Watch my hour long presentation from October 3. I discussed that the future of our planet in this century will be dependent on the African continent with its projected population of 2.4 billion and 1 billion youth by the year 2050. Either we set in motion NOW policies to develop African nations and realize the potential of 1 billion young creative minds, or we fail to do so, which will lead to more misery, and instability. The whole world will suffer from insecurity on the the African continent.
Past African giants like Cheikh Anta Diop and President Kwame Nkrumah understood what was required to develop the nations of Africa: infrastructure, energy, industry, and science. Africa suffers from an deliberate policy of imposed economic under-development, which must be overcome, not only for the sake of Africa, but for the very future of our planet.
The United States has adopted an anti-development, geo-political ideology that opposes development in Africa. For example, why hasn’t the Biden administration praised Ethiopia for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that will generate 6,200 megawatts of electricity for the Horn of Africa? I am sure that Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy would have supported Ethiopia’s drive for development, if they were alive today.
All this and more, including quotes from Diop and Nkrumah, is presented by myself in this video, which I believe will stimulate further discussion on the future 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 the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton
Africa’s only nuclear powerplant in Koeberg South Africa. (Courtesy cbn.co.za)
December 18, 2020
Ghana has correctly focused on obtaining energy from nuclear power to realize their ambition of becoming an industrialized economy. It is worth remembering that under President Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana had, I believe, the first test nuclear reactor on the continent. Seventeen African nations are in various stages of planning for nuclear energy stations in their countries. The energy-flux density of nuclear power is superior to all other forms of energy, plus it is not dependent on wind, water, or sunlight. I encourage all African nations to move rapidly to harness the power of the Sun on earth through nuclear energy. The most complete means for African nations to break free from the legacy of colonialism, is to design nuclear powered manufacturing-industrialized economies; ending poverty and hunger.
Nuclear Energy in Africa – Lessons from Ghana
Isabel Bosman, Dec. 11, 2020
The Republic of Ghana has a long and complicated history with nuclear energy dating back to the country’s immediate post-independence period. Despite being derailed at multiple points on a long, uneven journey, recent developments around Ghana’s nuclear plans provide hope and lessons for the rest of Africa.
Access to electricity in Ghana is fairly widespread with the electricity access rate at 85% in 2019. However, problems with the country’s conventional sources of electricity signal that the time is right for Ghana to pursue its nuclear aspirations alongside other renewable energy generation options to achieve the twin goals of economic development and consistent electricity supply.
By 2057, Ghana hopes to have a highly industrialised economy. It has singled out nuclear power as a key vehicle of development. Ghana’s nuclear ambitions started with the establishment of the Kwabenya Nuclear Reactor Project in 1961. Derailed by consecutive military coups d’état, the project remains uncompleted. Commitment to the establishment of a functioning, effective nuclear power programme from government has also been inconsistent.
Yet recent developments provide hope. The return of nuclear energy to the country’s development agenda is accelerated by the need for a stable electricity supply. In 2015 the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to carry out a ‘Phase 1 Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review Mission (INIR)’ in the country.
First phase reviews assess the readiness of a country to embark on the road to nuclear power and take place at the decision-making stage. Second phase reviews follow directly from the first and entail putting into place concrete actions after the decision to go nuclear has been taken. In the final phase, the nuclear power programme is implemented.
The team determined that Ghana had sufficiently progressed in order to begin preparation for the second phase of the project and another Review Mission. Before progressing to this next phase; however, the evaluation team suggested prioritising further research and bolstering of Ghana’s legal framework.
Establishing a nuclear power project seems logical for a country that is no stranger to the peaceful application of nuclear technology. Ghana has successfully operated a 30kW nuclear research reactor for more than two decades. The Ghana Research Reactor-1 (GHARR-1) is one of 12 research reactors on the African continent and plays a vital role in the education and training of personnel to oversee its emerging nuclear energy programme. GHARR-1 is also relied on for research , particularly the treatment of nuclear waste and environmental safety, and irradiation projects. Ghana also relies on nuclear technology for administering radiotherapy and other nuclear medicine applications.
