A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

Lawrence Freeman

September 20, 2018

The world is witnessing an increase in attacks on Africa’s relationships with China in various articles, as well as low-level, unthoughtful, messages on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Not only does that content intend to demonize China as the new colonial empire of Africa, but it also includes vulgar demeaning caricatures of African Heads of State.

Could the reason for the uptick of these kinds of diatribes be related to the successful September 3-4, Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) summit in Beijing, attended by leaders from almost every African nation? China has reached out to Arica and formed a special relationship which is being embraced by African Heads of State. It should be clear to any intelligent historian, that China is not acting as an Imperialist manner towards Africa.

However, what has been conspicuously, egregiously omitted from this unsubstantiated vilification of China, is the history of Western nations and institutions, which have acted as an Imperialist power towards Africa. The latest accusation is that China is deliberately entrapping African nations into unpayable debt. However, this is precisely what the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, along with their allies in the City of London and Wall Street did to Africa immediately following the “Winds of Change.”

The motivation for this propaganda barrage is that China via FOCAC and the Belt & Road Initiative is offering African nations a pathway toward growth uncontrolled by the financial predators in the City of London and Wall Street. Contrary to the myth that China is stealing African resources; which the Western powers did first under slavery, then under colonialism, and have continued under neo-colonialism, China is actually providing credit for physical infrastructure; the sin qua non to spur economic growth.

Debt and Credit for What?  

A pervasive and quite serious problem affecting well-intentioned individuals from all corners of the globe is the lack of understanding of what actually creates economic growth. Neither money, nor financial transactions, nor derivatives, nor speculation, nor rising stock markets, nor the market place are the cause of growth or synonymous with real economic growth.

Credits issued for infrastructure; water, energy, rail, roads, healthcare, and education, identifying the most vital categories, if properly organized, leads to an increase in the productivity i.e. the economic power of the society. This is measured by the ability of society to increase its physical output from one production cycle to the next. By utilizing advanced technologies embedded in new capital equipment, including infrastructure, farmers and workers can produce more efficiently. Simply providing abundant energy, high-speed railroads, and water inputs to an African nation would lead to a jump in economic output.  Shortly after the death of President Kennedy, the US ceased its commitment to assist Africa nations in expanding their infrastructure.

China is committed to lending, issuing credit-yes creating a debt to fund long-term investment in infrastructure. Credit directed in this way is good debt. With non-usurious interest rates over 15-20 years, the loan can be retired from the profit it generates to society. This form of debt is not equivalent to the hundreds of billions of dollars African nations were forced to pay to the financial capitals of the world for loans to cover rigged terms of trade, and currency devaluations.

If you study the American System of Political Economy with its cornerstone; Alexander Hamilton’s national credit policy, you will realize that China is emulating the best of America’s past. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt, who successfully applied Hamilton’s principle  to rebuild the Depression riddled US with state issued credits, would have little trouble understanding the principles of President Xi Jinping’s Belt & Road.

Economics and the Common Good

There is a deeper level to comprehending economic growth. Every human being is united by a universal principle often expressed as the “common good of mankind.” Yes, all human beings regardless of religion, color, ethnicity, or place of birth, share a “common interest.” We are all created with the power of creativity. Not logic, not deduction, not induction, but the power to hypothesis new ideas. The power of discovery, to discern new principles of the universe that we previously did not know but were there waiting to be revealed to the human mind. These scientific discoveries spawn new technologies which are the primary source of economic growth. Thus, it is the responsibility, nay the obligation of every society to nurture and develop that creative potential innate in all its citizens from birth to death.

For all citizens to realize their potential, live productive lives, and raise their families without fear of hunger and security, a nation must have the economic means to expand the total physical wealth of society over succeeding generations.  An advanced industrialized nation requires a healthy manufacturing sector, which is also an essential component of a productive agriculture sector.  The absence of robust agro-manufacturing economies in Africa is crime along with its huge deficit in infrastructure.

Sadly, the West does not have the vision to assist African nations in overcoming these deficiencies. China in all, but name has launched the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for Africa.

