On “Talk Africa” Freeman Discuses Geopolitical Attack on South Africa and Value of AGOA

Watch the discussion on Talk Africa from February 22, 2024

February 27, 2024

Talk Africa above, I discuss that the geopolitical faction in the United States is targeting South Africa because it will not submit to being controlled by the so called international rules-based order. South Africa is a important nation in Africa, a member the BRICS, and a leader in the Global South. It maintains close economic relations with China and has strong political ties with Russia. Sadly the U.S. executive branch, and the Congress, focus on countering China and Russia, but lack a consistent positive US-Africa policy,

Talk Africa below, I discuss that AGOA is insufficient to meet the needs of Africa. It is not transformative, and does not address the massive poverty and infrastructure deficits that hold back the economic development of African nations. There is only one valid measure for true economic progress: the increase in the per capita material standard of living of Africans.

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

Infrastructure Essential for Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Economic Integration

February 5, 2024

Image: courtesy of tanzaniainvest.com

The two articles combined, (see below) by PD Lawton, (africanagenda.net), provide a clear conception of how Africa will increase its economic integration through the expansion of regional railway systems. Massive expansion Infrastructure, such as rail, road, water, and especially electricity, is the only way Africa will realize the goals of Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The interview with the Director General of Tanzania Railway Corporation, (watch below) is an exciting overview of Tanzania’s commitment to regional economic growth by investing in new railroads, such as the Central Corridor Tanzania SGR.

At the Durban launch President Ramaphosa spoke of the days of Africa being the raw materials market for the global North were over. It is time for the world to meet Made in Africa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa officiated the launch of South Africa’s first shipment under the preferential trading agreement of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) on 31 January 2024 at the Port of Durban, Kwa Zulu Natal. The shipment to Ghana includes refrigerators [1] home appliances and mining equipment.

This is an historic event for the entire continent as it marks the practical realization of the AfCFTA Agreement which was inaugurated on the 1 January 2021.

AfCFTA is expected to increase the size of Africa’s economy to $29 trillion by 2050.

Read President Ramaphosa’s remarks below.

Read below the detailed outline of the phases for construction of the Central Corridor Tanzania SGR

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

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

GERD Talks Must Shift To Higher Level: Developing the Nile Basin

Lawrence Freeman being interviewed by the Ethiopian Herald on Dec 23, 2023 about the 4th round of talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam

December 27, 2023

The colonial mentality has to give way to the mandate for development –

BY ZEKARIAS WOLDEMARIAM, THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD

“I didn’t expect that these discussions would lead to anything because you have to change the topic of the discussion” says Laurence Freeman, American Political Economic Analyst for Africa (www.lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com), asked about the outcome of the 4th round of the latest series of tripartite talks on the first filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

The negotiation which took place from 17-19 December 2023 in Cairo, Egypt was held to deal on the final rules and regulations for the filling and operation of the dam. Unfortunately, the talks ended up with no deal concluded following which Ethiopia and Egypt issued statements expressing their stance during the negotiations and why they blame the other side for the failure to reach agreement.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia says that Egypt’s efforts to maintain it historical rights based on the colonial period agreements were the impediments to reach agreement. “During these four rounds, Ethiopia endeavored and keenly engaged with the two lower riparian countries to address the major issues of difference and reach an amicable agreement. Egypt, in contrast, maintained colonial era mentality and erected roadblocks against efforts toward convergence.” The statement read.

Freeman on his part argues that the topic of dialogue among the riparian countries, i.e. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt should not be to maintain historical rights, but to plan future cooperation on how to use the water together. “It should not be how do we guarantee so much water which the Ethiopians can’t do. But how do we proceed on a development program that would advance the standard of living of all the people living in and now basic. If there’s going to be another round of discussion that should be the main topic.”

Here is the detail of the brief interview with Lawrence Freeman on the latest development around the GERD talks. Enjoy reading!

Could you tell me your reflection on the 4th round of GERD dam talks which took place recently in Cairo?

When Prime Minister Abiy was in Egypt in July, he suggested to President El Sisi, that they continue the discussion was another round of talks on the implications of the GERD, which just occurred last week was the fourth round of these talks, which, from what I read in the media, nothing really happened that changed the position of either country. And I didn’t really expect that it would. I think that both countries now have made very clear what their positions are. Ethiopia claiming the right of sovereignty over its river systems and energy production. And I don’t think much is going to change from that. 

And I don’t think there’s anything Egypt is going to do that’s going to change it. And the Egyptians have maintained that they must have so much water guaranteed for them every year, which is impossible for Ethiopia to do. I don’t think anything more is going to happen. Hopefully, there is no political or other escalation in this disagreement.

