Learning About Africa: How History Effects the Present

Here is the announcement for my newest college course on Africa. Also listed is the course outline a class I am currently teaching; “Africa:The Sleeping Giant.”  I will be preparing a third course on “The Effects of British Colonialism on Africa” in the near future.  These courses are 15 hours long, taught over 7-10 weeks in Maryland. 

“Eight Nations Vital to the Development of Sub-Sahara Africa”

By Lawrence Freeman

The African continent encompasses 54 nations and is more than three times the size of the United States. The northern portion of the continent is dominated by the Sahara Desert, equal in area to that of United States. It is the driest, hottest place on earth, relatively barren, and thinly populated. The African nations below this vast desert are designated as “Sub-Saharan Africa” where approximately one billion live, and is expected to double in population by 2050.

All but two of the 48 nations of Sub-Sahara Africa suffered the brutalities of colonialism following centuries of slavery. As a result, Sub-Sahara Africa is the poorest and most underdeveloped region in the world. Unfortunately, following their liberation from colonialism beginning in 1956, these nations did not achieve economic sovereignty. However, now, for the first time since colonial powers occupied Africa, there are signs of progress with the building of new railroads, expanded ports, roads, and new hydro-electric power projects. This has created the potential to transform the continent.

This course will focus on eight Sub-Saharan nations; each unique in their history, development, and their contribution to the growth of Africa. Their combined population of 550 million comprise almost 30% of the land area of Africa.

Join us in examining the following nations from their birth to the present day: Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Over three decades, I have studied the history and developed an in-depth knowledge of Africa as a researcher, analyst, writer, and consultant. Sadly, most Americans know little about Africa, due to a limited number educational courses, and a reliance on the media. I hope to increase your understanding by sharing my accumulated knowledge with you.

 

 

“Africa The Sleeping Giant” Course Outline:

1-Discovering the Africa Continent

2-Africa: Home to Mankind

3-Man Is Not a Monkey

4-The Great Bantu Migration

5-Early Civilizations

6-Europe Discovers Africa

7-Slavery Rips the Soul of the Continent

8-Colonialism, Exploitation, and Genocide

9-Economic Sovereignty and the Nation State

10-Africa’s Future is Development

 

 

 

President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy

By Lawrence Freeman,

January 4, 2018

After nearly a year in office, the outline of President Donald Trump’s policy for Africa has emerged as fundamentally and seriously flawed. In a similar manner to his predecessors, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Trump’s African strategy suffers from a conceptual deficiency in its failure to recognize that the most fundamental human right is the right to life. Every human being is morally entitled to live a healthy, productive, meaningful life with the hope that the future will be an improvement over the present.  If one examines the outlines of policy by President Trump and the State Department, such a guiding and indispensable principle is conspicuously absent. For Africa, where the largest number of people endure the greatest hardships of life of any continent, the absence of a full-throttled U.S. commitment to eliminate poverty and hunger as an essential feature of a strategic policy, is damning, and must be remedied.

To ensure a prosperous future for what will be the most populated continent on the planet in 2050, by which time the population is expected to double, from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people, President Trump should emulate China’s infrastructure-led development program.

The Trump administration is expected to reduce State Department and USAID-funded programs, among others, beneficial to Africa. Not to overlook the potential harmful effects of these cuts, there is a more fundamental shortcoming to Trump’s policy. Like his recent predecessors, he is ignorant of, or ideologically blind, to understanding what is required to accelerate economic growth across the African continent. Africa needs, infrastructure, infrastructure, and more infrastructure, particularly in the vital categories of energy, rail, roads, and water management. Trump has been especially eager to support increased military deployments and kinetic warfare against violent extremists in Somalia, the Sahel, and northeast Nigeria. However, any competent and honest military leader knows an effective counter-terrorism effort must include economic development. If the Sahel, were not a barren, underdeveloped desert, the various terrorist militia would not be able so easily to occupy this region for their base of operations.

Security and Free Trade: Inadequate for Africa

The African continent has the greatest deficit in all categories of infrastructure on the planet. Thus, not surprisingly, Africa has the largest number of people living in poverty; living without the basic necessities of life.  According to a 2016 World Bank report on poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of people, 41%, living in extreme poverty. That translates into the largest number of poor at 389 million, just over 50% of 767 million worldwide living below the poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. Yet despite all the hype about Africa’s “rising lions,” referring to African nations with high growth rates of GDP, the number of people living in poverty is Sub-Saharan Africa is increasing.

