Why Has Fighting in Ukraine Led to Food Emergencies in Africa?

A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
Getty Image, News24

Lawrence Freeman

May 17, 2022

In recent months there have been an abundance of reports on how the conflict in Ukraine is exacerbating food scarcity in Africa. The argument is that Ukraine, ordinarily a large exporter of wheat, is not shipping food to the rest of the world. This includes African nations, some of which are large importers of Ukrainian wheat, resulting in shortages of food, and higher prices, contributing to Africa’s food insecurity.

Food Crisis Staggering in Africa

According to Global Report on Food Crisis 2022, eight of the countries facing the most severe food shortages are in Africa, affecting over 81 million Africans. The breakdown is:

DRC 25.9 million people, Afghanistan 22.8 million, Nigeria 19.5 million, Yemen 19 million, Ethiopia between 14-15 million, South Sudan 7.7 million, Somalia 6 million, Sudan 6 million, Pakistan 4.7 million, Haiti 4.5 million, Niger 4.4 million and, lastly, Kenya 3.4 million, as reported by News24

These nations have been given an Integrated Phase Classification 3 (IPC3), which is defined as households that have either:

Food consumption gaps that are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition; OR  Are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies. 

News24 also reports that according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, in 2020, “approximately 323.3 million people in Africa or 29.5% of the population ran out of food or went without eating that year.”

The United Nations-(UN News) reports that “276 million people around the globe were already facing hunger at the beginning of the year. That number could rise by 47 million if the war continues according to the WFP (World Food Pogramme), with the steepest rise in Sub-Saharan Africa.” (emphasis added)

Industrialization to End Hunger

With abundant hect-acres of fertile soil and arable land, coupled with many water systems, African nations should have already achieved food self-sufficiency. Ironically, sadly, most nations are farther away from being able to feed their populations through their own production of food than they were during the 1960 and 1970s.

African nations are undermining their own economies by importing large amounts of food. According to President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, “Africa’s annual food import bill of $35 billion, estimated to rise to $110 billion by 2025, weakens African economies, decimates its agriculture and exports jobs from the continent.”  

In reality, Africa’s huge import bill is hindering nations from developing the capacity to eliminate poverty and hunger. Nations using their precious foreign exchange to buy food that they can grow themselves is more than counter-productive. What is needed to end food insecurity is for Africa nations to build their own robust agricultural and manufacturing sectors. There are oligarchical financial interests, steeped in the colonial mind-set, who do not want Africa nations to develop, to become industrialized. There are others, even well-meaning, who believe that African nations should remain agrarian societies. As an expert in physical economics, I can assure you that this approach will fail, and will only lead to more poverty and death.

President George Washington’s brilliant Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, fortunately won the battle against Thomas Jefferson and the slaved based agrarian South, to create a manufacturing industry in the newly established United states. Africa must do the same

With sixty percent of the world’s arable land that remains uncultivated, it is obvious that Africa can significantly increase food production in the short term. However, this does not obviate the need for rapid expansion of industry, beyond those businesses devoted only to the extraction of resources. Instead of spending tens of billions of dollars for imported wheat and rice that can be grown indigenously, that money should be investmented in infrastructure, and on valued-added production.

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)

Aid is Insufficient

David Beasley, Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday, May 11, that $5 billion is needed to avoid famine and migration due to COVID-19 and the loss of food from Ukraine. He told the Senators, “ If you do not respond now, we will see destabilization, mass starvation, and migration on an unprecedented scale, and at a far greater cost. A massive influx of refugees to Western countries could soon become a reality.”

Morally we are compelled to acquiesce to Beasley’s legitimate request, although it is doubtful that the nations of the advanced sector will actually come up with the money.

How many hundreds of billions of dollars have been expended on providing aid to countries in need? What would be the results if an equivalent amount of money were spent on development. Emergency aid is required to prevent our fellow human beings from perishing. However, emergency aid does not contribute to creating durable economic transformation that would eliminate the conditions that are the cause for food deprivation. Aid does not increase the productive powers of labor; it does not increase the productivity of the economy. While we can do no less than be the Good-Samaritan, what is the tangible long term effect of exclusively delivering aid?

Share of population access to electricity in Africa

Infrastructure Crucial

Deficits in critical categories of hard infrastructure, especially roads, railroads, and electricity, is depriving nations of precisely those elements of physical economy required to increase the production of real wealth. Why don’t the G7 and European donor nations “grant” an equivalent amount of “aid money” for investment in infrastructure and building nascent industries? Disbursing money either through outright endowments or long-term low interest loans for development has the potential to change the dynamics of poverty and hunger plaguing African nations.

