Why the West Needs to Stop Complaining and Start Engaging China in Africa

This article makes the essential point that I have made for many years. If the US would collaborate with China and join the One Belt-One Road, great advances would be accomplished in the economic development of Africa.  (see emphasis at end of article)

China is here to stay, and Western and African countries alike should make the most of it.

Pippa Morgn, The Diplomat

March 20, 2018

Ethiopia is one of the world’s poorest states, with an annual per capita GDP of just $707. Yet Addis Ababa is awash with billboards for Chinese construction firms, and China’s presence is palpable all over the country. Is “neo-colonial” China “out for oil” yet again?

In Ethiopia, that explanation just doesn’t add up: the country has virtually no oil, gas, or other precious minerals.

Fortunately, while the media and politicians seem stuck on uninformed accusations of neo-colonialism, some Western investors are starting to make the most of China’s growing presence. In Ethiopia’s Hawassa Industrial Park, the crown jewel of its industrial policy, the largest jobs provider is PVH – the U.S. owner of major global brands such as Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Speedo. Eco-friendly Hawassa was built by a Chinese company, the state-owned China Civil Engineering Corporation (CCECC), in just nine months. And, of course, PVH and other global investors could not run their businesses –and create thousands of coveted manufacturing jobs – without the railways, roads, and power stations that China is constructing all over Ethiopia.

There are also encouraging signs at the local level that, instead of pointing fingers at each other, China and the West can work together to deliver development aid. While the majority of Chinese funds go to hard infrastructure, traditional Western donors prefer social “soft” sectors. This makes them complements, not rivals. Ethiopia is eager for roads and railways, but it also   needs a better-trained, healthier workforce. Take Ethiopia’s new railway academy, designed to educate a fresh, local generation of engineers and workers: China is funding and building the school’s physical infrastructure, while the World Bank and European institutions are helping with curriculum development and business planning.

Turning “Made in China” to “Made in “Ethiopia”

History shows that (without massive oil reserves) industrialization – working up from cheap, lightly manufactured products to technically sophisticated products – is the only way to develop quickly. Factories offer an escape from unproductive and grueling subsistence farming into modern jobs with regular wages. Japan, South Korea, and later China all owe their economic success to this model, and Ethiopia’s government hopes to turn “made in China” to “made in Ethiopia.”

But industrialization needs more than cheap labor (which Ethiopia has in abundance) and the good governance that Western donors strive to instill. Investors desperately need roads, electricity, water, and the internet. With traditional Western partners either unwilling or unable to fund these at scale, and low tax revenues due to the country’s poverty, how else can the Ethiopian government build the basic infrastructure that we take for granted in the developed world? Without Chinese help, Western money for training and other “soft” sectors is sinking money into a black hole, and Ethiopia risks being “too poor to develop” –condemned to survive on subsistence agriculture and international handouts.

Ethiopian officials stress that they take the lead in dealing with China. They lament that Western aid (although well intentioned) is frankly “not enough.” Ethiopia, which has ambitious plans to escape poverty and become a middle-income country by 2025, does not have time to waste.

What’s in it for Beijing?

But is China a trustworthy partner? Beijing claims its aims are “win-win” rather than “neocolonial,” but what is China’s “win”? Like the United States after World War II, China seems to realize that providing global public goods is in its own interests. In Ethiopia, an important African hub for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China secures important diplomatic gains and lucrative business opportunities…

Chinese business interests are also at play. Official loans are tied to the use of Chinese contractors, creating lucrative revenue streams. Fresh from “building China” over the past 40 years, Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are experts in cheap, fast infrastructure. They’re also eager for new opportunities as domestic growth slows. For example, the multi-billion dollar Addis-Djibouti railway was built by the state-owned China Railway Group and China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, who later won a multiyear contract to operate the new line.

Why Engagement Not Estrangement is the Key

So is this really “win-win” for everyone? On the one hand, the commercial rates of many Chinese loans make debt sustainability a huge concern. To pay back what it owes, and eventually stand on its own feet, Ethiopia is in serious need of more tax revenue. So, if it fails to grow as quickly as hoped, Western warnings of a mountain of unsustainable debt may prove right. Ethiopia could end up like 1980s Latin America, where countries spiraled into crisis when they could no longer pay their foreign debts.

But, while there’s some dispute over the numbers (IMF estimates are slightly lower than the official figures), Ethiopia’s economy is widely agreed to have been growing at around 10 percent for the past decade – a phenomenal achievement. Given the extraordinarily low starting base, it’s unlikely to slow down soon. Businesses in Ethiopia’s industrial zones cite the continually improving infrastructure as one of the country’s main draws, and both Chinese and international firms plan to expand in future. For Ethiopia’s booming young population, this means yet more coveted industrial jobs…

How much more might be achieved if Beijing and the West proactively worked together across the whole African continent?  Much of the media and political discourse seems unable to accept that China’s role is equaling – or even surpassing – that of the West.,,

Read entire article in The Diplomat

Pres. Trump: Don’t Lose Sudan

Sahalian-Sahara Railroad From Port Sudan Will Transform Sudan & Africa

On October 12, 2017 the Trump administration announced the partial lifting of sanctions against the nation of Sudan to allow the government and people of Sudan to participate in the international banking system to promote trade and economic growth. Over the last twenty years since these financial, trade, and banking sanctions were imposed, Sudan has economically suffered. President’s Trump’s executive order easing restrictions on Sudan created a new mood of optimism, with the State Department indicating that this would be the beginning of new relations with Sudan. The State Department publicly mooted that this could be the first step to removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism in the future. However, after almost four months, the U.S. government has not facilitated the transfer of money for Sudan, which is contributing to the nation’s economic strife today.

