Live in the Future to Foster Regional Integration With Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa

WATCH Interview with OBN Horn of Africa, January 10, 2024

January 16, 2024

Let us work to make the Horn of Africa and East Africa a model of regional economic integration. This process has already begun, with the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam exporting electricity to Sudan, Kenya, and Djibouti. Ethiopia having long term port access to major shipping routes through the Gulf of Eden and the Red Sea, will expand Ethiopia’s economy and has the potential to develop the regional economy of East Africa. There are three primary conceptual obstacles that people have in understanding how to develop this region, which I discuss above in the video interview with OBN, and below in the written interview with ENA.

One, the majority of people do not understand the physical scientific principles to economic development, having been miseducated by our schools and society.

Two, the legacy of colonialism has perverted the thinking process of many Africans, leading to fixed prejudices that prevent one from seeing what is possible.

Three, most people live in the past, or at best in the present. I try to live in the future, where my mind can see the fruitful potential of that which we humans can create but does not yet exist.

Ethiopia-Somaliland MoU Model for Economic Development of Africa: American Analyst

Interview with Ethiopian News Agency, January 2, 2024

Addis Ababa, January 4/2024(ENA)- The current MoU signed by Ethiopia and Somaliland could become a model for economic development of the continent, Political-economic analyst for Africa Lawrence Freeman said.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, the analyst said that the Memorandum of Understanding signed on Monday could be a “useful example for the rest of the African continent.”

Moreover, the MoU for Partnership and Cooperation inked by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Muse Bihi Abdi includes wide scopes of cooperation in social, economic, political, and military fields.

It is also intended to serve as a framework for the multisectoral partnership between the two sides, and shall pave the way to realize the aspiration of Ethiopia to secure access to the sea and diversify its access to seaports.

In this respect, Freeman believes the agreement is a breakthrough that could accelerate regional and global trade.

“If you look at it optimistically, the situation in the Horn of Africa could actually become a model for economic development and in the whole African continent. Now, this is what we’re looking for, regional integration, economic-regional linkage into international trade among nations, instead of exporting everything outside the nation. So this could be a useful example for the rest of the continent.”

However, there are political forces within the Horn of Africa and around the world who would like to continue destabilizing the region, the American analyst noted.

He particularly pointed out that there are manipulators and political forces screaming war constantly.

When the prime minister talked about the port in October 2023, dozens of articles were published predicting war. But, there was no indication of war, he stated.

According to Freeman, the historic MoU was signed in a peaceful manner and has the potential to bring other countries to cooperate with Ethiopia in this geopolitically strategic part of the world.

He advised specifically Somalis to refrain from inflammatory statements and resolve the issue calmly.

Given the conflict between Somalia and Somaliland for many years, Somaliland has been conducting its affairs differently in the spheres of currency, economy, governance and others.

The MoU “can offer economic growth to actually both nations because if Somaliland is growing, Somalia is growing too…. Statements like ‘we’re not going to give one inch of our territory’ is the kind of talking that is not helpful. We’re going to have to move forward. We can’t stay the way we are. We need to have a resolution between those two between Somalia and Somaliland.”

Beyond that the problems in the Horn of Africa are very complicated and emanate from a whole bunch of leftover problems from the days of colonialism, he noted.

There is a lot of antagonism and complications that come from colonial history.

“As for the amount of anger and hatred that I see from people against one country versus another, we’re not going to give up. We’re not going to let them know that you’re stuck in the mind of the old colonists picture. My message to people is to move forward,” the analyst underscored.

For Freeman those people who are screaming about war are either fools or they’re being manipulated by other forces in the wrong way.

In general, the American analyst stated that the MoU is very important for Ethiopia to realize the advancement of import-export trade and allow the nation to have greater access to the rest of the world.

Ethiopia also being the largest economy and population, the area can make perfect sense to build a naval capacity it once had when it accessed the Red Sea, he added.

More importantly, Ethiopia is also now going to play a major role as the country has become a new member of the BRICS, the leading institution of the global South, with a new paradigm for development of emerging nations.

That gives Ethiopia a great deal of an opportunity to begin to deal with all the political-economic frailties and create a new level of regional cooperation in the region.

