I had fruitful discussions in Washington DC with the African Union on the subject of saving Lake Chad with the Transaqua inter-basin water project.
I had fruitful discussions in Washington DC with the African Union on the subject of saving Lake Chad with the Transaqua inter-basin water project.
What is Transaqua?
Last June, in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Chinese construction giant PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica SpA signed a deal about a regeneration project of Lake Chad.
The agreement includes carrying out feasibility studies on transferring water from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo to replenish Lake Chad.
Due to less rainfall and increased irrigation, the Lake’s area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometres to just 2,000 square kilometres. Other factors, include an influx of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram, have contributed to increased demand.
The proposed major water diversion scheme would involve channeling a small percentage of water from River Congo towards the north via a navigable canal.
Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission explained that the Pan-African project is “necessary to restore peace and security in the Lake Chad region and for the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin.”
Courtesy of Schiller Institute. The Transaqua project aims to move water from River Congo to Lake Chad.
He also highlighted that the movement of the water could feasibly be used to create hydro-electricity, as well as boosting regional trade, creating new economic infrastructure like river ports, and making new agro-industrial zones.
How is China involved?
PowerChina, a large state-owned enterprise in China that built the Three Gorges Dam, has committed US$1.8 million to finance to research studies for the initial stages of Transaqua.
The canal will effectively create a New Silk Road to Lake Chad and there are plans to have a service road and eventually a rail line run alongside the waterway, creating more infrastructure and access.
This is in keeping with the values of China’s Belt and Road initiative. Wang Hao, from the Chinese Embassy in Germany speaking at the Schiller Institute’s Development of Nations Conference, explained China’s decision to put forward the Belt and Road initiative.
He spoke of how China has learned from its own experience how important transport facilities are for the development of the economy. He quoted the Chinese saying: “To get rich, you must build a road first.” This is at the core of the Belt and Road initiative – infrastructure supports economy recovery and strength.
He highlighted that China accounts for two-thirds of the world’s total high-speed railway, with 25,000 kilometres. This infrastructure laid “a solid foundation for the rapid development of China’s economy”.
Facilities connectivity is one of the priorities of the Belt and Road initiative as China believes proper infrastructure is at the basis of economic development. This in part illuminates the reason behind China’s investment into Transaqua.
Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission said Africa can become the next China if it invests in the Transaqua infrastructure with the support and partnership of China and Europe.
With investment so far of US$1.8 million from China and US$2.5 million from Italy, this project could “launch Africa on the road to economic growth, human security, industrialisation, peace, development and the attainment of the dreams of Pan-African leaders” such as Dr Kwame Nkrumah, former president of Ghana, who first proposed the project in 1964.
“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.
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
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.)
Read entire the article: Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Presidents Roosevelt and Nkrumah Would Concur
African development hinges on a maddening paradox: its greatest asset—the sheer size and diversity of its landscape—is also the greatest barrier to its development. Landlocked countries are cut off from ports, and the difficulty of moving goods from country to country weighs down intra-continental trade (only 15% of African trade is within Africa. (African Development Bank, 2017) African consumers bear the brunt of these difficulties. . Costs are driven up by a host of factors: tariffs, border delays, corruption. But the biggest challenge is that no streamlined transport route exists between West and East Africa – only a decaying and underdeveloped road and rail system which pushes up costs and drags down efficiency.
Several ambitious schemes have been proposed to link Africa’s east and west coasts, some of which are closer to full realization than others. Most notable in this respect is a plan to expand the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5) into a true cross-continental road and rail link, the early stages of which China has helped bring to fruition where Western consortiums failed. Likewise, Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may help create expanded sub-regional linkages, particularly in East Africa, that could help facilitate the emergence of an eventual, true East-West link in the long term. However, in the short-to-mid-term, the obstacles to a truly robust set of East-West transport links are formidable, and it is unlikely that China’s involvement will be a panacea.
Read entire article: Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?
