Ethiopia Election: A Vote for Peace, Unity, and Prosperity

Lawrence Freeman speaking with Dr. Birhanu Lenjiso of Prime Media

Below is a 30 minute interview with on the Ethiopian national elections conducted on June 21, 2021. It was conducted in the studio of Prime Media on the June 23rd, in Addis Ababa.

The Ethiopian people proved all the critics, pundits, Western media, and Western governments, especially the United States and Great Britain wrong in their predictions of violence and chaos for Ethiopia’s national elections. The Ethiopian people surprised even some government supporters with their orderly, calm, and peaceful manner in electing Prime Minister Ably Ahmed and the Prosperity Party.

Hours after my interview, former Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo, at a press conference in Addis Ababa, representing the African Union declared that the election was conducted in a “peaceful, orderly and credible manner.” Obasanjo echoed the observations made by the East African Standby Force in a press conference on Tuesday following the election. Both ESAF and AU has observers monitoring the election process.

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

Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Countries of the Nile River Basin-World Bank (Courtesy of researchgate.net)

Will The U.S. Support Egypt’s Violation Of Ethiopia’s Sovereign Right to Operate The GERD?

Lawrence Freeman

June 5, 2021

Is the United States’ continued escalation of hostile policy towards Ethiopia preparing the groundwork to support Egypt’s “colonial rights” over the Nile River? As the White House and Congress threaten more sanctions against Ethiopia, their sovereign right to generate electricity for its people through the operation of the Ethiopian Grand Renaissance Dam (GERD) is being linked to the conflict in Tigray. Is the Biden administration and the Democrat controlled Congress ominously following in the footsteps of President Trump, who shockingly gave a “green light” for Egypt to bomb the GERD? This would be a grave mistake, with more disastrous consequences than the Obama’s administration’s bombing of Libya and overthrowing President Kaddafi. While U.S. foreign policy in the region is aligning itself more closely to Egypt, it continues to undermine Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s sovereign authority to prevent the Balkanization of his nation.

Sanctions Are Not For Allies

Secretary of State, Antony Blinken’s still unproven, but often repeated March 30th allegation of ethnic cleansing by the Ethiopia government in Tigray, has provided the impetus for the crescendo of group-think Congressional voices to attack Ethiopia, America’s foremost ally in the Horn of Africa. On May 23rd, Blinken intensified U.S. aggression towards Ethiopia by:

  • Issuing sanctions.
  • Cutting off funds for security and economic growth.
  • Pressuring multi-lateral institutions to cease funding programs in Ethiopia.
  • altering U.S.-Ethiopia defense accords, which have been essential in the war against terrorism and providing security for East Africa.

(Read: New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa)

Addis Ababa February 5/2021 (ENA) Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed held phone conversation with United States Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken on Thursday.

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives support Secretary Blinken’s sanctions against Ethiopia. Sanctions are a very poor and crude tool for conducting foreign policy, and I have opposed their implementation except in the most unique cases. However, it is unheard of to apply sanctions against a long-standing ally, and it is utterly counterproductive. The government of Prime Minister Abiy should be supported in defeating the insurrectionists, the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF). This is contrary to calls from the U.S and United Kingdom for a cease fire and reconciliation between the Ethiopian National defense Forces (ENDF) and the TPLF.

TPLF, not the Tigrayan community, is intent on tearing apart Ethiopia, and weakening the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  Ethiopia’s future existence as a sovereign nation-state depends on quelling this insurrection.

Pause for a moment, think, then ask yourself; how did President Lincoln personally conduct the war against the southern rebels? He summarily shunned all calls for peace and reconciliation, until the anti-Union, insurrectionist movement was defeated.

The Biden administration and the U.S. Congress are contributing to the potential dismemberment of the most vital nation in East Africa by sanctioning, threatening, and punishing the government of Prime Minister Abiy.  If these officials, actually had any knowledge of the dynamic of ethno-nationalism in Ethiopia, they might come to realize that their actions could encourage more ethnic regions to attempt separation from the nation of Ethiopia.

Senate Recklessness Led by Bob Menendez

A new level of belligerence towards Ethiopia was on display at the May 26th,  Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the conflict in Tigray.  It is interesting to note that all but one of the speeches and accusations against Ethiopia were uttered by liberal Democrats. Ranking Member, Frank Risch, was the only Republican to join the anti-Ethiopian crusade.

Chairmen Bob Menendez referenced Secretary Blinken’s allegations of ethnic cleansing and other alleged crimes by the Ethiopian government. He demanded that Ambassador Godec, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, who was testifying, provide the proof that Ethiopia has “committed war crimes and crimes against humanity” in Tigray. Appallingly, the other Democrats on the committee followed Menendez in lock-step, demanding “action now” against Ethiopia.

Senator Bob Menendez (D. NJ) Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee (Courtesy foreign.senate.gov)

Sarah Charles, testifying from USAID Humanitarian Assistance, further inflamed the hearings by projecting that Ethiopia will experience another “man-made famine,” reminiscent of 1985, if actions are not taken immediately. The potential for a new famine became the mantra of the senators at the hearing.

Allegations of hunger, and atrocities committed during the conflict must be fully investigated.  However, to compare the current situation in Tigray to the famine of 1983-1985 that caused over one million deaths in Ethiopia, is contemptible. That famine was exacerbated by the destructive policies of Mengistu Halle Mariam, leader of the fascist-Marxist Derg. Likely unbeknownst to the uninformed senators, Mengistu, from 1976-1978  launched the “Red Terror,” murdering over half a million Ethiopians, in a genocide against his own people. To equate the famine of 1983-1985 and Mengistu’s policies to Ethiopia today and Prime Minister Abiy, is beyond reprehensible.

Senator Menendez opened the hearing by claiming that the conflict in Tigray echoes what happened in Darfur, Sudan. I travelled to Sudan many times from 1996 to 2012, including two tours of Darfur. Between that and my own extensive research, I am very familiar with Sudan and its history.  I can assert unequivocally that there is no resemblance between Darfur, Sudan, and Tigray, Ethiopia.