The energy supply situation in the rest of Africa is not very different. Power outages are regular occurrences in much of Africa and according to the IAEA, more than half of the population of sub-Saharan Africa remains disconnected from the grid. Nuclear power represents an alternative and reliable source of electricity.
Excluding South Africa, where nuclear power is already established, the IAEA notes that nearly one third of the countries that have approached it for assistance in establishing a nuclear power programme are African. Apart from Ghana, these include Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan. According to the IAEA, the nuclear option is also under consideration in Algeria and Tunisia as well as Uganda and Zambia.
If the road to nuclear energy in Ghana is anything to go by, it is a telling example to other African countries of the commitment necessary, as well as the importance of political stability and political will in implementing a project that holds vast potential for economic and human development.
This piece draws on research conducted by Hubert Foy and Isabel Bosman for an upcoming SAIIA Special Report on the peaceful use of nuclear energy in Ghana.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
Biden Administration Must Break from Past Practices to Collaborate with China in Fostering Economic Development in Africa
December 16, 2020
For the incoming Biden/Harris administration to make a real difference and have positive impact on the lives of hundreds of millions of African still living in poverty, they should work in partnership with China. This would require rejecting and reversing the anti-China mindset of the Trump and Obama administrations, echoed by the current chorus of voices spewing from officials of both the Democratic and Republican parties. A repeat of the defective policies of the last twelve years coupled by the shrill geo-political motivated propaganda against the nation of China, will not only do little for Africa, but it will also harm the United States, and endanger strategic relations. It should be obvious to qualified leaders, as it is to me, that the horrific conditions of life for a majority of Africans, reflects the scope of the continent’s deficit in vital infrastructure. Over 600 million are without access to electricity, over 400 million Africans live in poverty, and several nations are currently threatened with famine. If the two economic power houses, China, and the United States, worked in partnership with African nations, this impoverishment could be eliminated.
Failures of Trump and Obama
Presidents Trump and Obama similarly failed to understand the necessary requirements to create real-physical economic growth to improve the conditions of life, for America or Africans. Neither comprehend the principles of the American System of economics that built the foundation of the industrialized U.S. Their conception of economics remains dominated by a belief that the wealth of a nation is measured by Wall Street’s monetary values.
US President Donald Trump (L) and China’s President Xi Jinping speak during a joint statement in Beijing on November 9, 2017. (NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP via Getty Images)
Trump began his presidency establishing an amiable relationship with Chinese President, Xi Jinping. Unfortunately, that quickly deteriorated as Trump propitiated the anti-China prejudices of his supporters. Although President Trump’s road to the White House was achieved by his status as an outsider to the Washington establishment, it was evident by the second year of his administration that he had acquiesced to the same geo-political world view of his predecessors. Geo-political doctrine speciously asserts that nations are either winners or losers in a zero sum game with the world as a chessboard. That the only interest of a superpower is achieving hegemony, rejecting any conception of a shared common interest among nations. His choice of neocons, Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State, and John Bolton as National Security Advisor in April 2018, left no doubt the direction of President Trump’s foreign policy.
On December 18, 2018, speaking at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC, Bolton unveiled President Trump’s so called Africa Strategy. In his presentation Bolton defined the goal of U.S. policy in Africa, to wit: stopping China’s advances on the continent. In less than an hour, he attacked China and its Belt and Road seventeen times. President Trump did not disavow Bolton’s assault on China, nor his demeaning treatment of Africa as a game board for geo-politics. Read President Trump’s Non-African Strategy: Published in AU’s “Invest in Africa” magazine
Prior to President Obama’s anti-China Asian Pivot in January 2012, his administration launched the most destructive military operation against an African nation by any U.S. President. In October 2011, President Obama, advised by UN Envoy Samantha Powers, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Susan Rice and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, toppled the government of Libya. This irresponsible military adventure resulted: in the death of Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi; the destruction of the nation of Libya, turning it into a failed state for the last nine years; and unleashing hordes of violent extremists across the Sahel into Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Nigeria, causing tens of thousands of deaths and displacing millions of Africans.