(Curtesy of researcgate.net)

After the conclusion of the talks with no deal Ethiopia and Egypt are trading blames for failing to reach agreement. How do you see the stance of the two sides in this regard?

I think the Egyptians are motivated by a type of ideology, rather than an understanding of the implications of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, the GERD is a dam for producing hydropower for development. I mean, electricity is ready to be exported to Djibouti, Kenya and Sudan. And we should look at the potential of this increase injection of 5150 megawatts as a potential to develop nations in the Blue Nile and the White Nile. Well, now basically, the Egyptians do not want to have I believe in Ethiopia as a major economic competitor or see Ethiopia as a major economic competitor, which is a false way of looking at the potential rather than countries uniting together for economic development. I think Egypt was caught up in trying to suppress economic progress in Ethiopia.

And of course, the Egyptians claim that the historical rights now and they don’t have historical rights, nobody has historical rights. Plus the fact that the dam is on the Blue Nile, not on the White Nile, so there’s no real argument there. I think the Egyptians want a guaranteed amount of water that will flow to the Aswan dam and that cannot be delivered and the Ethiopians would be remiss and wrong in my view if they guaranteed it, because they can’t. But there can be joint collaboration and Egyptians for the moment are rejecting it.

This tripartite talk on GERD has failed after progressing for four rounds starting from August 2023. Do you think it is being influenced by internal and external factors, or Egypt is intentionally changing its stance every time?

I don’t think the Egyptians have changed their stance at all; this has been their policy going back to 2015. I think the Egyptians have to accept the fact that this, as we say, is a fait accompli. This has occurred, the dam is at proximately 41 billion cubic meters of water filled. I think it’ll go up to 47 or so around there. 

And then that’s the level of which we’ll be operating on. Each year, it will go down to that level as it’s filled up to 74 billion cubic meters from the rain. And this will produce electricity, which can be used for the development of the nations of the Nile Basin; the Egyptians have a different view. But it’s not going to happen; it is not going to work. There’s no way of Egypt, challenging a dam for energy development. And it’s already been built. So it can’t be unbuilt. So I don’t really understand all the political motivations for Egypt. 

Except what I said earlier, I think they want to maintain the dominant position and retard Ethiopia’s economic development  potential. I didn’t expect that these discussions would lead to anything because you have to change the topic of the discussion. It should not be how do we guarantee so much water which the Ethiopians can do? But how do we proceed on a development programme that would advance the standard of living of all the people living in and now basic, if there’s going to be another round of discussion that should be the main topic.

Egypt has insisted on safeguarding its interest which is a vestige of colonial period agreements. Do you see any possibility of coming to terms with a negotiated deal where one of the sides is insisting on colonial era agreement?1

Well, if you look at the reality of this of the situation, one is Sudan, only gains from the GERD and I think the Sudanese before the crisis that began several years ago, and I believe even now, they’ve made statements to the effect that they’re not suffering at all from reduction of the flow of the Nile through the country in Khartoum. I don’t think Sudan is part of this at all at this point. I think that they were early on, I think they were pressured by the Egyptians. 

The problem that the Egyptians have and people who support their position is that the water that flows into the White Nile, I mean, 80% of it comes from three rivers in Ethiopia, the largest Blue Nile but then you also have two other rivers that contribute to the White Nile. And the power plant; The hydroelectric power plant is on an Ethiopian soil and Ethiopian rivers I visited myself I also visited Blue Nile falls, I’m very familiar with it. And fact of the matter is there is more potential. A designated site is three mores sites for dams that have been revealed in a survey done many years ago, that could be also hydroelectric dam.

So there’s a potential in the Blue Nile Basin for more power beyond the 5150 megawatts that the GERD is producing. It would be in Egypt interest to let’s discuss this type of potential for the future. The problem is colonial rights. The Egyptians believe that the British gave them control of the Nile. Because in the history, the British controlled Egypt and Sudan under the 1899 agreement, the Anglo Egyptian condominium, and they think that they have this right. No, they don’t have a right to other people’s waters, especially since the headwaters for both the White Nile and the Blue Nile do not originate in Egypt. 

Now, Egypt built the Aswan Dam, which was their right to provide electricity for their population. But they can’t demand that other countries cannot build on the Blue Nile, what is that lead into the white Nile and that’s the problem is you had a colonial agreement in 19, it was 1929 with British and the Egyptians and the Sudanese that’s, that stipulated no blockage of the water could be no blockage of the water was permitted to the white nile. 