Sudan Opens a Second Front

The failure by the U.S. to implement fully the easing sanction is the result of a conflict between President Trump’s agenda and dissident factions in the State Department, supported by many in the Congress, who are incapable of relinquishing their fanatical desire to have Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir removed from office.  These contradictions became obvious when Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan visited Khartoum on November 16, 2017, and conspicuously avoided meeting with President Bashir, using the excuse that the president of Sudan has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC). Even though the U.S. is not a member of the ICC, it is well known that previous administrations supported efforts to have President Bashir removed from office. The zealots of this international alliance for regime change, who have been behind this nefarious campaign for decades, reject even tentative overtures by President Trump to chart a new course for U.S.-Sudan relations. There are unconfirmed reports that the U.S. State Department, not the executive branch, is demanding the removal of President Bashir as a precondition for further progress in U.S.-Sudan relations including removing Sudan from the list of states sponsoring terrorism.

One week following the diplomatic snub by Sullivan, the most senior State Department official to visit Khartoum, President Bashir shocked everyone in Washington, and many in Khartoum, when he visited Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on November 23.  This surprise move was not expected by Washington. Reflecting the sentiments of most Sudanese, especially in the ruling National Congress Party, that the U.S. once again was not acting in good faith, President Bashir made his very first visit to Russia. Fearing that the goalposts have been moved again, as they have been repeatedly, and that the regime-change faction is still desirous of his removal, President Bashir asked Russia for protection from aggressive acts by the U.S. Sudan’s Rapprochement With Russia

The two presidents discussed increased economic and military cooperation, including the possibility of Russia securing a military base on the Red Sea that forms the eastern border of Sudan. According to knowledgeable sources, President Bashir will continue to look forward to improved cooperation with the U.S. and the West, but simultaneously pursue a closer alliance with Russia.  President Bashir believes Russia’s veto on the United Nations Security Council, along with its military capability as demonstrated in Syria, will provide a bulwark against any future reckless policy against Sudan by the West.

U.S. Needs Sudan

For Sudan, there is no turning back from their “dual-front” policy with the world’s two superpowers, but it didn’t have to come to this. The failure to fully implement the easing of trade/financial sanctions after years of refusal by the U.S. to talk face-to-face with President Bashir, accompanied by the severe economic hardships suffered by the Sudanese people from U.S.-led sanctions, contributed to President Bashir’s first overture to Russia.

Sudan is strategically situated in East Africa in the Nile River system that connects sub-Saharan Africa to North Arica. Moreover, Sudan has for years been a valuable ally in the war against ISIS, providing useful intelligence to U.S. security forces. Also, it must be unequivocally stated, that there will be no solution to the crisis in South Sudan that the U.S. and Britain have contributed to, without the direct participation of the President of Sudan. Susan Rice, in charge of African policy in the second term of Bill Clinton’s Presidency is personally culpable for the horrific conditions in South Sudan today.  She and other so-called liberals hated Sudan’s leadership, and were fierce advocates for the creation of South Sudan. Their intention was to use South Sudan as part of their arsenal for regime change, without the slightest concern for the welfare of the people of South Sudan.

Sudan is a nation rich in mineral resources, and has large tracts of arable land, not yet under cultivation.  It has been known for decades, long before the creation of South Sudan in 2011, that Sudan had the potential to feed a billion people, about the size of sub-Saharan Africa’s population today. It should be recognized (if not admitted) that successive U.S. administrations have strategically failed in their policy towards Sudan, lacking a vision of how to participate with African nations to develop their huge wealth in land and in its people.

Africa needs huge investments in infrastructure to realize its potential in agriculture, industry, and manufacturing. Instead of the West fixating on extractive industries, i.e., gas, oil, and minerals, which have a minimal role in job creation, their focus should have been on railroads and energy. When the South-North and East-West railroads are finally built, their nexus will be in central Sudan. Trains carrying freight and people will be able to travel from Port Sudan on the Red Sea into West and Southern Africa, thus ensuring that Sudan will become a mega manufacturing-agricultural-transportation hub for the continent.

The Way Forward

There is a relatively easy path for President Trump to follow, to engage Sudan fruitfully. Port Sudan is already included on China’s Maritime Silk Road. China’s involvement in building infrastructure throughout the African continent is unparalleled. Were President Trump to join with China’s New Silk Road for Africa in vital infrastructure to Sudan, the U.S. would form new partnerships with Sudan and other African nations.

