To Prevent More Coups Like Niger: Eliminate Poverty in Africa

(Curtesy of voanews.com)

August 7, 2023

While the Western World, in particular, was shocked by the July 26, 2023, coup in Niger, I was not. This is now the fifth or sixth coup, (depending how you count) in the Sahel and Western Africa, following Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Sudan, and Chad. Sadly, more coups may follow, unless we face the truth, and change Western policy. The primary underlying cause for these coups, is poverty, resulting in despair and desperation in the population. We should be clear that Russia may benefit, but they are not the cause of Africa’s coups. It is obsessive reliance on kinetic counter terrorism programs in the Sahel, all of which have failed, that drives policy makers to repeatedly fail to see the error of their ways. Niger’s coup should make it obvious to the architects of U.S.-European policy for Africa, unless they are brain-dead, that a radically new course of strategic thinking is required. Promoting economic development is the most vital element of a new strategic policy for Africa, and the Sahel in particular.

Remember Mali

For those of us who have been involved in Africa for decades, remember the Malian coup in the Spring of 2012. Prior to the removal of Malian President, Amadou Toure, by the military, Mali was touted by the West, as the show case of democracy and stability. It was viewed as a strong ally of the United States, with their armed forces trained by the U.S. The immediate trigger for the collapse of Mali, was the disastrous  decision to overthrow the government of Libya and assassinate President Omar Gaddafi by President Obama, and his assemblage of war-hawks (witches); Susan Rice, Hilary Clinton, and Samantha Power. Obama’s October 2011 regime-change of a stable Libyan nation, unleashed hell across north Africa and the Sahel with thousands of armed Tuaregs and violent extremists set loose to occupy weak state regions and ungoverned territories. Similar to U.S. support of Mali, Secreatry of State, Antony Blinken, made a special visit to Niger in March 2023, to strenthen U.S. backing for another nation in the Sahel.

Why Niger?

With the end of French-Afrique well on its way, particularly with the French being kicked out of Mali, and the failure of the French anti-terrorist military deployment in the Sahel, known as Operation Barkhane, the U.S. designated Niger as the center of its counter-terrorist operation in North Africa.

At the time of the July 26 coup of Nigerian resident, Mohamed Bazoum, by his presidential guards, there were 1,500 French troops and 1,200 U.S. troops based in Niger. Additionally, the U.S built its largest drone base in Africa, Air Base 201, at the cost of over $110 million dollars, to provide intelligence and surveillance in the U.S. campaign against violent extremism. Estimates are that the U.S. spent almost half a billion dollars training the Nigerien armed forces.

Chris Olaoluwa Ògúnmọ́dẹdé insightfully reports in worldpoliticsreview/niger-coup:

Last week’s coup in Niger caught much of the outside world by surprise, given the country’s image as a relatively stable outlier in a region beset by frequent upheaval. Many outside observers found it hard to understand how President Mohamed Bazoum, a seemingly well-regarded leader believed to enjoy popular legitimacy, was overthrown by the armed forces. But if foreign observers were stunned by Bazoum’s toppling, it did not come as a shock to many Nigeriens, and not solely because of their country’s history of military coups.

To begin with, tensions between Bazoum and the army’s top brass and senior Defense Ministry officials were well-known to Nigeriens. Bazoum was also ushered into power in 2021 by a controversial election in which a popular opposition candidate was barred from running and that featured allegations of electoral malpractice. The protests that followed were marred by at least two deaths, many more injuries and mass arrests. And harsh crackdowns on recent public protests against the rising cost of living and Niger’s security partnership with France likely did little to assuage Nigeriens’ concerns.

Claims of an improved security landscape in Niger amid the fight against Islamist jihadists are also open to debate. But beyond the vagaries of statistical analysis, many Nigeriens simply do not believe that their lives have become safer and more prosperous, and seemingly favorable comparisons with their neighbors are no consolation. Niger remains one of the world’s most impoverished nations

Security, economic progress, and social development are necessary to sustain public support for any system of government, including democracy. (Emphasis added)

Development Not Understood

During the years of the Obama Presidency, members of his administration would repeatedly and publicly lecture me that “we don’t do infrastructure.” Now, in the two and a half years of Joe Biden’s Presidency, both he and Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, openly espouse  that the overarching intent of U.S. policy towards Africa (and the rest of the world) is to export “democracy” and “ good governance.” They believe, that only when nations embrace and commit to implement their constructs, will they be allowed to join the “rules-based international order.” 

