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. Schiller Institute. Schiller InstituteSchiller Institute
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.
Helga Zepp-LaRouche: ‘History Is Now Written in Asia: Europe Must Follow the Singapore Example’
June 15, 2018—Schiller Institute Founder and Chair Helga Zepp-LaRouche has put forward a bold new agenda for the June 28-29 European Union summit, necessary to further transform the world, in the wake of the Singapore summit of U.S. President Trump and North Korea’s Chairman Kim Jong-un. Her proposal concludes:
“If the Merkel government is still in place when this article appears, there is a very good way by which the present crises can be overcome—from the migrant crisis to the government crisis and the EU crisis. Taking the example set by the Singapore Summit—that real change is possible, and that the past does not determine the future—the German government should ensure that the agenda of the European Union summit on June 28-29 be quickly changed. EU cooperation with China’s New Silk Road initiative for the development of Africa should be made the sole subject on the agenda, and [President] Xi Jinping or [Foreign Minister] Wang Yi should be invited to attend, as well as some African heads of state who are already cooperating with China.
“If the EU summit, the Chinese government representative, and the African representatives then pronounce in a joint declaration the commitment to undertake a joint crash program for a pan-African infrastructure and development program, and promise all the young people of Africa that the continent will overcome poverty in a short time, such a declaration, due to the participation of China, would have all the credibility in the world in Africa, and would change the dynamic in all the countries towards definite hope for the future, and thus would immediately effect a change in the migrant crisis. It would also free the EU from its current crisis of legitimacy, and give the European nations a mission which would place the unity of Europe on a great new level.
“Will the heads of state and government of Europe manage to follow the example of Trump and Kim Jong-un? The prospective of developing Africa together with China, would also give President Trump the urgently needed opportunity to overcome the otherwise looming spiral of trade war, and to balance the [U.S.] trade deficit by increasing trade, primarily through investment in joint ventures in third countries.
“The crisis in Europe, the migrant crisis, the crisis of the German government—they have all assumed such dimensions, that the opportunity for a change of course in policy can absolutely be seized. Needed now, are the people to make it happen.”
The News China will build a railway from the Red Sea city of Port Sudan to the Chadian capital of N’Djamena proves just how serious Beijing is about pioneering a transcontinental Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road to more easily connect Africa’s largest country of Nigeria to the Eurasian landmass, bringing with it plenty of multipolar opportunities for China’s Pakistani and Turkish partners and showcasing the indispensable position that Sudan is poised to play in making this grand vision possible.
The Sudan Tribute [sic Tribune] recently reported that its eponymous country signed a deal with China to explore the viability of constructing a railway from Port Sudan to N’Djamena, with an eye on completing a long-awaited connectivity project that had hitherto been held up due to various degrees of regional instability. According to the publication, the original plan was to link up the Chadian and even nearby Central African Republic capitals with the Red Sea in order to provide these resource-rich landlocked states with an outlet to the global marketplace, which is increasingly becoming Asia-centric ergo the Eastern vector of this initiative. In terms of the bigger picture, however, the successful completion of the Port Sudan-N’Djamena Railway would constitute a crucial component of China’s unstated intentions to construct what the author had previously referred to as the “Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road”, the relevant portion of which (the Chad-Sudan Corridor) is a slight improvisation of Trans-African Highway 6.
Per the hyperlinked analysis above, the following custom map illustrates the full cross-continental vision that China has in mind:
Red: CCS (Cameroon-Chad-Sudan) Silk Road
Gold: Trans-African Highway 5
Lavender: Ethiopia-Nigeria Silk Road (the most direct route through resource-rich territory)
Pink: West African Rail Loop
Blue: Lagos-Calabar Silk Road
Green: Lagos-Kano Silk Road
Yellow: Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Silk Road
Each of the aforementioned tracks are described in a bit more detail in the cited article about the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road and the author’s extensive Hybrid War study on Nigeria, but the two pertinent points to focus on in this piece are the CCS Silk Road (outlined in red on the map) and its larger purpose in possibly connecting Africa’s two largest countries and future Great Powers of Nigeria and Ethiopia. One of China’s grand strategic objectives in the emerging Multipolar World Order is to lay the infrastructural groundwork for facilitating the robust full-spectrum integration between these two giants, understanding that their Beijing-built bicoastal connectivity would bestow the People’s Republic with significant influence in the continent by streamlining an unprecedented corridor between them, thereby giving China the potential to more directly shape Africa’s overall development across the 21st century.