President Bashir demonstrated his ability to negotiate and compromise when he signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 with President George W. Bush to allow an independence referendum in South Sudan. This resulted in the peaceful separation of Sudan seven years ago, with Khartoum voluntarily giving up 75% of its oil production.  With this historical perspective in mind, President Trump can put U.S.-Sudan relations on a positive course by arranging for direct, if informal, talks with President Bashir, and carrying through on the easing of sanctions pertaining to trade, finance, and banking.  These actions will be well received in Khartoum and reciprocated.

Lawrence Freeman has been visiting and writing about Sudan for over 20 years, discussing economic development and US-Sudan relations with members of parliament, the NCP, and leaders of opposition parties.

 

 

 

 

 

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Africa Is  Natural Partner of China in Maritime Silk Road

Jan. 29, 2018–“The African continent was part of the ancient maritime Silk Road and now is in a good position to be China’s natural partner,” said He Wenping, Director of Africa Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, portraying the Belt and Road (BRI) activities in Africa, on the sidelines of the just-concluded African Union Summit.

In South Africa alone, there are more than 300 Chinese enterprises, half of which are major and medium-sized businesses, investing $13 billion in electronics, automobiles, financial information network infrastructure, and construction engineering, said a report compiled by the South Africa-China Economic and Trade Association in 2016.

Despite fears, frustrations, and challenges from unexpected hardships, misunderstandings, and cultural conflicts, China is accelerating the advancement of its all-around cooperation with Africa, He Wenping continued. It is expected to set a good example of deepening regional cooperation for the so-far reluctant Western countries. “BRI deserves to be a platform for the overall exchange and intensified cooperation between China and the world,” she urged.

Germans Invited To Invest in Zambian Infrastructure

Jan. 29, 2018–During an encounter with Stefan Liebing, the chairman of the German Africa Association, in Berlin on Jan. 17, Zambia’s Ambassador Anthony Mukwita presented a document titled “Zambia’s Investment Project,” which had been prepared by the embassy.

“This document contains areas that are ripe for investment in Zambia which you must share with your membership in Germany,” said Mukwita to Liebing.

The areas of possible investment he presented include: construction, agriculture, energy, transport, and tourism, to mention but a few. The Zambian diplomat urged German business to take full advantage of Zambia’s invitation: “Our President H.E. Edgar Lungu is keen to see a reduction in poverty and rise in GDP via foreign direct investment; our peace, stability and predictability, including ease of doing business, continues being a great ingredient of attracting business.” Liebing expressed confidence of stepping up business with Zambia.

German-Zambian contacts were continued at a meeting with leading officials of the Canadian Bombardier rail-tech firm on Jan. 27.  Bombardier Head of Rail for Africa Christian Bengtsson told Mukwita that a functioning railway grid is required for transportation of goods and services in order to enhance economic growth in Zambia. A memorandum of understanding was already signed in 2016, but not much has happened since, because no financing has been made available by the German government or private banks. The Zambian project would be crucial for Bombardier, which, for lack of new contracts in Germany, has been considering reducing its workforce in Germany from 8,000 to 6,000, also by selling the railcar-producing unit in Görlitz.

Bombardier, whose transportation headquarters is in Germany, has carried out feasibility studies on Zambia Railway’s 900-km network, half of which needs to be refurbished. Once the railway is replaced and railcars are purchased, the company is expected to create 5,000 jobs and increase its cargo transportation (mostly iron ore and other minerals) from the current 700,000 tons to about 5 million tons annually, and eventually 8 million tons.

China’s Belt Road at Davos World Economic Forum

Jan. 28, 2018–Under the above headline, the {New York Times} journalist Keith Bradsher bemoans the fact that, like it or not, it was China’s New Silk Road that dominated the Davos World Economic Forum, not the efforts by many to demean the Belt and Road Initiative as merely China’s effort to “spread its influence” and to “bury the recipients in debt and cause considerable environmental damage.”

Under a picture of a smiling Liu He, Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor who gave China’s keynote speech at the Forum, Bradsher acknowledges that that Liu He’s presentation was “one of the best-attended speeches,” and that throughout the Forum, the Belt and Road was the leading subject of discussion.

“At one end of town, President Michel Temer of Brazil welcomed an unexpected offer from Beijing for Latin American nations to work closely with a Chinese initiative,” writes Bradsher. “At the other end of town…, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi used his talk to praise the rapidly expanding Chinese investments in his country, including to build power stations and a large port…. National leaders seemed to vie with one another in Davos in calling for closer cooperation with China.”

“The China One Belt, One Road is going to be the new WTO — like it or not,” Joe Kaeser, the chief executive of Siemens, told the {Times}.

But China’s actions were not limited to Davos, Bradsher notes. “On Friday, the Chinese government used a policy document issued in Beijing to call for a Polar Silk Road that would link China to Europe and the Atlantic via a shipping route past the melting Arctic ice cap…. At a summit meeting for Latin American and Caribbean foreign ministers in Santiago, Chile, Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China called for close cooperation and participation by the regions countries.”