China Delivers Infrastructure
Contrary to U.S. squealing and whining about China’s influence in Africa, Deborah Brautigam of the DC based China Africa Research Initiative, precisely presents the paradox: “China still addresses Africa’s hunger for structural transformation in a way the West does not.” (1) China has increasingly been engaged with African nations over the last two decades to build vitally needed infrastructure in rail, energy, ports, airports, roads, etc., and the U.S (West) has not.
Courtesy CSIS China Power Project
Take rail for example. Examine China’s commitment to building railroad tracks in Africa, as reported by the Washington think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). (2)
“Between 2008 and 2019, China built an average of 5,464 kilometers (km) of railway track per year. Roughly half of the new track added was high-speed rail. At 35,388 km, China’s high-speed rail network is the largest in the world.” China has built an additional 100,000 km of non-high speed rail track.
According to the CSIS report,
“Chinese companies signed $61.6 billion worth of rail construction contracts from 2013 to 2019 – more than double the value of the previous seven-year period (2006-2012) coinciding with the launch of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in 2013.”
“Africa received the second-highest amount of [China’s] rail contracts from 2013-2019. At $20.8 billion, this accounted for 33.8 percent of the total… About $7.5 billion worth of rail-related construction contracts (36.1 percent of the amount in Africa) were signed with Nigeria, where China is constructing a series of lines that comprise the 1,300 km-long Lagos-Kano Railway Modernization Project. This massive undertaking has made Nigeria the world’s top recipient of Chinese rail construction contracts during the 2013-2019 period.”
China’s construction of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railway and the Addis Ababa to Djibouti railroad are exemplary of crucial infrastructure projects for Africa.
Michelle Gavin in her December 3 post, The United States and Europe Should Work Together to Promote a Prosperous Africa, expresses the dilemma for U.S.-Africa policy:
“There is no doubt that U.S. influence—and therefore U.S. capacity to achieve various foreign policy goals—suffers when China’s investments in the tangible, visible infrastructure of Africanprosperity appear (sic) to dwarf U.S. development efforts.” (emphasis added)
Speaking in China on December 8, Rahamtalla Osman, the Permanent Representative for the African Union in China, said, “The goals of the BRI coincide with the AfCFTA,” referring to the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The “Same Old” Will Not Do
As the inauguration of the new U.S. president nears, many words are written extolling how a Biden administration will bring a return to “normalcy, global alliances, international diplomacy.” We should think for a minute. Do we want to return to war, regime change, sanctions, and drone assassinations as the core of U.S. foreign policy? Early indications are that under a President Biden, the U.S. will pursue with our allies, a more belligerent policy with China. How will this realignment shift the world to a higher platform of development? How will it stimulate economic growth in Africa?
The Biden-Harris agenda for Africa is vague with no specifics to address Africa’s urgent needs. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is President Elect Biden’s nominee to be envoy to the United Nations, has a deep background in Africa and is respected by many African leaders. Having played a prominent role in the Biden transition team, she may be an individual who can put a focus on Africa in the new administration. However, it is unclear what those policies will be.
The last U.S. president to fully engage in Africa’s development was John F Kennedy, who established a personal relationship with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah, and gave crucial backing for the construction of the Akosombo Volta Dam complex.
For the incoming administration to genuinely support Africa, the new president should audaciously break from past boundaries of previous thinking and join with China in launching a great mission for mankind: the elimination of poverty in Africa within the next generation through massive infrastructure expansion. That is my mission.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
For those of us who understand physical economy, these two developments reported below are truly great news for Africa. Africans have suffered from a paucity of infrastructure in rail construction and energy production. When African nations liberated themselves from colonialism beginning in the 1960s, following 400 years of slavery, they were intentionally left with no infrastructure. By denying African nations rail systems that connected the continent and electricity to industrialize their economies, the African people have been forced to lived in poverty brought about by imposed underdevelopment. Ghana’s founder, Kwame Nkrumah understood this well. He discussed the necessity of infrastructure to achieve true economic independence in his opening speech to the Organizing of African Unity on May 25, 1963 and his his book, Africa Must Unite. It is a crime that 60 years after the liberation from colonialism, African nations remain grossly deficient in basic infrastructure. Therefore let us rejoice in the progress that African nations are making today, in the 21st century to provide vital infrastructure for their people. We should all celebrate all measures taken to rectify the legacy of colonialism, that denied Africans the right to economic development. To their credit, Presidents Buhari (Nigeria) and el Sesi (Egypt) have pursue the expansion of infrastructure in their respective nations.