Among the eight major initiatives that President Xi laid out at the Africa-China Summit, China will:

1.Promote industrialization; 2. Support agricultural assistance programs; 3. Work with the African Union (Agenda 2063) to formulate a China-Africa infrastructure cooperation program; 4. Increase its imports from Africa, in particular non-resources products; 5. Train 1,000 high-caliber Africans for training in innovation sectors; provide Africa with 50,000 government scholarships; and sponsor seminar and workshop opportunities for 50,000 Africans and invite 2,000 African students to visit China for exchanges.

China has come to understand that it is the common interest of its own country, and in the fact all nations, is to help Africa develop productive industrialized societies not dependent on revenue from one resource or one crop. Under these improved conditions, hunger and poverty, the underlying causes for conflict, can be eliminated. Great progress can be accomplished in Africa and the world, if the US and Europe acquire the wisdom to join China’s Spirit of the Belt & Road

Below are three articles with excerpts that provide useful background to understanding Africa’s productive relationship with China.

“The recently concluded China-Africa Summit offers a new deal for Africa’s recovery. The Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) has the making of a 21st century equivalent of the Marshall Plan, America’s massive economic rescue programe that President Harry Truman unveiled for Europe on April 3, 1948.

AFRICA’S INDUSTRIALISATION

On its part, China is taking a Pan-African approach targeting projects with regional impact such as Kenya’s standard gauge railway.   Like the Marshall Plan that prioritized the reindustrialization of Europe after the war, China is laudably giving a pride of place to Africa’s industrialisation.

Industrialization was top on the list of President Xi Jinping’s eight-point plan to guide Chinese aid to Africa in the next three years. Recipients of Marshall Plan had to invest 60 percent of these funds in industry. The funds also involved Technical Assistance Programes to create a skilled labor force to drive industrialization.”       Read: China’s Marshall Plan for Africa-Debt or New Deal ?

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“Speaking as the Chairman of the African Union, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, expressed the will of Africa very clearly: “Africa wishes to be a full and integral part of the Belt and Road Initiative.” And in spite of the myriad attacks in the Western media regarding the Belt and Road’s alleged “debt trap”—and its description of China’s extensive involvement in Africa as a “new colonialism”—this “fake news” has not blurred the vision of Africa’s leaders, who have stayed focused on the future of the continent.

Ramaphosa also praised the work of China’s Belt and Road Initiative: “Why do we support the Belt and Road Initiative?” “Because we are confident that this initiative, which effectively complements the work of FOCAC, will reduce the costs and increase the volume of trade between Africa and China.  It will encourage the development of Africa’s infrastructure, a critical requirement for meaningful regional and continental integration.” Read: FOCAC Summit: Turning Point in History

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“It can be said that this sentiment is near universal among the African nations now participating in the BRI. Indeed the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the summit, “Let me be very clear that Africa has absolutely no debt crisis; African countries are desperate for infrastructure. The population is rising, urbanization is there, and fiscal space is very small.” The AfDB president added, “They are taking on a lot more debt, but in the right way.” Read: Changes Underway as FOCAC Convenes

West Uses “Debt Trap” to Thwart Alliance of China & Africa for Economic Development

September 8, 2018

“The term “debtbook diplomacy”—with the meaning that China builds influence over other nations by deliberately causing them to take on more debt than they can handle—was coined in a report commissioned by (and custom designed for) the U.S. State Department and written in May 2018 by Sam Parker of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. This report was then used by the U.S. State Department to ring alarm bells all over the world about the potential impact of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. But the report’s author, Sam Parker, is not known to have any expertise in economics or to have written anything about the economies of China or other developing countries.

“Historically, the British Empire was, and still is, the master of debt traps. Its methods have been copied in the post-1971, post-Bretton Woods era by such United States- and British-controlled institutions as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to shackle nations with unpayable debt, in order to loot them, destroy their physical economic productive capabilities and finally force them to give up their national sovereignty. Under the 19th century, British-dominated, imperialist world order, as in the case of the post Bretton Woods system, money is treated as a “global” commodity controlled by private interests, rather than a political tool controlled by sovereign governments which issuance is intended to promote the productivity of society and the general welfare of its citizens.”` (Schiller Institute’s “Why China’s Debtbook Diplomacy is a Hoax”)

African Development Bank President, Adesina, Denies Debt Crisis in Africa

Speaking to the reporters on the sidelines of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Beijing Summit on Sept 5, and addressing the western propaganda that China is drowning Africa with debt, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said: “Let me be very clear that Africa has absolutely no debt crisis; African countries are desperate for infrastructure.” “The population is rising, urbanization is there, and fiscal space is very small,” the AfDB president added. “They are taking on a lot more debt, but in the right way,” Adesina said, Xinhua reported on Sept 5.

