African Nations Must Proceed With Needed Industrialization

Image: proposed layout of the industrial park

October 28, 2023

My colleague, PD Lawton, presents a thorough report on the creation of an industrial park in South Africa that will benefit the entire region-(read below). This directed economic development coupled with a comprehensive trans-continental rail transportation network and accessible electricity will transform the African continent. This is the method to end poverty and hunger across Africa.

Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (MMSEZ) is a proposed industrial park in South Africa, designated with tax incentives as a special economic zone (SEZ). It is an initiative of the Limpopo Province provincial government and the flagship project of the SADC Industrialization Strategy in conjunction with  the African Union Agenda 2063. The aim is to promote industrialization through mineral beneficiation and value addition in agriculture and mineral resources. The manufacturing sector will produce processed metals such as steel, petro-chemicals and plastic production (processing of oil) as well as OEM`s (original equipment manufacturing) which is producing component parts for other industry sectors. Petro chemicals are needed to produce fertilizers. In 2022, South Africa imported US$1.51 billion worth of fertilizer. The security of food supply depends on synthetic fertilizer.

This economic hub is vital for a number of critically important reasons. It will serve as a catalyst for economic growth for the entire SADC region .Achieving of United Nations Sustainable Development Goals on poverty reduction cannot be achieved without African economies manufacturing on an industrial scale including in that processing of agricultural products and processing of mineral resources which is known as mineral beneficiation.”

The African Free Trade Agreement inaugurated in January 2021,remains theoretical without operational SEZs in every region and connected by modernized high tech integrated infrastructure as epitomized by the African Integrated High Speed Railway Network which has been designed to connect economic corridors across the continent  by high speed electrified railway.

Read the entire article.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

Freeman Tells Xinhua: U.S. Officials Lie About China’s Belt & Road Initiative-BRI In Africa

Chen Mingjian, Chinese ambassador to Tanzania, speaks at an international symposium to mark the 10th anniversary of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Aug 25, 2023.(PHOTO / XINHUA)

(BRF2023) Interview: BRI greatly contributes to Africa’s infrastructure development, says U.S. expert

Source: Xinhua, Editor: huaxia

October 24, 2023   

Staff members work on the fiberglass production line of Jushi Egypt in Suez, Egypt, June 26, 2023. (Xinhua/Wang Dongzhen)

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

by Xinhua writers Deng Xianlai and Xu Yuan

WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (Xinhua) — Lawrence Freeman, an American expert on Africa, said in a recent interview with Xinhua that the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has made important contributions to improving global political and economic relations since its inception a decade ago, especially on the African continent.

He believes that the severe shortage of electricity is the most intractable infrastructure problem facing Africa, which not only exacerbates poverty, but also “kills” Africans.

“This is not a metaphor,” Freeman said, because without electricity, industrial and agricultural production and basic infrastructure such as hospitals would be impossible. China is actively working with many African countries to address this issue, he added.

Belt and Road projects in Africa cover energy, ports, airports, roads, railways, schools and other aspects, Freeman said, and it is a proven fact that China’s involvement in Africa’s infrastructure construction and economic and social development “is right now irreplaceable.”

As an expert on Africa, Freeman has advised many governments in sub-Saharan Africa on economic development policies and has witnessed several Belt and Road projects on the continent.

“One economic minister in Africa once told me: ‘If you take China out of Africa, there is no substitute that would step in,'” he said.

For years, Freeman has been vehemently advocating for the African Union’s visionary Integrated High Speed Train Network, which is a flagship project of the AU’s “Africa 2063 Agenda” adopted in 2015 and, when finished, would connect African capitals and commercial centers. As such, Freeman is particularly impressed by the several high-standard railways China helped build on the African continent.

This photo taken on Aug. 21, 2023 shows the Karuma dam at Karuma Hydropower Plant in Kiryandongo, Uganda. (Photo by Hajarah Nalwadda/Xinhua)

In 2016, Freeman attended the ceremony marking the inauguration of the Addis Ababa-Djibouti electrified railway — an early harvest project of China-Africa production capacity cooperation — in Addis Ababa, capital city of Ethiopia. And his decades-long dream of taking a train in Africa was realized on a Chinese-built railroad in Nigeria.

“Of the 30 years I’ve been traveling to Africa, I finally got a ride on a railroad in 2021,” Freeman said, adding it was on the railway linking Abuja — the Nigerian capital — and Kaduna, a northern metropolis and a major transportation hub in the country.

“I’ve driven that route on a poorly paved road,” Freeman recalled. With the completion of the Abuja-Kaduna railway, “I could sit back on a train … It was comfortable, it was smooth … I enjoyed every second of it because I’ve been waiting for decades to take a train in Africa.”