A July 17, 2023, opinion by the Editorial Board of the Washington Post reveals, unintentionally, the tragic flaws of the Biden-Blinken policy towards Africa.

As we have argued in this space before, the Biden administration should compete with Russia’s aggressive maneuvering, as well as China’s, for influence in Africa by focusing on what the United States does best: building the infrastructure of democracy. That takes time. But in the long term, it is the key to ending chronic instability and crippling poverty (sic), reining in corruption, and jump-starting economic development.

There is only one thing wrong with this policy; it is no damn good! Stability, peace, and democracy are dependent on a population that is prosperous, educated, and secure. Without economic development, these goals will not be achieved. If the tens of billions of dollars that was spent on kinetic counter-terrorism programs to diminish violent extremism, had been deployed for building infrastructure, the Sahel would be in far better shape than it is today. Electricity, roads, railroads, water management, farming, and manufacturing are essential for the wellbeing of a nation.

Without a continuously rising stanard of living for its people, Niger, like many other African nations, will not achieve peace, and stability. The physical economic improvement in the material existence of the lives of the population is not optional, not secondary, but a primary-essential requirement for a nation state’s continued existence.

The failure to comprehend these fundamental concepts is at the crux of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the Western political-financial elites and their inability to design a successful strategy towards Africa.

Listen to my 20 minute PressTV interview on Niger.

Read my earlier post:

My Thoughts: Poverty & Ethnicity Kill Democracy in Africa

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Africa Updates: Malian Crisis, Uganda’s New Hydroelectric Dam, Rwanda’s Infrastructure Goals, Kenyatta Speaks on China, US and Africa

In this interview, Lawrence Freeman exposes that the root cause of the present deadly crisis in Mali stems from the overthrow and assassination of of Muammar Gaddafi by the West in 2011, led by President Obama, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and French President Sarkozy. .

 

Uganda is intending to build with ChinaPower, the Ayago Hydroelectric Power Station, located on a section of the Nile between lakes Kyoga and Albert. When completed, it will produce 840 megawatts of electricity at the cost $1.4 billion, and increase Uganda’s generating capacity by 40% to 2,800 megawattsTogether with the completion of Grand Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam GERD, East African nations are beginning to produce power necessary to develop their economies.  Read: Uganda-China Build New Hydroelectric Dam on the Nile

Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, outlines plans for Rwanda to reach 100% access to electricity for its population in 2024, by adding 2.4 million households to the electrical grid in the next four years. Watch: Minister of Infrastructure on 100% Electricity by 2024

During his visit to the US, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, warned about forcing African nations to chose between the US and China. China has made major contributions to building infrastructure in Africa that cannot be denied. The US should change its policy from treating Africa as a “pawn” in its geo-political chessboard, and instead join China in developing the vast underdeveloped African continent. Read: Kenya President Kenyatta Warns Against US-China Rivalry in Africa

How the Imperialist CFA franc Suppresses Growth in Africa

Africa’s ‘colonial’ CFA currency (courtesy dw.com)

The article in the link below is a detailed and useful expose of how the CFA franc, controlled by France, contributes to the suppression of economic development in Africa. We have now past a half century since many nations in Africa liberated themselves from colonialism. Yet the French banking system still exercises colonial domination over the finances of African nations that should be economically independent. African nations will never be truly independent until they are economically sovereign. This means having sovereign control over their own currencies and the issuing of credit for internal improvements of their economies. African nations should have National Banks and Development Banks for the issuing of credit, as first conceptualized by Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton’s concept of government-national credit was essential for the creation of an industrialized USA from thirteen agrarian based colonies.