Scoffing at the international campaign that the China imposed debt has begun to cripple Africa, Adesina pointed out that Africa’s overall debt-to-GDP went up from 22 percent in 2010 to 37 per cent last year. He stressed that the ratio is markedly lower than the 100 per cent or 150 per cent of many higher-income countries, and over 50 per cent among emerging economies.

Meanwhile, in an interview with the Nikkei of Japan, the foreign minister of Djibouti, Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, said his country intends to help promote China’s Belt and Road Initiative, but is also cautious about over reliance on China in light of Djibouti’s growing debts linked to Chinese investment. “If [the initiative] brings wealth, progress, development, we welcome it,” he said in that interview, Nikkei reported today

Nigerian President Buhari Debunks the “Debt Trap” Hoax

Muhammadu Buhari, the President of Afria’s most populous nation, Nigeria, has emerged from the hugely successful Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) with a refutation of what he called “insinuations about a so-called Chinese debt trap.”

“Let me use this opportunity to address and dispel insinuations about a so-called Chinese debt trap,” he told the press today. “These vital infrastructure projects being funded are perfectly in line with Nigeria’s Economic Recovery & Growth Plan. Some of the debts, it must be  noted, are self-liquidating. Nigeria is fully able to repay all the loans as and when due, in keeping with our policy of fiscal prudence and sound housekeeping.”

He said: “I am happy to note that Nigeria’s partnership with China through FOCAC has resulted in the execution of critical infrastructure projects valued at more than $5 billion, over the last three years. We have completed West Africa’s first urban rail system, valued at $500 million, in Abuja. Before then was the 180km rail line that connects Abuja and Kaduna, completed and commissioned in 2016, and running efficiently since then,” the President declared.

He said that Nigeria is currently leveraging Chinese funding to execute $3.4 billion worth of projects at various stages of completion. Among these are: upgrading of airport terminals, the Lagos-Kano rail line, the Zungeru hydroelectric power project, and fibre cables for our internet infrastructure. Nigeria signed an agreement for an additional $1 billion loan from China. The money is for additional rolling stock for the newly constructed rail lines, as well as road rehabilitation and water supply projects.

“Debt Trap” Hoax Exposed by Chinese Spokesperson

At a September 4 press conference on the morning of the second day of the FOCAC Summit, Xu Jinghu, the Special Representative of the Chinese Government on African Affairs, was asked by Reuters about whether the $60 billion financing that President Xi Jinping promised in aid for Africa in his keynote address, would create debt problems for Africa.

Xu Jinghu went through the importance of the eight areas outlined by President Xi in order to raise the level of production and productivity of the African economy.  She also made clear that all of the projects are done in close consultation with the African countries in order to meet what they see as their real needs for further industrialization.

She added that Africa is in “the ascending phase” of its development and “faces a gap in the funding for all of their endeavors…”They need capital development and the African and Chinese economy, which is more developed, are therefore complementary.”

Xu commented, “You have to take into consideration the international situation. The  costs of financing for development on the international market has become very expensive and most of the African countries are still dependent on exporting their raw materials. And the price of these have fallen,which has increased the debt of African countries a great deal.  And if you look at the African countries, you will see that China is not the creditor of those African countries with the biggest debt burden.

China Africa Research Initiative Refutes “Death Trap” Propaganda

The China Africa Research Initiative-(CARI) at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies, Washington DC refuted the “death-trap” narrative that China is subverting African nations by forcing them into debt.  Their The Path Ahead: The 7th Forum on China Africa Cooperation-(Briefing Paper #1, 2018), reports: “Finally, in just three African countries, Chinese loans are currently the most significant contributor to high risk of/actual debt distress” They are;  Djibouti, Republic of Congo, and Zambia.  