Read my earlier posts:

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

“Ethiopian Seaport is Win-Win for East African Nations”: Physical Economic Analyst Freeman

November 19, 2023

In my interview above with OBN (11/6/2023), I discuss the importance of understanding the concept of physical economy to competently analyze the future of the Horn of Africa. Sadly, the vast majority of Africans, like Americans, do not chose to look into the future. It is only by knowing what physical economic inputs are necessary to sustain an expanding population 20-40 years into the future that one can determine the best policies of their nation in the present. Claims of “my nation first” or “my ethnicity first,” express a short sighted mentality that is detrimental to the interests of the nations of the region. Full economic integration of the Horn of Africa, driven by investments in infrastructure, is the most reliable path to achieving peace, stability, and economic growth, and avoiding conflict.

Read my comments in the Ethiopian Herald: Why Ethiopia CDjian No Longer Ignore Interests On the Red Sea – allAfrica.com

Read my earlier posts:

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Economic Development Can Bring Peace to the Horn of Africa

Develop the ports on the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden to promote regional economic growth in the Horn of Africa. (curtesy of dawn.com.news)

October 31, 2023

Horn Leaders Urged to Consider Ethiopia’s Quest for Access to Red Sea 

Addis Ababa, October 31/2023 (ENA)- Leaders of the Horn of Africa nations have to consider discussing Ethiopia’s quest for having access to sea as it would increase the physical economic growth of the East African region, the American political-economic analyst Lawrence Freeman told ENA.

Prime Minister Abiy has given geographical, historical, economic backgrounds to initiate discussion about Ethiopia’s right to access sea through peaceful means.

The American analyst stated that access to sea not only reinforces the steadily growing import-export trade of the second Africa’s populous nation, but will also ensure development in the region.

For him, Ethiopia’s quest for coastal access to sea outlets “is essentially correct” as it would enable to increase physical economic growth of the people in the Horn of Africa.

“If people understand more about physical economic growth, they would understand that this is not only very reasonable, but it’s correct. If you want to raise the standard of living for 200 million people living in countries in the Horn, then you would benefit from the trade that could be increased in Ethiopia by having a port on the Red Sea.”

In this regard, the analyst urged leaders of the Horn of Africa nations to have discussion to consider Ethiopia’s quest for having access to sea.

Prime Minister Abiy has suggested potential areas like the Ethiopian Airlines, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and other offers for concession, Freeman stated.

This is perfectly reasonable for the growing Ethiopian economy, he noted.

“The Prime Minister is putting these issues on the table now. (He says) let’s discuss how we are going to bring this about. And I think that’s the approach of a statesman and I would agree with it.”

Access to port is critical to accelerate the growth trajectory of the country and contribute to regional physical economic growth.

Lawrence Freeman, a physical economist, interviewed by Ethiopian News Agency-ENA

“If we look at how we increase the physical economic growth of the people in the Horn of Africa, it is going to depend on Ethiopia. Ethiopia is going to be the dominant economic growth center. And this will benefit all the other countries.

“It’s (therefore) natural to work this out. And I believe this is now an important discussion that has been raised by Prime Minister Abiy. This will be worked out over the years ahead,” Freeman noted.

He also stressed the need for discussion about a regional economic approach since there are several ports in the Horn.

Mentioning about distorted media reports that Ethiopia is claiming access to sea using force if necessary, Freeman noted that this is a very divisive policy that has been used in Africa for hundreds of years.

“We need political leaders and statesmen who rise above this and understand that these are political operations. Some are carried out externally or internally. And the purpose is to prevent the development and sovereignty of African nations. I think the leaders of the nations in the region can sit down and discuss how the region will grow economically.”

“If we concentrate on putting forth the long-term economic growth program that benefits all the nations of the region, the leaders would come to agreement.”

We should also be able to counter those media and other internal and external enemies trying to create tensions between the neighboring countries.

There is no objective reason for countries in the Horn of Africa not to work together for common aims.

Discussions should, therefore, be considered among leaders, experts in the area, including economic experts, water experts and transportation specialists on access to the Red Sea, the analyst stated.