For example, consider irrigation. Bringing water to farmland would substantially increase food production. Most African nations irrigate 5% or less of their land. Worse, many nations still depend on backward modes of subsistence farming. What would be required to double or triple irrigation? Primarily, energy to pump the water is essential, but African nations are energy starved. Pipes to transport the water. Advanced machinery would be required to harvest the increased yields. Roads and railroads would be needed to transport the crops to markets.

Given Africa’s untapped agricultural potential, with investments in these basic classifications of infrastructure; hunger could be eliminated.

In October 2020, in response to an earlier food crisis, I delineated the following necessary actions (below) that should have been taken. These measures are still valid today, and should be implemented now, without delay.

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.
  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:

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

COVID-19 Tragedy Compels Revamping Globalization and Food Production 

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.

Africans Should Understand: Physical Economy Creates Wealth and Elevates the Human Mind

Lawrence Freeman giving a presentation on applying the economic principles of Alexander Hamilton and the American System to the development of African nations.

Below, you can read a transcript or watch my video presentation on the essential concepts necessary to understand physical economy, whose principles should be applied to all African nations to end poverty and hunger. Courtesy of PD Lawton, creator of the website: africanagenda.net

Africa Can Create Real Wealth Through the Development of the Physical Economy: Presentation by Lawrence Freeman

This presentation by physical economist and Africa analyst, Lawrence Freeman, was part of an international conference entitled `Solutions for African Economic Development` hosted by Christophe Ndayiragije and PD Lawton. You can find more from Lawrence Freeman at his website: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. You can watch the video at the end of the transcript.

Now people don`t understand that the purpose of an economy for society is the development of human beings. There is no contradiction between the development of human beings and the development of the physical Universe. Human beings are governed by a creative mental process and the Universe is governed by a creative process. And therefore the Universe is there to be intervened upon by the human mind for the advanced propagation of the human race, itself.

I call myself a physical economist because I am trying to change the conception that people have of an economy in their minds. One of the biggest problems we face in the world , in the West, as well as in Africa, is that people have a very poor, if totally erroneous conception of what wealth is.

People think wealth is money, making money on Wall Street, derivatives, stock trading, day trading, and this really is not wealth at all, from my standpoint. A financial system is not wealth. A financial system is necessary, although I would term it more appropriately, a credit system. But the system iteslf which is necessary to facilitate aspects of the physical economy, is not the economy.

What is the economy?
Well, most people say it is to do with free trade, buying low, selling dear, all beginning with Adam Smith. In fact the original conception that Smith has comes from Bernard Mandeville, who wrote a poem about bees. And basically his theory was that the interaction of all these bees , which are equated to human beings, desiring pleasure and avoiding pain, by all their individual pain and pleasure reactions, they serve the greater good. And this supposedly is the Invisible Hand. Of course the Invisible Hand is always there to steal your money. But idea is that the Invisible Hand is somehow the interaction of various human beings in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, is how an economy operates. And of course there is no truth in that whatsoever.

An economy is actually the self organization, determined by human beings to organize their society in such a way that it continues to perpetuate itself. And it will perpetuate itself if it is a successful economy. The criteria is that you will produce an increase in the standard of living for your population and you will increase the number of people. So you have two criteria which are connected, the increase in total wealth and the increase in total population, and this is what a productive economy should be able to do. And we are talking about tangible wealth, physical wealth in terms of what has just been presented [previous presentation by Knox Msebenzi], in energy, railroads, agriculture and physical, tangible products that society needs.

Now the production of wealth is done by a productive labour force, that is within the entire workforce of an economy, there is a section of that workforce that actually performs what we would call productive labour. There are many other occupations which are necessary, complimentary and essential like education, scientific development, classical education development. But the actual labour force is involved in acting on the physical Universe, to transform the physical Universe in to producing the existence for Humankind.

And that, therefore, what we are primary concerned with in physical economy is how do we make improvements to raise the productivity of the productive labour force. This is our main concern that we are involved in, is acting on the physical Universe to produce more wealth from one production cycle to the next production cycle.

Now how do you produce more wealth from one period to another?
And this brings in the essential questions of science and technology. Each economic mode of production, for each production cycle, is governed in a sense by the level of education and scientific knowledge and technology available for that production cycle. If we change the dynamics of that production cycle then we can change the outcome.

How do we change the dynamics?
It is through science and technology. The human mind, is the only force we know in the Universe that can actually discover new physical principles embedded in the Universe. And as we discover those physical principles, the results are seen to us in new technologies. We bring in a new technology into a current mode of production, current economic system, and we find that we can produce more wealth with the same or less effort. For example what the previous speaker brought out.