Read complete CARI  briefing paper

 

Read:

Who Owns Africa’s Debt: China or Western Nations & Institutions?

 

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

Forum on China-Africa Cooperation: Win for Africa’s Development

It’s Time for Africa

Alignment with China’s development vision heralds a new era of opportunity on the continent

By He Wenping- JULY 5, 2018

A Chinese engineer collaborates with Kenyan workers on the construction of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on April 9, 2016 (XINHUA)

As agreed by both China and Africa, China will host the Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) this September. Wang Yi, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister, made the announcement on the sidelines of the Meeting of BRICS Ministers of Foreign Affairs in South Africa on June 4.

The upcoming summit will be themed Win-Win Cooperation and Join Hands to Build a Closer Community with a Shared Future for China and Africa. Wang said China and Africa will endeavor to integrate the Belt and Road Initiative, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN, the Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) and the development strategies of various African nations to create more opportunities for mutually beneficial cooperation, and to open up new prospects for common development.

The First FOCAC Summit was held in Beijing in 2006, and 12 years on leaders from China and Africa will once again gather in Beijing to usher in a new era of Sino-African cooperation. This summit, the third in FOCAC’s 18-year history, demonstrates the value that China places on Sino-African ties and promises to drive the China-Africa friendship to new historic heights.

Proactive attitude

Since Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road Initiative five years ago, more than 100 countries and international organizations around the world have shown interest, of which more than 80 have signed cooperation agreements with China involving Belt and Road projects. The initiative, consisting of the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-Century Maritime Silk Road, aims to build a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along and beyond the trade routes of the ancient Silk Road.

Africa is a continent rich in resources with great market potential, but it is in dire need of robust infrastructure. It is proactively participating in Belt and Road construction with other countries along the routes in the hope that its economy can make a leap.

As Wang said when he visited Africa in January, the African continent must be at the heart of the Belt and Road Initiative and must not be left behind by China or the wider world in terms of development.

FOCAC was established in October 2000, 13 years prior to the proposal of the Belt and Road Initiative. China pursues common, intensive, safe, open and green development in its cooperation with African countries, which neatly dovetails with its commitment to innovative, coordinated, green and open development that is for everyone at home. Nearly 18 years of evolution have established FOCAC as a symbol of international cooperation, which allows the organization to provide precious experience to the Belt and Road construction across different regions and fields.

Advancing interconnection

Inadequate infrastructure is a bottleneck that constrains Africa’s economic development. Poor transport facilities and substandard roads have created exorbitant costs in domestic and regional trade, as well as impeding foreign investment.

Financing for Africa’s infrastructure needs faces an annual shortfall of at least $20 billion. In addition, most African countries have a low level of industrialization, and the contribution of industry to their economies is correspondingly small. However, Africa is a continent with abundant resources, low labor costs and great market potential, while China has significant advantages in capital, technology and equipment, as well as a wealth of experience in transforming from an agricultural to an industrial society. At a time when China is undergoing a fundamental phase of economic transition and upgrading, there is plenty of high-quality capacity and advanced equipment and technology available for outward transfer, much of which is ideally suited to Africa’s needs.

Just as the Chinese people harbor the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation, the African people hold the African dream of achieving development and alleviating poverty. Connectivity and industrialization are essential preconditions and the only path toward the realization of this dream. The Belt and Road Initiative can work in harmony with Africa’s development strategy for the 21st century. It can provide new drive for the sustainable development of Sino-African relations and help Africa take a step forward, blazing a new trail for South-South cooperation.

China and the AU signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on infrastructure construction cooperation on January 27, 2015. According to the MOU, under the strategic framework of Africa’s 2063 Agenda, China will enhance cooperation with African nations on railways, highways, regional airlines and industrialization to promote African integration. Chinese enterprises have already launched construction projects in these fields in countries such as Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Nigeria.