Tragically, the behavior by the U.S. Congress, is shameful and reflects an acute superficiality in understanding the complex history of Ethiopia.

Overturn Geo-Political Thinking

While the U.S., led by Secretary Blinken, is reversing decades of friendship between Ethiopia and America, and endangering the Horn of Africa, the Biden administration is enhancing its rapport with Egypt.

On May 26th, while the Senate was ratcheting up the pressure on Ethiopia, Secretary Blinken was in Cairo conveying:

“President Biden’s appreciation to President Sisi for Egypt’s critical mediation efforts in support of a cease fire between Israel and Hamas…”

“The Secretary affirmed the strong strategic partnership between the United States and Egypt, and President Biden’s commitment to this relationship.  He reiterated the United States’ commitment to Egypt’s water security and to the urgent resumption of substantive and results oriented negotiations under the leadership of the African Union to resolve the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).”

The sovereign right of Ethiopia to fill and operate the GERD for the general welfare of its citizens has become linked to the conditions in Tigray.

Democrat Senator Mendez, at the hearing ostensibly on Tigray, made the same veiled threat on the GERD as President Trump, who infamously suggested that Egypt might try to blow-up the GERD. Mendez blurted out, that Egypt has told him more than once, “if the GERD issue is not dealt with in a way that assures their water needs…they will do what is necessary…They have red lines…”

Ethiopia and its seven neighboring countries

On May 27, Egyptian President Sisi, traveled to Djibouti, whose port provides access to the Gulf of Eden and Indian Ocean for its neighbor and major trading partner, Ethiopia. This was the first visit ever of an Egyptian head of state to Djibouti. According to African Intelligence, the two leaders discussed new security relations between their nations. African Intelligence further reports that Egypt’s defense minister and army chief of staff, who also visited Djibouti, “would like to see the creation of an Egyptian base in Djibouti not far from the Ethiopian border.”

At his news conference in Djibouti, President Sisi said:

“I stressed Egypt’s rejection of any attempt to impose a fait accompli through unilateral measures that disregard the interests and rights of the two downstream countries.”  

Egypt has made repeated military threats against Ethiopia, has formed a military alliance with Sudan, and last month, carried out joint military exercises with Sudan labeled “Guardians of the Nile”.

Since Egypt is the second largest recipient of U.S. aid next to Israel,  it would not be difficult for the U.S. to convince Egypt to stand down.

According to a knowledgeable expert on the region, the Biden administration is preparing to relocate the hub of its anti-terrorism  deployment in the Horn of Africa, from Ethiopia to Kenya.  The U.S. is trying to persuade Gulf nations, who support Ethiopia, to leverage their relationship in an effort to pressure Ethiopia to abandon its commitment to the GERD.

President Biden may or may not be aware of the implications of his decision to undermine Prime Minister Abiy’s government and support Egypt in their brinkmanship with Ethiopia regarding the GERD. His administration, filled with personnel from the Obama and Clinton presidencies, is following the same warped geo-political doctrine of his predecessors. Rather than responding to the fixed contours of the contentiousness surrounding the GERD, a true statesman would desire to shift the discussion to a higher level of potential resolution. Instead, the U.S., dominated by geo-politics, is fixated on seeking partners, who serve their narrow immediate interests, such as Egypt’s role in mitigating the Israel-Palestine crisis.

In fact, there is no danger of Ethiopia depriving downstream nations (Egypt and Sudan) of water for their people.  This was admitted by Egyptian Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry himself: Egypt Foreign Minister Says Water Safe Despite Ethiopian Dam Threat.

The GERD will actually help both Egypt and Sudan by regulating the Nile, preventing deadly floods, reducing evaporation, and providing a water bank to draw on in emergencies. However, the GERD is not even the fundamental cause of Egypt’s water problem, as Yaniv Cohen explains: Egypt has a water problem and it’s not only the GERD

 

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station today turned on its temporary mobile groundwater desalination plant, which will ease the pressure on the City of Cape Town’s water supply. Courtesy esi-africa.com)

The real issue concerning the Nile River is strategic; the Nile does not have enough water to provide for the hundreds of millions of Africans living in the nations of the Nile Basin.

For the economic growth and well being of the nations of the Nile Basin, more water is needed than the Nile can deliver. The equivalent of a second Nile has to be created by human beings. This is the discussion that should take place among the Nile Basin nations and the larger international communities. It requires creative and visionary  thinking, outside of the box, not confined to geo-politics. To alleviate nations from quarreling over a limited supply of Nile water, let us be bold in our imagination. Instead, conceive of the New Nile Project by constructing nuclear powered desalination plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea to create large amounts of new potable water. These nuclear plants in additional to efficient desalination, and supplying abundant energy, would become nuplexes– manufacturing hubs for industrial and agricultural development.

Some addicted to the narrow thinking of geo-politics today, will object and say it cannot be done, it will take too long and cost too much. To those naysayers, I would respond by asking, is it better to have water wars among emerging nations that are struggling to feed their people laden by poverty? As populations expand, and economies grow, more water will be required. Why not use the urgency of resolving today’s combative dispute over the filling of the GERD, to prod our lazy minds to create a solution for the future of the Nile Basin?  Overcoming all the many engineering and scientific impediments to achieve our New Nile Project will be challenging, but this is the very reason we human beings were put here on earth.

President Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address March 4, 1865. (courtesy hisotyplace.com)

A Just End To A New Beginning

The fighting in Tigray, the ancient birthplace of Ethiopia, must come to end as soon as possible to prevent the loss of more lives and further suffering. This laceration in the fabric of Ethiopian society should be healed, and not allowed  to propagate. Following the government’s safeguarding of the Tigray region, an all-out mobilization must be launched, with vigorous international support, to rebuild the province, upgrading economic conditions to guarantee that every person living in Tigray, a productive and dignified life.

When the conflict in Tigray is concluded, it would be appropriate for Prime Minister Abiy to emulate the spirit of President Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. It was delivered  on March 4, 1865, almost four years after the war began, which killed hundreds of thousands of Americans, and six weeks before his enemies assassinated him. After President Lincoln affirms his commitment to defeat the southern rebels at all costs, he compassionately pleads for peace.

