depending on governments’ responses.”

“To help address the devastating economic and social consequences of the pandemic, Guterres said Africa needs more than $200 billion and “an across-the-board debt standstill for African countries” unable to service their debt, “followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults.”

“These are still early days for the pandemic in Africa, and disruption could escalate quickly.  Global solidarity with Africa is an imperative – now and for recovering better. Ending the pandemic in Africa is essential for ending it across the world.

“I have been calling for a global response package amounting to at least 10 per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product.  For Africa, that means more than $200 billion as additional support from the international community.

“I also continue to advocate a comprehensive debt framework — starting with an across-the-board debt standstill for countries unable to service their debt, followed by targeted debt relief and a comprehensive approach to structural issues in the international debt architecture to prevent defaults.” 

 

Secretary-General António Guterres records a video message on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Secretary-General António Guterres records a video message on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on children. (UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe)

ReadUN: Impact of COVID-19 in Africa

Read my earlier articles on COVID-19 in Africa:

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

 

 

China’s Belt & Road Needed to Revitalize World Economy: CGTN

May 18, 2020

Below are excerpts from my article on the strategic role of China’s Belt and Road in today’s world economy, published by CGTN 

The global economic breakdown ignited by the COVID-19 pandemic entails China and its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) playing an important role in restoring health to the world economy. While Western nations are still struggling with COVID-19, and are months away from beginning to refurbish their economies, China has already started its recovery, following its earlier success in combating the coronavirus.

The collapse of nations to conditions resembling the Great Depression and the inability to contain the deadly virus have belied the alleged success of globalization. The underlying flaws of the deregulated post Bretton Woods financial system, which has become an international gambling casino to make fast money, are now nakedly revealed. Given the breakdown of the present global financial system, it is urgent that leading nations issue a call to convene a conference to initiate a New Bretton Woods system, which values human life over making money.

For civilization to progress, a new economic architecture dedicated to ending poverty, and promoting productive economic growth is compulsory. Without question, the United States and China will have to perform outsized roles in establishing a new paradigm of political-economic relationships among nations, notwithstanding current tensions.

Read the entire articleBelt and Road Needed to Revitalize World Economy

WFP’s David Beasley Warns of Potential Famines in Africa & Mideast Due to COVID-19

The COVID19 virus arrived in Africa weeks after it hit Asia, Europe and North America. But now, says Berkeley economist Edward Miguel, the virus poses grave risks for Africa and its 1.2 billion people. (AP photo by Patrick Ngugi)

The effects of COVID-19 on food supply chains in developing nations that are already suffering from hunger and acute food insecurity could be more deadly than coronavirus itself, according to David Beasley, Director of the World Food Programme (WFP). Speaking at the Atlantic Council in Washington DC on May 8, via teleconference, Beasley told his audience that, if economic conditions continue to deteriorate and endanger the production and distribution of food to impoverished nations, we could witness famines in Africa, and other parts of the world. “You could have 150,000 to 300,000 people die of starvation every day for several months—at a minimum,” he said. In a six-month period of time that equals between 27 to 54 million deaths. Beasley reported, as he did last month to the United Nations Security Council, that 821 million people around the world go to bed hungry and another 135 million are on the verge of starvation.

The fact that almost 1 billion of our fellow human beings are suffering from these levels of food insecurity is proof of the failure of globalization and an indictment of the current monetarist based financial system. With an abundance of fertile land, growing food and delivering food is a matter of investment in infrastructure. There are no valid objective reasons for any human being to go without food. The world needs a New Bretton Woods System, designed to lift all nations out of poverty, as President Franklin Roosevelt has intended. Nothing short of a global rebuilding of our world economy is required.

WFP’s David Beasley warns of dire famines in Africa, Mideast if COVID-19 supply chains damage continues

Watch video presentation below by World Food Programme Director, David Beasley 

A warning from the World Food Programme

Reuters published on May 7, a graphic report: Virus exposes gaping holes in Africa’s health systems, which quantifies the shortages in Africa of physicians, ventilators, intensive care beds and tests for COVID-19.  This deficit in healthcare infrastructure endangers millions of African, who are already suffering from food insecurity, poverty, lack of clean water, and lack of adequate electricity and other basic necessities of life. From March 30 to May 10, the number of COVID-19 cases in Africa has increased from 4,760 cases and 146 deaths to 64,214 cases and 2,344 deaths. That is an increase of 1300% and 1600% respectively in six weeks. If Africa is at the beginning of the  coronavirus curve, and the virus grows exponentially, as it has in other nations, then Africa will not be equipped to handle the magnitude of the crisis.

Read my earlier articles on COVID-19 and Africa

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