Why we’re extending rail construction to Niger Republic – Nigerian govt
China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) and Egyptian companies Samcrete and the Arab Organization for Industrialisation have won a $9bn contract to build a 543-km-long high-speed railway in Egypt, reports newspaper The Egypt Independent, citing “senior sources”.
“Accommodating train speeds of 250km/h, the line would link the Mediterranean coast at El-Alamein to the Red Sea at Ain Sokhna, cutting the journey between the two cities to three hours.
“The scheme’s importance to Egypt was compared to the Suez Canal by the chief executive of Samcrete, Sherif Nazmy, who told Arab-language newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm that it would be the first new electric railway in Egypt since 1854.”
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
Please accept an article from my wife, as my belated contribution to the March 6, anniversary of Ghana’s independence from its colonial master, Great Britain.
Akwaaba: You Are Welcome in Ghana by Donielle DeToy
I have just completed seven weeks of my teaching internship at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School in Cape Coast, Ghana. Living in the tropical region of Cape Coast and learning about Ghanaian culture was a unique and transformative experience that I shall always cherish. I loved everything about Ghana, the culture, people, climate- Cape Coast was welcoming and beautiful.
This is not my first adventure onto the large continent of Africa. In 2011 and 2012, I traveled to Sudan visiting Khartoum, Darfur, and the Nuba Mountains. In 2014, I had the honor of accompanying my husband to Ndjamena, Chad. He is a scientific adviser to the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC). We attended a conference addressing the complex dangers of Lake Chad evaporating and made proposals for workable solutions. We then explored Ethiopia both Addis Abba and the Rift Valley region. Of all my travels to Africa, Ghana was the absolute best!
There is a phrase the Ghanaian population speak when greeting visitors, “Akwaaba” which means “you are welcome” or “happy to have you visit.” Ghanaians definitely “Akwaaba” visitors and make you feel very relaxed. That welcoming spirit shines in every classroom at Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School.
If you don’t like warm weather or tropical creatures, you won’t like Ghana, but I loved it! Ghana is close to the equator and the sun sets very quickly. Cape Coast is on the ocean and it is often hot and humid. However, there is a cool and refreshing breeze throughout the night.
As for the tropical creatures- I shared my room with 4 (probably more) Geckos and no they don’t have funny Australian accents. These creatures are EVERYWHERE!! Outside, inside, under, over, above, absolutely everywhere. I learned to live with them (I didn’t really have a choice). I was outnumbered AND in that tropical climate there is an advantage of having roommates who eat bugs. I gave some of them names which personified them and discovered where they “live” within our house and school. There are two other common lizards in this region, the first is a slower moving Agama Lizard, there is one that lives on the school campus, he is nicknamed “Charlie.” The other managed to evade my camera- it is called a Monitor Lizard; my students call them “dragons” probably because they can weigh up to 200 pounds.
Are there cultural differences?? Absolutely. One of the amusing and challenging tasks was trying to explain winter temperatures, snow, and ice to my kindergarten age school children. They have never experienced temperatures below 70 degrees and only know two seasons; raining and dry. I taught a unit on weather and showed pictures and videos of Maryland’s bitter cold, but it was still too abstract. Finally, I made a huge block of ice and asked each student to hold her/his hand on it for as long as possible. They loved it!! Although most could not keep their hands on the ice for more than 30 seconds.
My students were very respectful and greeted us by our first names, but with the pre-fix “Teacher”, so I am “Teacher Donielle.” Education is universal, all children love to laugh, discover, and learn. The more fun I can have teaching my lessons, the better their learning experience.