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

Let Prime Minister Abiy use this overture as a prelude to lead a healthy dialogue with the Ethiopian people; to unite the nation around the preeminence of an Ethiopian identity, one that supersedes ethnicity.  Reformulation of the Ethiopian Constitution of 1995 to emphasize Ethiopian citizenship, which transcends ethno-regionalism, should follow.

It is in the shared, common, and self-interest of all Ethiopians to participate in the development of their society and increase the wealth of their economy for the benefit of themselves and their posterity. With the near future generation of 6,200 megawatts of electricity from the GERD, Ethiopia will bring light and prosperity to all its citizens. This is cause for all Ethiopians to join together in joyous celebration.

Read my earlier posts:

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Prime Logue/Media Interviews Lawrence Freeman in Addis Ababa: “Without the Elimination of Poverty, There Will Be No Democracy in Africa”

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

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

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Photo by Getty Images

New U.S. Hostilities Against Ethiopia Threatens Horn of Africa

Lawrence Freeman

May 24, 2021

On May 23, U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, announced visa restrictions “for any current or former Ethiopian or Eritrean government officials, members of the security  forces or other individuals …responsible for or complicit in undermining the resolution of the crisis in Tigray.” According to the State Department press statement, the Biden administration has “imposed wide-ranging restrictions on economic and security assistance to Ethiopia and will bring our defense trade control policy in line with them.” Although not explicitly stated by Blinken, the U.S. will suspend $130 million of U.S. security assistance to Ethiopia, originally paused by the Trump administration. Multiple government sources report that the Biden administration is in the process of taking additional punitive measures against Ethiopia, including pressuring the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to hold back funds already designated for programs in Ethiopia. Additional U.S. sanctions have not been ruled out.

With the announcement of  these bilateral and possible multilateral assaults against Ethiopia, the U.S. will not only reverse decades of cooperation between the two nations, but potentially could endanger the entire Horn of Africa, and beyond. Ethiopia has played an indispensable role in providing security and stability in East Africa. This new U.S. posture towards Ethiopia, meant to appease the international liberal establishment, is reckless and perilous.

These types of measures, usually reserved for enemies of the U.S., are being implemented against a longtime trusted ally. A nation that has vigorously collaborated with the U.S. under both Republican and Democratic Presidents in fighting terrorism and violent extremism in the region.

Expressing the gravity of this abrupt policy shift by President Biden, Cameroon Hudson, of the Atlantic Council said to Foreign Policy: “This is a major strategic shift in the Horn of Africa, to go from an anchor state for U.S. interests to become a potential adversary to U.S. interests.”

courtesy of aa.com.tr

This foolishness and lack of judgment by President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and the U.S. Congress, can potentially lead to a calamity for Africa, not seen since the disastrous decision by the Obama administration to overthrow the Libyan government in October 2011. Nations in the Sahel and millions of Africans living in that region are still suffering today from the misadventure by President Obama and his zealot regime change advisors, who removed President Kaddafi from office. Look at Libya today, and the affects almost a decade later on North Africa. Attempts to weaken Ethiopia through economic strangulation and political isolation, in this turbulent period of Ethiopian society, are downright dangerous and could cause severe harm for millions of Africans.

This draconian assault against Ethiopia by the U.S. can potentially lead to a weakening of the Ethiopian nation by encouraging more ethno-nationalist attacks on the government. Were that to happen, be forewarned, that like Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, who lamented, “what, will these hands ne’er be clean,”–the blood stain of millions of Africans may never be removed from the hands of the Biden administration and the U.S. Congress.

There are evil forces, who would like to see Ethiopia devolve into a balkanized territory of hostile competing ethnic fiefdoms. This would be a disaster for Africa and the world, and is not in the self-interest of the U.S.

Changing the Narrative

Woefully, war is always ugly and always leads to atrocities, but let us remember the cause of the conflict in Tigray. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) conducted a surprise attack on the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) in Mekele in the early hours of November 4, 2020. They attacked the armed forces of the Federal government i.e., the nation state of Ethiopia. Like President Lincoln, who responded to the confederate attack on the Union’s Fort Sumpter, by declaring war, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had no other choice, but to respond militarily. Otherwise, the nation of Ethiopia could have been dismembered by emboldened ethno-nationalist forces declaring their independence from the central government.

There have been attempts by numerous individuals and organizations in and outside of Ethiopia to falsely claim an equivalence between the TPLF, an ethno-regional organization, and the national government of Ethiopia located in Addis Ababa. Some even try to equate the ENDF with the TPLF militia.

Various news organizations have now intentionally resorted to blurring the actual cause of the war. A recent article by Associated Press referred to the TPLF attack in Mekele as an “allegation” even though TPLF leaders have proudly admitted their action. The New York Times claims that Prime Minister Abiy’s armed response was in reaction to TPLF “defiance” rather than the truth, which was the slaughter of ENDF troops by the TPLF.

Does the U.S. Congress Possess Intelligence?

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senate Resolution 97 (S.Res.97) on May 19, following multiple requests by the Foreign Relation Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives for sanctions to be imposed on Ethiopia.

There has been no official report of evidence by the U.S State Department or intelligence services verifying allegations of “genocide” or “ethnic cleansing” by the Ethiopian government. It is pathetic, yet valuable to know that accusations against Ethiopia by the State Department, the House of Representatives, and the Senate, have in large part come from news organizations. Whatever happened to U.S. intelligence capabilities? Has U.S. intel gathering been so corroded that it has to rely on private organizations, who have their own agenda? Should the U.S. be making foreign policy decisions without independent knowledge of events? CNN brags in its own May 21st article that it was their news (sic) organization and a pro TPLF lobbying firm ,Von Batten-Montague-York, that was responsible for convincing U.S. Senators to support S.Res.97. The U.S. Senate, sometimes called, the world’s greatest deliberative body, was in fact led like lemmings, by CNN and a DC lobbying firm to condemn Ethiopia’s government. Is that what the founding fathers of this great republic contemplated when they created the Senate? I think not.