Belt and Road ‘Heatedly Discussed’ in Davos; ‘China Is Committed to Providing Solutions to World Problems’

Jan. 27, 2018– As reported in the Chinese Foreign Ministry website, a journalist asked spokeswoman Hua Chunying about China’s role in building a common future for the world which they characterized as s “heatedly discussed” in Davos. “Considering that the theme of this annual meeting is ‘Creating a shared Future in a Fractured World,’ what do you think of China’s role in promoting common development and building a common future for the world as the second largest economy?”

Hua Chunying answered by recalling that “the international community still remembers President Xi Jinping’s keynote speech at the WEF annual meeting last year. President Xi evaluated the world economy and came up with his prescription, gave an in-depth analysis of global pressing problems and put forward major proposals to promote the re-balancing of economic globalization, which still has broad and far-reaching influence in the international community.

“China’s contribution to the development of the world is embodied in many aspects. China’s economic growth has injected a strong impetus into the world economy. In 2017 alone, China’s foreign investment reached $120 billion and it imported goods worth 12.46 trillion yuan, which provided a vast market and ample investment and development opportunities for all countries. It is safe to say that  China is the stabilizer and engine of the world economic growth.

“China provides popular public goods for international cooperation. China’s Belt and Road Initiative is one of the most popular international public goods for today’s world, pointing out new directions for improving global governance and providing a new model for international cooperation. The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation hosted by China last year [in May 2017] has produced more than 270 fruitful outcomes.

“China is committed to providing solutions to the world’s problems. We have been attaching great importance to implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, actively responding to the challenge of climate change and making remarkable progress in pollution prevention and treatment. Last year, 10 million people in China were lifted out of poverty. By taking these concrete actions, China has made tangible contributions to meeting global challenges and realizing common development.

“At present, China’s economy has shifted from a phase of rapid growth to a period of high-quality development. We believe this will surely provide more and more positive energy to the common development of the world and the building of a common future,” she said

China Is Working on “the post-high-speed rail age;” Has In-Depth Development Program for Maglev Trains

Jan. 27, 2018–An entire generation of medium- to low speed maglev trains that can run at a maximum speed of 160 kmh, is being developed in China, with plans to operate 5 to 12 magnetic levitation rail lines in cities including Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou by 2020. Altogether 12 Chinese cities, including Tianjin, Hangzhou and Shenzhen, are planning to launch maglev services by 2020, especially between their city center and airports, the city and suburban areas, and the city and surrounding counties.

Sun Bangcheng, deputy director of CRRC Industrial Research Institute, explained that this project is one of 18 national key research and development plans set by the Ministry of Science and Technology in 2016, researching both high-speed passenger and freight trains. The project will be completed by 2021 at a total investment of over 9 billion yuan ($580 million). The project includes six types of trains — three for freight, one high-speed passenger train, and two types of maglev trains. Freight trains with speeds of 250 kmh can transport seafood from Haikou in South China’s Hainan Province to Beijing in north China in one day, according to a project officer at CRRC.

Research into maglev includes a train that can reach 600 kmh and another that travels at 200 kmh. Research is to prepare for “the post-high-speed rail age” in technology, said Sun. The cost of a 600 kmh maglev train is almost the same as a 400 kmh version. The first Chinese-made high-speed maglev train will roll off the operation line in 2018, the report said. Design and construction will begin immediately. A sample carriage will be built in 2018, and a complete train will be ready for a 5-km test run in 2020, said Ding Sansan, deputy chief engineer of CRRC Qingdao Sifang Co.

Chinese Economic Policy Came Out of Study of Great Depression, 2008 Crisis

Jan. 27, 2018– Chinese economist, Liu He, in 2013, in his position as Deputy Director of the Development Research Center of the State Council conducted a comparative study of the 1930s Great Depression and the 2008 crisis. In a report on their conclusions he wrote: “After the outbreak of the crisis, we have been pondering over the possible period of the crisis, its possible international influence and our countermeasures. Since the Industrial Revolution, the crisis of the capitalist world has been frequent. In the 20th century, The Great Depression and the current international financial crisis were the two most widespread and devastating ones. Starting in 2010, we started to carry out a comparative study of the Great Depression of the 1930s and this international financial crisis. Except for Central Government In addition to co-workers, researchers from People’s Bank of China, China Banking Regulatory Commission, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, National Research Center and Peking University were also invited to participate.”

The following three conclusions were listed as the principle results of the report.

First, grasp the major changes in the connotation of the period of strategic opportunities in our country and seek the maximum intersection of China’s interests and global interests. The conclusions of the comparative study can tell us that the connotation of the strategic period in which we are located has undergone significant changes. In the economic sense, before the crisis, China’s strategic  opportunities mainly represented the expansion of overseas markets and the inflow of international capital. China seized the opportunity to become a global manufacturing center in one fell swoop. After the crisis, the world has entered a long process of insufficient aggregate demand and de-leveraging. Our strategic opportunities are mainly manifested in the tremendous stimulating effect of the domestic market on the global economic recovery and the opportunities and foundations of technology mergers and acquisitions in developed countries, their facilities and investment opportunities. We should firmly grasp these substantive changes, conscientiously analyze the enormous intersection of interests that have emerged with the new historical conditions in our country and the major economies, and clearly propose a solution to the global dilemma of growth. We will steadily implement the plan when the external conditions are clear.