In Ghana, Friday is Africa dress day, everyone wears traditional African attire. I decided to join the fun and wore a lovely African dress. All the teachers at my school were very happy that I joined in the tradition. I believe when visiting (and teaching) in another country one needs to participate in cultural activities. The teachers appreciated it and my students loved the fact that I got dressed up for their special day.
One of the saddest moments was my visit to the infamous slave castles/dungeons. I toured two different ones. The first, was in Elmina, this is the largest slave castle, built by the Portuguese in 1482. It had been sacred land for the people, but the European empires were callous and erected a hideous structure of death over this revered area. This “castle” was used as an export point for African men and women for over 400 years. The brutality in which the Europeans treated the people of Africa is revolting and horrifying. One tour guide estimated that over 20 million slaves were shipped from Africa. The other Castle was in Cape Coast. Our guide briefly locked us in one of the dungeons…the stench of blood and death still lingered, 200 years later. Both castles have a “door of no return” this is a narrow opening where the slaves where forced onto a ship leaving their homeland forever.
During a brief stay in Accra prior to my departure, I visited the museum and mausoleum of Kwame Nkrumah. He was the founding father of Ghana, achieving independence from the British empire in 1957. He was also a key component in the creation of the OAS- Organization of African States. I was struck at the strong connection between Nkrumah and America. The museum had dozens of artifacts from his 1939-1944 studies at University of Pennsylvania and Lincoln University. During his lifetime he reflected a deep understanding of the true meaning of American System of Economics. This is most evident in his speech at the founding conference of the OAS, which called for a commitment to a scientific and infrastructure renaissance in Ghana and Africa, echoing both Franklin Roosevelt and John F Kennedy.
After my first week in Cape Coast, I thought the biggest challenge and most difficult adjustment was not being plugged into the internet or access to emails 24 hours a day. But as I prepared for my departure, I realized the most difficult task was saying good-bye. The school theme for Mary Queen of Peace is Shine Forever, and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, students, staff, and community shall Shine Forever in my heart.
Below is my article on President Trump’s Non-African Strategy, January 1, 2019, that was published (abridged) in the African Union magazine: “Invest in Africa“-2019 vol 1. You can find it on page 109 (129 on the link to the magazine). There are many worth while articles to read in this volume of the AU magazine
January 1, 2019
After waiting almost two years for President Trump to articulate his policy for Africa, last month he unveiled his US-African Strategy, through the mouth of National Security Adviser John Bolton. It should be called the Non-Africa Strategy because it has little if anything to do with the continent of Africa itself. Rather, it is essentially a geo-political tactic aimed primarily at China and to a lesser extent Russia. President Trump has put his stamp of approval on the age-old British inspired geo-political ideology that views foreign policy as a “global zero-sum game”-a world with only winners and losers among the super-powers. All other (lesser) nations are treated simply as movable pieces in their fantasy game. In other words, in this administration’s policy, Africa is a pawn on their geo-political chess board. Sadly, this so-called African stratagem shows no concern for well-being of the African people, doing nothing to improve the conditions of life on the continent, nor does it enhance US security.
Bolton explicitly attacks China’s new paradigm in foreign policy-the Belt and Road Initiative-while threatening African nations who do not support the US position on China and Russia. Blinded by their geo-political world view, the Trump administration displays disdain for the fruitful collaboration of China (primarily) with Africa nations in building vitally needed infrastructure across the African continent. In many cases constructing new railroads for the first time since the days of imperialist-colonial domination.
The Trump/Bolton policy has already failed from the start. It is too late to stop Africa’s momentum for economic development with its allies. However, if the Trump administration were more thoughtful, it would formulate a strategy to assist African nations in reducing their massive deficits in crucial categories of infrastructure.
Return to a Real American Strategy for Africa
The promotion of human life should (must) be the most important goal of all foreign policy. Human beings uniquely possess the cognitive-creative mental capacity to transform the physical universe. Only through new scientific discoveries by a sovereign human mind, can we ensure the continued material-biological propagation of our human race. Thus, the promotion of physical (not financial) economic growth, which sustains human progress, is the core of any competent “good neighbor” foreign policy.