If the African continent, the nations, would begin to proliferate nuclear energy in their economies, which is something Cheik anta Diop discussed 60 years ago! But if the African nations were to do that, we would not only see an increase in energy production, but we would see an increase in the entire physical economy. And we would see an increase in the level of education, skill labour, science centres, because you would be mastering a new technology, that is not new to the world but is not being applied in Africa. This would be an upgrade or an upshift of the entire economy.

Now how does this work?
The human mind makes a discovery in the physical Universe which is then transformed by other humans into a technology. How does that technology then change the economy? For example: machine tools. Machine tools produce all other machines. If you change the technology of machine tool design, you change all other forms of production in your economy because you would be producing those new machines based on a new design of machine tools which are the essence of an industrialized economy. How many machine tool plants do we have in Africa today? Just like how many nuclear energy plants, we know we have one in South Africa.

The other area where we change the economy, improve the economy is through infrastructure. Again as you bring in a new technology, again such as fission or lets say, more advanced, such as fusion, that new technology embedded in your infrastructure platform changes the total ptoductivity of every member of your society.

Every farmer becomes more productive when he is surrounded by density of energy, by a density of clean water for society, by a density of railroads. So the density of infrastructure and the technological level of the platform of infrastructure are fundamental ways you actually change the economy. You bring in something new that has been discovered by man for the economy.

Now people don`t understand that the purpose of an economy for society is the development of human beings. There is no contradiction between the development of human beings and the development of the physical Universe. Human beings are governed by a creative mental process and the Universe is governed by a creative process. And therefore the Universe is there to be intervened upon by the human mind for the advanced propogation of the human race, itself.

And therefore in changing and improving the physical economy we are not only increasing the physical output of goods but we are actually increasing the power of each individual member of that society. Even if the majority members of society do not partake in the productive process, they participate in an economy of a rising standard of living and of an improved technology and scientific capability.

Now this also begs another question that is involved in physical economy; which is your scientific, cultural educational level. Is a society producing the scientific level that is necessary for new discoveries? Is the educational level of the population sufficient for the members of the population to assimilate that new technology, that new scientific level, and are they able to transmit that?

So by looking at the physical economy from the standpoint of the mind of man, you see that the entire society should be organized to promote this quality of development, of the human being, which leads, and is completely connected to the quality of development of human life itself.
Now many people think Africa is overpopulated, I had this problem with many of my friends who are somewhat ignorant on the issue, over the last 30 years I have been travelling to Africa. Africa is not over populated, there are not too many people. There is not enough people. There`s entire parts of Africa that are completely underdeveloped. There`s entire parts of Africa where agriculture is completely underdeveloped. So it is not a question of population. It is a question of development.

And what we need to do is we need to have African leaders begin implementing, as was discussed earlier with the question of Ghana and other nations, have to begin understanding the coherence of one concept of a physical economy in a society and promoting those policies that will actually raise the level, qualitatively and quantitatively. Now this also has a very serious implications for education. This has very serious implications for security. Because we are approaching the security question. in many cases, all wrong.
So therefore, what I think about and what I suggest what other leaders think about is what inputs do we make in the long-term which then reflect in to what we have to do in the short term that actually change, improve, advance the physical economy as part of the entire development of society.

Source: Africa Rising Soon TV

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.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Africa’s Primary Need–Case Study of Eastern Congo

INFRASTRUCTURE : AFRICA`S PRIMARY NEED
Case Study of Eastern Congo

Interview with Dr David Muhindo Biryage from AfricanAgenda.net

“Congo is sitting in the centre of Africa and when you have got no infrastructure in DRC, you are hindering the whole process of trade among the other countries of Africa.”

The Democratic Republic of Congo is roughly 2.5 million km2. That is slightly greater than the combined land surfaces of Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and Norway. The DR Congo is Africa`s second largest country. The largest being Algeria.

The capital of DR Congo is Kinshasa which is located in the west, on the border with the neighbouring Republic of Congo or Congo Brazzaville , as it is sometimes called. Bukavu is the provincial capital of South Kivu which is in the east, near the borders of Rwanda and Burundi. The distance between the 2 cities of Kinshasa and Bukavu is 2,494km which is slightly less than the distance between London and Moscow.

Congo is ranked among the 3 worst cases of national infrastructure deficits in the world. The other 2 cases being Yemen and the Central African Republic which is considered to have the highest level of extreme poverty globally.