Look at one critical area: access to energy which is the lifeblood of an economy. Abundant grid energy, accessible to all sectors of society, can transform an entire nation and lift its population out of poverty. Conversely, the lack of energy kills. According to “Energy Access Outlook 2017,” of the 674 million people, globally, expected to be without access electricity in 2030, over 600 million, or 90%, will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the developing sector nations in Asia and Latin America, the percentage of the population expected to have access to electricity by 2030 is 99% and 95% respectively, while for Sub-Saharan Africa, it expected to be 50% or less.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of those without electricity is increasing, unlike like all other populations in the world. Africa requires a minimum of 1,600 gigawatts of electrical power to have same the standard of living as advanced nations.

In a related classification, cooking energy, the picture is also abysmal. Almost 80% of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have gas or electric stoves; instead they cook with solid biomass, i.e., solid waste, animal dung, wood, saw dust, wood chips, etc. This is not only destructive to the environment, but to human labor as well. I have witnessed, on numerous occasions in my travels throughout Nigeria, young girls collecting firewood and then carrying it on their heads for sale in the market. In Mali, young men are destroying trees to be used in the primitive method of charcoaling, aiding the expansion of the desert.

President Trump’s Africa policy of security/counter-terrorism first, followed by trade and investment, fails to address Africa’s underlying depressed conditions of life which allow violent groups to easily recruit. People who can’t feed their families or provide the minimal necessities of life, and see no hope in the future, are led to violence out of manipulation and despair. Trade and investment, as proposed by the Trump administration, are not the solution.

Africa suffered greatly from 500 years of slavery and colonialism, 1450-1960. Following the initial success of the independence movements, the financial predators moved in to loot the continent’s vast wealth in natural resources. Extractive industries provide revenue, but they do not add/create wealth or generate a significant number of jobs. Africa doesn’t need more investors intent on making profits under the guise of applying the distorted “laws” of free trade and the marketplace. African nations require real economic growth that creates added value, increases the total wealth of society, and provides productive jobs to the restless masses of unemployed youth.

In 2014, Africa’s share of value added in global manufacturing is reported to be a pitiful 1.6%.  This sorrowful state of economy can and must be reversed. The manufacturing process is vital for every healthy economy. It adds wealth by transforming natural resources into finished and semi-finished products to be either consumed domestically or exported. This requires technologically advanced capital equipment, and skilled labor, all embedded within an integrated platform of infrastructure. State-directed credit and long-term, low-interest loans invested into critical areas of the economy, such as infrastructure, are indispensable for the growth of a manufacturing sector. Witness previous successful periods of economic growth in the U.S. (and in China today); these were accomplished through public credit, not hedge fund speculators and Wall Street day traders.

The most valuable natural resource of Africa, is not its mineral wealth, which is the target of the financial and mining/commodity predators. Rather, its greatest natural resource is its immense quantities of arable, yet to be cultivated land, along with the abundant water sources in its numerous lakes and river systems.  Africa is capable of feeding its people and eliminating hunger. It can also potentially help feed Asia, if properly developed with a manufacturing sector, and food-processing industries, coupled with a massive expansion of infrastructure.

What Does China Know About Africa That the U.S. Doesn’t

Over the last thirty-five years, China has lifted over one-half billion of its citizens out of poverty. This has been accomplished by massive state-directed investment into essential categories of infrastructure, along with its deep commitment to advance its economy through attaining new levels of science and technology. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have publicly stated their desire to help African nations eliminate poverty. This universal mission by the leadership of China, expressed concretely in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” has led to a revolution in joint infrastructure projects in Africa. New railroads are being built across the continent, replacing colonial locomotives and tracks built over one hundred years ago. On the East Coast, an entry zone for the Maritime Silk Road, new and expanded ports, with connecting rail lines vectored westward into the interior of the continent, are creating the potential for a fundamental transformation of the economies of several African nations including; Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti.

The “ChinaPower Project” reports that between 2000 and 2014, China funded 2,390 projects across Africa totaling $121.6 billion, just over one-third of China’s total global financing. In Africa, 32% of the financing went for transportation projects and 28.5% for energy.

“Dance of the lions and dragons” a study completed by McKinsey & Company in 2017, analyzed privately owned Chinese companies operating in Africa. They estimated that there are 10,000 such private Chinese businesses that have committed $21 billion to infrastructure, which is more than combined total of the African Development Bank, European Commission, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the G-8 nations. And 31% of these companies are involved in manufacturing which accounts for 12% of Africa’s industrial production—valued at $500 billion.