President John Kennedy was our last president who identified with and supported the development of the newly liberated African nations. His unique friendship with Ghanaian President, Kwame Nkrumah resulted in securing the funding for the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River which provided hydro-power for aluminum smelting and electricity for the people. This project stands as a monument today in Ghana (and Africa) in contradistinction to the El Mina slave dungeon, and other “slave castles” along Ghana’s coast. We should remember that it was the African liberator, President Nkrumah, who was the very first Head of State invited by President Kennedy to Washington DC on March 8, 1961. Four months later, the pro-African President invited Tafawa Balewa, the Prime Minister of the newly independent Republic of Nigeria to the White House.
Not one of the ten US Presidents following the death of Kennedy have emulated in practice his genuine concern for the advancement of the African people. However, President Kennedy was not original in his vision for Africa.
President Franklin Roosevelt famously scolded British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during their war-time conferences, for Britain’s imperialist exploitation of Africa. He drove Churchill into an apoplectic fit, when he threatened to do away with British Imperialism and its eighteenth-century methods, after the war was won.
President Roosevelt expressed his vision for Africa’s development when told his son Elliott, that with the re-creation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes? It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”
This is the way US leaders true to our American System of economic progress used to think.
Africa’s population is projected to expand to 2.5 billion people in 2050- a generation and a half generation from now. The continent is well situated to become the center of world commerce, with its expanding population, vast tracts of arable land, and its abundance of natural resources. To secure this future, Africa needs trillions of dollars invested in infrastructure. There is no “zero sum” competition. Africa’s friends should cooperate in promoting the limitless number of infrastructure projects that Africa desperately needs. If, Africa and its allies fail to fully develop its enormous potential, and African nations are unable to productively employ and instill hope for a better future to the continent’s projected 2050 population of a billion young people, then we should anticipate perilously new levels instability and insecurity.
It should be obvious to all, including President Trump and his advisers that there will be no security without economic development.
It would be best for both the US and Africa, for President Trump to jettison this terribly flawed policy and advance a real American vision for the continent. This should include collaboration with China on building transformative infrastructure such as the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project to refurbish the shrinking Lake Chad.
Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, and Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission
I addressed a Ghanaian organization in NYC several years ago. I discussed the unrealized potential of Ghana and Kwame Nkrumah’s fight against the British. Since then I have parted company with EIR magazine, but my analysis remains truthful.
“Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.
Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman
Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.
You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.
Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord
L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.
As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.
The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.
Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?
L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.
Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.
image: The Schiller Institute
The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.
If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.
In 1943, after having flown over the Sahara Desert on his way to a Casablanca conference with Winston Churchill, President Franklin Roosevelt remarked to his son Elliott, that with the recreation of a lake in the depressed flats in North Africa, “The Sahara would bloom for hundreds of miles.” He also reminded his son of the rivers which arise in Atlas Mountains and disappear under the Desert. “Divert this water flow for irrigation purposes? It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch!”
Later in the trip, FDR made Winston Churchill apoplectic by discussing plans for anti-imperialist development with the Sultan of Morocco, including mooting American aid in providing the resources to train indigenous scientists and engineers to develop the nation.
FDR’s American System vision for African development was not taken up in the post-war era, but his outlook was echoed by at least two prominent statesmen of the next generation from very different backgrounds—Kwame Nkrumah and President John F. Kennedy. It was no mere coincidence that twenty years later, when Ghanaian President Nkrumah addressed the Organization of African Unity, he would also speak about the “possibility for the Sahara to bloom.” Nkrumah’s vision also would be temporarily crushed.
But today, finally, FDR’s and Nkrumah’s dream is beginning to be realized. A giant step toward greening the desert, and defeating the miserable living conditions which go with it, was taken this February, when a meeting of several African heads of state decided to go ahead with a massive project of water engineering called Transaqua. Although proceeding without American government backing, this project is truly in the spirit of American System development, a long-term investment in transforming the physical environment for the benefit of the general welfare.