It is not possible to traverse the DR Congo by road or railway. There is no infrastructure connecting Kinshasa with the eastern regions. It is not possible to travel from Bukavu to Kinshasa by road or rail. It is not possible to travel by road or rail from Goma, the provincial capital of North Kivu to Bukavu, the provincial capital of South Kivu. Nor is it possible to travel south from Goma or Bukavu to Bunia, the provincial capital of Ituri.

A road is defined by its composition which is tarmac. People in the eastern Congo travel on `tracks` which turn to mud and become impassable. The only other means of transport is by air which is unaffordable for 99% of the population.

Infrastructure and energy deficit causes poverty

Despite the natural resources in Congo, which are more diverse and plentiful than in any other country on Earth, the Congolese live with some of the highest levels of abject poverty globally to which we can also add alarmingly high and increasing malnutrition and food insecurity.

The really basic need for the people in Congo, and the east of Congo, particularly, is infrastructure. That basic need , besides insecurity, because we know that trade is not possible when there is no peace, but we need urgently, the people, as a nation need infrastructure.If you have no roads, you cannot have an agriculture sector developed. If you have no railway how can you carry goods from one corner of the province to another, or one province to another?”
“The whole cost of living and the poverty that Congolese are subjected to, is related to lack of infrastructure.”
“How can you establish a manufacturing sector when you don`t have electricity? And this has really been a tremendously big issue for trying to resolve the problem of food shortage in DRC because when you don`t have electricity how do you process agricultural goods!”

Building infrastructure is the most important humanitarian assistance

Talking of DRC, I really appreciate the aid ngo`s working on the ground and helping people and the funding supplied to them, but personally I think what we need is not humanitarian aid. We need infrastructure. Because humanitarian aid will make you depend on the giver. But if you have infrastructure, you are able to build your future, you are able to do something to earn a living, not for one day or two weeks or a month but for a year for years. So I think the basic need we have is for infrastructure. We need roads, we need railways, we need electricity in the country.”

Food shortage and child malnutrition are caused by lack of infrastructure

“If we have roads, the malnutrition, the food shortages cannot be had in DRC. People will be able to transport their goods, the maize, the cassava, the potatoes from one region to another. It is a very fertile country where anything can grow. The cost of transporting by air ,which is the only option for most regions, makes the cost of the food, potatoes for instance, too expensive to be affordable.The whole issue of food shortage, of malnutrition in DRC is related to lack of infrastructure, lack of roads, lack of railways, lack of electricity.”

AfCFTA : a chain is as strong as the weakest link

Congo is sitting in the centre of Africa and when you have got no infrastructure in DRC, you are hindering the whole process of trade among the other countries of Africa. For example: when you look at this map, where you see Tanzania, you cannot ship goods from Tanzania to Congo Brazzaville because in order for you to do that, you have to go through DRC! Unless you can do it by boat but if you want to use roads, you cannot because there is no infrastructure in DRC. And this has been hindering the whole process of development for the region itself and the continent as a whole. The lack of infrastructure in DRC is affecting the whole region and the whole continent.”

End insecurity by building infrastructure

“The issue of wars and insecurity in Congo is mainly not the issue of Congolese people themselves. It is an issue of the multi nationals who desire to control the minerals. For us to have the end of the war in DRC, the multi national companies have got a role to play. But also we have to acknowledge that the people on the ground are the ones executing this mission in order of controlling the minerals in DRC. And the fact that they are not working, that they have no jobs, they have no other way to earn a living, they always become a potential target for the multi national companies to use them, because they have nothing else to do to earn a living. So when you build roads in Congo, in east of Congo, Goma, Bukavu, Ituri and other provinces; when you build railways, when you set up manufacturing systems in DRC it is obvious these infrastructures are going to create jobs for the people. And these young men are going to find themselves working, having another way of earning a living.Therefore they cannot be recruited easily to go and fight or create war in the country.

So I really believe that the physical economy, the infrastructure development, it is also a key element we need to implement in DRC if we want to end the war in DRC. Because if those multi national companies come and want to create a war in an area because they want to control minerals , and they have no back-up on the ground, it is going to be difficult for them to do it. So building the physical economy is key to bringing stability in Congo and in the region.”

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

AU Demands: African Integrated High Speed Railway Network

July 4, 2019

The article below written by a friend of mine is a useful over view of the African Union’s plan to build High Speed Rail-lines in Africa.  High-Speed Rail together with the production of abundant supplies of energy are indispensable for the continent’s development and the industrialization of African economies. The link to the entire article that is worth reading follows the excerpts.