No Respect for Ethiopia’s Sovereignty

Despite the fact that very few, if any U.S. Senators have a deep-seated knowledge of the complexities of Ethiopian culture and society, they did not refrain from encroaching on Ethiopian sovereignty, which obligates the central government to act in the interest of safeguarding the nation.

S.Res.97, ignores the responsibility of Prime Minister Abiy to defend his nation, demanding instead: an immediate cessation of hostilities in the Tigray Region; strongly disapproving of the escalation of political tensions between the Government of Ethiopia and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) into armed conflict; and most egregiously urges the government of Ethiopia to engage in a full cessation of hostilities.  In essence, S.Res.97, rebukes the Ethiopian government for defending its nation from an insurrection, and demands reconciliation with the insurgents.

Breaking up the Union, only weeks after President Lincoln took office, was the explicit intent of the southern states, who insisted that the U.S. government, no longer represented them. President Lincoln would not allow the republic to be divided. He waged a relentless war that ultimately led to the deaths of upwards of 750,000 Americans. He ignored all pleas to come to the peace table and negotiate with the enemy of the Union, who he would only refer to as “rebels.” The only negotiation President Lincoln would accept from the “rebels” was unconditional surrender. Under no condition would he allow some other country to dictate to him, the President of the United States of America, how to conduct the war to save the Union.

Read my earlier posts:

U.S. Senators’ Call for Postponing Ethiopian Election Is Foolish & Very Dangerous

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State

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

Hunger in DRC-Criminal Stupidity Not to Help African Nations Manufacture Covid-19 Vaccines

(Courtesy of acted.org)

April 10, 2021

Watch my brief interview (below) on the Covid-19 crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and across Africa.

Covid-19 has worsened the already desperate condition of lack of food for the people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other nations in Africa. As reported below, a staggering  one third of the population of the DRC are “acutely hungry.” The DRC has the largest amount of unused arable land in the world. If developed, it could potentially feed the continent of Africa. It is the lack of development, not any objective conditions that is the cause of hunger in the DRC. 

Vaccines must be given to African nations now to inoculate their populations. However, if were are to vaccinate 1.5 billion people living in Africa, which we must, Africa will need 3 billion doses. This requires assisting African nations in building up their domestic manufacturing capability to produce the vaccine and vaccinate their populations. Anything less is shortsighted, if not criminally stupid.

Read my earlier posts:    Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19 ;  Hunger Stalks Africa: Nations Should be Food Self-Sufficient

                              

Acute Hunger Crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Excepted report from EIR News.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Program issued a cry of alarm yesterday, that they had found in their recently-completed review of the situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, a “staggering” scale of acute hunger. Some 27.3 million people—one in three citizens of that nation—are “acutely hungry,” with nearly 7 million of those people classified as in emergency status, one step below famine, able to survive only by such extreme strategies as selling off their last animal which provides their livelihood, or by begging.

“This makes the central African country home to the highest number of people in urgent need of food security assistance in the world,” the statement from the two agencies reports.

These figures include 3.3 million of that nation’s children who are malnourished, children who if not quickly provided with enough nutritious food may never recover from stunting of their mental and physical growth which malnutrition brings about.

WFP’s representative in the D.R. Congo, Peter Musoko, is quoted: “For the first time ever we were able to analyze the vast majority of the population, and this has helped us to come closer to the true picture of the staggering scale of food insecurity in the D.R.C. This country should be able to feed its population and export a surplus. We cannot have children going to bed hungry and families skipping meals for an entire day.”

The FAO Representative in the D.R. Congo Aristide Ongone Obame urged: “We need to urgently focus on growing food where it is needed most, and on keeping people’s sustenance-giving animals alive. The main agricultural season is around the corner and there is no time to waste.”

The two agencies drove home the human condition only reflected in these statistics: “Behind the numbers are the stories of parents deprived of access to their land, or forced to flee for their lives, watching their children fall sick for lack of food. WFP staff have met families who have returned to their village to find their home burnt to the ground and their crops entirely looted. Some have been surviving by eating only taro, a root that grows wild, or only cassava leaves boiled in water.”

Never forget that such intolerable conditions are not “natural,” nor unsolvable. China’s just-released White Paper “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution” asserted, “poverty is not predestined, nor is it unconquerable…. With strong will and determination, as well as practical action, one can make steady progress towards overcoming poverty and realizing common prosperity.”

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

The Truth: It is good that China Is Investing in Africa’s Energy and Transportation Infrastructure

The Truth: It is good that China Is Investing in Africa’s Energy and Transportation Infrastructure

Lawrence Freeman

April 8, 2021

Below are two articles examining China’s investment policy in Africa that should be read to learn the truth about China’s lending to the continent. One, is a briefing paper from China Africa Research Initiative (CARI) entitled, Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending. The second is entitled, “Why Substantial Chinese FDI is Flowing into Africa, by Shirly Yu. Combined, both papers provide a thorough analysis of the positive contribution of Chinese investment in Africa, surpassing the United States in all categories. As  many African leaders know, without China’s contribution to Africa’s development, especially in infrastructure, Africa would be worse off. There is absolutely no indication that the U.S. and the West would fill that void.

It is undeniable that China has invested heavily in the development of Africa over the last two decades. Ignore the claptrap allegations of a deliberate Chinese debt-trap policy to seize control over Africa’s resources. It is nonsense and has not happened; not once, not in a single African nation.

According to CARI’s data base, from 2000-2019, China has made $157 billion in loans to Africa. Of these 1,077 loans, 85% have been in categories of infrastructure, of which 65% have been in energy and transportation. According to CARI, only 13% of Africa’s debt is owed to China. The largest portion of Africa’s debt is owed to multilateral institutions at 32%, followed by loans from private bond holders. Outside of Angola, only 8% of Chinese lending was for resource backed loans. 90% of the contractors in Africa from China are private Chinese companies, not state owned enterprises (SOEs). Also, 90 % of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is from private Chinese companies, although SOEs are the largest investors in Africa in total value.

President Biden has recently suggested that the U.S. and Europe should lead a western version of China’s Belt and Road (BRI). If it were to be as productive as China[‘s (BRI), African nations would benefit greatly, especially in this challenging economic period.