Speaking of the groundless accusations and malicious attacks by some U.S. politicians on the Belt and Road Initiative, Freeman said claims that China conducts the so-called “debt trap diplomacy” have been repeatedly proven false by Western experts.

“China is not intervening into domestic affairs (of countries along the Belt and Road),” he said. “China lends money with no conditionality.”

“Yet we have ignorant people in the U.S. government, in the State Department, in the Congress who repeat this” (false rhetoric) about China’s Africa policy, Freeman said.

Some U.S. diplomats and members of Congress have repeatedly discredited China’s Africa policy, throwing out “unfounded or ignorant attacks on China” despite “having access to knowing better” what the reality is, he noted.

“They’re repeating something that is known to be untrue. So that is no longer ignorance. That’s deliberate disinformation,” Freeman said.■

Read Chinese translation

Read my earlier post: “Win-Win Cooperation” Is Our Goal for China-U.S. Relations

Also read: “BRI provides solid platform for global cooperation” chinadailyhk.com

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly believes that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog:  lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

The African Integrated High Speed Rail Network-(AIHSRN) Will Revolutionize Africa’s Economies

Click On Download to read the above ten page proposal prepared by Rowland Ataguba, July 2020

August 21, 2023

The African Union’s “Agenda 2063” includes plans for the African Integrated High Speed Rail Network (AIHSRN), a high speed rail line across Africa. However, their plan for completion is 40 years from now. Rowland Ataguba, a Nigerian expert in rail management, has proposed a different timetable, which includes two “Master Plans.” He proposes the completion of 35,828 kilometers (kms) of high-speed rail lines by 2033, and an additional  14,547 kms by 2043. (See above)

Why is Mr. Ataguba’s fast track schedule for this transformative rail project important for the African continent?

Why is Rail Infrastructure Crucial?  

As a physical economist I understand, as all policy experts and leaders should, the critical importance of hard infrastructure. Along with energy, rail transportation is essential for the growth of every economy. If properly implemented, this physical input into the economy will be transformative. African nations are suffering, and Africans are dying everyday due to the abysmal level of energy throughput in their economies. The paucity of kilometers of railroad track per square area of territory measured, is equally appalling. I can state with authority, that without a full scale, military type mobilization, to rapidly expand these two vital categories of infrastructure, African nations will not achieve industrialization. Without this infrastructure, unacceptable levels of extreme poverty, hardship, and unnecessary deaths will continue on the African continent, especially in sub-Sahara Africa.

Infrastructure, particularly high speed rail, increases the profitability of the entire economy. It advances the productive powers of society, yielding higher rates of production of physical wealth. In other words, all aspects of labor activity and farming involved in the production of tangible products will be upgraded as a result of the introduction of high speed rail. The African Continental Free Trade Area agreement will not succeed, and inter-African trade will remain absurdly low, unless all major African cities, ports, farming agricultural hubs and industrial centers, are connected by AIHSRN.

Rail transportation, like electricity and other forms of hard infrastructure, adds physical value to the economy. (Soft infrastructure contributes to economic growth differently). Thus, even if in the initial stages, railroads don’t yield a profit for that particular business venture, they will have a positive impact on the economy. Connecting production and agricultural markets with consumers through time saving more efficient means of transportation will lead to expansion of economic growth. Otherwise known as progress, which Africa, despite its abundant potential, has been denied.

Take note: China has lifted over 700 million of its people out of poverty on the back of the most expansive high speed rail network in the world,-over 40,000 kms. A similar feat can be accomplished in the African continent, which now has the largest number of people living in poverty.

Read my earlier posts:

Africa Continental Free Trade Area Must Have An Integrated High Speed Rail Network

The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. Mr. Freeman strongly beleives that economic development is an essential human right. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com.

Interview With Lawrence Freeman: Strategic Importance of Africa For The World

The Mel K Show, February 24, 2023

Watch my interview above.

March 10, 2023

In this interview, I explain the strategic importance of the African continent for the global economy in this century. I advocate for a complete reversal of U.S. policy or Africa. It is past time for the U.S. to stop complaining about China and correct our own foreign-economic policy toward the nations of Africa. What African nations need most is: long term, low interest loans for the financing of vital infrastructure projects. China and other nations are contributing to this type of development; the U.S. is not.

The U.S. has lost its commitment, its vision of helping the nations of the Global South, especially Africa, to develop. Instead, they give speeches on the need for their Western version of  democracy and good governance, when Africans die every day due to poverty, brought on by the lack of infrastructure. Africa is suffering from the lack of electricity, high-speed railroads, roads, hospitals, etc. The private sector is essential for economic development, but it will never finance the infrastructure required to build modern industrialized economies in Africa.