“The vital plan for an African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), approved by the African Union (AU) in 2014, appears to be going forward energetically. But in fact, Africa is getting only half a loaf at best. Standard gauge rails are being built, but to “save money,” they are not being built to standards permitting the high speeds that the African Union had specified. These “higher”-speed lines are not “high-speed” by any accepted standard. Or, worse, existing lines of the old colonial gauge are being rehabilitated—again because “there is not enough money.”

“Yet having “enough money” is not the problem it seems to be: The principle of Hamiltonian credit—credit extended by government, on the strength of nothing but the skills of the population, and earmarked for projects sure to produce leaps in productivity—has been known in theory and practice for 200 years, even if suppressed by the business schools.” Read my post from earlier this year on Alexander Hamilton: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

“AIHSRN is not a master plan for all rail transport in Africa. It is, rather, a plan for rapid rail transport across long distances. And Africa has long distances. To go from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope by road or rail is more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)—the equivalent of going from New York to San Francisco and back again.

“Yet with the AIHSRN, an express train could depart from Cairo at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, travel at an average of only 220 km/h (137 mph), make only five half-hour stops—at Khartoum, Nairobi, Dodoma (Tanzania), Harare, and Johannesburg—and arrive in Cape Town in time for an early breakfast on Wednesday. The east-west trip from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dakar, Senegal—“only” 8,100 km—will be quicker. The implications of such speed for the African economy—and for African integration in all respects—are enormous.

“The continental plan is for six west-east routes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea, and four routes that run from north to south—a 6×4 grid (see map).

“Because of their high speeds, the trains must run on dedicated, standard gauge lines that will not usually accept traffic from other, slower lines of the sometimes denser, surrounding rail network.

“The plan includes the construction of railway manufacturing industries, parts suppliers, maintenance facilities, and the building up of railway training academies.

“The AIHSRN is part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a fifty-year plan for the economic, social and cultural development of the entire continent, born in 2013”

Read full article: Africa Integrated High Speed Railway Network

The New York Times Is All Wrong About Africa

Lawrence Freeman

August 3, 2017

     The July 30th Sunday edition of the New York Times, published an article by its Africa reporter, Jeffrey Gettleman, entitled, “Loss of Fertile Land Fuels ‘Looming Crisis’ Across Africa.” The analysis, and conclusions of this article are all wrong, because they are based on false and ideologically driven axioms regarding the development of Africa.  Essentially, Gettlemen and the New York Times are steeped in the “Zero Growth” culture which became prevalent in the United States and the West in 1970s.

     In the aftermath of the 1963 assassinations of President John F Kennedy and the ensuing “rock-drug-sex” counterculture, the groundwork was prepared for the onslaught the environmental movement. With its no-growth, anti-science, anti-industrialization outlook that dominated the thinking of the baby-boomer and succeeding generations, cultural pessimism became pervasive. This ideology combined with the looting of Africa’s natural resources by the financial predators of Wall Street and the City of London resulted in a policy of no development for Africa that has continued to the present. 

     Today Africa has the largest deficit of infrastructure per capita and per square kilometer on the planet. The lack of electrical power, railroads, water management, and modern highways is literally responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans each year.  Only since the entrance of China into Africa in the past decade with its commitment to build physical infrastructure, have we witnessed a change in the dynamic on the continent.

Economic Science

     It is no accident that the US and Europe have not contributed to the construction of vital infrastructure projects; it’s their flawed policy. Infrastructure is not just one of several possible good ideas; rather it is an indispensable, irreplaceable ingredient to the success of any agro-industrial economy.  Infrastructure drives an economy forward and upward by incorporating new scientific advances in technology that improve the productive powers of the workforce, yielding increased economic output of wealth for society. The most wicked and pernicious feature of the Zero-Growth ideology is the denial of the unique creativity of Mankind. For thousands and millions of years Mankind has transformed his surrounding environment to make it more propitious for human expansion.  Like the discovery of “fire,” a million years ago, the Neolithic revolution 12,000 years ago was a revolution in Mankind’s knowledge of the universe and led to a population explosion. This non-linear growth pattern has been repeated many times over the last 10,000 years, as a result of the unique power of discovery by the human mind.

     The essential underlying cause of the problems in Africa today is not over population, or loss of arable land, but underdevelopment.   The failure to grasp this elementary concept by the New York Times and others is the reason for the abysmal conditions of life in Africa’s that contributes to the easy recruitment to terrorist movements like Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin region.

False Axioms

     For example, Gettleman cites the:

 “overwhelming degradation of agricultural land throughout Africa, with one recent study showing that more than 40 million Africans are trying to survive off land whose agricultural potential is declining.” He continues, “More than in any other region of the world, people in Africa live off the land. There are relatively few industrial or service jobs here. Seventy percent of Africa’s population makes a living through agriculture, higher than on any other continent, the World Bank says. But as the population rises, with more siblings competing for their share of the family farm, the slices are getting thinner.”

