“Pan African Visions” Freeman Interview: The Newly Expanded BRICS Has Indelibly Changed The Universe-Ethiopia and Africa

Pan African Visions

The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.

For almost three decades, Lawrence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled, www.lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

September 26, 2023

The interview below is reprinted from Pan African Visions

Read: BRICS-alliance-challenges-the-old-order

Question: How The BRICS Alliance Challenges The Old Order

Lawrence Freeman: The addition of Ethiopia with over 115 million people, and Egypt with over 105 million people strengthens Africa’s hand in BRICS , says Lawrence Freeman.
For almost three decades, Laurence Freeman, an American Political Economic analyst for Africa has been voicing critically against the west’s approach towards its economic relation with the developing world especially Africa. After creating his website entitled www.laurencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com, he has been lobbying for economic interventions that liberate Africa from poverty and has been suggesting ways that African policy makers should adopt in order to sustainably address the economic problems of Africa. During his latest interview with The Ethiopian Herald in connection with the BRICS summit in South Africa, he said that he is happy to see one of his dreams, for which he fought for about a generation, has come true. Enjoy reading the detail!

Question: How do you see the course that BRICS has passed through so far?

Freeman: The BRICS now has already emerged and is now accelerating its institution as an alternative to the western view of the world, and the Western political economic system that gives now called a new rules based international order. And that unipolar Western domination is now ending. And the BRICS is a very strong, emerging alternative. And as you know, an additional six countries have been invited to join the BRICS beginning 1st of January 2024. And of those six countries, Ethiopia is one of those countries, and Egypt is another. And therefore, out of the 11 nations, that will be BRICS members three of them will now be from Africa. So, this is very good news for Ethiopia, for Africa, and for the World Development.

Question: Two more African countries are now invited to join BRICS. How do you see the representation of Africa in the bloc?

Freeman: What is clear now is the addition of Ethiopia, which is over 115 million people, and Egypt, which is over 105 million people. You’ve now two very important countries added to the bloc, the second and third most populous countries of the African nations, and together with the existing member of South Africa.

So this is a very powerful representation, because these countries represent very significant pillars of the African continent.

Now, Ethiopia has been a leading nation in terms of driving economic development, not only in the country of Ethiopia, but really implicitly for the whole continent. Because of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is going to produce 5,150 megawatts within two years. This dam will also lead to a great development in the Horn of Africa, East Africa, and Nile Basin nations.

Egypt has also been expanding its economy. It’s building nuclear power plants. It has built industrial complexes along the Nile River. And so these two additions, plus South Africa, which is the most industrialized nation on the continent, these three represent a very significant force for change and economic development in Africa. And the BRICS now has made it clear that they’re going to build the New Development Bank (NDB), which was set up after the BRICS; the NDB is going to be increasing its lending and 30% of its new lending will be in local currencies. So what we’re seeing is the domination of the dollar and the domination of the rules based order are now being said really weakened.

And we’re already in or approaching to the post unipolar Western dominated world. And BRICS is going to be one of the most central institutions in making those kinds of dynamic changes for world economic development. And of course, for Africa, with the level of poverty that exists on the continent, this could be a game changer.

Question: Do you think there will be a confrontation with other contending blocs now that BRICS is expanding by more than double?

Freeman: There is the danger of the West, taking measures against the BRICS, they have been organizing against the BRICS consistently. In fact, I found it very revealing that even days before the BRICS summit, which was the 22nd 23rd, and today to 24th, the whole western establishment in Western media was talking about how unimportant the BRICS summit was, and how it was much to do about nothing. And of course, they were just expressing their fear. Because if you ask China and other countries, they will tell you that they need oil. But they’re not just taking oil, they are building infrastructure and expanding the markets.

And the West has basically lost a level of its thinking capability, because rather than adjusting itself to these new developments; they’re trying to maintain the old developments. If, these BRICS countries, that are now growing to 11 increase the trade among themselves, if they’re increasing the investment among themselves, if they are building important infrastructure, manufacturing capabilities, and expand their markets, that each one of them can be selling to the other then it is given that the thing is going to be more and more dominated outside of the dollar, it’s going to be conducted in local currencies. So, if the West, my United States, was more intelligent, we would be oriented toward also being part of the changes but the geopolitical mindset have always been on top and is in control, and the hegemony is preventing the west from thinking clearly.

The BRICS is a reality; just like the Belt and Road Initiative is a reality. It’s not going to be put back in the bottle, as we say. And it’s a potential for real growth, and energy for infrastructure and energy for manufacturing development projects.

Development is the most important aspect of Africa’s relationships with the BRICS, says Lawrence Freeman.

It would be beneficial to all the countries involved, and the sooner the West, and the Secretary of State Blinken and President Biden and others wake up to this new reality, the better the world would be. We are facing a dangerous situation in Niger, West Africa, which I know well, is a sign of the same dynamic that you’re having. West African countries are rejecting colonialism; the French control over their economy, and are also rejecting military intervention. The coups are driven by the fact that the country is poor. One has to know the fact that there is only 3% of the Niger population accessing electricity. Less than 50% of the African continent has electricity access. Development is the most important aspect of the relationships with the BRICS. And the West does not or refuses to understand this vivid fact.

Question: How should African countries work in collaboration with BRICS as an alternative source of finance, market?

Freeman: One good thing is, they’re now going to be capable of having access to loans from the BRICS New Development Bank, and the NDB set up in 2015. So now this NDB is going to increase its loan portfolio. And it means that these countries may have an opportunity to get these loans. Now, these loans do not contain the conditionality that the IMF and World Bank attaches with. And the mindset of the BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa, is the global south has to be developed.

The BRICS has already represented about a third of the GDP worldwide, about 40% of the global population. So, both those figures are going to increase. So, the reality is that the African nations are joining a new dynamic in a world that is going to offer them with the new opportunities. Don’t forget, Africa is suffering; people are dying every day, because of a lack of electricity, and a lack of manufacturing capability. Those two things had been denied to the nation’s economies of Africa, this now gives an opportunity to change. But the West has never wanted to see this kind of economic development, in manufacturing, in particular, and electricity. Those two things are addressed along with a plan for high speed integrated rail, which I’ve also written about it on my website, those things will change or transform the African continent, and this is the way to eliminate poverty.