Excerpts from Shirly Yu:

“Make no mistake, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still the largest investors in Africa by value and continue to dominate the energy, transportation and resources sectors due to the strategic nature and long-haul return of these investments. For instance, one third of Africa’s power grid and energy infrastructure has been financed and constructed by state-owned Chinese companies since 2010. China is the most significant foreign contributor through SOEs and state-owned banks to Africa’s energy development.

“By 2034, Africa’s labour force is forecast to surpass that of China and India combined. By 2050, the African population is expected to be 2.5 billion, while China’s population will decline to below 1 billion. With these figures in mind, Africa’s young labour force is exactly what China’s labour-intensive manufacturers seek today.”

Read: Why Substantial Chinese FDI Is Flowing into Africa

Excerpts from CARI:

IN 2000, WE RECORDED ONLY three Chinese lenders, financing 14 projects, with an average value of just US$ 10 million. Over the next 19 years, over 30 Chinese lenders would commit loans to African governments and state owned enterprises. Since 2010, Chinese financiers have financed an average of 71 projects per year, at an average value of US$ 180 million.
The four biggest Chinese banks involved with lending to African countries are China Eximbank, CDB, ICBC, and BOC. China Eximbank–which is China’s official export credit agency, and also the only bank offering government
subsidized foreign aid concessional loans–is the largest and since 2000 accounts for 56 percent of all loans.

Read: Twenty Years of Data on China’s Africa Lending

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

 

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa From COVID-19

A health worker at a local health centre in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, prepares a vaccine injection. (Courtesy UNICEF/Sibylle Desjardins)

March 29, 2021

Biden Must Lead All-Out Effort to Vaccinate Africa

Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Nicaise Ndembi, senior science advisor for the Africa CDC, and Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, African Development Bank President, have all spoken out on the need to vaccinate Africa’s more than one billion people. Dr. Adesina speaking earlier this month at the launch of the Bank’s African Outlook 2021 report said, “We need global solidarity and vaccine justice for Africa…as long as Africans remain unvaccinated the world will go back to square one.”

On a March 25 webinar, organized by the Advocacy Network for Africa, and Africa Rising, Dr. Nkengasong echoed the same immediacy for Africa to vaccinate its people against Covid19. He told his audience; we have more Africans dying from the second wave of Covid19 and there is potential of a third wave. “We need vaccines today” he said.

All African Must Be Vaccinated!

Dr. Ndembi, speaking on the same webinar, outlined the minimal goal of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s population by the end of 2022. Based on his low estimate of Africa’s population at 1.2 billion, he calculated  vaccinating 720 million people, requiring 1.4 billion doses of the two dose Moderna and Pfizer vaccines. The one dose Jonson and Johnson could significantly speed up the vaccination process. However, it is unacceptable to plan to vaccinate only 60% of Africa’s growing population over the next 21 months.

Only a small number of vaccines has been delivered to Africa, about 14.6 million doses, according to Dr. Adesina, reported by Reliefweb. The main vehicle for acquiring the COVID-19 vaccines for Africa is the COVAX initiative, led by the World Health Organization and backed by the United Nations. President Biden has authorized $2.5 billion to fund COVAX and pledged another $1.5 billion. However, the U.S. unlike China and Russia, has not donated a single dose of any its three  vaccines to Africa.

As all epidemiologists know, as long as large numbers of human beings remain unvaccinated, the virus will mutate, potentially to more contagious and virulent strains, endangering the whole human race. Therefore, it is not only immoral for vaccine producing nations not to vaccinate the populations of all lower and middle income nations, but insanely irresponsible.

(Courtesy statista.com)

For the sake of preserving the wellbeing of the human race, our goal has to be nothing short of complete vaccination of the planet’s eligible population. It is foolish to have poorer nations competing for limited supplies of vaccines. According to Matthew Kavanagh, who participated in the March 25th webinar, sharing the limited supply of vaccines will not be sufficient to defeat the virus. He estimated that given the appropriate support, some African nations could begin producing vaccines themselves in six months. Dr Adesina pointed to the core of the solution; “Africa needs to develop its pharmaceutical industry and begin manufacturing.” There is no viable solution to protect Africa’s expanding population from this virus, other than immediately building up the capacity of African nations to produce and distribute vaccines to their people.

This will require releasing the patents-the secrets of the vaccines, to other nations. Kavanagh, from the Center for Global Health Science and Security, rightly demands that governments “will need to use their legal and political authority to push companies to share their patents and know-how.” He pointed out that the creation of the Moderna vaccine was supported by $2.5 billion of American taxpayers’ money. President Biden’s administration must use every kind of effort to insure that intellectual property rights do not trump the obligation to save lives.

 

All-Out Economic Mobilization Required to Defeat COVID-19

As a result of responding to the spread of HIV/AIDS over several decades and more recently, from several outbreaks of Ebola, Africans have learned some valuable experiences. For African nations to produce and distribute vaccines in sufficient quantities to inoculate over one billion people, new capabilities will have to be added to their diminutive manufacturing sectors. To get the vaccine into the arms of their population, their weak health care system will have to be vastly expanded. This will require implementing economic growth policies that are long overdue in Africa, but under the necessity of defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, must now be immediately executed. This includes massive investment in hard and soft infrastructure. For example. One cannot expect to win the war against this virus, without high-speed rail transportation to move products quickly in refrigerated cars between cities and ports. Without roads, the vaccine will not reach large sections of the population. Of course, more hospitals and well equipped clinics will be required to be built. Energy will be needed to produce and maintain the quality of the vaccines, as well as providing the power for the manufacturing plants and hospitals. Africa is severely lacking in these and other basic categories of infrastructure.

It is estimated that almost 40 million more Africans will be pushed into poverty this year as a result of the pandemic. I believe that estimate is too low, but it would still represent almost a 10% increase in the number of Africans living in poverty. To respond to the necessity of winning the war against this pandemic, Africa would have to be transformed with immense investments in new infrastructure, production, and industry. Hiring those eager to work in these productive jobs will provide meaningful employment for millions of youths, and those misemployed in the cancerous so called informal economy.