Now, Ethiopia wasn’t at that discussion, even though it was an independent country in 1959. If the Sudan and Egypt became independent, they had another water agreement. And this water agreement, we affirmed the 1929 agreement. And again, Ethiopia was not at that discussion. So the Egyptians really don’t have any legitimate basis, despite claiming colonial rights that have given to them by the British Queen. 

They don’t really have any historical basis for telling Ethiopia what to do. And in fact, the British and other Neo colonial powers never wanted Ethiopia to develop this dam. They wanted to use Lake Tana as a giant water tank to feed their agriculture in Sudan and Egypt. So they’ve always been opposed to this. I mean, this goes back 300 years to the present. 

They’ve been opposed to the development of the Blue Nile Basin, they’ve been opposed to electricity and that position cannot stand up to the needs of providing electricity, employment, agricultural development, for not only Ethiopian people, but from the neighboring nations, which the good will provide. So the colonial mentality has to give way to the mandate for development.

Blue Nile Basin has potential for more hydro-electric dams for development of the Nile Basin (Courtesy sierrarios.org)

How do you think could the two sides break the stalemate and strike a deal in the future?

As I said earlier, we have to change the subject. The topic of providing a guaranteed amount of water to the Aswan Dam each year is a dead issue. That cannot happen. It’s over. The dam has been built as only a small amount. More has to be collected in the first phase up to I think 49 billion cubic metres. 

We have to leave that subject and we have to go to a higher plan; we have to go to a different thinking; a different manifold no longer discussing water guarantee to the Aswan Dam, but discussing how do we use the GERD and potentially other developments of more dams in the Blue Nile Basin for the benefit of all of the downstream nations in the Nile basin. This requires a higher level of thinking. It requires a level of thinking where your concern is the future development of all the people. 

Those who are living in the Blue Nile, basically, that’s several 100 million people over I think, 10 countries? How do we get together and improve the standard of living of our people? How do we end poverty? How do we use this energy, which is a potential 5150 megawatts, and more energy potential. 

So we have to stop thinking about my country’s historical right. And the same thing comes up in discussions in the Horn of Africa. We have to get beyond that. And think about what is the benefit for the futures of our people in the next one to two generations, like we have to expand our thinking, improve our thinking, to this level, and get away from this is mine. This is yours. You can’t take mine. This petty, geopolitical mentality is really stupidity. And I and the leaders of African nations on many different fronts have to learn to rise above this and think about the future. What is going to help their people in the future? And how do we work with other nations? Not how do we demonize other nations. That’s what’s discussion has got to be. 

The Ethiopian should be actually promoting this discussion. Go beyond where they’ve been at this point, and actually promote a conference have let’s have a conference in Addis Ababa, on the future development of the Nile basin, and which then we can discuss how to cooperate with each other for the benefit of our people.

Thank you very much for your collaboration!

Read my earlier posts:

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

Freeman Speaks On The GERD: An Engineering Marvel-A Necessity For The Nile River

New Book on Ethiopia’s GERD: Historical Battle of the Nile-Colonialism vs Development

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

Ethiopia Access to Seaports Benefits All People of East Africa

Potential Ports for Expanded Ethiopian Trade

November 4, 2023

In his new article, Ethiopia needs a reliable seaport and a navy, Ken Opalo provide a great deal of useful information on the necessity for Ethiopia to have access to a sea port to continue its progress towards of industrializing its economy. It is imperative for all the nations in the Horn and East Africa to understand, it is in their self interest for Ethiopia, East Africa’s largest and fastest growing economy, to have access to a reliable port. A prosperous Ethiopia benefits the African continent.

Excerpts below from Ethiopia needs a reliable seaport and a navy

Ethiopia’s economic case for reliable and cost-effective seaport access is strong. In order to secure its economic future, the country must minimize or completely erase the economic costs associated with being landlocked. Overall, landlocked countries tend to be 20% less developed than they would be if they had access to the sea. This is partially due to cost of trade, with transportation costs being between 50%-262% higher for landlocked countries.Subscribe

Given the significant economic costs associated with being landlocked, it is a no-brainer that for Ethiopia to achieve its ambitious developmentalist agenda — which will necessarily require export-oriented industrialization and improved agricultural productivity — it needs to have more control over trade-related costs and policy (or procure stability on both fronts from its neighbors). According to the Ethiopian government, transportation costs gobble up 16% of the value of international trade (which seems really high). Foreign trade currently amounts to 24% of GDP, and needs to grow by orders of magnitude. With an annual output of US$127b, Ethiopia is already Eastern Africa’s biggest economy (Kenya is second at US$113b) but with lots of low-hanging opportunities for even bigger trade-driven output.