And if you eliminate poverty, you can eliminate instability. The reason is a lack of security in many countries, especially on the Sahel is because there’s no development, because people live like beasts, forced to live that way without the basic qualities of life. And so if you transform that, you can transform the entire political economic security situation. So, Egypt is all the way up in the north of the continent. It has an effect on the whole Sahel region. Ethiopia is right there in the center of East Africa, is the largest economy in East Africa. This could obviously affect a number of countries, Kenya, Djibouti and Sudan. And then you have South Africa in the very tip in the south. And if we expand the relationships, if we build the high speed railroads, if we expand the electricity, if we build manufacturing centers, we can see a whole different Africa.

Now, the BRICS, can’t do that overnight. But as they expand their lending capability, and also complementary is the Belt and Road Initiative, over a period of time, we can see a significant change in the lives of Africans and that their material standard of living. So now, three of the 11 nations of the BRICS are African nations, because that’s already a very sizable bloc within the BRICS itself. So I’m very optimistic about the potential and I’m very happy and excited for Ethiopia, because Ethiopia, if it gets this kind of new economic relations with the BRICS, then more of the desire and potential of Ethiopian economy can be realized, which is what I’ve been advocating for over 10 years.

Question: What kind of challenge do you expect for the newly invited countries in the course of joining BRICS?

Freeman: They will become official members of BRICS in about four months. And what we need to do for Ethiopia, especially all the countries involved in Africa, is long term low interest. What I mean is 2% to 3% long term interest rates on 15 year loans, government backed loans, or government supported loans for infrastructure. We need to be building an additional 1000 gigawatts of power on the continent. We need to have a high speed rail system that connects every port, every major city, every major industrial center, and every major agricultural center, connects the continent so that we can do the merger of Africa. Failing to have this infrastructure and have this manufacturing capability is the biggest weakness which is observable now. And only 13% to 15% of trade from African countries is among African countries, they’re exporting 85%. The African countries are importing 40 billion and plus dollars’ worth food commodities. The fact is that there is no reason for Africa to become self-sufficient in food. But Africa also needs the infrastructure, and it needs manufacturing.

So there’s a lot of potential, how aggressively would the BRICS proceed, I don’t know. But if they’re going to proceed as aggressively as possible, in effect, Africa can become a different place. All in all, the changes that are going on in West Africa are really part of the same process. The rules based order is no longer, hegemonic. The world is not unipolar. And therefore, that gives us potential for transformational change in Africa.

Question: How do you think developing countries including Africa maintain their ties with the west in the middle of the possible rift that could happen between BRICS and the other blocs?

Freeman: I suggest African countries have to understand this. There is no reason and there’s no benefit to attacking the West, head on. What these countries will be doing is that they will maintain their relations with the West. But they will not be forced to submit to the conditionalities of the West. And they want to drive out the last vestiges of colonialism. So, you have the French controlling 14 countries’ economies in Francophone Africa to a new form of colonialism. We have 1500 French troops in Niger, we have 1200 American troops. We have six bases in just Niger alone, that we’ve helped build. We’ve spent billions and billions of dollars on the so called counterterrorism.

What we now have to do is we have to spend billions and billions of dollars on development. So the African countries will say, we are open to working with everybody.

We will work with the West, we will work with the Global South. But we’re going to only work in ways that build our nations.

Lawrence Freeman backs calls by South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor for African countries to prioritize investment that also boosts local production

You had a very interesting statement from Naledi Pandor, who is the equivalent of foreign minister of South Africa last month when she met with her counterpart from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, [ And she said do not accept any investment that does not include manufacturing in your own country, and I agree with her 110%, then there should not be. The African nations now also have to expand their energy. And that means they should burn and use their natural resources. That means coal; that means oil; that means gas; that means hydro. And it means expanding nuclear energy, with the help of Russia, China and India will help in this regard. And they have to be and they’re not going to accept the dictates of the bank, the Western banking system that says, No, we’re not going to lend you money, unless you stop burning fossil fuels. And the African countries have said clearly, we are going to go ahead and burn our fossil fuel because we need energy to keep our people have a fulfilling life. So I don’t think the Asian countries in general are not going to be confrontational, but they no longer have to submit to the dictates of the rules based order.

Question: What do you think the countries of the West should do to maintain their relations with BRICS and developing countries?

Freeman: This is a very interesting question I’ve been writing and speaking about this. The problem that the West has, take the United States, for example, is that it is dominated by a geo political ideology. And this ideology says that the world is fixed, doesn’t grow. And therefore, the only way for superpowers to exist, they have to be on top, they have to be in control, called the zero sum game, everything has to add up to zero. So if I’m on top, you’re going to be on the bottom. If I am on the bottom, then you’re going to be on top. And this mentality is completely destructive. Now that mentality, that ideology, which is perverse, in my view, is under attack, because the reality of the universe we live in, has changed as you and I have been discussing.

So now, the world as a result of this BRICS summit and the changes in the BRICS configuration is a new factor in reality. It cannot be changed back in the west now, either they have to become aware of that and reflect on your policies and change their policies to pro development policies for these emerging markets, or the West will be left out of it or gets to military confrontation. So , can the West adjust? Can the West, think? Can people like the Secretary of State Blinken and Biden, think and reflect that the policy they’ve been advocating has failed? I don’t know if they’re going to do that. But that’s what they have to do. If they want to remain relevant in the world, and not push the world to military confrontations or impossible nuclear wars we’re seeing with Ukraine and Russia, whether they will actually have the ability to rethink and understand the errors of the ways is a very interesting question are going to see over the next several months, but the reality has changed, and that fact, can no longer be denied as much as the media would like to.

Now the 11 nations in the BRICS are representing larger and larger portions of the world economy in the world’s population, a large percentage of those almost 30% now of African nations, this represents a new reality. This represents a new dynamic. As we speak, the world has already changed. So now we have a new potential. And it is up to leaders of these African nations, and leaders of the BRICS, and leaders of other global south nations, to make these new realities, new potentials come about to realize that and to organize them around a new paradigm of economic order for development. And that is something very exciting. Something I’ve been fighting for 30 years, and I’m very happy to see the progress we’re making. And the reality has now changed as of today.