For example, the Huajian Group, a shoe producer from Dongguan in south China’s Guangdong Province, began operating in the Ethiopia Oriental Industrial Park at the end of 2011. By the end of 2017, Huajian had become the largest private Chinese investor in Ethiopia, generating $122 million of foreign exchange income and creating 7,500 new jobs for the local population. The company produces over 5 million pairs of women’s shoes each year, accounting for more than 65 percent of the Ethiopian shoe industry’s total exports. On September 1, 2017, the Ethiopian Government awarded Zhang Huarong, Chairman of the Board of the Huajian Group, the honorary title of “Father of Ethiopia’s Industry” for his contribution to the country’s development. Inspired by its success in Ethiopia, the Huajian Group plans to invest in Rwanda, Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa in the future.

The China-built Nyerere Bridge, linking the business area of Tanzania’s largest city Dar es Salaam to the Kigamboni district across the Kurasini creek, is the largest cable-stayed cross-sea bridge in sub-Saharan Africa (XINHUA)

Driving force

At the FOCAC Johannesburg Summit in South Africa in December 2015, China and participating African countries agreed to carry out 10 major cooperation plans in the following three years. The ultra-intensive plans, worth around $60 billion, cover industrialization, agricultural modernization, infrastructure construction, finance, green development, trade and investment facilitation, poverty alleviation, public health, people-to-people exchanges, and peace and security. The foremost of these is cooperation on industrialization to promote the progress of African development. In order to facilitate this, the first China-Africa Capacity Cooperation Fund—worth $10 billion—has been set up, alongside the Special Loan for the Development of African Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and the China-Africa Development Fund each with a capital of $5 billion.

Industrial cooperation between China and Africa has already begun to bear fruit. As one of the first African countries to join China in international industrialization cooperation, Tanzania has signed a framework agreement with China on supporting key projects of the country’s ongoing five-year plan.

The construction of infrastructure and industrial parks is also making rapid progress. China has assisted Africa in building several railway lines, including one connecting the port city of Mombasa in Kenya to its capital Nairobi, another connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, to Djibouti, and a third connecting Angola and Nigeria.

As Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said at the opening ceremony of the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway on May 31, 2017, the new line is “one of the cornerstones to Kenya’s journey of transformation to an industrial, prosperous and middle-income country.”

The author is a researcher with the Institute of West Asian and African Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, and a senior researcher with the Charhar Institute

 

China and US Should Jointly Partner with Africa to Transform the Continent

It has been my firm belief for several years that, if China and the US jointly partnered with African nations, we can eliminate poverty and hunger across the continent. Development of Africa is not a “zero sum game.” Africa’s infrastructure deficit is estimated in the trillions of dollars for energy, rail, ports, roads, new waterways, and much more. There is no part of Africa that could not be developed, if the two largest economies worked with African nations. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is an excellent vehicle for such collaboration between Presidents Xi, and Trump. Below is a useful article reporting on US and Chines companies working together in Africa

AFRICA IN FOCUS

“American companies and Chinese Belt and Road in Africa”

Yun Sun 

“When it comes to Africa, it is no secret that the United States and China have very different philosophies. China adopts a more state-led approach, with state-owned enterprises and policy banks spearheading Africa’s infrastructure development. The U.S. is more willing to let private companies and the market take the lead on commercial development, while the U.S. government itself puts more emphasis on the continent’s capacity building and governance challenges…

“As China expands its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Africa, government-level U.S.-China cooperation in Africa continues to be scarce. However, this trend contrasts sharply with the growing collaboration between Chinese and American companies in infrastructure projects on the continent. Indeed, although the Chinese projects and financing have the tradition of favoring Chinese contractors and providers, the technical advantages of some American companies have made them the beneficiary of the Chinese BRI campaign…”

Continue reading

 

Transaqua: Pan-African Project “Necessary to Restore Peace and Security in the Lake Chad”

“China’s deal with Italian firms will rescue Lake Chad”

What is Transaqua?

Last June, in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, Chinese construction giant PowerChina and the Italian firm, Bonifica SpA signed a deal about a regeneration project of Lake Chad.

The agreement includes carrying out feasibility studies on transferring water from River Congo in the Democratic Republic of Congo to replenish Lake Chad.

Due to less rainfall and increased irrigation, the Lake’s area has shrunk from 20,000 square kilometres to just 2,000 square kilometres. Other factors, include an influx of refugees fleeing the atrocities of the Boko Haram, have contributed to increased demand.