Last year Djibouti cut stay of cargo days from 45 to 8 days. In addition, the port is more expensive relative to neighbors, often lacks storage space, and suffers from untimely availability of empty containers for exports. These factors have are the motivation behind Ethiopia’s aggressive port diversification initiative. As of early last year, Djibouti City’s share of Ethiopian trade cargo had declined from 95% to just under 86%, with the Kenyan border Moyale dry port (0.02%), Somaliland’s Berbera (5%), and Djibouti’s Tadjoura (9.6%) emerging as alternatives. These latter routes, however, lack the infrastructure (roads, petrol stations, service and repair stops, etc) to support bulk haulage logistics.

His careless bluster notwithstanding, Abiy has significant leverage over Djibouti (population 1.1m). Ethiopia is Djibouti’s leading revenue generator, ahead of the naval base leases by China, France, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Japan. Ethiopian trade reportedly generates more than US$1b each year for the Djiboutian economy. Rents from foreign military bases estimated to be at least US$120m per year. The service sector accounts for nearly 80% of Djiboutian GDP (US$3.5b in 2022), much of it related to ports and logistics. Ethiopia accounts for upwards of 85% of all cargo passing through Djibouti.

Source: World Bank data

II: The economic case for securing reliable seaport access

As shown below, over the last decade Ethiopia has quintupled its industrial output and is quickly catching up with its regional neighbors. If these trends are to continue and if Ethiopia is to attract both domestic and foreign investments into its manufacturing sector, the state must guarantee investors that they will be able to access global markets at reasonable prices. The same goes for investments in the agricultural sector, which still has a commanding share of exports. Agriculture accounts for nearly 38% of GDP (including 50% of manufacturing production), 80% of employment, and about 90% of forex earnings.

Ethiopia’s planned rail network (see below) reflects the country’s industrialization agenda (the same goes for the overall transport masterplan, including road infrastructure). The proposed lines are all designed to serve specific industrial parks. Currently the main rail network (red) terminates at Djibouti City (Doraleh Multipurpose Port), with a planned alternative route to the opposite side of the Gulf of Tadjoura (in Tadjoura). While the rail network will certainly serve domestic production and distribution of goods once completed, an equally important objective should be to guarantee high-enough international traffic volumes to pay for its construction and ongoing maintenance.

As revealed by the planned railway network below, Ethiopia’s seaport options are largely limited to Djibouti — which is cause for believing that Abiy’s comments, if he really meant them and was not just carelessly thinking out loud that he is the latter day Ras Alula Abanega, were a negotiating tactic vis-a-vis Djibouti. Given its importance for Ethiopia’s maritime trade, is also likely that Djibouti is Addis Ababa’s first choice for the location of the planned naval base.

Ethiopia’s industrial parks are in Jimma, Hawassa, Adama, Dire Dawa, Bole Lemi, Debre Birhan, Semera, Kombolcha, Bahir Dar, and Mekelle. Source: Wikipedia

Read my earlier post: 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

Freeman Tells Xinhua: U.S. Officials Lie About China’s Belt & Road Initiative-BRI In Africa

Chen Mingjian, Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, speaks at an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug 25, 2023.(PHOTO / XINHUA)

(BRF2023) Interview: BRI greatly contributes to Africa’s infrastructure development, says U.S. expert

Source: Xinhua, Editor: huaxia

October 24, 2023   

Staff members work on the fiberglass production line of Jushi Egypt in Suez, Egypt, June 26, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

by Xinhua writers Deng Xianlai and Xu Yuan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Lawrence Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made important contributions to improving global political and economic relations since its inception a decade ago, especially on the African continent.

He believes that the severe shortage of electricity is the most intractable infrastructure problem facing Africa, which not only exacerbates poverty, but also “kills” Africans.

“This is not a metaphor,” Freeman said, because without electricity, industrial and agricultural production and basic infrastructure such as hospitals would be impossible. China is actively working with many African countries to address this issue, he added.

Belt and Road projects in Africa cover energy, ports, airports, roads, railways, schools and other aspects, Freeman said, and it is a proven fact that China’s involvement in Africa’s infrastructure construction and economic and social development “is right now irreplaceable.”

As an expert on Africa, Freeman has advised many governments in sub-Saharan Africa on economic development policies and has witnessed several Belt and Road projects on the continent.

“One economic minister in Africa once told me: ‘If you take China out of Africa, there is no substitute that would step in,'” he said.

For years, Freeman has been vehemently advocating for the African Union’s visionary Integrated High Speed Train Network, which is a flagship project of the AU’s “Africa 2063 Agenda” adopted in 2015 and, when finished, would connect African capitals and commercial centers. As such, Freeman is particularly impressed by the several high-standard railways China helped build on the African continent.