Thank you very much for your time!

You’re most welcome!

Culled from the September Issue of PAV Magazine and published Courtesy Of ZEKARIAS OLDEMARIAM, THE ETHIOPIAN HERALD SATURDAY 26 AUGUST 2023

Read my earlier post: BRICS Offers New Potential for Africa & The World: The Human Race Will Benefit

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. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

Transaqua: Save Lake Chad & Prevent African Coups Like Niger

Transaqua, the “Mattei Plan” boycotted by France

September 19, 2023

This new article, TRANSAQUA, THE ITALIAN WAY TO THE SAHEL BOYCOTTED BY FRANCE AND EUROPEAN UNION, by Italian journalist, Francesca Ronchin, is quite timely, given the explosive developments we are witnessing amongst the nations in the Sahel and West Africa, today.

Ms. Ronchin does a service for Africa by publishing this story on August 30th (originally in Italian), one month after the coup in Niger. The obviously complete failure by France, the United States, and Western institutions, to nurture real economic development and provide security for Sahelian nations has led to a succession of coups. From my vantage point as a physical economist, these drastic changes in leadership are understandable, though by themselves they will not provide a solution. Unfortunately, more coups may be on the way.

Take the case of Niger. With almost half its people living in abject poverty, only 3% of the population having access to electricity, and the youth seeing no future as a Francophone nation, should anyone be surprised of the anger directed at the Western backed government? Niger is home to multiple miliary bases for drone deployments and to house 1,100 U.S. troops and 1,500 French forces.

The relevancy of Transaqua* is that, if this great water-energy-agricultural infrastructure project had been implemented, as I have advocated for 30 years, the conditions life in the nations of the Lake Chad Basin would have undergone an economic transformation. Had there been progress over recent decades in constructing Transaqua, Niger today, would be a completely different nation. If the U.S. had deployed the over $500 million it spent on military training and building drone bases on developmental infrastructure, such as electricity, the coup in Niger could have been averted. Sadly, the concept of development has vanished from the comprehension of the U.S. President, Congress, and State Department.

Although, it would appear to be miraculous, America is still capable of following in the footsteps of our most pro-African president, John F Kennedy, who unlike his immediate predecessors and those who came after him, had a true vison for the development of Africa. **

*Transaqua is discussed in detail in numerous posts on this website-click lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com/lake-chad-basin   

** Betting on the Africans, John F Kennedy’s Courting of African Nationalist Leaders. Philip E Muehlenbeck, Oxford University Press, 2012

Read my earlier post: To Prevent More Coups Like Niger: Eliminate Poverty 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. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

Everything You Are Not Being Told About Africa & Why It Matters

Watch my discussion with Mel K

September 5, 2023

Please watch this excellent interview with Lawrence Freeman conducted last month. You will enjoy it. Topics discussed:

  • What does the coup in Niger reveal about the failure of Western policy for Africa?
  • Why economic development is a human right?
  • Is the Western political and financial oligarchical elite brain dead or can they change in accordance with reality?
  • Why is the West scared of the newly expanded BRICS?
  • Why is China’s policy towards Africa superior to that of the West?
  • Is Africa on the verge of an economic-political breakout?
  • Are Western leaders smart enough to modify their failed policies.
  • Will Africa have too many people? Can there be too much human creativity?

All of this issues and more are discussed in a conversation with Mel K that you wont see anywhere else.

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. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

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

Nigeria Expands Railroads and Strives for Self Sufficiency in Rice

Positive Developments for Nigeria : Railway  Infrastructure and Value Addition in Agriculture

Bellow is a very informative article by my colleague, PD Lawton, creator of the website AfricanAfenda.net, on Nigeria’s expansion of its railroad network and its policy to become food self sufficient. 

11 July 2021

Under the visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has become a key African partner in the Belt and Road Initiative. The benefits of Nigeria`s participation in the BRI are outlined in this article:

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/01/how-chinas-belt-and-road-initiative-affects-nigeria-africa/

President Buhari has said that Nigeria cannot be seen as an island, that the country will never have peace and prosperity while its neighbours live in poverty.

In saying that, he expressed the spirit of the New Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative, and the ethos of a shared future for mankind.

It is for that reason that President Buhari has championed extension of the railway into Niger.The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project will revolutionize national and regional trade.

https://railbus.com.ng/index.php/events/kano-maradi-railway-buharis-new-corridor-linking-sahelo-sahara-with-nigerian-coast/embed/#?secret=rRVmDJ7xaw

The railway network will be extended to Maradi in Niger which is one of the landlocked neighbours along with Burkina Faso and Chad who currently only have road access to sea ports in Accra in Ghana, Cotonou in Benin and Lome in Togo. In September 2020, the Nigerian government announced the funding of $1.9 billion to construct the 250km line from Kano to Maradin, a village in Niger. In Maradin, warehouses will be built for cargo.

As of the 12 January 2021 the contract for the $1.9 bn line from Kano -Maradi has been signed with Portuguese construction firm Mota- Engil.

https://railbus.com.ng/index.php/events/nigeria-signs-1-9bn-contract-for-kano-niger-railway-line/embed/#?secret=duHYGRBMQq

For centuries the trans-Saharan trade route went from Maradi to Kano and was prosperous until colonialism and more recently destabilizing forces changed such fortunes. The original city of Maradi is ancient , dating back thousands of years to the time of the Silk Road.

The remaining section from Maradin to Maradi will be financed and built by Niger.The contractor for the Nigerian line is a Portuguese company (Mota-Engil). The line is being financed by two European banks.

The government has been heavily criticized for extending the rail network beyond its borders.The Kano-Maradi line goes from the northern capital, Kano, across the border into Niger to the town of Maradi which has a population of 267,000.

The critics say that Niger has nothing to offer. There are cities in Nigeria that have a higher income than the entire Niger State, which is geographically larger than Nigeria but mostly desert and desperately poor.The critics say why help Nigeriens when Nigerians are suffering ? The government is being accused internationally of trying to capture the trade that currently goes to the port of Cotonou in Benin and of favouring the Muslim north of Nigeria to garner popularity for President Buhari`s APC ( All Progressives Congress) party. So why extend the line to Niger?