It is with that in mind that we present this report by an American who does understand the American System, and has worked persistently for several decades to bring its benefits to Africa.—Nancy Spannaus
The Abuja Conference
After two months, the deliberations from the “International Conference on Saving Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018 are still reverberating, and will continue to do so. This historic conference, the first of its kind to be convened on the African continent, was initiated and sponsored by the Nigerian government in conjunction with the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), and supported by the United Nations. It has already begun to change the thinking of what is possible for Africa’s future.
From across the globe, hundreds of water experts, hydrologists, scientists, political leaders, advocates for Lake Chad, the African Union, the Africa Development Bank, and the World Bank, joined the heads of state of the Lake Chad Basin nations for three days of deliberation on the best policy to recharge the contracting Lake Chad.
Having served as an advisor to the LCBC and participated in several discussions with the Nigerian government on the necessity for an inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad, this author was given a prominent role throughout the entire proceeding, addressing the gathering several times in various capacities. (Written remarks by me were also circulated at the conference and to the press.)
I wish to begin this keynote address by recalling two important events that happened 55 years ago. On 25thMay 1963 in Addis Ababa, thirty-three (33) African Heads of State and Government form the Organization of the African Union (OAU) with high hopes for rapid political independence, peace, security, economic cooperation, development, and a better life for the people of Africa.
The then President of Ghana Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in a speech at the meeting said;“Our continent certainly exceeds all the others in potential hydroelectric power, which some experts assess as 42% of the world’s total.”
Sadly, fifty-five years after this speech, most countries of sub-Saharan Africa have less than 60% access to electricity. In the DRC, a country with the highest potential for hydro-electricity generation, less than 16% of the population have access to electricity. In Niger, it is about 12% access to electricity.
A year after the creation of the OAU, precisely on the 22nd May 1964 at Fort-Lamy now known as N’Djamena, the LCBC was created with equally high hopes. At creation the LCBC was expected to help an estimated population of 11,091,000 people to sustainably manage the Lake Chad and its basin. There was adequate water for development for this population as the Lake Chad had a surface area extent of about 25,000 km2. Today, the Lake Chad region is the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with 7 million displaced people and about 2 million depending on humanitarian assistance and has the highest poverty and birth rates in the world.
Without education, energy and infrastructure no Nation will be out of poverty and misery.
Challenges Decades of Rapid Growth, Droughts, and Famine
Fifty-four years after the creation of the LCBC, the basin is characterized by steadily increasing population and drought. The population of the present conventional basin experienced a 100% decennial growth rate. The population increase by 33% to 31,461,000 by the year 2000 and 40 million by 2010. The Lake Chad Basin population is projected to be 50 million in 2020 and 62 million in 2030.
As the population growth rate increases every decade, the Lake Chad basin is at the same time undergoing severe droughts, famine, and water distribution problems, human and animal diseases. The consequences of these negative factors meant that local population must move or risk property destruction or death. As population groups migrate to minimize the risk, the chances for conflict increases among and between ethnic groups based on social, cultural, economic and/or religion differences.
These changes that have occurred in the past 54 years in the Lake Chad conventional basin principally because of global climate change and augmented by accelerated population growth are responsible for the accumulation of social tension which could have led to the outbreak of the violent insurgency that we face today in the Lake Chad basin and the migration of our youth to Europe.
3.1 The Inter-Basin Water Transfer Study
In 1992, a decision was taken to develop a master-plan for the Lake Chad basin to include the establishment of an environmentally sound management of the natural resources of the Lake Chad conventional basin. The feasibility study for the water transfer from the Congo basin to the Lake Chad was the second priority project out of 36 projects selected for implementation in the LCBC Master Plan.
One proposal to transfer water from the Congo to the Lake Chad called “TRANSAQUA” was submitted to the LCBC in 1984 at the height of the most severe drought affecting the Lake Chad basin. This proposal was approved and shared by the then President Mobutu Sese Seko of Congo (former Zaire) but was considered too big hence a smaller proposal taking water from river Ubangi to the Lake Chad was adopted by the Member States of the LCBC as requested by the Government of the Central African Republic.