     Why is agricultural potential of the land declining? Why are there relatively few manufacturing jobs? Why are the slices of land getting thinner?

     The answer is not the Malthusian argument that Africans breed too fast and that this huge continent – almost three times the size of the continental US- has too many people trying to exist on a shrinking pie of arable land. The proper question to ask is; why after half century since the “Winds of Change” liberation from the colonial powers, Africans still do not enjoy the fruits of modern industrialized economies with a modern standard of living, instead of large pockets of abject poverty? Any poor-quality farm land, even the Sahara Desert, can be made productive with water. Less than 5% of cultivated land is irrigated In Africa. With manufacturing plants to build the irrigating machinery and sufficient energy to pump the water, millions of hectares of arable land can become fruitful. Nuclear powered desalination could provide fresh water from the Mediterranean and Red seas to the North African deserts. US farmers, among the most productive in the world, experienced huge increase in yields of food production including in the former desert of southern California by utilizing new technologies, fertilizers, irrigation, and abundant energy under President Franklin Roosevelt’s economic recovery.

     Why has the US and the West not assisted African nations in acquiring the necessary infrastructure and new technologies to expand its cultivated land and build a substantial manufacturing sector as part of an integrated modern economy. In his brief Presidency, John F Kennedy collaborated with President Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana to build the Volta Dam hydro-power and industrial smelting complex. This what we should have continued to do over the last 50 years, and if we had, Africa would look completely different than it does today.

Population Reduction Is Not the Solution

     In the concluding section the article, the New York Times and its reporter reveal the depraved thinking of the Zeitgest of western culture; we have too many people using up the fixed natural resources of our planet.

“Africa’s land pressures may seem overwhelming, maybe even unstoppable. But scientists say there are solutions within reach. For example, the continent has the highest fertility rates in the world, but more African governments are pushing contraceptives, saying the best answer for densely populated countries is smaller families.

‘The problem is too many people, too many cattle and too little planning,’ said Iain Douglas Hamilton, a wildlife activist in northern Kenya.”

   This view echoes Henry Kissinger’s infamous “National Security Study Memorandum 200,” written 1974-1976, which advocated reducing the population for “Third World” nations to guarantee an uninterrupted supply of vital natural resources to the West. For centuries, the British raciest imperialist school has targeted Africa’s population as inferior and as an impediment to their access of Africa’s precious minerals.

     The birth a child can never be a problem for society. Each new human being, by the fact that it is human, intrinsically has the potential to contribute to new discoveries that can change the world, or contribute to the progress of society in more humble manner. Why not take up the challenge of developing the vast continent of Africa with its soon to be multi-billion population, and its rich untapped wealth? Presently we are witnessing the construction of desperately needed infrastructure on the Africa continent, with the assistance of China. Yet, Africa’s requires hundreds of gigawatts of electrical power, East-West and South-North railroads, high speed trains connecting the capital of each nation, and much, much, more. If the US joins the new paradigm of China’s “Belt and Road Initiative” and collaborates on eliminating poverty and hunger, and expanding Afrfia’s unrealized agricultural potential, the continent will be able to sustain an expanding population at a standard of living commensurate with that of the advanced sector nations.

     Let us act on the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, when he told his son at the Casablanca Conference during World War II, that if we divert water into the Sahara Desert: “It’d make the Imperial Valley in California look like a cabbage patch.” 

 

We Can Prevent Famine from Killing Millions of Africans

Lawrence Freeman
March 17, 2017
 
Famine is stalking Africa, threatening unprecedented levels of starvation. Famine has already been officially declared in parts of South Sudan’s Unity State, Somalia, and sections of the Borno State in Nigeria. Somalian officials reported 110 human beings perished from hunger in forty-eight hours in one region in the first days of March. One cannot imagine how parents cope watching their children slowly, painfully expire. Famine in Africa is not only unconscionable, but a crime against humanity, because it can be prevented. Only through an entirely new paradigm, that eliminates poverty through infrastructure led development, which can and must be done, will death by starvation finally be eradicated from the entire continent. In over 30 years China has lifted 750 million of its people out of poverty, and has pledged to help Africa eliminate poverty from its vast continent as well. Nothing less than this is acceptable. What is urgently required is; intention and vision for a better future.
 