Because Africa must unite.

Apart from gold deposits, Niger is considered to have only one asset, uranium.Since 1968, Areva, an 80% French state-owned corporation has obviously been the main beneficiary in a partnership which is definitely not `win-win`. Niger is the 4th largest uranium producer globally. It has high grade deposits. Areva ( now called Orano)pays 5.5% tax and royalties to the Nigerien government. When asked to raise this pathetic ammount, the extraction plant ceased service for a number of weeks and the tax rate remained unchanged.

Image : African arguments. Resident of Arlit sells the daily ration of water.

https://africanarguments.org/2017/07/18/a-forgotten-community-the-little-town-in-niger-keeping-the-lights-on-in-france-uranium-arlit-areva/

Mining in Africa is dominated by the City of London extractive interests. The level of tax and royalties paid to government is consistently low. Glencore Xstrata is one of the main culprits

Uranium is mined near the towns of Arlit and Akokan, 1200 km northeast of the capital, Niamey, on the western range of the Air mountains. The mined ore is transported by truck 1600 km to Parakou in Benin, from where it is transported by rail, 400 km to Cotonou Port and then exported.

Between them, Niger and Namibia, two of Africa`s most arid and impoverished countries, could be supplying all of Africa`s uranium, not if, but when, the continent turns to nuclear power. However, uranium should not be regarded as Niger`s primary asset. Instead we should regard the 23 million Nigeriens as the source of true wealth because it is they, given the creative freedom from absolute poverty, who have the potential to transform the economy of their country.

The African Development Bank is funding a program to strengthen Niger`s rural economy. Food shortages, malnutrition and outright starvation are a permanent situation for the majority of Niger`s rural population. In 2013, only 8% of the population had access to electricity. 82% had no access to sanitation. As of 2020, 15% of people have electricity. According to World Data, Niger has an annual energy consumption of 1.07 billion kWh which is 46kWh per person per year. Life expectancy is around 60. There are no railways at present.

If China has elliminated absolute poverty in one of its poorest and dryest regions, the Uygur Region, there is no reason at all why it cannot be done in a country like Niger, provided that Africa as a whole, adopts the Chinese methods of developing the physical economy.
Niger is a partner in the BRI. On a State visit to Beijing in 2019, President Mahamadou Issoufou and President Xi Jinping agreed to strengthen ties within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative,stressing the importance of carrying out key projects in infrastructure, people’s livelihood, energy and agriculture. China has also committed to assisting Niger with technology and skills transfer in all fields including building a modernized health care system.

http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-05/28/c_138097788.htm.

NUCLEAR ENERGY FOR NIGERIENS

To the critics of the Kano-Maradi railway we can say that maybe `today` Niger has little to offer but `tomorrow` it will be the Sahelian Region`s largest energy exporter and it will be Niger that powers industry from Mauritania to Sudan!

In 2015, as part of the Niger Renaissance Programme, the government hosted a conference in Niamey, capital of Niger, to initiate a national nuclear power program under the umbrella of the West African Integrated Nuclear Power Group (WAINPG) to study the feasibility of regional nuclear power capability.

The Nigerien High Authority for Atomic Energy (Haute Autorité Nigérienne à l’Energie Atomique (HANEA) have submitted Phase 1 of the feasability study to the IAEA. This was done in 2018. Japan has assisted in the funding of the proposal.

IAEA -Niger: Integrated Nuclear  Infrastructure Review (PDF)

Niger, despite being arid. does have plentiful rainful around the Niger Delta but the rain is torrential for a period of weeks often leading to flooding. The government have built dykes but even these failed recently under the volume of water. Not only did this cause loss of life, homes and livelihoods for thousands, but many rice fields and granaries were ruined further contributing to food shortages.

NIGER AND BEYOND

The African Integrated High Speed Rail Network ( AIHSRN) includes a link from Lagos to Algiers which will directly link the Gulf of Guinea to the Mediterranean. The route traverses Niger which will be of immeasurable value to the economy of Nigeria, Niger and Algeria and will contribute greatly to the stability of the Sahel region.

Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation, Rt Hon Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, conducted many interviews with the Nigerian press during the this year`s 60th Independence Anniversary in which he said:

Last week, we awarded the contract for Kano to Maradi and people were screaming why are we taking it to Niger Republic. It’s important to take it to Niger because of economic reasons. Most coastal territories in Africa are competing better than us in terms of cargoes coming from not the hinterland, the landlocked countries. “We decided to join the market and compete so that we can make our seaports very viable. We decided to introduce the Kano-Maradi rail so that we can convey their goods from Maradi (a boundary village) to our ports with ease. I don’t know why people are screaming about it. It’s about economics, not politics.

You should know that railway generates employment and that as you move from Kano to Maradi you’re going to to go to Kano, Dutse, Kazaure, Daura, Katsina, Jibia before you get to Maradi, imagine the number of persons that you’ll create jobs for just at the beginning of the construction. “At the end of construction, imagine the number of businesses that you can site along with that area just because there is transportation. So when you talk about timing, poverty doesn’t have timing, unemployment is causing insecurity and banditry is a product of poverty, not just lack of education. So you have to find an alternative to those who participate in banditry. “So what we are trying to create is a source of growing the economy of Nigeria and creating opportunities for those who want to do real business, so they’ll be able to move their manufactured goods and reduce the cost of production around that area. That’s what we are trying to do.

NIGERIA`S NATIONAL MODERNIZED RAILWAY NETWORK

The Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, will connect Lagos in the south west to Kano in the far north, by standard gauge railway.The modernized national rail network is around 3000 kilometers in length and of standard gauge. It will connect all major cities and link to the ports. The network will link to Niger.

It is replacing and expanding on the old colonial era narrow gauge system which was slow, inefficient and by 2013 all but collapsed with only the Lagos to Kano ( south to north) line operational. The average speed was 45km/h and the journey took 31 hours. With the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan line, that leg of the journey now takes less than 2 hours!

In 2006 an agreement was signed with the China Civil Engineering Construction Company for $8.3 billion. The entire project will cost $36 – $40 billion.The CCEC has, over the last years, constructed the Abuja-Kaduna Railway , Abuja Mass Transit Railway, Itapke-Warri Railway and now the Lagos-Ibadan line. The project, which is funded by China`s Exim Bank and the Nigerian government, is being built in segments to spread the cost over time.