Read: Towards a Political Economy of Monetary Dependency

For more analysis of Alexander Hamilton’s credit policy read: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

Is There A Plan For A Venezuela Type Regime Change for Nigeria?

April 11, 2019

I cannot verify all the information in the article below, nor do I think President Buhari will be removed from office and replaced by Atiku Abubakar. However, the machinations presented in this article are plausible. Although, President Trump has spoken out against regime change, his administration, led by National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, is in fact attempting to do just that in Venezuela. There, they are endeavoring to replace the current President of Venezuela by installing a member of the National Assembly as head of state, who was never elected as President. Some people in and around the Trump administration are trying to use this precedent in Venezuela to establish a new precedent for regime change.  If the cited article below is true, it appears that there are unscrupulous people,  who are being handsomely paid by the defeated, but wealthy Atiku, to make him President of Nigeria.

Atiku Abubakar-left. President Buhari-right. (courtesy nigerianpilot.com)

The idea of removing President Buhari from office-Venezuelan style, would not only illegally overturn the will of the Nigerian people, but it would be a catastrophe for all of Africa. Africa, especially North Africa, is still suffering horribly from the 2011 regime change and assassination of Libyan President, Muammar Gaddafi. Contrary to the misguided apologists of the Obama administration, there is no escaping the truth; Samantha Powers, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and President Obama are responsible for the death and destruction of North Africa by their reckless action in overthrowing President Gaddafi and then killing him. Following the regime change collapse of Libya, thousands of Tuaregs, along with various extremists, drove out of Libya in their pick-up trucks filled with modern weapons and munitions. As a result, following the collapse of Libya, Mali’s sovereignty was undermined, the nation destabilized, and remains so today!

Nigeria is already familiar with the effects of western inspired regime change. Boko Haram’s growth and sophistication in lethality was also caused by the influx of new terrorist actors streaming across the desert after President Gaddafi was eliminated.  Were those lunatics in the cited article ever to succeed in their fantasy to remove President Buhari, civil war accompanied by an exodus of millions of Nigerians would overwhelm West Africa especially, drawing the continent into new and deadly regional conflicts and massive internal displacement of people.

For the sake of Africa and the world, let’s put end to regime change, now!

Excerpts:

“Enlisting the assistance of two high-powered Washington, D.C. lawyers, a Nigerian presidential candidate is looking for help in his legal challenge after his election loss. Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, lost in the country’s February presidential election to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari. However, Abubakar swiftly filed a legal suit challenging the election results due to allegations of voting irregularities and violence.

“Abubakar has ties to those in Trump’s orbit, having hired political consultants like Riva Levinson, who worked with Paul Manafort, and Brian Ballard, a major Trump fundraiser. Like many other foreign leaders looking to bolster their standing with Trump, Abubakar stayed at the Trump International Hotel in Washington D.C”

“Abubakar himself has a rocky legal history. A Senate subcommittee report on foreign corruption cited Abubakar as a case study regarding his transfer of millions of dollars into the U.S. through shell companies. He was never prosecuted. In 2009, the FBI alleged that Abubakar demanded bribes from former Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), who was convicted of corruption charges. At one point, Jefferson stored $90,000 in cash for Abubakar in his freezer.”

READ: Failed Nigerian Presidential Candidate Lobbying US to Recognize Him as Authentic President

Africa’s East-West Railroad is 50 years Over Due

An East-West railroad, along with Trans-African highways, and  electrical power, is essential for African nations to become  sovereign independent nations. It is coherent with the African Union’s “Agenda 2063.” Sudan is geographically situated to become the nexus of the East-West and North South rail lines. Africa’s collaboration in recent years with China’s Belt and Road Initiative, Russia, and other nations to build vitally necessary infrastructure is the only way to eliminate poverty, hunger, and disease. It will also lead to finally putting African nations on the path to building robust agricultural and manufacturing sectors. This policy stands in stark contrast to President Trump’s “non-Africa Strategy,” which will do nothing to help Africa, nor improve US Security.  