Conclusion

The U.S., along with the other Western powers, virtually abandoned the nations of Africa as soon as they had overthrown their colonial masters. President John F. Kennedy stands out among U.S. presidents, following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, as a champion for the newborn African nations. His collaboration with Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s to construct the Volta Dam Hydro-electric Aluminum Smelting Complex is a singular moment in U.S.-Africa relations over the last six decades.  America lost its vision for development, resulting in its refusal to build the power plants, dams, railroads, and ports that Arica needs. China has made a commitment to Africa and now is contributing to the most expansive building of new infrastructure the continent has ever seen.

President Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) is totally hypocritical: it attacks China for becoming Africa’s largest partner, and accuses China of undermining “Africa’s long-term development.” Trump’s NSS expresses the same old British geopolitical mentality of winners and losers competing in a zero-sum war for global hegemony.

Throughout my travels in Africa, I have found expressions of affection for America and its ideals; even among those nations that the U.S. has abused. That positive attitude is beginning to wane. However, it is not too late for the U.S. to chart a new course, one of cooperation with China and Africa to transform the continent.  Saving Lake Chad from extinction and transforming the Lake Chad Basin, is an urgent task for such a tripartite cooperation.

 

 

Africa Advancing With Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Long-Term Impact on African Countries

Dr. Alexander Demissie of Ethiopia, an expert in China-Africa relations, spoke in Germany, November 26, 2017.

Below are excerpts from an excellent presentation by Dr. Demissie on the increasingly productive relationship between China and Africa to develop the continent’s infrastructure, which Europe and the Unites States have refused to do.

‘My third point: the BRI is primarily an infrastructural undertaking. We don’t yet have political institutionalization. We have infrastructural ideas. We have corridors, but we don’t yet have political institutions. So, if we talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or the Silk Road Bank, these are just connected
to infrastructure; they are not political ideas.

“Interestingly, this idea fits perfectly into the current African need—infrastructure development. Africa wants infrastructure, going back here to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 strategic framework that has also, coincidentally, been coming up. Together with the BRI, Africa wants a good infrastructure connection, a good internal interconnectivity. So, the idea of the BRI coming from China is perfectly fitting into the idea—actually happening or being discussed—within the African continent.

“China has also been very clear since Johannesburg in 2015 that they want to cooperate more with Africa more on infrastructural projects that create regional connectivity. That is where the BRI comes in. That’s why I mentioned earlier that the BRI is primarily an infrastructure topic.

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Putin and El-Sisi Sign Economic Deals in Cairo; Russia To Build Nuclear Power Four-Plant Complex for Egypt

December 11, 2017–Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement to construct Egypt’s first nuclear plant, which will be followed by construction of three more. Costing $21 billion, the porject is scheduled to be finished by 2028-2029.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They discussed economic matters, energy, and politics, as well as the possibility of resuming air travel between Russia and Egypt, which was suspended in November 2015 after the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai in what is believed to have been an act of terrorism.

President Putin stated, “I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead.”

President al-Sisi responded, “Since the 1950s and ’60s, Russia has always supported Egypt and still supports our country: both with metallurgical plants and the construction of the Aswan Dam, and today we will sign a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant.”

The preliminary agreement between the countries was signed in 2015; a loan from Russia will cover 85 percent of the construction costs. Russia’s Rosatom will service the complex’s four reactors for 60 years, its chairman Aleksey Likhachyov said today, RT reported. Representatives of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation and Russian universities have recently visited Egyptian universities to prepare engineering students to work at the Daba nuclear power plant in the future. The Russian delegation gave a number of presentations at the Russian Center for Culture and Science in Cairo.

One day after Eyptian President El-Sisi and Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of a deal for the construction of four Russian reactors in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, it is reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has already begun a study at the El Nagila site, which takes about three years, to see if it is suitable for the construction of four nuclear plants, according to sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity. The study will be carried out parallel with the construction at the Dabaa site, where the first reactor is scheduled to come on-line in 2026. When that plant is complete, it will become only the second country in Africa, following South Africa, to have a nuclear power plant.

The {Daily News Egypt} reports that Egypt has signed protocols and MOUs with 10 countries for cooperation in nuclear energy, to help with training and the utilization of expertise in reactor management, and security, safety, and the possibility to provide formal advisory services to the EAEA

Africa’s Ports Revolution: Railway Ports of the East

This an informative article written on February 23. 2017, reporting on the exciting potential for the developments of Africa’s East coast ports with railroad connections to the interior of the continent. 