In my interview, I also discuss my visit to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and its significance for Africa. Ethiopia’s financing and building of the GERD, which will generate 5,150 megawatts of electricity for the Horn of Africa, can be a model for other nations.

The U.S. and the West have to move away from the insane geopolitical doctrine that views the world as a zero-sum game, which carries overtones of racism and colonialism for Africa. The true measure of the success of U.S. policies is: do they lead to an increase in the material standard of living for Africans.

The foolishness of U.S. and Western policies towards Africa is that they are shortsighted and economically thoughtless. With Africa projected to have one fourth of the world’s population by 2050, the largest number of youth, and the biggest potential workforce in the world, not to develop Africa nations is just plain stupid. The African continent can be the center of economic commerce or a breeding ground for coups and violent extremism. That future is being decided by what we do today.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Freeman Interview: ‘Fighting the Fight’ for Ethiopia, Africa, Justice, and Economic Development

Lawrence Freeman with Dr. Brook Hailu of nahoo tv, December 22, 2022, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

This hour long interview above provides an excellent overview of my thoughts concerning Ethiopia, Africa, and US-Africa relations. Topics discussed include:

  • Economic development
  • Ethiopia’s agricultural potential
  • Ethiopia as an economic model
  • Ethno-nationalism
  • Importance of capital intensity and infrastructure
  • Credit and the public sector
  • Alexander Hamilton
  • China’s approach to poverty
  • Railroads and electricity
  • My visit to Northern Ethiopia and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
  • Africa, the center of politics and commerce in this century
  • U.S.-Africa Summit

Lawrence Freeman looking over the huge beautiful reservoir and ongoing construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam -Dec 19, 2022

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

PM Abiy Ahmed Raises the Bar for Human Rights in Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa

Ethiopians celebrate Thanksgiving Festival in Addis. Image : IOL

My colleague, PD Lawton, creator of African Agenda-africanagenda.net, confirms in her insightful article below, what I have known for many years. The most important and fundamental human right, is the right to economic development. Without economic growth, human beings suffer and die. It is the lack of economic development in Africa that is the most serious human right violation. It is about time that all advocates of human rights recognize this indisputable reality. Through Ethiopia’s aggressive economic development policy, the government is addressing human rights more seriously than its attackers.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is a teacher, writer, public speaker, and consultant on Africa. He is also the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton

Africa’s ‘poverty trap’ more dangerous than so-called debt trap

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Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi attend the completion ceremony of the Chinese-built oil terminal at the port of Mombasa in Mombasa, Kenya, January 6, 2022. /Xinhua

Lawrence Freeman

CGTN, January 24, 2022

Editor’s note: Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst on Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. The article reflects the author’s opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In his visit to Kenya on January 6, 2022, China’s Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, emphasized China’s support for economic progress in Africa, and in particular, the Horn of Africa.

Wang was continuing China’s 32-year-old tradition of having their foreign minister begin each year with an overseas trip to Africa. In the first week of January, Wang met with officials in Eritrea, Kenya and Comoros. Both Eritrea and Kenya are located in East Africa, a region where Ethiopia, the second most populated nation in Africa, is engaged in a 14-month war to defeat an armed insurrection led by the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. Kenya, an important ally of China, is a key nation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and Maritime Silk Road.

Eliminating poverty

Wang, in his press conference, focused on the number one challenge facing Africa: poverty and the extremely low standard of living affecting the majority of its 1.4 billion people.

He polemically stated,”If there is any trap in Africa, it is the trap of poverty and the trap of backwardness,” which he counterposed to the so-called debt trap that he referred to as a “speech trap” created by the West. China speaks with authority, which has accomplished a modern day miracle in lifting over 750 million of its people out of extreme poverty and has pledged to help Africa do the same.

A woman fills up her water jerrycan in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, January 1, 2022. /VCG

China’s approach to the current challenges in the Horn of Africa is in stark contrast to that of the U.S. Instead of punishing Eastern African nations with sanctions and economic warfare, China is promoting peace and economic development. According to Wang, China will appoint a special envoy for the region, with the goal:

“To support the Horn of Africa in realizing lasting stability, peace and prosperity, China is willing to put forward the ‘Initiative of Peaceful Development in the Horn of Africa’ and support regional countries in addressing the triple challenges of security, development and governance.”

Emphasizing China’s infrastructure-led economic approach, Wang encouraged nations of the region to “accelerate regional revitalization to overcome development challenges,” adding that “the two principal axes, the Mombasa-Nairobi Railway, and the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway, should be enlarged and enhanced with the aim of expanding to neighboring countries at an opportune moment.”