Freeman hopes that this can be done through discussion among sovereign leaders of nation states, including presidents and prime ministers, to deal with the problem.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

China Unequivocally Supports Ethiopia’s National Reconstruction, Industrialization, and Modernization of Agriculture

Wang Yi and Abiy Ahmed meeting in Addis Ababe, Ethiopia on July 21, 2023. (Picture courtesy of CGTN)

July 24, 2023

These statments from China’s leading diplomat, Wang Yi’, in his meeting with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, and Deputy PM, Demeke Mekonnen, make abundantly clear, China’s commitment to assist in the economic development of Ethiopia. This is essential to bring peace and stabilty to the Horn of Africa.

On July 21, 2023, Wang Yi, member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee and director of the Central Foreign Affairs Office, visited Ethiopia on his way to South Africa to attend the meeting of the BRICS High Representatives on Security Affairs, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy met with Wang Yi in Addis Ababa.

Mr. Abiy spoke highly of the great achievements of socialism with Chinese characteristics and appreciated China’s determination to follow the development path in line with its own national conditions and its rapid economic and social development, which has set an example for developing countries. Ethiopia will never forget the strong support given by China when it faced difficulties and regards China as a great and reliable friend. Ethiopia is willing to learn from China’s development concepts and experience, and strive to realize self-sufficiency in agriculture and rapid economic growth, and promote green and sustainable development. Ethiopia abides by the one-China principle, supports China’s position in international affairs, actively participates in the construction of the “Belt and Road”, and is willing to work closely with China on mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields to promote greater development of relations between the two countries.

Wang Yi said that Ethiopia is a major African country with significant influence. China and Ethiopia are comprehensive strategic partners with each other, the two countries have common goals and common pursuits, and have carried out fruitful cooperation under the framework of building the “Belt and Road” and the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), which is at the forefront of China-Africa cooperation. China values its traditional friendship with Ethiopia, firmly supports its domestic reconstruction and economic recovery, and is willing to further explore the potential of cooperation with Ethiopia to help it accelerate industrialization, modernize agriculture and explore green and low-carbon development. China encourages strong and reputable enterprises to invest in Ethiopia, and is willing to play an active role in alleviating the debt pressure on Ethiopia. We hope that Ethiopia will actively create a favorable business environment.

Wang Yi said that China’s cooperation with Africa is an important part of South-South cooperation and mutual support and assistance among friends. China has never interfered in the internal affairs of other countries, never attached political conditions and never sought geopolitical self-interest in its cooperation with Africa. China is willing to work with African countries, including Ethiopia, to strengthen cooperation in trade and investment, green development, digital economy, health and sanitation, and continuously create a new situation for China-Africa cooperation.

On July 21, 2023, Director of the Central Foreign Affairs Office (CFA) Wang Yi met with Ethiopian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Demeke in Addis Ababa.

Wang Yi said that China and Ethiopia are good brothers who care for each other’s guts, good friends who watch out for each other, and good partners in common development. China has stood with the people of Ethiopia at the critical moment of safeguarding national peace and stability, and will continue to stand with the people of Ethiopia as it enters a new phase of peace restoration and national reconstruction. China firmly supports Ethiopia in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, supporting Ethiopia’s commitment to national unity and stability, and supporting Ethiopia to play a greater role in regional and international affairs, and is willing to continue to strengthen strategic collaboration with Ethiopia, deepen practical cooperation in various fields, and work together to safeguard the fundamental interests of the two countries and the common interests of developing countries, and to maintain the basic norms of international relations.

Wang Yi said that China has great potential for cooperation with Ethiopia. China is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with Ethiopia and exchanges at all levels in all sectors, support strong and reputable enterprises to invest in Ethiopia, accelerate the implementation of key cooperation projects, expand the scale of bilateral trade, and help Ethiopia to promote industrialization and modernization of agriculture and improve its capacity for independent development. It is hoped that Ethiopia will take practical and effective measures to ensure the safety of Chinese organizations and personnel. China is willing to work with Ethiopia to promote the implementation of the “Horn of Africa Peaceful Development Concept” and support Africans to solve African problems in an African way.