Raising an estimated 6 million USD for the pre-feasibility study of the Ubangi – Lake Chad Inter-Basin Water Transfer became a challenge until the government of Nigeria under President Olusegun Obasanjo provided support and launched a diplomatic campaign to get the no-objection of the two Congos for the study to begin. The conduct of the feasibility study was awarded to a Canadian Firm, CIMA International, and work commenced on the 13th October 2009 for a period of 28 months.
The study was completed in 2011 with the conclusion that the Ubangi – Lake Chad Inter-Basin Water Transfer project is technically feasible and economically viable from the Congo basin via the Ubangi River to Lake Chad through a combined inter-basin transfer: a pumping transfer via the Palambo dam on the Ubangi River and a gravity transfer via the Bria dam through a deviation of the Kotto River. This will increase the water level of the lake by at least one meter(1.0m)in both the south and the north basins and increase the size of the lake by about 5, 500 km2 over a period of 4 – 5 years. The combined cost estimate of the projects for the transfer was put at US$14.5 billion.
The result of the study was endorsed by the 14th Summit of Head of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission on 30th April 2012.
3.2 Solution to Lake Chad Insecurity and the Future of Africa
The installation of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 opened new opportunities to continue the search for a long-term solution for insecurity in the Lake Chad and the Sahel, economic integration of Central Africa, West Africa and the Sahel in a new form of African regional partnership.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari secured a financial support in the amount of $1.8 m from the Chinese government and facilitated the engagement of Power China International of China to conduct “Basic Research” to update data and re-package the Water Transfer Project from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad that will inform the selection of a suitable engineering option for the water transfer.
Among the measures taken under the new approach is to convene all stakeholders from the AU, ECOWAS, ECCAS, EAC, CICOS and LCBC and international partners to share experiences and engage in constructive discussions on how to restore the Lake Chad and promote African peace, security, development, and integration.
Restoring the Lake Chad is primarily an African strategic problem. Whatever action is taken to restore the Lake Chad, the direct beneficiaries are the African people. Today, following the dreams of Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and his 32 fellow Head of States, African shave continental governing institutions in the form of the AU, the AUC and its subsidiary bodies such as the regional economic communities (REC). In Africa we also have developed common visions for infrastructure development (PIDA) and the ‘Agenda 2063’ for the socio-economic transformation of the continent as well as being a building block in the achievement of the goals of the 1991 Abuja Treaty on the African Economic Community.
What the Lake Chad region is requesting is that African leaders should look at the problem of insecurity and the lack of development in the geographical periphery of the Lake Chad region, the Sahel and the Central African region and develop an integrated regional approach using African resources to find a solution that will benefit all Africans. We hope the discussions and the result of the international conference on Lake Chad shall open some new ways of addressing contemporary African problems while at the same time laying the foundation for future African peace, development, and integration.
I wish to end this address by pointing out to our critiques that at this stage the people of the Lake Chad basin countries are only looking at the technical and economic feasibilities of all ideas to restore the Lake Chad. The Lake Chad basin countries also want to concretize a new partnership with our fellow Africans in the Congo basin countries to create a giant transportation, energy and agricultural infrastructure for the central African and the Sahel regions to create jobs for millions of our youth and lay the basis for the future developments for socio- economic integration, peace and security for the African continent.
There is no solution to the shrinking of the Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the Lake with water from outside the basin. The issue in our opinion is which option will be the most effective and the most beneficial to both the donor and receiving basins.
Therefore, inter-basin water transfer is not an option; but a necessity, otherwise we are faced with the possibility of Lake Chad disappearing and that would be catastrophic for the entire Africa continent.
Poverty, misery, loss of hopes and the spread of violent extremism, human trafficking and, migration in the Lake Chad Basin, which I have sadly witnessed, has endured for too long. It must come to end. That is the task before all of us, who are gathered here today at this historic conference.
Long live sub-regional cooperation ! Long live African solidarity ! Je vous remercie pour votre amiable attention !