The population of Africa is presently 1.2 billion and growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, more than twice that of any other continent. In two years’ time, it will gain the population of the UK; in 12 years of compounded growth it will gain the population of China.

All these extra people may add dynamism to economies, but only if the increase in labour supply can be matched by an equivalent increase in economic activity; otherwise,  rising population density may destabilise social and political systems – an effect already seen in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This challenge has led to a different pattern of development for ports on Africa’s east coast, compared to the west coast. In the west, the centres served by these ports are close by, sometimes right outside the port gate. In east Africa, by contrast, they are between 500km and 1,000km away, and most of the infrastructure needed to reach them has not yet been built. In the case of the Doraleh container terminal at Djibouti, the goal is the Ethiopian highlands and the valley of the White Nile at Khartoum, a cluster roughly equivalent to the population of Japan. In East Africa, a similar-sized population is grouped in the Great Lakes states, South Sudan and the DRC. All of these centres, with the marginal exception of the DRC, are landlocked.

Their ability to attract investment and benefit from globalisation depends, among other things, on having efficient rail, road and pipeline links to the Indian Ocean “transit  states” of Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

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President of Ghana Speaks out for Strong Independent Africa

Speaking at the Presidential Palace of Ghana on December 4, 2017 with French President Macron, Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo spoke eloquently of the need for Africa to be self-sustaining and independent. Emphasizing that when African nations became developed their people would have no need to migrate to Europe. To watch his speech click: Speech by the President of Ghana

Through Science, Africa’s Challenges Will Be Met

December 10, 2017)–South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor told the third Science Forum in Pretoria on Dec. 7, that “it is through science that many of the challenges faced by our communities can be addressed.” A primary objective of the two-day forum, she said, is “to put science in the service of African society.” She stressed the importance of international collaboration, welcoming delegates from around the world to Africa’s largest “open science” event. Pan-African cooperation, in particular, is a hallmark of all of South Africa’s science and technology programs.

The purpose of the forum was to discuss the role of science in society. She said that one objective of the forum was to “showcase African science and technology to the world. We want to change the way they talk about us.” Pandor is dedicated to promoting African breakthroughs in science, which will change the way Africa has historically been viewed, and will help eliminate the “Afro-pessimism” on the continent itself.

China Extends Loan and Grant Facilities in Zimbabwe

December 7, 2017 — In a show of confidence in the new situation in Zimbabwe, China has extended a loan and grants for key development projects. They include a concessionary loan for the upgrade of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare, and grants for the construction of the new Parliament Building and for the High Performance Computing Center being constructed at the University of Zimbabwe for a total of $213 million.

The loan and grants will be administered through the Export-Import Bank of China. Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping signed the deal in Harare yesterday on behalf of the two governments.

The $153 million loan carries a concessionary 2% interest rate and is payable over 20 years with a seven-year grace period. The expansion of the airport aims to double the airport’s capacity from the current 2.5 million passengers per year to 6 million. “The government of the People’s Republic of China also gave support to the people of Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle,” said Minister Chinamasa.

“China is the only source of infrastructure financing. If you look at Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, their source of funding is China. We look forward to China and we have a lot to know from them. They are second largest economy after United States of America,” Chinamasa said. He described that the support springs from the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Dec. 1, 2015, when he pledged to support the construction of the new Parliament building, and that more deals with China were in the offing, according to the Harare {Herald}.

For his part Ambassador Huang said: “The Chinese government will continue to support the Zimbabwean government and people in their economic revival and social development. The agreement we have signed today is just a testimony of our efforts and our true friendship that withstands the test of time.” He said China was pleased to be lending financial support to Zimbabwe at “this new juncture of Zimbabwe’s social and economic development.” Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed his government to correcting the policy inconsistencies that have prevented the Chinese from expanding their investments in the country, especially in infrastructure.

Nacala Corridor Project Receives $300 Million from the African Development Bank

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) and other participating co-lenders have signed agreements for the financing of the Nacala Corridor project. This is an integrated and transformative infrastructure project which consists of a 912 km railway and a port meant to unlock the Western region of Mozambique and landlocked Malawi. The total project cost is estimated at $5 billion,” the AfDB website reported. “The project has received further financial backing from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, for an overall package of $2.7 billion in loans,” Infrastructure News website reported on Dec 5.