Second, we should avoid moving to an over-indebted economy and attach importance to regulating and controlling financial fluctuations. We must uphold the essential requirements of

financial services for the real economy. The departure of the U.S. financial industry from its core service function has become the perpetrator of the global financial crisis. This is related to the abandonment of the traditional value of the industry by the U.S. financial industry and excessive pursuit of wealth and innovation. The good performance of the German economy in this crisis is closely related to Germany’s conservative financial tradition and the fact that the financial industry can operate soundly. Various effective measures should be taken to both improve the business environment of the real economy, consolidate the foundation for the development of the real economy,  and to curb capital from empty money-making-money schemes so as to prevent excess self-circulation and inflation in the fictitious economy.

Thirdly, in the process of establishing a new global economic governance structure, the active participants should become  leading policy shapers. Against the backdrop of accelerating changes in global power and the drastic changes in the global economic governance structure and in finding a new equilibrium, China should play a similar role to the United States in taking the initiative in shaping an international new system as a “creditor country” after World War II, China’s overall national strength and rising international competitiveness are favorable conditions for accurately judging the reality and trend of the international situation, clearly defining the interests of our country, breaking through existing institutional frameworks set by Western countries to reflect and convey the interests of our country Unanimously and with the Chinese characteristics on the global economic and financial governance and major international issues of the core ideas and propositions, set the “China agenda”, the introduction of “China program” to strengthen international personnel training and accelerate the institutionalization of China’s international rights and eventually secure the future.

Learning About Africa: How History Effects the Present

Here is the announcement for my newest college course on Africa. Also listed is the course outline a class I am currently teaching; “Africa:The Sleeping Giant.”  I will be preparing a third course on “The Effects of British Colonialism on Africa” in the near future.  These courses are 15 hours long, taught over 7-10 weeks in Maryland. 

“Eight Nations Vital to the Development of Sub-Sahara Africa”

By Lawrence Freeman

The African continent encompasses 54 nations and is more than three times the size of the United States. The northern portion of the continent is dominated by the Sahara Desert, equal in area to that of United States. It is the driest, hottest place on earth, relatively barren, and thinly populated. The African nations below this vast desert are designated as “Sub-Saharan Africa” where approximately one billion live, and is expected to double in population by 2050.

All but two of the 48 nations of Sub-Sahara Africa suffered the brutalities of colonialism following centuries of slavery. As a result, Sub-Sahara Africa is the poorest and most underdeveloped region in the world. Unfortunately, following their liberation from colonialism beginning in 1956, these nations did not achieve economic sovereignty. However, now, for the first time since colonial powers occupied Africa, there are signs of progress with the building of new railroads, expanded ports, roads, and new hydro-electric power projects. This has created the potential to transform the continent.

This course will focus on eight Sub-Saharan nations; each unique in their history, development, and their contribution to the growth of Africa. Their combined population of 550 million comprise almost 30% of the land area of Africa.

Join us in examining the following nations from their birth to the present day: Ghana, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Over three decades, I have studied the history and developed an in-depth knowledge of Africa as a researcher, analyst, writer, and consultant. Sadly, most Americans know little about Africa, due to a limited number educational courses, and a reliance on the media. I hope to increase your understanding by sharing my accumulated knowledge with you.

 

 

“Africa The Sleeping Giant” Course Outline:

1-Discovering the Africa Continent

2-Africa: Home to Mankind

3-Man Is Not a Monkey

4-The Great Bantu Migration

5-Early Civilizations

6-Europe Discovers Africa

7-Slavery Rips the Soul of the Continent

8-Colonialism, Exploitation, and Genocide

9-Economic Sovereignty and the Nation State

10-Africa’s Future is Development

 

 

 

President Trump’s Fundamentally Flawed Africa Policy

By Lawrence Freeman,

January 4, 2018

After nearly a year in office, the outline of President Donald Trump’s policy for Africa has emerged as fundamentally and seriously flawed. In a similar manner to his predecessors, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, Trump’s African strategy suffers from a conceptual deficiency in its failure to recognize that the most fundamental human right is the right to life. Every human being is morally entitled to live a healthy, productive, meaningful life with the hope that the future will be an improvement over the present.  If one examines the outlines of policy by President Trump and the State Department, such a guiding and indispensable principle is conspicuously absent. For Africa, where the largest number of people endure the greatest hardships of life of any continent, the absence of a full-throttled U.S. commitment to eliminate poverty and hunger as an essential feature of a strategic policy, is damning, and must be remedied.

To ensure a prosperous future for what will be the most populated continent on the planet in 2050, by which time the population is expected to double, from 1.2 billion to 2.4 billion people, President Trump should emulate China’s infrastructure-led development program.