This photo taken on Aug. 21, 2023 shows the Karuma dam at Karuma Hydropower Plant in Kiryandongo, Uganda. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)

In 2016, Freeman attended the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti electrified railway — an early harvest project of China-Africa production capacity cooperation — in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. And his decades-long dream of taking a train in Africa was realized on a Chinese-built railroad in Nigeria.

“Of the 30 years I’ve been traveling to Africa, I finally got a ride on a railroad in 2021,” Freeman said, adding it was on the railway linking Abuja — the Nigerian capital — and Kaduna, a northern metropolis and a major transportation hub in the country.

“I’ve driven that route on a poorly paved road,” Freeman recalled. With the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway, “I could sit back on a train … It was comfortable, it was smooth … I enjoyed every second of it because I’ve been waiting for decades to take a train in Africa.”

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

“China is not intervening into domestic affairs (of countries along the Belt and Road),” he said. “China lends money with no conditionality.”

“Yet we have ignorant people in the U.S. government, in the State Department, in the Congress who repeat this” (false rhetoric) about China’s Africa policy, Freeman said.

Some U.S. diplomats and members of Congress have repeatedly discredited China’s Africa policy, throwing out “unfounded or ignorant attacks on China” despite “having access to knowing better” what the reality is, he noted.

“They’re repeating something that is known to be untrue. So that is no longer ignorance. That’s deliberate disinformation,” Freeman said.■

Read Chinese translation

Read my earlier post: “Win-Win Cooperation” Is Our Goal for China-U.S. Relations

Also read: “BRI provides solid platform for global cooperation” chinadailyhk.com

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

“Pan African Visions” Freeman Interview: The Newly Expanded BRICS Has Indelibly Changed The Universe-Ethiopia and Africa

Pan African Visions

The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.

For almost three decades, Lawrence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled, www.lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

September 26, 2023

The interview below is reprinted from Pan African Visions

Read: BRICS-alliance-challenges-the-old-order

Question: How The BRICS Alliance Challenges The Old Order

Lawrence Freeman: The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.
For almost three decades, Laurence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled www.laurencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com, he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

Question: How do you see the course that BRICS has passed through so far?

Freeman: The BRICS now has already emerged and is now accelerating its institution as an alternative to the western view of the world, and the Western political economic system that gives now called a new rules based international order. And that unipolar Western domination is now ending. And the BRICS is a very strong, emerging alternative. And as you know, an additional six countries have been invited to join the BRICS beginning 1st of January 2024. And of those six countries, Ethiopia is one of those countries, and Egypt is another. And therefore, out of the 11 nations, that will be BRICS members three of them will now be from Africa. So, this is very good news for Ethiopia, for Africa, and for the World Development.

Question: Two more African countries are now invited to join BRICS. How do you see the representation of Africa in the bloc?

Freeman: What is clear now is the addition of Ethiopia, which is over 115 million people, and Egypt, which is over 105 million people. You’ve now two very important countries added to the bloc, the second and third most populous countries of the African nations, and together with the existing member of South Africa.

So this is a very powerful representation, because these countries represent very significant pillars of the African continent.

Now, Ethiopia has been a leading nation in terms of driving economic development, not only in the country of Ethiopia, but really implicitly for the whole continent. Because of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is going to produce 5,150 megawatts within two years. This dam will also lead to a great development in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and Nile Basin nations.

Egypt has also been expanding its economy. It’s building nuclear power plants. It has built industrial complexes along the Nile River. And so these two additions, plus South Africa, which is the most industrialized nation on the continent, these three represent a very significant force for change and economic development in Africa. And the BRICS now has made it clear that they’re going to build the New Development Bank (NDB), which was set up after the BRICS; the NDB is going to be increasing its lending and 30% of its new lending will be in local currencies. So what we’re seeing is the domination of the dollar and the domination of the rules based order are now being said really weakened.

And we’re already in or approaching to the post unipolar Western dominated world. And BRICS is going to be one of the most central institutions in making those kinds of dynamic changes for world economic development. And of course, for Africa, with the level of poverty that exists on the continent, this could be a game changer.

Question: Do you think there will be a confrontation with other contending blocs now that BRICS is expanding by more than double?

Freeman: There is the danger of the West, taking measures against the BRICS, they have been organizing against the BRICS consistently. In fact, I found it very revealing that even days before the BRICS summit, which was the 22nd 23rd, and today to 24th, the whole western establishment in Western media was talking about how unimportant the BRICS summit was, and how it was much to do about nothing. And of course, they were just expressing their fear. Because if you ask China and other countries, they will tell you that they need oil. But they’re not just taking oil, they are building infrastructure and expanding the markets.