LAKE CHAD BASIN COMMISSION INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON LAKE CHAD
“Saving the Lake Chad, Prospects, Challenges, and Opportunities”
Engr. Sanusi Imran Abdullahi fnse, Executive Secretary, LCBC
ABUJA – NIGERIA 26TH FEBRUARY 2018
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.
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 !
Some coverage of written statement by Lawrence Freeman to the Abuja conference:
A great victory was achieved at the international conference to “Save Lake Chad” held in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018. This author, along with others has been advocating over many years for Transaqua; a transformative inter-basin water transfer project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad with water from the Congo River Basin.
In the section of the Road-map “Outcome from the Conference” the Transaqua Project is endorsed as the preferred option for refilling Lake Chad:
The Conference acknowledged: The various studies carried out showing that there is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the basin. That Inter-basin water transfer is not an option; but a necessity. That failure to take appropriate and timely action, will result in Lake Chad completely drying up soon and that would cause humanitarian crisis, pose serious security challenges, not only for the region, but for the entire African continent and the World. The Transaqua Project which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,000 km channel to Chari River is the preferred feasible option (Annex 5).
Annex 5: Transaqua Transfer Scheme
Therein, the Conference urged: The African Union to consider the consequences of Lake Chad disappearing not only as regional issue but, an African tragedy as part of its agenda, and endorse the Inter-Basin Water Transfer (IBWT) initiative as a Pan-African project to restore the Lake for peace and security to reign in the Lake Chad region and the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin. The International Technical and Financial Partners and Donors agree to support the Lake Chad Basin initiative through the financing of LCBC Development programmes aimed at addressing the problems caused by the shrinking of the Lake. The African Development Bank to facilitate the creation of the Lake Chad Fund of US $50 billion, to be sourced from African States and donations by Africa’s Development Partners to fund the Lake Chad IBWT and infrastructure projects. Read entire Roadmap to Saving Lake Chad
Below is a statement distributed the conference. The author was a prominently featured participant during the during the three-day conference, and his statement was extensively covered in the Nigerian press.
It gives me great pleasure to participate in this historic conference that will finally discuss the necessity to recharge Lake Chad after decades of inaction. Saving Lake Chad by transferring water from the Congo River Basin is strategically important for all nations on the Africa continent. Since the drying up of North Africa several thousands of years ago, Lake Chad remains the largest body of water in the desert. Lake Chad provides the means of existence to tens of millions of Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, who are primarily engaged in fishing and farming. Conditions of extreme poverty in the region have produced a fertile recruiting ground for Boko Haram, and contributed to the desperate migrations of Africans to Europe. Leadership by the heads of state of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin, through joint military deployments, has weakened the capability of this violent extremist organization. However, to eliminate the spawning of new terrorist movements, and, to end the waves of Africans risking their lives to escape poverty, we must give the people, especially the youth, hope for a better future. This requires more than simply humanitarian aid or charity; it requires economic transformation.
“Let the Sahara Desert Bloom”
These are the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, the last great American President, as he flew over the desert during World War II. Now, seven decades later, we must embrace this unfulfilled task: transporting water to the desert. Through massive investments in infrastructure; water, energy, and rail, we can transform the desert, and reclaim it back from the terrorists, who thrive in desolate environments. We should not allow a twenty-thousand-year astronomical cycle that creates extreme arid weather before the return of rainfall, to determine our future. Mankind through the power of creativity and free will must intervene for the benefit of human species, whose birthplace after all is the African continent.
There are no valid objective reasons for African nations to endure abject poverty. Hundreds of millions of Africans live on less than $2 per day, and suffer from hunger, cholera, and other diseases. The dearth of electrical power, and efficient rail transportation is literally (not figuratively) killing Africa. These conditions can be overcome with continental approach to investments in vital infrastructure
Transforming the Lake Chad Basin
The most ambitious and visionary inter-basin water transfer project to recharge Lake Chad is Transaqua, proposed over three decades ago. The project’s design includes transferring 5-8% of the tributary water to the Congo River Basin via a 2,400-kilometer navigable canal to feed into the Chari River in Central African Republic, the major tributary to Lake Chad. The Congo River is the second most powerful in the world, discharging approximately 40,000 cubic meters per second or 1.2 trillion cubic meters annually into the Atlantic Ocean. Rather than allowing these huge volumes of water to be simply deposited into the vast ocean, Transaqua intends to utilize the super moist Congo River Basin to bring water to the Sahel Desert. The project envisions creating new levels of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins, in addition to generating hydro-electric power, and bringing irrigation to three million acres of land. If this bold engineering project had been taken up decades ago, approximately one eighth of the African continent would look completely different today, and millions of needless deaths would have been prevented.