The Trump administration is expected to reduce State Department and USAID-funded programs, among others, beneficial to Africa. Not to overlook the potential harmful effects of these cuts, there is a more fundamental shortcoming to Trump’s policy. Like his recent predecessors, he is ignorant of, or ideologically blind, to understanding what is required to accelerate economic growth across the African continent. Africa needs, infrastructure, infrastructure, and more infrastructure, particularly in the vital categories of energy, rail, roads, and water management. Trump has been especially eager to support increased military deployments and kinetic warfare against violent extremists in Somalia, the Sahel, and northeast Nigeria. However, any competent and honest military leader knows an effective counter-terrorism effort must include economic development. If the Sahel, were not a barren, underdeveloped desert, the various terrorist militia would not be able so easily to occupy this region for their base of operations.

Security and Free Trade: Inadequate for Africa

The African continent has the greatest deficit in all categories of infrastructure on the planet. Thus, not surprisingly, Africa has the largest number of people living in poverty; living without the basic necessities of life.  According to a 2016 World Bank report on poverty, Sub-Saharan Africa has the largest percentage of people, 41%, living in extreme poverty. That translates into the largest number of poor at 389 million, just over 50% of 767 million worldwide living below the poverty line of $1.90 per person per day. Yet despite all the hype about Africa’s “rising lions,” referring to African nations with high growth rates of GDP, the number of people living in poverty is Sub-Saharan Africa is increasing.

Look at one critical area: access to energy which is the lifeblood of an economy. Abundant grid energy, accessible to all sectors of society, can transform an entire nation and lift its population out of poverty. Conversely, the lack of energy kills. According to “Energy Access Outlook 2017,” of the 674 million people, globally, expected to be without access electricity in 2030, over 600 million, or 90%, will live in Sub-Saharan Africa. For the developing sector nations in Asia and Latin America, the percentage of the population expected to have access to electricity by 2030 is 99% and 95% respectively, while for Sub-Saharan Africa, it expected to be 50% or less.  In Sub-Saharan Africa, the number of those without electricity is increasing, unlike like all other populations in the world. Africa requires a minimum of 1,600 gigawatts of electrical power to have same the standard of living as advanced nations.

In a related classification, cooking energy, the picture is also abysmal. Almost 80% of the people living in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have gas or electric stoves; instead they cook with solid biomass, i.e., solid waste, animal dung, wood, saw dust, wood chips, etc. This is not only destructive to the environment, but to human labor as well. I have witnessed, on numerous occasions in my travels throughout Nigeria, young girls collecting firewood and then carrying it on their heads for sale in the market. In Mali, young men are destroying trees to be used in the primitive method of charcoaling, aiding the expansion of the desert.

President Trump’s Africa policy of security/counter-terrorism first, followed by trade and investment, fails to address Africa’s underlying depressed conditions of life which allow violent groups to easily recruit. People who can’t feed their families or provide the minimal necessities of life, and see no hope in the future, are led to violence out of manipulation and despair. Trade and investment, as proposed by the Trump administration, are not the solution.

Africa suffered greatly from 500 years of slavery and colonialism, 1450-1960. Following the initial success of the independence movements, the financial predators moved in to loot the continent’s vast wealth in natural resources. Extractive industries provide revenue, but they do not add/create wealth or generate a significant number of jobs. Africa doesn’t need more investors intent on making profits under the guise of applying the distorted “laws” of free trade and the marketplace. African nations require real economic growth that creates added value, increases the total wealth of society, and provides productive jobs to the restless masses of unemployed youth.

In 2014, Africa’s share of value added in global manufacturing is reported to be a pitiful 1.6%.  This sorrowful state of economy can and must be reversed. The manufacturing process is vital for every healthy economy. It adds wealth by transforming natural resources into finished and semi-finished products to be either consumed domestically or exported. This requires technologically advanced capital equipment, and skilled labor, all embedded within an integrated platform of infrastructure. State-directed credit and long-term, low-interest loans invested into critical areas of the economy, such as infrastructure, are indispensable for the growth of a manufacturing sector. Witness previous successful periods of economic growth in the U.S. (and in China today); these were accomplished through public credit, not hedge fund speculators and Wall Street day traders.

The most valuable natural resource of Africa, is not its mineral wealth, which is the target of the financial and mining/commodity predators. Rather, its greatest natural resource is its immense quantities of arable, yet to be cultivated land, along with the abundant water sources in its numerous lakes and river systems.  Africa is capable of feeding its people and eliminating hunger. It can also potentially help feed Asia, if properly developed with a manufacturing sector, and food-processing industries, coupled with a massive expansion of infrastructure.

What Does China Know About Africa That the U.S. Doesn’t

Over the last thirty-five years, China has lifted over one-half billion of its citizens out of poverty. This has been accomplished by massive state-directed investment into essential categories of infrastructure, along with its deep commitment to advance its economy through attaining new levels of science and technology. Both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang have publicly stated their desire to help African nations eliminate poverty. This universal mission by the leadership of China, expressed concretely in the “Spirit of the New Silk Road,” has led to a revolution in joint infrastructure projects in Africa. New railroads are being built across the continent, replacing colonial locomotives and tracks built over one hundred years ago. On the East Coast, an entry zone for the Maritime Silk Road, new and expanded ports, with connecting rail lines vectored westward into the interior of the continent, are creating the potential for a fundamental transformation of the economies of several African nations including; Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and Djibouti.