And the West has basically lost a level of its thinking capability, because rather than adjusting itself to these new developments; they’re trying to maintain the old developments. If, these BRICS countries, that are now growing to 11 increase the trade among themselves, if they’re increasing the investment among themselves, if they are building important infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities, and expand their markets, that each one of them can be selling to the other then it is given that the thing is going to be more and more dominated outside of the dollar, it’s going to be conducted in local currencies. So, if the West, my United States, was more intelligent, we would be oriented toward also being part of the changes but the geopolitical mindset have always been on top and is in control, and the hegemony is preventing the west from thinking clearly.

The BRICS is a reality; just like the Belt and Road Initiative is a reality. It’s not going to be put back in the bottle, as we say. And it’s a potential for real growth, and energy for infrastructure and energy for manufacturing development projects.

Development is the most important aspect of Africa’s relationships with the BRICS, says Lawrence Freeman.

It would be beneficial to all the countries involved, and the sooner the West, and the Secretary of State Blinken and President Biden and others wake up to this new reality, the better the world would be. We are facing a dangerous situation in Niger, West Africa, which I know well, is a sign of the same dynamic that you’re having. West African countries are rejecting colonialism; the French control over their economy, and are also rejecting military intervention. The coups are driven by the fact that the country is poor. One has to know the fact that there is only 3% of the Niger population accessing electricity. Less than 50% of the African continent has electricity access. Development is the most important aspect of the relationships with the BRICS. And the West does not or refuses to understand this vivid fact.

Question: How should African countries work in collaboration with BRICS as an alternative source of finance, market?

Freeman: One good thing is, they’re now going to be capable of having access to loans from the BRICS New Development Bank, and the NDB set up in 2015. So now this NDB is going to increase its loan portfolio. And it means that these countries may have an opportunity to get these loans. Now, these loans do not contain the conditionality that the IMF and World Bank attaches with. And the mindset of the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, is the global south has to be developed.

The BRICS has already represented about a third of the GDP worldwide, about 40% of the global population. So, both those figures are going to increase. So, the reality is that the African nations are joining a new dynamic in a world that is going to offer them with the new opportunities. Don’t forget, Africa is suffering; people are dying every day, because of a lack of electricity, and a lack of manufacturing capability. Those two things had been denied to the nation’s economies of Africa, this now gives an opportunity to change. But the West has never wanted to see this kind of economic development, in manufacturing, in particular, and electricity. Those two things are addressed along with a plan for high speed integrated rail, which I’ve also written about it on my website, those things will change or transform the African continent, and this is the way to eliminate poverty.

And if you eliminate poverty, you can eliminate instability. The reason is a lack of security in many countries, especially on the Sahel is because there’s no development, because people live like beasts, forced to live that way without the basic qualities of life. And so if you transform that, you can transform the entire political economic security situation. So, Egypt is all the way up in the north of the continent. It has an effect on the whole Sahel region. Ethiopia is right there in the center of East Africa, is the largest economy in East Africa. This could obviously affect a number of countries, Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan. And then you have South Africa in the very tip in the south. And if we expand the relationships, if we build the high speed railroads, if we expand the electricity, if we build manufacturing centers, we can see a whole different Africa.

Now, the BRICS, can’t do that overnight. But as they expand their lending capability, and also complementary is the Belt and Road Initiative, over a period of time, we can see a significant change in the lives of Africans and that their material standard of living. So now, three of the 11 nations of the BRICS are African nations, because that’s already a very sizable bloc within the BRICS itself. So I’m very optimistic about the potential and I’m very happy and excited for Ethiopia, because Ethiopia, if it gets this kind of new economic relations with the BRICS, then more of the desire and potential of Ethiopian economy can be realized, which is what I’ve been advocating for over 10 years.

Question: What kind of challenge do you expect for the newly invited countries in the course of joining BRICS?

Freeman: They will become official members of BRICS in about four months. And what we need to do for Ethiopia, especially all the countries involved in Africa, is long term low interest. What I mean is 2% to 3% long term interest rates on 15 year loans, government backed loans, or government supported loans for infrastructure. We need to be building an additional 1000 gigawatts of power on the continent. We need to have a high speed rail system that connects every port, every major city, every major industrial center, and every major agricultural center, connects the continent so that we can do the merger of Africa. Failing to have this infrastructure and have this manufacturing capability is the biggest weakness which is observable now. And only 13% to 15% of trade from African countries is among African countries, they’re exporting 85%. The African countries are importing 40 billion and plus dollars’ worth food commodities. The fact is that there is no reason for Africa to become self-sufficient in food. But Africa also needs the infrastructure, and it needs manufacturing.