Demeke said Ethiopia has a long history of relations with China and is firmly committed to strengthening cooperation with China at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. Ethiopia is grateful to China for its help in maintaining national security and stability, and looks forward to China’s support for the consolidation of peace, reconstruction and economic revitalization of Ethiopia, as well as the global development initiative, global security initiative and global civilization initiative put forward by China, and is willing to strengthen all-round exchanges among the government, political parties and enterprises with China, and deepen the mutually-beneficial cooperation in the field of trade and economic cooperation. Ethiopia firmly opposes the use of human rights as a tool to interfere in the internal affairs of developing countries, actively supports participation in collective cooperation among developing countries, and is willing to work with China to implement the “Horn of Africa Peaceful Development Concept” to promote regional peace and prosperity.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: 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

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

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

February 27, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Victory at Adwa-A Victory for Africa

March 1, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: 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

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

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

January 16, 2023

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

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

The GERD left, author being briefed the Deputy Project Manager

A Source of Pride

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

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

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

Humans Create Wealth

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

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

The GERD situated between two mountains over the Blue Nile River

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

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

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

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

A Scientific-Engineering Wonder

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

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

The GERD Is For Africa

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

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

The author being interviewed by Ethiopian News Agency

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

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

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

*Wikipedia

Schematic diagram of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: 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

Is U.S. Threatening Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed, to Maintain TPLF Legitimacy at Peace Talks?

Lawrence Freeman interviewed by Hermela Aregawi, well known journalist and host of Eyes on Africa-eoanews.com , on October 27, 2022


October 29, 2022

In my most recent statement (see below) published by ENA on Oct 29, I discuss the intention of U.S. Envoy, Mike Hammer as a participant, not an observer, in the African Union led pace talks in South Africa. It appears that the U.S. is engaged in trying to pressure PM Abiy Ahmed to accept some legitimate role for the TPLF in Ethiopia’s future. The U.S. may also be trying to prevent the disarming of the TPLF, preserving their existence as an armed ethno-nationalist army. If this were to be accepted, the TPLF and other armed ethno-nationalist armies, could continually deploy to destabilize Ethiopia. Essentially, making Ethiopia ungovernable, thus denying Ethiopians the opportunity to build a prosperous nation

Watch interview below with Hermela on Day 3 (Oct 27) of Peace Talks in South Africa

Hermela and I had a wide ranging and provocative discussion on the Ethiopian peace talks in South Africa that included such topics as; oligarchism, geopolitics, democracy, creativity, ethnicity, Horn of Africa, the rules based order, the goals of the U.S. involvement in the peace talks, the future of Ethiopia, and more.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: 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

Ethiopia Must Exert Its National Sovereignty From U.S. Sanctions

February 21, 2022

Watch my video above.

Perhaps, it is fitting that on the U.S. holiday–“Presidents Day”–that I, as an American, should be demanding that my President, Joe Biden, stop threatening Ethiopia with more sanctions. Geopolitical doctrine requires U.S. control of the vitally important water way along the East Coast of Africa. U.S. geopolitics cannot allow strategy for the Horn of Africa to be decided by independent minded African leaders such as Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Eritrea President, Isaias Afwerki. President Biden and the U.S. State Department under Antony Blinken will demand concessions from PM Abiy as they talk of resuming a cooperative relationship between the U.S. and Ethiopia. At the same time, they will allow the US Congress to threaten Ethiopia with more disgusting sanctions in HR6600, if Ethiopia does not make concessions. It is known as the “soft cop-hard cop” approach. Ethiopia should exercise its sovereignty and chart a path for the development of its nation. The operation of the first turbine of the GERD producing 375 megawatts of electricity, portends the right direction.

Review news coverage below

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.

Freeman Interview: National Dialogue Should Be Conducted on the Highest Level With Citizens of Ethiopia Discussing the Future of Their Nation, Not Ethnicity

PLEASE WATCH this provocative and important analysis regarding Ethiopia

February 3, 2022

In this interview with Prime Media conducted on January 27, 2022, Lawrence Freeman evaluates the current situation in Ethiopia and offers substantive suggestions for the Ethiopian National Dialogue.