The “ChinaPower Project” reports that between 2000 and 2014, China funded 2,390 projects across Africa totaling $121.6 billion, just over one-third of China’s total global financing. In Africa, 32% of the financing went for transportation projects and 28.5% for energy.

“Dance of the lions and dragons” a study completed by McKinsey & Company in 2017, analyzed privately owned Chinese companies operating in Africa. They estimated that there are 10,000 such private Chinese businesses that have committed $21 billion to infrastructure, which is more than combined total of the African Development Bank, European Commission, World Bank, International Finance Corporation, and the G-8 nations. And 31% of these companies are involved in manufacturing which accounts for 12% of Africa’s industrial production—valued at $500 billion.

Conclusion

The U.S., along with the other Western powers, virtually abandoned the nations of Africa as soon as they had overthrown their colonial masters. President John F. Kennedy stands out among U.S. presidents, following the death of Franklin Roosevelt, as a champion for the newborn African nations. His collaboration with Ghanaian President Kwame Nkrumah in the early 1960s to construct the Volta Dam Hydro-electric Aluminum Smelting Complex is a singular moment in U.S.-Africa relations over the last six decades.  America lost its vision for development, resulting in its refusal to build the power plants, dams, railroads, and ports that Arica needs. China has made a commitment to Africa and now is contributing to the most expansive building of new infrastructure the continent has ever seen.

President Trump’s recently released National Security Strategy (NSS) is totally hypocritical: it attacks China for becoming Africa’s largest partner, and accuses China of undermining “Africa’s long-term development.” Trump’s NSS expresses the same old British geopolitical mentality of winners and losers competing in a zero-sum war for global hegemony.

Throughout my travels in Africa, I have found expressions of affection for America and its ideals; even among those nations that the U.S. has abused. That positive attitude is beginning to wane. However, it is not too late for the U.S. to chart a new course, one of cooperation with China and Africa to transform the continent.  Saving Lake Chad from extinction and transforming the Lake Chad Basin, is an urgent task for such a tripartite cooperation.

 

 

PIDA Conference: Six Economic Corridors in SADC

African Infrastructure Discussed at Pan-African Conference in Namibia–Six Corridors Highlighted

Dec. 26—The 2017 Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week took place in Swakopmund, Namibia on Dec. 10-14. Countries throughout Africa and especially member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) showcased major development projects to promote regional integration.

According to an article by the SADC news agency, the six infrastructure corridor projects showcased during the event included:

1) The Batoka Gorge Hydropower Plant

2) The Zambia-Tanzania-Kenya (ZTK) Power Interconnector

3) The Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge

4) The Central Corridor in the United Republic of Tanzania

5) The Ethiopia-Sudan Power Interconnector being sponsored

by the East African Community (EAC)

6) The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor sponsored by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

The Batoka Gorge hydropower station which entails the construction of an 181 meter gravity dam and the installation of eight 200MW units with the power shared equally between the Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 1,600 MW of electricity the project will produce will be enough to ease shortages in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Since the two countries are connected to the Southern  African Power Pool (SAPP), which coordinates the management of electricity in the region, the proposed power station will also benefit member states of SADC, with the exception of Angola, Malawi, and Tanzania.

The ZTK interconnector entails a high-voltage power transmission line connecting Zambia, United Republic of Tanzania and Kenya. Once completed it will create a link between SAPP and the East African Power Pool (EAPP), making it possible to transmit power from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo, in Egypt.

The 2,206 km interconnector will have a capacity of 400MW. It is a Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)-SADC-EAC Tripartite Priority project as well as a New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) project under the PIDA program and the Africa Power Vision, and has been endorsed by the African Union (AU) heads of state and government.

The proposed Kinshasa-Brazzaville Road and Railway Bridge will be a railroad bridge across the Congo River to link Kinshasa and Brazzaville, the capitals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (D.R.C.) and Republic of Congo, respectively. It also will involve the construction of a 1,000 km railway to connect the cities of Kinshasa and Ilebo in the D.R.C., as well as development of road networks on both sides of the Congo River to link the two countries to the bridge. Sponsored by the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the project would be part of the Central Corridor which involves the construction of the Dar-es-Salaam to Chalinze Toll Road.

SADC Deputy Executive Secretary responsible for corporate affairs, Emilie Mushobekwa said infrastructure development “requires sustained efforts from all stakeholders to maintain the momentum of implementation. Sustaining this momentum requires that in addition to political will, other necessary enabling conditions are availed.”