The new metro light rail system in Abuja will be connected to the National Rail Network. Abuja Airport is also connected to the new metro network and the city centre (Abuja’s Central Business District). The Abuja Metro is the first light rail system in West Africa. The metro relieves traffic congestion, is reliable, fast and safe, and cheaper than local taxis.The metro will link Abuja with the towns of Nyanya, Kubwa, Mararaba and Lugbe in the near future.

Expansion is planned for the ports at Lekki and Bonny to make them deep water harbours of between 17 -18 metres deep. A new river port will be built at Warri and Ibom.

Lekki Port expansion is under construction. It will be Nigeria`s deepest sea port and is situated in the Lagos Free Trade Zone. It will be one of the most modern in West Africa. Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has tasked the project managers with commencement of commercial activities by 2022.

The Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line will link the north eastern region to the eastern sea port of Bonny which has been approved already, work will commence soon. From Bonny the line will go to Port Harcourt – Aba- Umuahia – Enugu – Makurdi – Lafia – Jos – Kafanchan – Bauchi – Gombe – Damaturu, and Maiduguri, with a spur from Port Harcourt to Owerri.

According to the Transport Minister Amaechi :

Where we have about two seaports or river ports in Port Harcourt, you’ll be able to transport a lot of Iron Ore deposits from the North East through the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri rail. The completion of this project which we hope that if it doesn’t start this year, will start the first quarter of next year, the completion, will move cargo, create employment, create industrial development and it will grow the economy.

Transport Minister Amaechi explained that ports and rail work together:

Currently, Nigerians move about 30 million cargoes between Lagos and Kano in a year. The capacity of the Nigerian Railway Corporation as of today is about 200,000 cargoes per year. That’s appalling. So, if you want to make the factors of production to be cheap and make our goods competitive, then you must provide logistics, either the road, by air or by railway. But the cheapest form of transport in this regard is the railway because it’s subsidised by the government. So the idea of complying with the instruction by the president that all railways must terminate at the seaport is because you want to move your cargo. The moment you begin to move cargo, you’ll see the transformation. The movement of cargo will improve the industrial development of Nigeria.

The Lagos to Calabar line will run along the coast.  It will be 1,400 km and will link all the key sea and river ports.It will run from Calabar – Uyo – Aba – Port Harcourt – Yenogua – Otuoke – Ughelli – Warri – Sapele – Benin – Ore – Ijebu-Ode – Lagos.

The Abuja to Kaduna rail line is completed and in service since 2016. It is 186km long. Itakpe-Warri line is completed which is 326 kilometres long.

The Lagos-Ibadan line is the first double-track standard gauge modern railway in West Africa.It is 156km long. Track-laying of the high speed standard gauge railway from Lagos to Ibadan was constructed  by the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC). The project was started in March 2017. The line is now in service and has 10 stations.

The main station is in Lagos and will act as the operations centre as well as a passenger terminus. Initially 3 pairs of trains will run each day. The maximum capacity that the project is designed to accommodate is an incredible 15 pairs (inward and outward bound) per day!

The building which is still under construction, will be a colossal 11,200 square meters. It will be the largest railway station in West Africa with a capacity for 6000 passengers. It was hoped that the building will be completed by the end of 2020.

Investment in infrastructure leads to the growth of ancillary industries. In the case of the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project, a new factory in Kajola, Ogun Province is just one example. The factory will bring an initial 5000 jobs and will be manufacturing the rolling stock for the new, modernized railways. It will then proceed to supplying the rest of West Africa and beyond!

https://www.waystocap.com/blog/which-country-is-the-largest-producer-of-rice-in-africa/

Nigeria: Value Addition in Agriculture

In 2015, Nigeria initiated the Value Chain Development Program that is improving cassava and rice value chains for small farmers in targeted districts The program aims at increasing productivity in the staple sector, increasing food production and thereby reducing poverty.70% of Nigerians live in rural areas and are small farmers who produce 90% of the nation`s agricultural products. Dire poverty in Nigeria is mostly in rural, agriculture-based communities and it is these communities that the government are targeting.

According to the Nigerian Statehouse website:

https://statehouse.gov.ng/policy/economy/economic-recovery-and-growth-plan/embed/#?secret=vA1V5dnDqY

“The Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) is a Medium Term Plan for 2017 – 2020, developed by the Administration of President Muhammadu Buhari for the purpose of restoring economic growth while leveraging the ingenuity and resilience of the Nigerian people – the nation’s most priceless assets.”

The program aims to put the oil-based economy on an entirely different trajectory to transform the economy and thereby alleviate poverty.Key components are the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project which is part of the Nigeria Integrated Infrastructure Master Plan which includes the construction of new, or modernization of existing, ports, bridges and road networks.

According to the Statehouse website:

“This Plan will use science, technology and innovation to drive growth. It also provides a blueprint for laying the foundation for future generations by focusing on building the capabilities of the youths of Nigeria to be able to take the country into the future.”

“Using agriculture to achieve food security, create jobs and save foreign exchange for food imports. Plans are already in place for national self-sufficiency in rice by 2018 and wheat by 2019/2020. Successful harvests will contribute in reducing inflation and promoting economic diversification.”

The Nigerian Agricultural Transformation Agenda was initiated in 2013. It is a program to alleviate rural poverty and increase production.Since the discovery of crude oil, IMF`s globalist policy has been to advise on oil export and food import which over the years harmed the country`s agricultural industry with cheap foreign imports having a negative effect on domestic production.

Rice self-sufficiency had reached 84% by start of 2019. Government and private sector initiatives have provided support,credit,training and seed, along with even distribution of rice milling (polishing) plants across all regions.

Mechanization solutions and the case for small modular processing plants are some of the innovative ideas being pushed by Richard Ogundele, CEO of JMSF Agribusiness Nigeria, a key player in the agricultural transformation program. According to him:

Another thing that we could see working here, is SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) branding. The farmers who grow them and the processors at that lower level, need to understand quality assurance from the start to the market end. And that`s where branding comes in, packaging, handling,storage and distribution. So opportunity for logistics is also there. Logistics in agriculture is still a challenge across Nigeria, storage, transportation, packaging, handling. We need improvements in this value chain service provision area. So if anyone is interested in this sector, we can always guide them and talk it through. And of course there will be the multiplying effect on the economy because more jobs will be created along the value chain for those who will be offering services to the core operations within the sector.”