What President Biden Should Do

It is reported that in a recent discussion with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, U.S. President Joe Biden, proposed that western nations develop a Belt and Road initiative like that of China.  Let us start with the African continent, which is projected to have 25% of the world’s population in 2050, with 2.4 billion people.

For a just and intelligent American policy to vaccinate Africa from COVID-19, President Biden should provide leadership in:

  • Calling for a debt moratorium on principal and interest for the next two years-at least until the end of the first quarter of 2023, so nations can free up funds to pay for vaccinating their citizens.
  • Persuading the vaccine manufacturers to allow the patents of their vaccines to be released so other nations can reproduce the vaccine. Essentially, waiving intellectual property rights.
  • Providing know-how and technology transfer for the production and storage of the vaccines.
  • Providing interest free loans-grants as startup funds for vaccine manufacturing plants.
  • Providing training and logistical support for establishing mass vaccination centers.
  • Offering long term low-interest concessionary loans for the construction of vitally necessary hard and soft infrastructure in the model of China’s Belt and Road

Surely for the sake of civilization, America can and must assist African nations to accomplish more than vaccinating just 60% of their population by 2022. If we do not fully vaccinate Africa, then in addition to the loss of life among Africans, the virus would continue to mutate, travel around the world, potentially infecting and reinfecting the world’s population. From a purely economic outlook, the global economy would lose trillions of dollars from underperforming African economies. Let us act nobly and wisely in understanding that when we act in the interest of others, we are also acting in our own interest

Read: African development bank president calls global vaccine solidarity and justice africa; and To democratize vaccine access democratize 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.

 

US Can Improve Relations With China by Adopting a Joint Mission: Assisting in Africa’s Development

March 12, 2021

This article, Towards an Improved US-China Relationship, by Stephen Hayes, former President and CEO at the Corporate Council of Africa, suggest a pathway for the new administration of President Biden to improve U.S.-China relations, which thoughtfully involves Africa.

The following suggestion by Hayes is an important contribution to improving relations between the two super-powers. One that I have advocated for years: collaboration on the urgent task of developing the African continent. If this common mission is adopted by statesmen in both nations, there is no challenge that can’t be surmounted.

“It is simple but also perhaps simplistic to propose that both countries work together in a third country or region to aid the development of that country or region. To do so, both countries should have some common goals as to why they would want to work together. In Africa, there needs to be close communication in aiding and abetting the fight against terrorism, perceived as a growing problem on the continent. While there has been some cooperation in this area between the two countries, at least behind the scenes, that cooperation has diminished these past four years. The US perceives terrorism as a major issue in Africa and will likely base much of its development approach for the next four years on this perception. China has similar concerns, but they likely are not as deep as those of the United States. Nevertheless, common security concerns do provide a basis for cooperation. Economic development of a country is also in the interests of China and the United States, but may require much more effort in finding common ground. Working through regional economic groups in Africa on continental infrastructure projects may be another area of mutually beneficial cooperation.” (emphasis added)

It is unclear whether the Biden administration will continue the increasingly antagonistic posture towards China that the Trump presidency adopted. Anti-China group think has gripped both parties in the Congress, and a good portion of the American population as well. The driving force for this potentially dangerous attitude, is the ideology of geo-politics, which reduces the world of nations to winners and losers in a zero-sum game. The alternative is to recognize the shared common interests of all nations and all human beings. The material and intellectual development of human beings, all of whom uniquely possess the power of creative thought, is in the interest of every government. Humanity benefits when nations collaborate to end poverty and enrich the lives of those suffering from economic hardships.

Over four hundred million Africans live in poverty-less than $1.90 per day, and the number is increasing each year. The African continent has the greatest deficits in hard and soft infrastructure of any continent in the world. The shortage of electrical power is literally killing Africans every day. Through China’s Belt and Road Initiative, infrastructure is being built in numerous African nations, but is woefully insufficient for the needs of Africans.

Rather than the U.S. viewing China as an adversary in Africa and defining U.S. policy towards Africa as “countering China,” let us take a more elevated approach. Let President Biden announce that the U.S., with its great economic potential, will collaborate with China in developing Africa and eliminating poverty across the continent, in the next one to two generations. In reality, this cost the U.S. nothing, and the benefits are more than rewarding. Through the issuance of credit for vitally needed infrastructure throughout African nations including projects for: electricity, roads, railroads, schools, airports, healthcare, housing, and water management, the lives of billions of Africans will be transformed. In return, Americans will know they have contributed to the wellbeing of their brothers and sisters in Africa. With the elimination of poverty, the fertile swamps of wretched economic deprivation from which violent extremist groups recruit alienated and desperate youth, will be drained. The spread of terrorism on the African continent will be reversed and over time diminished. AFRICOM, can shift its focus to applying the skills of the Army Corps of Engineers for construction of dams, bridges, and roads. Economically, the pay back for long term, low-interest credit, will be huge. Africa’s growing population, projected to reach 2.4 billion in one and a half generations, will become a large and expanding market for American goods. As African nations experience economic growth, they will be trading with the U.S. for technologically advanced capital goods necessary for the continuous development of their economies.  As the Chinese say, it will be “win-win” for Africa, the U.S., and China, and truthfully, for all nations on our planet.

I give my full-throated support to Steve Hayes’ proposal for China and the U.S. to work together to develop African nations as a means of improving U.S.-China relations.

Read: Towards an Improved US-China Relationship

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

President Biden To Help Africa Fight Ebola and COVID19

A Congolese health worker administers ebola vaccine to a child at the Himbi Health Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 17, 2019.
A Congolese health worker administers ebola vaccine to a child at the Himbi Health Centre in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 17, 2019. Olivia Acland | Reuters

The new administration of President Biden has initiated three important policies to help fight disease in Africa, all of which are in the self interest of the US and benefit the world. The month old Biden administration is speaking with one voice, and acting with urgency to tackle the new outbreak of deadly Ebola in Africa, and the COVID19 pandemic. Unless these diseases are eliminated in every country the entire human race is endanger. Every single human being must be vaccinated. To do less is immoral and criminal stupidity.