 A Partial Overview
 
The United Nations humanitarian chief Stephen O’Brien told the UN Security Council that the world faces the largest humanitarian crisis since the United Nations was founded in 1945. More than 20 million people in four countries are facing starvation and famine, O’Brien said, and that “without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to
death” and “many more will suffer and die from disease.” The four nations facing immediate catastrophe are; Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, and northeast Nigeria.
The Africa Center for Strategic Studies reports that nineteen African countries are facing crisis, emergency, or catastrophic levels of food insecurity. This includes 17 million people in the Horn of Africa; Somalia, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda, and millions more in Central African Republic, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Mozambique are also in danger of acute food insecurity.
According to international food organizations, famine is declared if more than 30% of the population is acutely malnourished;  one in five households within a vicinity face extreme food shortages; and two or more people or four children die per 10,000 daily.
 
*Somalia
Of its 6.2 million population, more than half are in need of aid, with 2.9 million requiring immediate assistance, and 270,000 children suffering acute malnutrition. Somalia has suffered two consecutive years of drought. In the 2011 famine, Somalia lost 260,000 people; over half were children under the age of five.  Many experts fear that unless immediate action is taken there is the potential of a full blown famine, possibly exceeding the 2011 death totals.
 
*South Sudan
As this poor landlocked nation is approaching its sixth anniversary of independence, its living conditions are horrific. The UN reports: almost 5 million people- 40% of the population are in desperate need of food; and 100,000 people in Unity State are presently struggling to survive the reality of famine. UNICEF reports that 1 million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished, and 270,000 children are suffering from severe malnutrition.
 
 Northeast Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin
In the four nations of Lake Chad Basin; Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, the UN estimates that 10.7 million people require assistance, with 7.1 million categorized as food insecure. In the Northeastern Nigerian states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, the UN reports that 400,000 children are at risk of from famine, with 75,000-90,000 facing immediate danger of dying from hunger.
 
          Humanitarian Aid Is Insufficient
 
          To avert the further spread of famine, UN Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres has requested upwards $5.6 billion, with a majority of the funds needed as soon as the end of March, the New York Times reported. Guiterees also appealed for $825 million in aid to address drought and cholera in Somalia. So far only a small portion of these goals have been met.
          In response to drought, famine, and other disasters, emergency aid is necessary to save lives, and is a moral responsibility. However, we must have the courage to admit to ourselves that simply providing aid is an inadequate response by the UN and international community. Yes, many of these nations suffer from the interrelationship of civil strife, and famine. A paramount underlying cause of both is the inability to provide the basic necessities of life due to severe underdevelopment of their economies. This essential and fundamental truth has been overlooked or deliberately ignored for over five decades, until the recent extension of China’s Silk Road onto the African continent.
In the years following the “Winds of Change” as African nations freed themselves from the yoke of colonialism, many became food self sufficient or nearly so due to abundant fertile soil. Objectively, there is no justifiable reason for hunger to exist anywhere in Africa. Given the large areas of uncultivated, but arable land available in Africa (the most abundant on the planet), Africa not only has the potential to feed its own expanding population, but also become a net food exporter to Asia. Thus to die from hunger is not only criminally immoral, but actually “un-African” at its roots. The not so secret missing ingredient for Africa to achieve its agricultural potential is: physical economic development of vital infrastructure.
 
          What is Actually Required to Prevent Famine
 
 All functioning, i.e. growing economies depend on a platform of integrated infrastructure especially in categories of rail, energy, roads, and water projects, because of their essential, irreplaceable contribution in raising the productivity of the labor force. It has been the failure of Western institutions to assist the emerging nations of Africa in securing the necessary infrastructure across the continent that is the long term cause for the crisis that African nations face today. Some may object to such an analysis, but history has proved that it is the long waves of policy that shape the present and the future. After suffering hundreds of years of slavery that ripped the social fabric of the continent apart and tortured the cultural soul of Africa, it was followed by another century of brutal-exploitive colonialism. The best form of justice would have been to assist these newly formed nations in becoming economically sovereign. Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and Kennedy had this vision, but tragically it was not shared by other leaders.
Lack of economic growth has a great deal to do with ethnic warfare and the spread of terrorism. Poor people, reaching to find enough water, food, and land for the very survival of themselves and their loved ones become desperate, and desperate people become victims of manipulation in violent conflicts, as well as easy recruits to extremist groups. Economic growth that provides the citizens with means to exist, and hope for a better future, is the great “mitigator” against desperation and alienation that leads to violence.
So far mankind has not been able to prevent draughts, but mankind can prevent draughts from causing famine. How? With infrastructure, nations can mitigate the deadly effects of draughts; by utilizing irrigation, and water management projects, generating sufficient energy to pump water; railroads for transporting food to the needy from other parts of the state and from other countries not as severely affected, and by creating integrated industrial–agricultural sectors capable of producing a surplus of food.
Can one deny that the extreme poverty rampant throughout the nations of the Lake Chad Basin is not a major factor for the spread of Boko Haram? Can anyone deny that the paucity of electrical power for Nigeria’s 190 million people along with sky high rates of youth unemployment are not contributing factors to the multifaceted crisis in north-east Nigeria? Was it not patently obvious that the creation of the new nation of South Sudan without first establishing a stable economy providing the basic needs for its people, especially food, was at serious risk from the beginning?
For example, had the East-West railroad, connecting the Horn of Africa along the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean across West Africa to the Atlantic Ocean been built Africa would have achieved new levels of economic growth for all the nations involved. A similar effect would have occurred, had the South–North railroad along African’s eastern spine had been developed. If the great inter-basin water transfer project known as Transaqua, capable of transferring billions of cubic feet of water from the Congo River Basin to Lake Chad, while creating an economic corridor between the nations of the Great Lakes and the Lake Chad Basin, been built thirty years ago when it was first proposed, how much suffering and death could have been prevented. Finally, in December 2016, ChinaPower signed an agreement with Nigeria for a feasibility study on a portion of the long overdue Transaqua project.
 