Infrastructure, including water infrastructure, is having an immensely positive effect on production.

Nigeria is currently the largest rice producing country in Africa.

This is largely the result of conscientious efforts by the current administration to place more emphasis on agrarian production. The move was aimed at reducing the nation’s over reliance on oil which has in the past year proved economically devastating as oil prices plummeted on the global market.

The government is also keen on improving the country’s self-sufficiency and reducing the commodity’s import burden that currently runs into almost $400 million annually. Rice farming in the country has received a boost from the local central bank through the Anchor Borrowers Program that avails loans and distributes requisite tools to farmers to boost production.
By the end of 2017, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture director claimed that the country had indeed reached self-sufficiency in the commodity. According to a report from the ministry, the country’s production capacity had reached 15 million metric tons. This would translate to major savings as the country would no longer need to import the commodity.
The country in fact consumes about 8 million tons, a figure that rises by about 6% annually. It is therefore projected that with around 34 states involved in rice cultivation the country would have a surplus for export by the year 2019. The country is taking steps to control the rampant smuggling that has had a negative impact on local market prices.

Source:

Rice is the Nigerian staple. Local Nigerian varieties of rice are found to be of a higher nutritional value than imported rice.The local rice is not as highly polished which increases nutritional value and it consumed fresher compared to imported rice which can be many years old.

Nigeria`s self-sufficiency policy has caused `rice wars` with international exporters flooding the market with super cheap, low-quality produce. This has resulted in a series of protests from within the country as people demand cheap rice. It has been difficult for the government to convince the nation that by supporting the domestic market, they will have a better product which will become cheaper over time as production increases.

The black-market for rice is a continuing problem as Nigeria`s expansive borders are porous and rice is routinely smuggled across from Benin.

In September 2020 the government stopped tomato imports and has adopted a similar tactic to boost tomato production by value adding and processing into puree, thereby supporting domestic tomato growers and to encourage job creation.

The Nigerian government recently announced the release of funding for 300,000 new affordable homes which are to be built with 90% local materials, further supporting the national economy.

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

Former Italian Prime Minister Calls for International Support for Transaqua

December 3, 2020

Below, I have reprinted a slightly abridged article from EIR magazine, which reports on important new impetus for Transaqua. Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy, former President of the European Commission, and former UN Special Envoy for the Sahel, has called on the EU, UN, and AU, to join with with China in moving forward with Transaqua, a mega water-development project to transform the Sahel. With this high level of backing for Transaqua, it is now incumbent on the Lake Chad Basin Commission to take the initiative to secure a contract for a feasibility study of the design of  Transaqua, outlined below.

Italy’s Prodi Puts Transaqua Back on the International Agenda

CC/Francesco Pierantoni Romano Prodi, former Prime Minister of Italy, former President of the European Commission, and former UN Special Envoy for the Sahel.

Nov. 23—At this time when the world’s nations have not yet adequately responded to the call for help launched by the World Food Program (WFP) to avoid mass starvation in the developing sector, the issue of Transaqua has again come into focus as the durable solution to famine, terrorism, and emigration in Central Africa. On November 13, Romano Prodi, the former EU Commission President and former UN Special Envoy for the Sahel, launched a strong call for the EU, the UN, the African Union (AU), and China to join hands in financing and building this giant infrastructure platform, that can be the locomotive of agro-industrial development for the entire African continent.

Transaqua—also called the Transaqua Inter Basin Water Transfer Scheme—is a project that dates back to the mid-1970s, when engineers from the Italian company Bonifica witnessed the drying up of Lake Chad and came out with the idea of refilling the lake by transferring water from the Congo Basin, where immense quantities of water were simply wasted into the Atlantic Ocean, unused.

EIRNS/Julien Lemaitre Dr. Marcello Vichi speaks at a Schiller Institute Conference, “Rescuing Civilization from the Brink,” in Rüsselsheim, Germany, July 2, 2011.

By building dams along some of the right-bank tributaries of the River Congo and connecting these reservoirs with canals, the Bonifica engineers, under the direction of Dr. Marcello Vichi, calculated that with only 5% of the water that goes into the River Congo, it was possible to transfer up to 100 billion cubic meters of water per year into Lake Chad. These tributaries are at high altitude, so that water in this dam and canal system can travel across the Central African Republic-Chad watershed by means of gravity alone.

Figure 1-The Transaqua Project, as Proposed by Bonifica

Besides refilling the gradually disappearing lake, the infrastructure would provide a 2400 km waterway that would boost trade from the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), close to the Great Lakes region, up to Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic, and down to Lake Chad. The numerous dams would provide plenty of electricity and irrigation capability for 7 million hectares of farmland, providing the platform for developing agro-industrial activities.

After many decades of oblivion and thanks to efforts by EIR and the Schiller Institute, Transaqua received a new impulse in February 2018, when the plan was adopted at the International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, and the Italian government pledged to fund part of the feasibility study.

Since then, however, the momentum has slowed down. After Abdullah Sanusi, P.E., left at the end of his mandate as Executive Secretary of the Lake Chad Basin Commission in 2018, no significant impulse has come from that institution, which brings together the five riparian member states around the lake—Cameroon, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic.

On the Italian side, with the exception of an amendment drafted by Sen. Tony Iwobi—who managed to include initial funding for the feasibility study in the Italian government budget for 2021—a political shift in the government has led to a change in ministerial personnel, and the tender for the study has been left up in the air. The Covid-19 pandemic has overwhelmed an unprepared and incompetent government.

Prodi Not for Colonial Songs about Africa

Now, a seminar organized by the Turin Center for African Studies on November 9-13, “Water Diplomacy and the Culture of Sustainability: The Lake Chad Basin,” has put Transaqua back on the list of strategic priorities. Speaking at the final roundtable, Prodi said the project cannot wait any longer: “Please, don’t come with environmental objections, the former EU chief said. “Don’t sing the song that human intervention can damage the environment: In this case, we help nature to recover a situation of internal balance, to the advantage of African peoples—an internal balance that has been lost.”