  • WHO: By executive order the US has rightly rejoined the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO plays an important function in Africa and the world. It is also time to for the US to give up its allegations that Covid19 was deliberately created by a lab in China.
  • Covid19: Biden announced to the G7 that U.S. will commit $4 billion to support COVAX—the UN program for vaccines for the underdeveloped world. Administration officials have correctly stated: “This pandemic is not going to end if we don’t end it globally. In addition to saving a lot of lives … it’s also the right thing to do from an international security and economic perspective.
  • Ebola: “While the world is reeling from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ebola has again emerged, simultaneously, in both Central and West Africa. The world cannot afford to turn the other way,” White House Press secretary Jen Psaki wrote: “We must do everything in our power to respond quickly, effectively, and with commensurate resources to stop these outbreaks before they become largescale epidemics.” (see CBNC below). Secretary of State Blinken speaking to the UN Security Council on Feb. 17, said: “We have the immediate challenge of COVID-19; we have a longer challenge, but equally vital, in establishing the strongest possible global health structure going forward. With the news of another Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea, there is clearly no time to waste. And our vision has to be bold. We must defeat COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. Addressing the recent outbreak of Ebola in Africa, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan spoke with the ambassadors from Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, and Liberia to convey the United States’ willingness to work closely with the governments of affected countries, and neighboring countries whose citizens would be at risk if the infection continues to spread.

Read CNBC report on February 16, 2021: White House says Ebola outbreaks in Africa need swift action to avoid ‘catastrophic consequences’

 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

 

Chinese ‘Debt Trap” is a Myth-Biden Would be Wise Not to Continue Trump’s Attacks on China in Africa 

China’s Belt and Road Initiative

February 17, 2021

This recent article, The Chinese ‘debt-trap’ is a myth, written by Deborah Brautigam, Director of the China-Africa Research Institute (CARI), provides definitive proof that China is not using so called debt-trap diplomacy to Africa’s seize assets. This false narrative, which is been disproved by Brautigam and CARI, time again, was used by the Trump administration to attack China in Africa as a key feature of its geo-political doctrine.

No African nation has been forced to relinquish it natural resources to China in response to late debt payments. No African asset has been seized by China. (See my earlier posts below). Misrepresentation of the case of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which this article refutes, has been used as propaganda to attack the China’s Belt and Road Initiative and malign China’s infrastructure projects in Africa,

China has been a valuable friend in assisting African nations in building vitally needed infrastructure projects. The African continent is suffering today from a massive deficit in infrastructure measured in trillions of dollars. Thus, all nations of good will can contribute to addressing the continent’s huge  infrastructure deficiency, which African nations would welcome. As I have insisted for decades, there is no way to eliminate poverty and bring peace to African nations without electricity, roads, railroads, water management, and port development.

Present Biden would be wise to move beyond Trump’s anti-China policy and initiate a new era of US-Africa policies premised on physical economic development, and join me in my mission to eliminate hunger and poverty in Africa.

Read my earlier posts on alleged debt-trap. Chinese ‘debt-trap’ Propaganda Exposed-Time to End Ignorance & Prejudice Against China in Africa;  No More Lies, No More Anti-China Propaganda: There is No China-Africa ‘Debt-trap’

 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

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

(courtesy bangkokpost.com

Horn of Africa Endangered by Untrue Media Attacks on Ethiopia

Lawrence Freeman

February 4, 2021

In January 2021, the world witnessed a barrage of attacks on Ethiopia aimed at undermining the efforts of Prime Minister Dr. Abiy Ahmed to preserve the sovereignty of the Ethiopian nation.  This is a dangerous gambit not only for the potential harm it can trigger for the people of Ethiopia, but also for the security of the Horn of Africa.  It is well known that Prime Minister Abiy launched the Prosperity Party (PP) in 2019 to create a non-ethnic centered political party to overcome the rise of ethno-nationalism. Unfortunately, ethnicity is embedded in Ethiopia’s 1995 Constitution. The PP challenged the decades long control over Ethiopia’s political institutions by the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), who then lashed out  against the government in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia has provided stability in an oftentimes volatile region, as well as economic leadership in East Africa. Neighboring Somalia, where Ethiopia forces have combatted Al Shabaab for many years, is in a precarious state following the removal of U.S. AFRICOM troops to its unsettled and  contentious presidential election. Somalia has also severed diplomatic relations with Kenya.

Additionally, unresolved, and sometimes quarrelsome talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia pertaining to the fill rate of Nile waters for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) are still ongoing.

War is Sometimes Necessary

The Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front committed sedition when they attacked the military base of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (NDF) stationed in Mekele, in the early hours of November 4, 2020. They killed NDF soldiers in their sleep and stole munitions for their militia. Prime Minister Abiy had no alternative but to launch a full scale military response to subdue the insurrection conducted by the leadership of the TPLF.

No one can argue that war is not horrible and deadly, and that it causes severe  collateral damage. People are displaced, economy is disrupted, and civilians suffer. No death of a single human being is insignificant because the human race is endowed by the Creator with noble creativity. However, to preserve the nation-state for more than one hundred million Ethiopians living today and for hundreds of millions more in the future, war, when absolutely necessary, must be waged. (Read: Ethiopia’s Conflict: A War Won to Preserve the Nation-State)

I am reminded of the famous Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania, and the enormous number of American deaths that occurred during the U.S. Civil War. An estimated 700,000 Americans died during this four yearlong brutal war, of which 50,000 were civilians. President Abraham Lincoln was unyielding in his commitment to save the Union, no matter the cost of human life. Lincoln possessed the inner directedness to maintain the Union as an indivisible whole, against the separatist rebels. Had he not, the U.S. would have been destroyed by slavery, and a slave economy; the world today would be entirely different-and for the worse.

Media Stokes Fears Regarding Tigray

Western media, led by the British, have use inflammatory stories to encourage the withholding of humanitarian aid from Ethiopia, at precisely the moment when it is needed most.

The Washington Post in its  January 27th editorial demands that the US and European Union “should withhold further aid until …government agrees to pursue peace talks,” after accusing Prime Minister Abiy of having “all the earmarks of Ethiopia’s previous dictators.”