So there’s a lot of potential, how aggressively would the BRICS proceed, I don’t know. But if they’re going to proceed as aggressively as possible, in effect, Africa can become a different place. All in all, the changes that are going on in West Africa are really part of the same process. The rules based order is no longer, hegemonic. The world is not unipolar. And therefore, that gives us potential for transformational change in Africa.

Question: How do you think developing countries including Africa maintain their ties with the west in the middle of the possible rift that could happen between BRICS and the other blocs?

Freeman: I suggest African countries have to understand this. There is no reason and there’s no benefit to attacking the West, head on. What these countries will be doing is that they will maintain their relations with the West. But they will not be forced to submit to the conditionalities of the West. And they want to drive out the last vestiges of colonialism. So, you have the French controlling 14 countries’ economies in Francophone Africa to a new form of colonialism. We have 1500 French troops in Niger, we have 1200 American troops. We have six bases in just Niger alone, that we’ve helped build. We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars on the so called counterterrorism.

What we now have to do is we have to spend billions and billions of dollars on development. So the African countries will say, we are open to working with everybody.

We will work with the West, we will work with the Global South. But we’re going to only work in ways that build our nations.

Lawrence Freeman backs calls by South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor for African countries to prioritize investment that also boosts local production

You had a very interesting statement from Naledi Pandor, who is the equivalent of foreign minister of South Africa last month when she met with her counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, [ And she said do not accept any investment that does not include manufacturing in your own country, and I agree with her 110%, then there should not be. The African nations now also have to expand their energy. And that means they should burn and use their natural resources. That means coal; that means oil; that means gas; that means hydro. And it means expanding nuclear energy, with the help of Russia, China and India will help in this regard. And they have to be and they’re not going to accept the dictates of the bank, the Western banking system that says, No, we’re not going to lend you money, unless you stop burning fossil fuels. And the African countries have said clearly, we are going to go ahead and burn our fossil fuel because we need energy to keep our people have a fulfilling life. So I don’t think the Asian countries in general are not going to be confrontational, but they no longer have to submit to the dictates of the rules based order.

Question: What do you think the countries of the West should do to maintain their relations with BRICS and developing countries?

Freeman: This is a very interesting question I’ve been writing and speaking about this. The problem that the West has, take the United States, for example, is that it is dominated by a geo political ideology. And this ideology says that the world is fixed, doesn’t grow. And therefore, the only way for superpowers to exist, they have to be on top, they have to be in control, called the zero sum game, everything has to add up to zero. So if I’m on top, you’re going to be on the bottom. If I am on the bottom, then you’re going to be on top. And this mentality is completely destructive. Now that mentality, that ideology, which is perverse, in my view, is under attack, because the reality of the universe we live in, has changed as you and I have been discussing.

So now, the world as a result of this BRICS summit and the changes in the BRICS configuration is a new factor in reality. It cannot be changed back in the west now, either they have to become aware of that and reflect on your policies and change their policies to pro development policies for these emerging markets, or the West will be left out of it or gets to military confrontation. So , can the West adjust? Can the West, think? Can people like the Secretary of State Blinken and Biden, think and reflect that the policy they’ve been advocating has failed? I don’t know if they’re going to do that. But that’s what they have to do. If they want to remain relevant in the world, and not push the world to military confrontations or impossible nuclear wars we’re seeing with Ukraine and Russia, whether they will actually have the ability to rethink and understand the errors of the ways is a very interesting question are going to see over the next several months, but the reality has changed, and that fact, can no longer be denied as much as the media would like to.

Now the 11 nations in the BRICS are representing larger and larger portions of the world economy in the world’s population, a large percentage of those almost 30% now of African nations, this represents a new reality. This represents a new dynamic. As we speak, the world has already changed. So now we have a new potential. And it is up to leaders of these African nations, and leaders of the BRICS, and leaders of other global south nations, to make these new realities, new potentials come about to realize that and to organize them around a new paradigm of economic order for development. And that is something very exciting. Something I’ve been fighting for 30 years, and I’m very happy to see the progress we’re making. And the reality has now changed as of today.

Thank you very much for your time!

You’re most welcome!

Culled from the September Issue of PAV Magazine and published Courtesy Of ZEKARIAS OLDEMARIAM, THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD SATURDAY 26 AUGUST 2023

Read my earlier post: BRICS Offers New Potential for Africa & The World: The Human Race Will Benefit

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.

Transaqua: Save Lake Chad & Prevent African Coups Like Niger

Transaqua, the “Mattei Plan” boycotted by France

September 19, 2023

This new article, TRANSAQUA, THE ITALIAN WAY TO THE SAHEL BOYCOTTED BY FRANCE AND EUROPEAN UNION, by Italian journalist, Francesca Ronchin, is quite timely, given the explosive developments we are witnessing amongst the nations in the Sahel and West Africa, today.