Upon completion, the Nacala Corridor project will fulfill West Mozambique and Malawi’s dream to connect by rail to the sea, for a cheaper way of transporting goods. Parts of yhis project have been completed, and last August, the inauguration of the Kachasu Nkaya railway section of the project has now linked Malawi to the Indian Ocean by rail. Last May, {Railway Gazette} had reported Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi inaugurating the deepwater port of Nacala-a-Velha.

This is the starting point to develop a 912 km “integrated logistics corridor” by rail, serving northern Mozambique, southern Malawi and the Moatize coalfield.According to AfDB, “the project is expected to have a catalytic effect in the region and create economic benefits for the various stakeholders, including sponsors, governments and the local population. It will enable a significant reduction in transportation costs and increase coal export volumes. Furthermore, additional capacity created in general along the corridor is expected to contribute to creating economic opportunities in the local economy, notably by increasing agricultural trade in the region.”

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Trans-Saharan Railway Progressing: Great News for Africa

This rail project is vital not only for Sudan, but for the African continent. Sudan is located strategically to be the nexus for the East-West and North-South rail roads that when completed would transform the entire African landmass. Imagine the revolution in economic development when the Atlantic and Indian Oceans are connected across the girth of Africa, and also linked to the Mediterranean Sea and oceans surrounding South Africa. Port Sudan and Kenya’s port of Mombassa are part of China’s Maritime Silk Road. Ethiopia and Kenya have completed new rail lines with the assistance of China as part of the Spirit of the New Silk Road. Most people cannot even dream of how life for over one billion Africans would be changed by an industrialized and connected Africa, Yet, not only is it possible, but we can make it happen.

China signs agreement to begin planning 3,400km trans-Saharan railway

8 November 2017 |

By Global Construction Review Staff

Two Chinese companies will start planning a railway across the Sahara Desert linking Sudan’s Red Sea coast to landlocked Chad after an agreement was signed yesterday with the Sudanese government.

China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company (FDDC) inked the deal with the Sudanese Railways Authority.

They now have 12 months to complete a feasibility study on the construction of the 3,400 kilometre-long railway from Port Sudan to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena.

Makawi Mohamed Awad, Sudan’s minister of transport, said that his ministry’s strategic aim was to link Port Sudan with all its landlocked neighbors. The Chad line, from its capital, N’Djamena, would join Sudan’s network at Nyala across the border. 
 

The Chad line would join Sudan’s network at Nyala, state capital of South Darfur

Plans for a Sahara railway go back some years.

In 2014, Sudan reached a political agreement with Chad to link their capitals with Port Sudan with a later extension to the Atlantic Ocean ports of Cameroon. Although both countries pledged to stop supporting each other’s rebel movements, continual instability delayed implementation. 

Further back in March 2012, Chad reached agreement with the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation to build its portion of the line to the Sudanese border, after which it would join the Sudanese system at Nyala. The estimated $5.6bn cost of the line was thought likely be met by the Import Export Bank of China. 

The lines are to be built to standard gauge and will be allow trains to run at 120 km/h.

CRDC carries out preparatory work for railway construction. It has been a major player in the development of China’s domestic high-speed system, surveying some 7,500km of it. 

FDDC is a state-owned developer that carries out turnkey infrastructure projects outside the domestic market. 

 

Sudan: Sanctions Lifted, Now Development Is Imperative

Lawrence Freeman

October 24, 2017

            On October 12, the U.S. announced the long overdue, official removal of some sanctions on Sudan. Now, new and exciting potentials lie ahead for the future of Sudan and its people. This is not the time to delay; the government of Sudan should seize the moment to implement policies that will lead to the economic development of this vast nation, and the raising of the standard of living of its more than forty million citizens. 

According to U.S. government representatives, President Trump’s executive decision does not terminate President’s Clinton’s E.O. 13067, issued on November 3, 1997, but it removes those sanctions that had enforced an embargo on commercial transactions with Sudan.  Thus, now companies and individuals wishing to export, invest, and trade with Sudan can conduct business using the international banking system without fear of being penalized. However, targeted sanctions remain, and there are licensing requirements for agricultural and medical exports.