The proposed major water diversion scheme would involve channeling a small percentage of water from River Congo towards the north via a navigable canal.

Mohammed Bila of the Lake Chad Basin Commission explained that the Pan-African project is “necessary to restore peace and security in the Lake Chad region and for the promotion of navigation, industrial and economic development in the whole Congo basin.”

Map showing Lake Chad and River Congo.

Courtesy of Schiller Institute. The Transaqua project aims to move water from River Congo to Lake Chad. Schiller Institute. Schiller Institute Schiller 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.

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

Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.

Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman

Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.

You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.

 

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord

L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.

The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.

Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?

L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.

Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.

image: The Schiller Institute

The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

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Chinese Economic Engagement in Africa: New Silk Road on the Continent

“The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa”

June 2017
The closest look yet at Chinese economic engagement in Africa

Field interviews with more than 1,000 Chinese companies provide new insights into Africa–China business relationships.

In two decades, China has become Africa’s most important economic partner. Across trade, investment, infrastructure financing, and aid, no other country has such depth and breadth of engagement in Africa. Chinese “dragons”—firms of all sizes and sectors—are bringing capital investment, management know-how, and entrepreneurial energy to every corner of the continent. In doing so they are helping to accelerate the progress of Africa’s economies.

Yet to date it has been challenging to understand the true extent of the Africa–China economic relationship due to a paucity of data. Our new report, Dance of the lions and dragons: How are Africa and China engaging, and how will the partnership evolve?, provides a comprehensive, fact-based picture of the Africa–China economic relationship based on a new large-scale data set. This includes on-site interviews with more than 100 senior African business and government leaders, as well as the owners or managers of more than 1,000 Chinese firms spread across eight African countries1that together make up approximately two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP.

Africa’s largest economic partner

In the past two decades, China has catapulted from being a relatively small investor in the continent to becoming Africa’s largest economic partner. And since the turn of the millennium, Africa–China trade has been growing at approximately 20 percent per year. Foreign direct investment has grown even faster over the past decade, with a breakneck annual growth rate of 40 percent.2Yet even this number understates the true picture: we found that China’s financial flows to Africa are around 15 percent larger than official figures when nontraditional flows are included. China is also a large and fast-growing source of aid and the largest source of construction financing; these contributions have supported many of Africa’s most ambitious infrastructure developments in recent years.

We evaluated Africa’s economic partnerships with the rest of the world across five dimensions: trade, investment stock, investment growth, infrastructure financing, and aid. China is among the top four partners for Africa across all these dimensions (Exhibit 1). No other country matches this depth and breadth of engagement.

Africa’s economic partners, including China, India, France, the United States, and Germany, based on goods trade, foreign direct investment, aid, and infrastructure financing

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Nigeria Wisely Collaborating with China in Railway Development

This report by the United States Institute of Peace provides a useful overview of current and future rail projects for Nigeria. Hard infrastructure in rail, energy, and water management provide an essential platform for real economic growth. China understands this principle as demonstrated in the expansion of the New Silk Road across the globe. It is a credit to President Buhari that has taken leadership in collaborating with China to build a modern rail system in Nigeria that will connect the entire nation.

“China’s Role in Nigerian Railway Development and Implications for Security and Development”

April 18, 2018

“The Economic Benefits of Railway Investment”
    “Railway development has been featured in China’s wider Belt and Road Initiative across Eurasia and East Africa. In Eurasia, as in Africa, Beijing emphasizes the contribution of the BRI to peace by promoting the development and prosperity that come from economic connectivity. Railways are an integral part of this formula. The intrinsic advantages of railways over road networks lie in their economies of scale: railways need less  frequent maintenance and have higher speed and efficiency over long-distance routes, making them a highly advantageous low-cost option for freight traffic and offering huge potential for trade promotion.
     “Railway development also has positive spillover effects for complementary industries in upstream manufacturing supply chains, such as steel and construction materials, and generates demand for retail and services, all of which promote employment. A central trunk corridor would open up agricultural and mining industries in the middle-belt and plateau states. Likewise, the development of the western Lagos-Kano corridor would benefit northern  cattle and leather industries, which are currently disadvantaged against cheap imports given the costs of transport.”  (excerpted from USIP report)                              ‘

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