Prodi’s reference to pseudo-environmental objections to Transaqua is important, because one of the main sources for those objections has been that very EU Commission that Prodi has chaired in the past, whose structure and ideology Prodi knows very well…

Back in 2013, the EU Commission rejected Transaqua, ostensibly with environmental motivations. Answering a query by European Parliament member Cristiana Muscardini, EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs stated that “Preliminary feasibility studies… indicate that the project would involve major environmental risks.”

Opposition to Transaqua has also been fed by former European colonial powers which still have political control over some governments in the region. Notably, the government of Canada, on behalf of the British Commonwealth and of French government institutions, has recently funded a paper, “Soft Power, Discourse Coalitions, and the Proposed Inter-basin Water Transfer Between Lake Chad and the Congo River,” which claims that Transaqua is an imperialist scheme pushed by the government of Italy, China, and the Schiller Institute…

Representatives gather for a UN-sponsored international conference on the Lake Chad Region in Berlin, September 3-4, 2018.

‘Something To Do Together with China’

Rejecting such phony objections, Prodi stated:

“What we must do, in my view, is a strong action of healthy lobbying, a call on Europe, the African Union, the United Nations, China, to carry forward this project. Be aware that the Lake Chad Basin covers one eightieth of the entire African continent. This is enough to understand its importance. And it affects the poorest, most disgraced and left-behind area.

“Since such a large project as Transaqua involves political, financial, technological, and security aspects, it needs strong political leadership and economic power. Thus, the EU, UNO, and OAU—should try to involve China, because [some] reports connect Lake Chad with the Silk Road. What is the political problem of the Silk Road? It has been a Chinese thing. We must find something to do together with China.”

The video of Prodi’s presentation, in Italian with English subtitles, can be viewed here.

The day before, on November 12, the seminar had featured engineer Andrea Mangano, a veteran of the Bonifica team that had developed the original Transaqua idea in the 1970s. In an interview format entitled “Lake Chad and Infrastructure: Challenges and Ideas,” he presented the updated version of the project—similar to what Mangano himself and other Bonifica officials have presented at Schiller Institute and EIR events in recent years.

Starvation Warnings from WFP’s Beasley

Recently the UN World Food Program’s Executive Director, David Beasley, warned that the Central Sahel region faces one of the world’s fastest-growing humanitarian crises. This is the region most affected by the deterioration of living conditions due to the drying out of Lake Chad, conditions that have offered grounds for recruiting young people to the terrorist Boko Haram. Terrorism has added to economic devastation and caused huge migration waves in the region.

More than 13 million people now require urgent humanitarian assistance, five million more than estimated at the beginning of 2020, Beasley said, characterizing their plight as “marching toward starvation.”

In October, Beasley travelled in several nations in the region, together with the development ministers of Germany and Denmark, to solicit not only emergency aid, but also long-term investments in infrastructure. On October 9, Beasley was in Niger when he got the news that the World Food Program had been awarded the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize. He said to reporters that day:

The fact that I was in the Sahel when we received the announcement is really a message from above, that “Hey, world. With all the things going on around the world today, please don’t forget about the people in the Sahel! Please don’t forget about the people that are struggling and dying from starvation.”

EIRNS Left to right: Mohammed Bila (Lake Chad Basin Commission), Andrea Mangano, Marcello Vichi, and Claudio Celani (EIR), discussing plans for Transaqua in the Rome Bonifica office, summer 2015. Lawrence Freeman also participated in this discussion.

Transaqua is exactly the infrastructure that could stabilize the entire region. You don’t need to wait until the first dam is built and water starts to come through the Chari River to Lake Chad from the Congo basin: The many jobs created by the project will immediately start to stabilize the region in terms of providing incomes for thousands of families.

Unfortunately, the October 20 donors’ conference organized by Denmark, Germany, the EU, and the UN in Copenhagen, took the restricted view of humanitarian intervention. Some $1.7 billion dollars were pledged for emergency aid—and this is of course welcome— but it failed to address the root of the problem and adopt long-term solutions.

Mr. Prodi’s words must be followed by deeds, so that the “healthy lobbying effort” in favor of Transaqua is successful in bringing together the international coalition to build Transaqua.

*I do not support everything in EIR’s article, and also note its omission of my central role in advancing the Transaqua project.

 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

World Food Program Awarded Nobel Peace Prize. WFP Dir, Beasley Responds With “Call to Action” to Stop Starvation

David Beasley, the head of the World Food Program, visiting Sanaa, Yemen, September 2018, where the world’s worst hunger crisis continues to unfold. (courtesy WFP/Marco Frattini, September 2018)

October 19, 2020

I whole heartedly congratulate the World Food Program (WFP) for receiving the 2020 Noble Peace Prize “for its efforts to combat hunger.” I also full support WFP Executive Director, David Beasley’s call for action to prevent starvation. Speaking in Niger on October 9, Beasley said: “Just in the last three years, the number of people on the brink of starvation had risen before COVID, from 80 million to 135 million. And now, with COVID, the number of people—and I’m not talking about people going to bed hungry—on the brink of starvation is now up to 270 million people…we are on the brink of disaster.” Earlier this year, Beasley reported that Beasley warned that from 150,000 to 300,000 people could die a day from starvation.

Fifteen African nations account for half of that 270 million. The WFP has identified the following nations as being in dire need of food: Burkina Faso (4.8); Cameroon (5.2); C.A.R. (3.1); D.R.C. (21.8); Ethiopia (18.0); Liberia (0.84); Mali (3.5); Mozambique (3.3); Niger (5.9); Nigeria (23.8); Sierra Leone (2.9); Somalia (6.3); South Sudan (10.2); Sudan (17.7); Zimbabwe (6.3); totaling 133.64 million people.