Ms. Ronchin does a service for Africa by publishing this story on August 30th (originally in Italian), one month after the coup in Niger. The obviously complete failure by France, the United States, and Western institutions, to nurture real economic development and provide security for Sahelian nations has led to a succession of coups. From my vantage point as a physical economist, these drastic changes in leadership are understandable, though by themselves they will not provide a solution. Unfortunately, more coups may be on the way.

Take the case of Niger. With almost half its people living in abject poverty, only 3% of the population having access to electricity, and the youth seeing no future as a Francophone nation, should anyone be surprised of the anger directed at the Western backed government? Niger is home to multiple miliary bases for drone deployments and to house 1,100 U.S. troops and 1,500 French forces.

The relevancy of Transaqua* is that, if this great water-energy-agricultural infrastructure project had been implemented, as I have advocated for 30 years, the conditions life in the nations of the Lake Chad Basin would have undergone an economic transformation. Had there been progress over recent decades in constructing Transaqua, Niger today, would be a completely different nation. If the U.S. had deployed the over $500 million it spent on military training and building drone bases on developmental infrastructure, such as electricity, the coup in Niger could have been averted. Sadly, the concept of development has vanished from the comprehension of the U.S. President, Congress, and State Department.

Although, it would appear to be miraculous, America is still capable of following in the footsteps of our most pro-African president, John F Kennedy, who unlike his immediate predecessors and those who came after him, had a true vison for the development of Africa. **

*Transaqua is discussed in detail in numerous posts on this website-click lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com/lake-chad-basin   

** Betting on the Africans, John F Kennedy’s Courting of African Nationalist Leaders. Philip E Muehlenbeck, Oxford University Press, 2012

Read my earlier post: To Prevent More Coups Like Niger: Eliminate Poverty in 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.

Panel of Experts Discuss Significance of Ethiopia’s Historic 4th Filling of the GERD for Africa

Ethiopia completes fourth filling of Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (Courtesy of ethiopianmonitor.com)

To hear a panel of experts on the GERD:

Play link twitter.com

After pressing play, the discussion begins in eight minutes with opening remarks of Lawrence Freeman.

Over the course of the last three weeks, two major developments have occurred that potentially will transform the quality of life for Ethiopia, and all the nations we now refer to as, The Global South. I’m referring to two singular events. One, the 4th filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) on the eve of the Ethiopian New Year. Two, the 15th BRICKS Summit (August 22-24) in Johannesburg South Africa, that added six new nations, which included Egypt and Ethiopia. These two developments occurring over a span of approximately three weeks have now changed Ethiopia, have changed Africa, and have actually changed the world.

As of January 2024, the BRICS will expand from its current five members; Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, to eleven nations by adding; Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Argentina. The world, the physical universe we live in, has changed; and our planet will never go back to the way it was before. The newly expanded BRICS, with its own Development Bank, is in its embryonic stage of becoming an alternative political-economic institution to the so called, rules-based international order. Ethiopia’s GERD is now irreversibly poised within the next two years, to inject 5,150 megawatts of power to the African continent.

On Sunday, September 10th, an extensive detailed examination of the significance of the 4th filling of the  GERD was discussed on Twitter (see link above) by a panel of experts, which included myself.

Briefly. The GERD reservoir now contains 42 billion cubic meters (bcm) of water, just 7 bcm short of the requirement to fill the dam. During the course of the rainy season the water level will increase another 25 bcm to obtain its full capacity of 74 bcm once the walls are raised another 25 meters to reach the height of 645 meters above sea level.

With the addition of eleven more turbines operating at 400 megawatts (MW) each, to the current two turbines operating at 375 MW each, the GERD is projected to generate approximately 16,000 megawatt hours of electricity. This will enable Ethiopia to provide electricity to its population, expand its manufacturing sector, industrialize its economy, and export electricity to neighboring nations in the Horn of Africa. Resulting in a complete transformation of the Ethiopian economy and its society. This dam will have no negative effect on the downstream nations. The GERD is a dam for development of Ethiopia, the Horn of Africa, and the entire Nile Basin. The African continent will benefit, and now has a model for other nations to follow.

By listening to  our conversation, you will learn a great deal about the current stage of development of the GERD and its potential for Ethiopia.

Read my earlier posts:

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

New Book on Ethiopia’s GERD: Historical Battle of the Nile-Colonialism vs Development

Freeman Speaks On The GERD: An Engineering Marvel-A Necessity For The Nile River Basin

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.