More egregiously, is the headline in the January 23rd issue of the London Economist: After two months of war, Tigray faces starvation. In a blatant assault on Ethiopia and Prime Minister Abiy, the Economist accuses the government of  “war crimes” and quotes an unnamed western diplomat who says, “we could have a million dead there in a couple of months.”

Barely a week after the start of the war, with the TPLF insurrectionists still in control of Tigray, CNN printed an inflammatory headline: Mass Killings of civilians in Tigray region, says Amnesty International. CNN writing on the cruel massacre of 600 Ethiopians on the evening of November 9, in the town of Mai-Kadra, south-west Tigray, blatantly failed to report; that it was forces loyal to the TPLF, not the Ethiopian NDF, who committed this atrocity.

 

United Nations Deputy Secretary General meets with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (courtesy ethiopia.un.org

The Big Lie

The most often repeated allegation against the Ethiopian government, first reported by the Associated Press (AP) is; that there are 4.5 million Tigrayans in need of immediate lifesaving aid. Under the headline, ‘Extreme urgent need’: Starvation haunts Ethiopia’s Tigray, AP reports on January 17, “More than 4.5 million people, nearly the region’s entire population, need emergency food” according to an unnamed source. The article continues, “a [unnamed]Tigray administrator warned that without aid, ‘hundreds of thousands might starve to death’ and some already had, according to minutes obtained by The Associated Press.” Following the AP story, news outlets all over the world including on YouTube videos, recited the same narrative; 4.5 million Tigrayans were starving.

There is a second article in issue of the London Economist sighted above, in a section labelled Famine Crimes, with the headline, Ethiopia’s government appears to be wielding hunger as a weapon, with a subhead, A rebel region is being starved into submission. In this article, the Economist equates  Prime Minister Abiy with former Ethiopian Marxist dictator, Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose policies contributed to the death of one million Ethiopians during the drought from 1984-1985. They write:

“Things were supposed to be different under Abiy Ahmed, the Ethiopian prime minister who was hailed as a reformer when he took charge in 2018, and who won the Nobel peace prize the following year. Yet once again it looks as if hunger is being used as a weapon in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.”

The London based Guardian on January 24, printed an opinion column by Simon Tisdal, entitled, Ethiopia’s leader must answer for the high cost of hidden war in Tigray. He wrote:

“After humanitarian workers finally gained limited access this month, it was estimated that 4.5 million of Tigray’s 6 million people need emergency food aid. Hundreds of thousands are said to face starvation.”

BBC News published the following headline on February 1, Tigray crisis: ‘Genocidal war’ waged in Ethiopia region, says ex-leader, quoting Debretsion Gebremichael, who is leading the TPLF military campaign against Ethiopia.

 Truth or Propaganda?

The estimated population living in the Tigray region is probably from 5 to 5.5 million. Thus, according to the media, 4.5 million or 82-90% of the Tigrayan population need emergency assistance. These figures are too implausible to be considered accurate. UNICEF on November 19, 2020, asserted that there are 2.3 million children in the Tigray region in need of humanitarian assistance. If that were true, it would mean between 40-45% of the Tigrayan population are children, which is improbable.

These exaggerated hysterical claims are designed to inflame public opinion against the government of Ethiopia.

Representatives of the Ethiopian government report, that due to poor infrastructure and underdeveloped land there were 1.8 million Tigrayans in need of aid prior to the military outbreak. TPLF controlled Tigray during this period. As a result of this TPLF instigated conflict, an additional 700,000 are in need, for a total of 2.5 million. While this is an extremely large number of Ethiopians who require assistance, which should not be ignored, it is much less than 4.5 million.

Information provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which coordinates global emergency response, is closer to the figures offered by the Ethiopian government.  OCHA’s January 26, Tigray Region Humanitarian Update reports 950,000 people in need of aid prior to November 4, and projects 1.3 million more Tigrayans will need assistance resulting from the conflict, for a total of almost 2.3 million. In the same update, OCHA reports: “Movements of humanitarian cargo inside Tigray is improving substantially. Last week, four of the submitted cargo requests have been cleared to be dispatched.”

Clearly, living conditions on the ground for millions of Tigrayans is deplorable. Food, non-food, medical and related assistance is urgently needed to prevent further loss of life. However, there is no evidence of mass starvation, and no evidence that Prime Minister Abiy is using food as a weapon against the Tigrayan people.

President Biden’s Message to the 34th Summit of African Union. courtesy of Namibia Embassy na.usembassy.gov)

What the U.S. Should Do

President Biden has an opportunity to create a new U.S.-Africa policy, and contribute to the well-being of Ethiopia, and the Horn of Africa.

The Biden administration should support the sovereign obligation of the Ethiopian government to deploy its military in defense of the nation following the attack by the TPLF on the Ethiopia’s NDF in Mekele. This should extend to denouncing unfounded inciting accusations that the government is using food as a weapon against the Tigrayan people.

The U.S. should immediately utilize its unique military-logistical capability to deliver assistance to the Tigray region. This should include all Ethiopians and refugees who are suffering as a result of the TPLF’s reckless treasonous actions.

President Biden should immediately reverse Donald Trump’s awful decision to withhold $130 million in aid to Ethiopia. The failure to restore this aid at this critical juncture could result in increased suffering.

Contrary to Trump’s interference in the tripartite talks between Sudan, Egypt and Ethiopia, the U.S. should allow African nations in partnership with the African Union to resolve the remaining concerns regarding the operation of the GERD.

Most importantly, recognizing that the Tigray region, like other sections of Ethiopia are in need of vital categories of infrastructure, the U.S. should invest in the construction of roads, railroads, energy generation, and water management. A nation that provides it citizens with the physical goods and services essential for a rising standard of living is best equipped to mitigate ethnic tensions that often arise from economic marginalization. Let this crisis in Tigray become an opportunity to usher in a new paradigm of U.S.-Africa strategy by President Biden, who should be guided by the wise words of Pope Paul VI: development is the new name for peace.

 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