David Beasley alerted the world, that 7 million people have already died of hunger this year and that figure could increase by“3, 4, 5 times or more.” The WPF calculates that it needs $6.8 billion to prevent famine. With $1.6 billion received so far, $5 billion more is urgently needed. “The $5 billion that we’re talking about is additional money, because we feed 100 million people. It literally is—the starvation rate is spiraling because of COVID and economic deterioration,” he said. “And quite frankly, with the billionaires making hundreds of billions of dollars with COVID, we’re facing the worst humanitarian crises since World War II. They need to step up. We need an extra $5 billion to save millions of lives around the world….This is a call to action. With all the wealth in the world today, no one should be dying from hunger, not a single person.”

Referring to the most severe cases, the Beasley warned: “There are literally about a dozen or two dozen places around the world that, if we don’t get the support that they need, three things are going to happen. One, you are going to have famine, I mean, literally of biblical proportions. Number two, you’re going to have destabilization. And, number three, you’re going to have mass migration. And we can solve all that. We have a cure against starvation, and it is called food.” (all emphasis added)

South African activist, Phillip Tsokolibane has called for a “military mobilization” to provide logistics to stop the spread of hunger in Africa. He said last week from South Africa:

“While various charitable and other organizations have sounded alarm bells and have appealed for money, the issue we face, if we want to save lives, is securing massive amounts of food, as soon as possible, to hungry and starving people. Given the state of infrastructure on the continent and the fact that much of this starvation is occurring in isolated, rural areas, the distribution that must take place is well beyond the means of individual governments and those of relief agencies.

“I believe we must mobilize the logistical capacities of the world’s most capable military forces and design a strategy to bring food supplies from such food-producing nations as the United States and Canada, and bring them directly to those who need them. Let allies and adversaries alike, join forces, in this greatest of all humanitarian efforts.”

Emergency Action Required

  1. We must urgently deliver food to starving people. One single human being dying from starvation is intolerable. Every creative soul that perishes is a loss to the human race.
  2. Nations producing food surpluses must allocate food shipments to feed starving people in Africa.
  3. Logistics for delivery will have to done in a military fashion or directly by qualified military personnel supported by governments.
  4. Roads, railways, and bridges constructed for emergency food delivery can serve as an initial platform for expansion to a higher plateau of infrastructure required for economic growth
  5. Debts must be suspended to enable nations to direct money away from onerous payments of debt service to growing and distributing food.
  6. A new financial architecture-a New Bretton Woods must be established with a facility to issue credit to finance critical categories of infrastructure necessary for economic growth and food production.

Read my earlier posts:

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production 

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

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

Nigeria and Egypt Building Railroads: Great News For Africa

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed [PHOTO CREDIT: FMIC Website]

October 7, 2020

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

“The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation on Friday when he featured on Nigeria Television. Authority (NTA) live programme, “Good Morning Nigeria”

“The programme which focussed on “Nigeria at 60: Matters Arising” was monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.

“Specifically, the minister said the rail extension is intended for Nigeria to take economic advantages of import and export of Niger Republic, Chad and Burkina Faso which are landlocked countries.”

Continue Reading: Nigeria Extending Rail Construction to Niger

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Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

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.”

Continuing Reading: (Egypt to Build High Speed Rail

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

Water Transfer With Transaqua Will Bring Peace & Development to Lake Chad Basin

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The multi-nation Transaqua water infrastructure project can reverse the shrinking of Lake Chad and bring stability to the region and transform Africa. (picture courtesy of https://menafn.com/

October 1, 2020

This article from {MENAFIN}, The Key to Peace in the Lake Chad Area is Water Not Military Action, excerpted below, makes an important contribution for the need to construct the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project. The Abuja-2018 conference referred to in this article adopted Transaqua as the preferred solution to refurbish Lake Chad. I was a key speaker at the conference in Abuja and have been advocating for Transaqua for over 20 years. There will be no end to instability in the region until poverty is eliminated by transforming the economy. There is no lesser solution. We need bold resolute leaders to aggressively push forward for a feasibility study of Transaqua. Too much time has been wasted and too many lives have been lost due to inaction in the Lake Chad Basin.

Excerpts:

“Lake Chad is an extremely shallow water body in the Sahel. It was once the world’s sixth largest inland water body with an open water area of 25,000 km2 in the 1960s, it shrunk dramatically at the beginning of the 1970s and reduced to less than 2,000 km2 during the 1980s, decreasing by more than 90% its area. It is one of the largest lakes in Africa. It is an endorheic lake – meaning that it doesn’t drain towards the ocean…

“The Lake Chad region, however, is one of the most unstable in the world. According to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index report , countries of the region are among the 10 least peaceful countries in Africa…

“The study found that loss of livelihoods has promoted criminality, easy recruitment by terrorist groups, and migration to urban centres. This has also led to violence and crime in cities and towns. Management of the shrinking lake has caused conflicts among the states that depend on it and this has made it more difficult for them to collectively fight insecurity in the region. The lake is central to regional stability. To achieve peace, countries should focus on reviving the water body rather than on military activities…

“Loss of the traditional means of livelihood leads to widespread poverty and food insecurity. A 2017 report estimated there were about 10.7 million inhabitants of Lake Chad Region in need of humanitarian services…

“Further, Boko Haram has capitalised on the loss of livelihoods and economic woes to recruit people into its ranks. It either appeals to the poor ideologically or directly uses economic incentives…

“The Lake Chad Basin Commission has identified the need to replenish the water body. There was a plan to build a dam and canals to pump water from the Congo River to the Chari River, Central African Republic and then on to Lake Chad [Transaqua]. It was first mooted in 1982 by the Italian engineering company Bonifica Spa, and discussed at the International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja in 2018. Major challenges to this plan include funding, resistance from environmental campaigners and peaceful conditions in which to carry it out.”

Read The Key to Peace in the Lake Chad Area is Water Not Military Action

Read my earlier posts: Interview With Lawrence Freeman: The Time is Now For TRANSAQUA-to Save Lake Chad and Transform Africa

Save Lake Chad With Transaqua: Franklin Roosevelt and Kwame Nkrumah Would Concur

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

President Buhari and China Collaborate to Build Needed Railroads in Nigeria

July 28, 2020

Nigeria, and the whole of Africa desperately require electrical power and high-speed rail lines to become industrialized economically sovereign nations. Congratulations to President Buhari and China.

Map from Lagos, Nigeria to Maradi, Niger

 

Track Laying of Nigeria`s Lagos- Ibadan Standard Gauge Railway Completed.