Wang announced that China would provide an additional 10 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Kenya which follows President Xi Jinping’s November pledge at the Forum on China Africa Cooperation conference in Dakar, to make 1 billion doses available to Africa.

China’s policy guided by development

The dominant feature of China’s relation to Africa is development, contrary to the Western geopolitical propaganda against China. The infrastructure-driven BRI has made physical improvements in African economies through the construction of railways, roads, power generation capacity, ports and airports. There is not a single Western nation that even remotely compares to China’s level of investment in Africa.

As every African leader knows well, if China were to cease offering loans for infrastructure, there would be no Western nation to address the continent’s huge deficit in the field, and African nations would suffer terribly.

The U.S. has failed to modernize its own rail network and is incapable of building advanced transportation corridors in other countries, while China had constructed around 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail by the end of 2021.

Unlike U.S. officials who travel to African nations, Chinese representatives do not attach political conditionalities or arrogantly dictate what domestic policies must be adopted by their host countries. Instead, China is thoughtful by responding to the most critical and urgent needs of African nations. That is the elimination of poverty, which necessitates massive investments in hard and soft infrastructure.

Africa-s-poverty-trap-more-dangerous-than-so-called-debt-trap

Read my earlier posts:

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

China-Africa Debt Trap Refuted Again. Belt and Road Building Infrastructure-Developing Africa

A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “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. Mr. Freeman’s stated personal mission is; to eliminate poverty and hunger in Africa by applying the scientific economic principles of Alexander Hamilton.

African Nations Must Have High-Speed Rail Network to Survive and Develop

January 10, 2022

I fully endorse the call by the African Railway Roundtable for the Europe Union to support the African Integrated High-Speed Rail Network. Whether Europe’s Global Gateway Strategy will actually fund this critically important infrastructure project is not clear.

The massive infrastructure deficit existing in all African nations is the greatest impediment to the elimination of poverty. Next to energy, rail transportation is the most vital category of infrastructure necessary for African nations to survive and develop in the 21st century. That U.S. and Europe have not understood this concept of physical economy for the last 50 years demonstrates a major failure in Western policy. That so called human right groups and NGOs have not made this–energy and rail infrastructure–their highest priority in their advocacy is another sign of the ignorance of what is required for African nations to provide for the welfare of their people.

Let Europe and the U.S. join China’s Belt and Road Initiative in bringing vitally required infrastructure to Africa.

Read my earlier posts:

Africa Continental Free Trade Area Must Have An Integrated High Speed Rail Network

The Africa Integrated High-Speed Rail Network is Feasible and Will Create A Prosperous Future for All African Nations

Link to Europe World Global Gateway

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.

China’s Belt & Road is Helping Empower African Nations to Realize Their Economic Potential

November 15, 2021

Please watch my 45 minute presentation to the Special Session on Africa, at the ICG 16 in Qingdao, China, on October 25, 2021, entitled: “How China Is Empowering Africa’s Self Development.”

I discuss as a physical economist the critical importance of infrastructure in developing a progressive pro-growth economy. Expansion of vital categories of infrastructure, such as railroads and electricity is the most essential task for African nations today. I present in detail how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is assisting African nations in developing their economies. The West, dominated by the disease known as “geo-politics” is spreading false propaganda against China’s investment in Africa. I expose their their anti-China propaganda regarding so called “debt-trap” diplomacy. Viewing my presentation will prove valuable to those familiar and those unfamiliar with China’s cooperative relationship wit African nations.

Please watch: Africa-China: Belt and Road

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.

Realize the Vision of Diop and Nkrumah: Industrialize and Energize the African Continent

October 8, 2021

Watch my hour long presentation from October 3. I discussed that the future of our planet in this century will be dependent on the African continent with its projected population of 2.4 billion and 1 billion youth by the year 2050. Either we set in motion NOW policies to develop African nations and realize the potential of 1 billion young creative minds, or we fail to do so, which will lead to more misery, and instability. The whole world will suffer from insecurity on the the African continent.

Past African giants like Cheikh Anta Diop and President Kwame Nkrumah understood what was required to develop the nations of Africa: infrastructure, energy, industry, and science. Africa suffers from an deliberate policy of imposed economic under-development, which must be overcome, not only for the sake of Africa, but for the very future of our planet.

The United States has adopted an anti-development, geo-political ideology that opposes development in Africa. For example, why hasn’t the Biden administration praised Ethiopia for the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that will generate 6,200 megawatts of electricity for the Horn of Africa? I am sure that Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy would have supported Ethiopia’s drive for development, if they were alive today.

All this and more, including quotes from Diop and Nkrumah, is presented by myself in this video, which I believe will stimulate further discussion on the future of Africa.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in economic development policies for Africa for over 30 years. He is 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