A New Opportunity to End Famine and War
 
In this century, infrastructure projects are being built across the African continent for the first time, as an extension of China’s Silk Road and Maritime Silk Road policy, also known as the Belt and Road Initiative-BRI. China is collaborating with African nations to build railroads at a rate never seen before on the continent. Discussing the importance of railway development, the Chinese Minister of Commerce recently stated: “Africa is an important part of the One Belt rail initiative.” China’s five biggest foreign railroad projects are in Africa.  Premier Li Keqiang announced China’s intention to help Africa connect all its capital cities by modern rail lines. What effect will this have on the economies of Africa? Nothing short of an economic revolution spurring unprecedented levels of trade and commerce!
As the expression says, China is putting its money where its mouth is, when the West has firmly rejected financing any significant investment in infrastructure for Africa.  Between 2000 and 2014 China made $24.2 billion in loans to finance transportation projects in Africa, according to the China Africa Research Initiative-(CARI). China financed the recently completed Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Djibouti electrified train at $4 billon. China will provide $13 billion to finance construction of the Standard Gauge Railroad-(SGR) in Kenya. The first phase of a rail line for passengers and freight from Mbassa, the largest port in Africa to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital and further north to the major market in Naivasha is to be completed by the end of this year. The Horn of Africa will be transformed as the SGR is extended to the capitals of Kenya’s five neighboring states; South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Tanzania. The longer term vision is for the Addis Ababa to Djibouti rail line and the SGR to become eastern part of the East-West railroad.
With Chinese financing and Chinese construction companies, Nigeria is building a standard rail gauge from Lagos to Kano for $7.5 billion with stops in Ibaden, llorin, Mina, and Kaduna. China has signed an agreement with Nigeria for $12 billion to construct a coastal rail line from Lagos to Calabar. China has also financed the light rail system in Addis Ababa, and light rail lines in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, and its former capital and largest city, Lagos. China has already financed $22 billion in infrastructure projects in Nigeria, with another $23 billion on going, and $40 billion more are in the pipeline according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, when he spoke last month in Abuja. For Nigeria, a country filled with mega cities inhabited by its huge and expanding population, rail transportation is a game changer.
          In addition to funding rail construction, Chinese companies are involved in other important infrastructure across the continent, including new ports, highways, and airports, reaping $50 billion a year on their investments reports CARI.
           Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority stated bluntly: “We approached the U.S., and they didn’t have the vision. They are not thinking ahead 30 years. They only have a vision from the past as a continent of war and famine. The Chinese have vision.”
It should be emphasized that these rail projects along with other infrastructure projects being built and financed by China will generate hundreds of thousands of skilled jobs for Africa’s unemployed.
 
It is vital that the Chinese Silk Road take up the task of creating electrical power for Africa. A mere 100,000 megawatts of electrical power for the sub-Saharan population of almost one billion, is literally a death sentence for Africa. Without hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of power, Africa’s future; its very existence is in jeopardy. While the West is infatuated with off grid, lower technologies like wind and solar; construction of hundreds of nuclear power plants, which offer the best and most reliable form of energy is the next challenge. If the expansion of nuclear power follows the rate of growth of rail development, then famine, abject poverty, and war will become a distant memory of the past.  If the new Washington administration breaks from previous US policy, and decides to collaborate with China with its “win-win” approach for all nations to join the Silk Road, then the long overdue industrialization of Africa is eminently feasible.