This milestone in U.S.-Sudan relations is, in large part, due to the relentless efforts by Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, especially his leadership over the last sixteen months. Professor Ghandour, who was appointed to head Sudan’s foreign office in June 2015, has successfully changed the dynamics of a detrimental and hostile U.S. attitude against his nation.  Nearly twenty years of sanctions have accomplished nothing except to cause greater suffering and hardship for the Sudanese people.  Finally, this suffocating policy has ended, allowing Sudan the opportunity to move forward. 

However, the U.S. now maintains a peculiar and contradictory policy towards Sudan: Lifting trade sanctions allows companies to conduct commercial activity in Sudan without penalty, but the U.S. cannot offer financial support to investors from any of its lending institutions, because Sudan remains on the U.S. State Department’s list of “states sponsoring terrorism” (SST).

Under the administration’s new executive order, Sudan is removed from a short list of nations under “comprehensive sanctions”: North Korea, Syria, Iran, and Cuba, and is placed on a broader list of nations subject to “targeted sanctions.” The government of Sudan intends to seek redress of its wrongful inclusion on the SST list. Removal from this list would allow Sudan to seek relief from its onerous forty-plus billions of dollars of debt, and make it eligible to receive favorable treatment from U.S. lending facilities. Unfortunately, removing Sudan from the SST list would require the approval of the U.S. Congress, which is still antagonistic towards Sudan.

Shaping a Better Future with China’s Belt and Road

Since Sudan’s liberation from colonialism, during which, the British Imperialists codified into law the artificial division between the so-called North and South, Sudan has never realized it full economic potential. This lack of development has been at the core of Sudan’s difficulties. This can now change.   

The spirit of China’s 21st Century Silk Road has created a new dynamic on the African continent that Sudan is well positioned to harness. Sudan’s neighbors in East Africa are already participating in a density of construction of new rail lines going East to West that have the potential to transform Africa, becoming the eastern leg of the long-awaited East-West railroad that would link the Atlantic to the Indian Oceans. Ethiopia has completed the first electrically driven railroad connecting the capital Addis Ababa to the Port of Djibouti, and has devised a strategy to connect to all its neighboring countries by rail. Kenya has completed the first phase of the standard-gauge railroad, from the Port of Mombasa to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi. This the first phase of a plan to connect the nations of the Horn of Arica to those of the Great Lakes Region. Tanzania has begun the first two stages of Dar es Salaam-Iska-Kagali/Keza-Musongati (DIKKM) rail project, a 1672-kilometer railroad connecting Kigali in Rwanda and Musongati in Burundi to Kenya’s Port of Dar Es Salaam. Most of these transportation infrastructure projects are being supported by China, both in funding and construction.

The Port of Sudan is officially on China’s Maritime Silk Road, and the Ports of Mombasa, Djibouti, and Dar es Salaam are there implicitly.

 Sudan is geographically positioned to become the nexus point for the East-West and North South trans-Africa rail-lines, possibly crossing in the city of Sennar on the Blue Nile. The Sudanese government has already prepared an ambitious multi-phase plan to connect all parts of its territory with its neighbors by rail. China has been a consistent economic partner of Sudan and is a likely candidate to collaborate on these rail projects.

Sudan is also in urgent need of more electricity to power its economy. The erection of the Merowe Dam, with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, was a significant accomplishment in 2009-2010, and there have been smaller hydropower projects in the eastern portion of the country. However, Sudan, like the rest of sub-Sharan Africa, is suffering from a huge deficit in electrical power that is now holding back, and will continue to retard economic growth until it is rectified. Sub-Saharan Africa needs over 1,000 gigawatts of power to begin to obtain the level of modern Afro-industrial societies  

Sudan Is Open for Business

Speaking in Washington, D.C. on October 16, at a forum sponsored by the Corporate Council of Africa, Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr. Mohamed Othman Al-Rikabii outlined the areas of potential investments in Sudan’s resources, including; water, gold, oil, mining, livestock, gas, and tourism.  He emphasized the enormous potential for investment in agriculture in Sudan, with presently only 20% of its sixty million hectares of fertile land under cultivation.

For the first time in decades, Sudan has the opportunity to design polices that focus on the development of the nation. Productive employment must be created to provide hope for a better future for the Sudanese people, especially its youth, who are living in poverty. This will require immediate construction–shovels in the ground–of vitally needed infrastructure. China, in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” will undoubtedly be a willing partner to Sudan’s future economic growth. Whether the U.S., under President Trump, will be wise enough to contribute to Sudan’s development after twenty years of failed sanctions, remains to be seen.  As for the government of Sudan, there is no time to waste, and no acceptable delays.  Economic development is the agenda.