It goes without saying that Sudan is poised to play an indispensable role in making this happen by virtue of its advantageous geography in allowing China to circumnavigate the “Failed State Belt” of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and increasingly, maybe even Cameroon, as well by charting an overland Silk Road connectivity corridor between Ethiopia and Nigeria via Sudan and Chad. Moreover, the potential linkage of the planned Ethiopia-Sudan railwayto the prospective Port Sudan-N’Djamena railroad would enable Sudan to provide China with alternative access to these two landlocked states. Regional military leader and energy exporter Chad is already in physical touch with the outside world through Cameroon, just as the world’s fastest-growing economy and rising African hegemon Ethiopia utilizes the newly built Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway for this purpose, but the shrewd and far-sighted Chinese always feel more comfortable if they’re not dependent on a single route, hence the strategic importance of supplementary access to Chad and Ethiopia through Port Sudan.
While Sudan’s financial standing was left reeling ever since the American-backed separation of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011, Khartoum might fortuitously find itself wheeling and dealing along the New Silk Road if it’s successful in providing China with alternative market access to Chad and Ethiopia in the future, and especially if it can do the same with Nigeria in saving China the time in having to sail all the way around the Cape of Good Hope in order to trade with it. For as easy as all of this may sound, however, the premier challenge that China will have to confront is to ensure the security of this traditionally unstable transit space, specifically in the context of maintaining peace in the former hotspot of Darfur and dealing with the plethora of destabilization scenarios emanating from the Lake Chad region (Boko Haram, Nigeria’s possible fragmentation, etc.).
In view of this herculean task, China could be lent a helping hand by its Pakistani and Turkish partners who each have a self-interested desire to this end, with Islamabad slated to patrol CPEC’s Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOC) with East Africa while Ankara is already a heavy hitter in Africa because of its recent embassy and airline expansion in the continent. Moreover, both of these countries are leaders of the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) in their own way and accordingly have soft power advantages over China in the majority-Muslim states of sub-Saharan Africa through which Beijing’s grand Silk Road projects will traverse. Seeing as how Pakistan and Turkey are also on very close relations with China, the scenario arises whereby these Great Powers enter into a trilateral working group with one another for effectively promoting their African policies through joint investments, socio-cultural initiatives, and the collective strengthening of Nigeria, Chad, and Sudan’s military capacities in countering their respective Hybrid War threats.
This is especially relevant when considering that all three transit states aren’t exactly on positive footing with the US. Washington initially refused to provide anti-terrorist assistance to Abuja when it first requested such against Boko Haram in 2014, and the Trump Administration has inexplicably placed N’Djamena on its travel ban list. As for Khartoum, it’s been under US sanctions for over two decades now, even though the State Department partially lifted some of them last month as part of its “carrots-and-sticks diplomacy” towards the country. Therefore, the case can convincingly be argued that these three African countries would be receptive to Chinese, Pakistani, and Turkish military assistance because their prospective Eurasian security partners are perceived of as being much more reliable and trusted than the Americans or French who always attach some sort of strings to their support. The only expectation that those three extra-regional states would have is that their counterparts’ collective stability would be enduring enough to facilitate win-win trade for everyone.
There’s a certain logic to the comprehensive strategy behind this Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership between Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Turkey, Pakistan, and China. Nigeria, as the West African anchor state, could help expeditiously funnel the region’s overland trade to the Red Sea via the landlocked Chadian transit state and the maritime Sudanese one, thus making Khartoum the continental “gatekeeper” of West African-Chinese trade. Turkey’s hefty investments and newfound presence in Africa could help to “lubricate” this corridor by making it more efficient, with President Erdogan trumpeting his country’s version of a moderate “Muslim Democracy” at home in order to score significant soft power points with these three majority-Muslim African states and their elites. Pakistan would assist in this vision by providing security between Port Sudan and what might by that point be its twinned sister port of Gwadar in essentially enabling the flow of West Africa trade to China by means of CPEC.
Altogether, maritime threats are kept to a minimum because of the shortened SLOC between Sudan and Pakistan (as opposed to Nigeria and China) while the mainland ones are manageable due to the military-security dimensions of the proposed Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership, but it nevertheless shouldn’t be forgotten that Sudan and Pakistan are the crucial mainland-maritime interfaces for this transcontinental and pan-hemispheric Silk Road strategy which is expected to form the basis of China’s “South-South” integration in the emerging Multipolar World Order.