Freeman stressed the geopolitical intentions of the Anglo-American establishment to control the waterways off the Horn of Africa, which necessitates not allowing Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Somalia to act independently. Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed violated the geopolitical “rules of the game” by forming a new cooperation agreement with Eritrea and Somalia. Weakening the central government and demonizing PM Abiy while simultaneous elevating the status TPLF is required to make Ethiopia malleable to Anglo-American dictates for the region.

Freeman suggested that the National Dialogue address the inherent fallacies of ethnic federalism that equate membership in an ethnic group with citizenship of the Ethiopian nation-state. We are all human beings, the only species endowed with the power of creativity, which makes all people universally the same, not to be divided by blood lines or geography.  

Read my earlier post: Ethiopia’s Prosperity Party: A Revolutionary Necessity

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.

Africa’s ‘poverty trap’ more dangerous than so-called debt trap

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend the completion ceremony of the Chinese-built oil terminal at the port of Mombasa in Mombasa, Kenya, January 6, 2022. /Xinhua

Lawrence Freeman

CGTN, January 24, 2022

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

In his visit to Kenya on January 6, 2022, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, emphasized China’s support for economic progress in Africa, and in particular, the Horn of Africa.

Wang was continuing China’s 32-year-old tradition of having their foreign minister begin each year with an overseas trip to Africa. In the first week of January, Wang met with officials in Eritrea, Kenya and Comoros. Both Eritrea and Kenya are located in East Africa, a region where Ethiopia, the second most populated nation in Africa, is engaged in a 14-month war to defeat an armed insurrection led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Kenya, an important ally of China, is a key nation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Maritime Silk Road.

Eliminating poverty

Wang, in his press conference, focused on the number one challenge facing Africa: poverty and the extremely low standard of living affecting the majority of its 1.4 billion people.

He polemically stated,”If there is any trap in Africa, it is the trap of poverty and the trap of backwardness,” which he counterposed to the so-called debt trap that he referred to as a “speech trap” created by the West. China speaks with authority, which has accomplished a modern day miracle in lifting over 750 million of its people out of extreme poverty and has pledged to help Africa do the same.

A woman fills up her water jerrycan in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, January 1, 2022. /VCG

China’s approach to the current challenges in the Horn of Africa is in stark contrast to that of the U.S. Instead of punishing Eastern African nations with sanctions and economic warfare, China is promoting peace and economic development. According to Wang, China will appoint a special envoy for the region, with the goal:

“To support the Horn of Africa in realizing lasting stability, peace and prosperity, China is willing to put forward the ‘Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa’ and support regional countries in addressing the triple challenges of security, development and governance.”

Emphasizing China’s infrastructure-led economic approach, Wang encouraged nations of the region to “accelerate regional revitalization to overcome development challenges,” adding that “the two principal axes, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, should be enlarged and enhanced with the aim of expanding to neighboring countries at an opportune moment.”

Wang announced that China would provide an additional 10 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Kenya which follows President Xi Jinping’s November pledge at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation conference in Dakar, to make 1 billion doses available to Africa.

China’s policy guided by development

The dominant feature of China’s relation to Africa is development, contrary to the Western geopolitical propaganda against China. The infrastructure-driven BRI has made physical improvements in African economies through the construction of railways, roads, power generation capacity, ports and airports. There is not a single Western nation that even remotely compares to China’s level of investment in Africa.

As every African leader knows well, if China were to cease offering loans for infrastructure, there would be no Western nation to address the continent’s huge deficit in the field, and African nations would suffer terribly.

The U.S. has failed to modernize its own rail network and is incapable of building advanced transportation corridors in other countries, while China had constructed around 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail by the end of 2021.

Unlike U.S. officials who travel to African nations, Chinese representatives do not attach political conditionalities or arrogantly dictate what domestic policies must be adopted by their host countries. Instead, China is thoughtful by responding to the most critical and urgent needs of African nations. That is the elimination of poverty, which necessitates massive investments in hard and soft infrastructure.

Africa-s-poverty-trap-more-dangerous-than-so-called-debt-trap

Read my earlier posts:

Chinese ‘Debt Trap” is a Myth-Biden Would be Wise Not to Continue Trump’s Attacks on China in Africa 

China-Africa Debt Trap Refuted Again. Belt and Road Building Infrastructure-Developing Africa

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

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.