Transaqua Meets China’s Silk Road
What was not foreseen thirty years ago was the emergence of China’s Belt and Road Initiative-(BRI) – a new dynamic redefining political and economic relations among nations throughout the planet. Now, we can delightfully envisage how Africa might look when China’s BRI intersects Transaqua. Consider the potential for Africa as we let our imagination peak with excitement into the future.
Port Sudan on the Red Sea is presently included in China’s Maritime Silk Road. The governments of Sudan and Chad have already discussed with China constructing a railroad from Port Sudan to Nyala, South Darfur that will continue to N’djamena, Chad’s capital. There are plans for this Sahelian railroad to continue to Cameroon and Nigeria, potentially continuing westward all the way to Dakar, Senegal. On the eastern side, rail connections from Sudan to Djibouti and Ethiopia are also anticipated. The Sahelian (proto East-West) railroad will possibly intersect the long-awaited South-North railroad in the proximity of Sennar, Sudan. From this advanced viewpoint, we can look at the new physical topology of Africa in which Transaqua will be situated. Successfully linking the Lake Chad Basin nations to those of the Great Lakes region with the rest of Africa, through these new land and waterway economic-transportation corridors will be transformative for the whole continent.
My friends, now is time for our conscience and imagination to unite in embracing this momentous occasion with our collective decision to take responsible action for the future of Africa.
Mr. Freeman has been involved in promoting economic development in Nigeria for over 20 years, having visited all regions of the country beginning in 1994. He was appointed Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in November 2014.
Since 1963, Lake Chad has been allowed to diminish from from a vast 25,000 square kilometers to a now unacceptable level of 2,500 square kilometers. As a consequence of the inaction to reverse the shrinking lake, over 30 million Africans, who live in the Lake Chad Basin, and depend upon fishing and farming for their livelihoods, have suffered greatly. Boko Haram has exploited this severely depressed condition to recruit youths, whose future appears bleak. Finally, this dire crisis; the shrinking Lake Chad, is being addressed at a global conference in Abuja, Nigeria from February 26-28, 2018: Historic Lake Chad Conference, which I will be a participant: my role at the conference.
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Water Resources, Eng. Suleiman Adamu, and Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi, should be congratulated for initiating the first global gathering on the African continent to discuss solutions to reprenish Lake Chad. by transferring water from the Congo River.
It is time for Africans to think big. We can return Lake Chad to its former size, transform the Lake Chad Basin, and create a corridor of economic development between the Great Lakes region and the Lake Chad basin with the mega inter-basin water transfer project: Transaqua
Abimbola Akosile THISDAYLIVE
February 1, 2018
The Federal Government of Nigeria, on behalf of other Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, is planning to host an international Conference from February 26 to 28 in Abuja on proffering solutions on saving the drying Lake Chad. This was disclosed by the Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, when the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Mrs. Amina Mohammed paid him a recent courtesy visit in Abuja.
Adamu stated that the main objective of the Conference is to find workable solutions in recharging the drying up of the basin. “In the next 50 to 100 years from hydro-logical perspective, if nothing is done now, the lives of the people of that region who depend on the lake as their source of livelihood would be in danger as the Lake faces extinction”, he said.
The Minister proposed for cheaper and workable solutions to saving the Lake from extinction. According to him, the MoU signed between the Lake Chad Basin Commission and the PowerChina International Group Limited in April 2016 to save Lake Chad from drying up, can be actualised by the transfer of water from the Congo Basin to the Lake Chad Basin.