Russia Wants To Help Build an African Cross-Continental Rail Line

Dec. 16, 2018

The Russia-Sudan Inter-governmental Commission announced in a report that Russia wants to participate in the construction of a cross-continental rail line, which will connect East and West Africa. TASS reported that the commission document states: “The Sudanese side expressed interest in participation of the Russian companies in constructing of the Trans-African railway from Dakar-Port Sudan-Cape Town. The Russian side confirmed readiness to work out the opportunity for participation but asked for [the] provision of all the financial and legal characteristics of this project.”

TASS explained that “the Trans-African railway line is part of the African Union’s plans to connect the port of Dakar in West Africa to the port of Djibouti in East Africa. It will run through 10 different countries (many of them landlocked) and is expected to boost trade on the continent. The route will be the expansion of the existing Trans-African Highway 5 (TAH5). The first phase of the project will be an estimated $2.2 billion upgrade to 1,228 kilometers of existing rail between Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and Bamako, the capital of neighboring Mali.

The project has already attracted Chinese investment in African infrastructure through Beijing’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).” 

 
 
 

 

New Course on African History: The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa

I will be teaching this course in the Fall at the Community College Baltimore County, and Frederick Community College, Maryland, USA

The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa

New! The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa
7 sessions, 14 hours

Africa is the poorest continent with hundreds of millions of people living on $2 per day. African nations have the greatest deficit in basic infrastructure like roads, rail, and energy. It’s the only continent where cholera is endemic. African nations are also spending billions of dollars importing food when they have an abundant amount of fertile land. Learn about the causes for Africa’s current condition due to it’s unique history of slavery and colonialism. With the recent China-Africa Summit-(FOCAC) in Beijing, one should be optimistic that economic conditions on the continent are changing for the better

Instructor: Lawrence Freeman has been involved in Africa for almost 25 years and has made over two dozen visits to the nations of Sudan, Nigeria, Mali, Chad, and Ethiopia. He has studied the history and political economy of several Africa nations. Lawrence has attended weekly seminars and forums on Africa in Washington DC including Congressional hearings on Africa. As a result, Lawrence has attained an in-depth knowledge of both historical and current developments of Africa. He has written dozens of articles analyzing the political economies of Africa nations including Sudan, South Sudan, Nigeria, Kenya, Mali, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He specializes in promoting policies for physical economic development, and has presented his ideas to government and non-government circles alike in both Africa and the United States. Lawrence is the Vice Chairman of the International Scientific Advisory Committee to the Lake Chad Basin Commission, and played a prominent role in the International Conference to Save Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria from Feb 26-28, 2018. He is promoting the Transaqua water project to recharge the shrinking Lake Chad

LR565 The Effects of 500 Years of Slavery and Colonialism on Africa
5-Digit  Number: 16290
Tue, 1 p.m. – 3 p.m., 11/6 – 12/18 Location:  Conference Center/E-106
Tuition: $50.00          Fee: $114.00     Total: $164.00
MD residents age 60+ pay fee only

East-West Railroad Would Transform African Continent

This is an interesting and useful article. I have stressed for decades the urgent need to construct both an East-West and a South-North Railroad. A high-speed transport grid that Africa should have completed decades ago, is essential for the well-being and economic growth of Africa. Such a transportation network, integrated with several hundreds megawatts of electrical power, would create an infrastructure platform that would be transformative; producing the conditions for African nations to finally eliminate hunger and disease. These projects are possible now with the expansion China’s New Silk Road, initiated by President Xi Jinping, which has changed the strategic geometry of the world. For example. At the February Abuja conference to ‘Save Lake Chad’ at which I participated, the Head of States endorsed the mega Transaqua project; an inter-basin water transfer proposal to recharge Lake Chad. The Transaqua concept had been in circulation for over thirty years, but with no progress until ChinaPower become involved.  As I advised the participants at this conference: now is the time for Africans to think big!   

Can China Realize Africa’s Dream of an East-West Transport Link?

The Jamestown Foundation-Publication: China Brief Volume: 18 Issue: 6

Map of a proposed trans-Africa highway network, ca. 2003 (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

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. [1]. 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?