Adamu said the study done by PowerChina shows that it is technically feasible to transfer water from River Congo to Lake Chad thereby increasing the level of the lake. To him, this would halt the receding of the lake and the drying of the north basin due to climate change, according to a release issued by the Ministry’s Director (Information & Public Relations Unit), Mrs. Margaret Umoh.
Speaking further, he called for more workable solutions that may be cheaper than the inter-basin water transfer. On the issue of cooperation between Nigeria and the UN on the re-integration of the people of the North-east ravaged by the Boko Haram insurgency, the Minister said part of the ministry’s efforts in cushioning the effects of the insurgency in that region under this present administration in the past two years has been by budgeting about N1 billion annually for water supply and sanitation facilities for the IDPs nationwide.
Earlier, the UN Deputy Secretary-General Mrs. Mohammed said the purpose of the high-level mission, which was an informal consultation on political, human rights, humanitarian and development issues, will help scale up UN presence in the North-east in particular and Nigeria in general.
She said UN is more committed in the re-integration process ongoing in the North East as well as in the planned conference of saving Lake Chad that is scheduled for February. She charged Heads of States and Government of the Lake Chad Basin Commission to consider passing the resolutions of the conference in a communiqué to the African Union (AU) for further action.
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.
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.
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, and Lake Chad Basin Commission Executive Secretary, Eng. Sanusi Abdullahi should be congratulated for the planning of this important conference to save the shrinking Lake Chad. I have been advocating for two decades the urgent need to transfer water from the Congo River Basin to refill Lake Chad with TRANSAQUA; a mega infrastructure project to develop Africa, which will also be discussed at this conference.
Johnbosco Agbakwuru-Vanguard News
December 26, 2017
ABUJA – PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has approved Nigeria’s hosting of an international conference on saving the Lake Chad. The conference according to the statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu is to revitalize the basin’s ecosystem for sustainable livelihood, security and development.
Shehu said it was the first time an international conference on Lake Chad was being organised the six-member countries of the region. He said, “The three-day conference will consist of two days of technical sessions and one day high level meetings between February 26-28, 2018 and it will take place in Abuja.
“The high level meeting is expected to have in attendance all of the Presidents and Heads of government of the member-states, namely Nigeria,Niger, Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic and Libya “The key partners coming together in hosting the conference are Nigeria, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, UNESCO, the Lake Chad Basin Commission, LCBC and relevant donors including, prospectively, the African Development Bank, AfDB, the World Bank and the governments of Germany, China, Canada and the European Union, EU.
“The main objective of the international conference is to create global awareness on the socio-economic and environmental challenges arising from the shrinkage of the Lake Chad, threat to livelihoods including insecurity with a view to developing a comprehensive program for action to save the lake from extinction.
“Specically, the conference is expected to discuss and develop consensus on the different options to restore Lake Chad, including the Inter-Basin Water Transfer project from the Ubangi River in Central Africa to the Lake Chad. “Experts, researchers and resource persons are expected to exchange knowledge and share information on water resources development and management in a crisis environment and to garner political and financial support for the restoration option identified for the restoration of the lake.
“Among the expected outcomes of the conference is a roadmap for the implementation of the recommendations of the conference that should lead to the restoration of the lake; restoration of fishing and irrigated farming as a way of alleviating poverty, strengthening climate resilience in the basin, creating employment,leading to reduction of terrorist activities and increasing the revenue of the population and that of the Lake Chad basin countries.
“The lake Chad Basin, which is shared by Algeria, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, Libya, Niger, Nigeria and the Sudan is about eight percent of the size of the African continent, with a population of about 40 million inhabitants. “Its surface area has shrunk from 25,000 square kilometers to just 2,500 sq.kms, roughly 10 percent of its original size.“This development has adversely affected the economic, social and cultural environment of the area.
As at today, the lake is a source of insecurity, instability, and the loss of livelihoods. Since coming to office, President Muhammadu Buhari has used every available speaking opportunity at the international level to raise awareness of the need for action to save the Lake Chad.