PIDA is a blueprint for African infrastructure transformation for the period 2012-2040. The program was adopted by African leaders in January 2012 and provides a strategic framework for priority infrastructure projects to interconnected

and integrated region. The African Development Bank, African Union Commission, Namibian government, NEPAD, and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa organized the 2017 PIDA Week to present the project to potential donors

Chinese Firms Have Built, or are Building Hydropower PrpjectsTotaling 3.7 Gigawatts of Electric Capacity in Sub-Saharan Africa

{New China} reported Dec. 27. This is increasing the region’s installed electric capacity (currently at 28 GW) by about 15%. Projects in Cote d’Ivoire, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Angola and DR Congo have also created tens of thousands of jobs. Africa’s sub-Saharan electricity deficit is still huge, with two-thirds lacking reliable electricity access.

China’s Investment in New Transport Networks Can Set a Mark

Dec. 27, 2017–China’s Ministry of Transport held a conference, reported in the government newspaper {People’s Daily}, on the Ministry’s planned 2018 investment in transportation infrastructure. The scale of new infrastructure in 2017, also reported there, gives an idea of what it takes to build out new national transportation networks rapidly, at a time when the United States, for one, is about to hold a debate on this subject.

{Peoples Daily} reported that China’s transportation infrastructure investments were $323 billion equivalent in 2017 through November, or roughly total $350 billion for 2017 as a whole. This equals about seven years’ of surface transportation bills in the United States.

The plans for 2018 are for 5,000 km of new roads, renovation of 216,000 km of roads, 4,000 km of rail, and increasing container port freight-handling volumes by more than 15%.

Reuters reported that at this conference, the Ministry said it intended to speed up the construction of logistics hubs and inland waterways, build more roads to reach rural areas, and concentrate on accelerating the Beijing-Hebei-Tianjin urban triangle plan, mainly by improving roads and rail lines. It notes, “Infrastructure investment is expected to be among the biggest drivers of China’s economic growth in coming years.”

Africa Advancing With Science, Technology, and Infrastructure

China’s Belt and Road Initiative and Its Long-Term Impact on African Countries

Dr. Alexander Demissie of Ethiopia, an expert in China-Africa relations, spoke in Germany, November 26, 2017.

Below are excerpts from an excellent presentation by Dr. Demissie on the increasingly productive relationship between China and Africa to develop the continent’s infrastructure, which Europe and the Unites States have refused to do.

‘My third point: the BRI is primarily an infrastructural undertaking. We don’t yet have political institutionalization. We have infrastructural ideas. We have corridors, but we don’t yet have political institutions. So, if we talk about the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), or the Silk Road Bank, these are just connected
to infrastructure; they are not political ideas.

“Interestingly, this idea fits perfectly into the current African need—infrastructure development. Africa wants infrastructure, going back here to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 strategic framework that has also, coincidentally, been coming up. Together with the BRI, Africa wants a good infrastructure connection, a good internal interconnectivity. So, the idea of the BRI coming from China is perfectly fitting into the idea—actually happening or being discussed—within the African continent.

“China has also been very clear since Johannesburg in 2015 that they want to cooperate more with Africa more on infrastructural projects that create regional connectivity. That is where the BRI comes in. That’s why I mentioned earlier that the BRI is primarily an infrastructure topic.

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Putin and El-Sisi Sign Economic Deals in Cairo; Russia To Build Nuclear Power Four-Plant Complex for Egypt

December 11, 2017–Russia and Egypt have signed an agreement to construct Egypt’s first nuclear plant, which will be followed by construction of three more. Costing $21 billion, the porject is scheduled to be finished by 2028-2029.

Russian President Vladimir Putin met today in Cairo with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. They discussed economic matters, energy, and politics, as well as the possibility of resuming air travel between Russia and Egypt, which was suspended in November 2015 after the crash of a Russian passenger jet over Sinai in what is believed to have been an act of terrorism.

President Putin stated, “I am pleased to note that our economic links are developing at a fairly high pace, and we really have a lot of good projects ahead.”

President al-Sisi responded, “Since the 1950s and ’60s, Russia has always supported Egypt and still supports our country: both with metallurgical plants and the construction of the Aswan Dam, and today we will sign a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant.”

The preliminary agreement between the countries was signed in 2015; a loan from Russia will cover 85 percent of the construction costs. Russia’s Rosatom will service the complex’s four reactors for 60 years, its chairman Aleksey Likhachyov said today, RT reported. Representatives of Russia’s Rosatom nuclear corporation and Russian universities have recently visited Egyptian universities to prepare engineering students to work at the Daba nuclear power plant in the future. The Russian delegation gave a number of presentations at the Russian Center for Culture and Science in Cairo.

One day after Eyptian President El-Sisi and Russian President Putin witnessed the signing of a deal for the construction of four Russian reactors in the Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant project, it is reported that the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority (EAEA) has already begun a study at the El Nagila site, which takes about three years, to see if it is suitable for the construction of four nuclear plants, according to sources at the Egyptian Ministry of Electricity. The study will be carried out parallel with the construction at the Dabaa site, where the first reactor is scheduled to come on-line in 2026. When that plant is complete, it will become only the second country in Africa, following South Africa, to have a nuclear power plant.

The {Daily News Egypt} reports that Egypt has signed protocols and MOUs with 10 countries for cooperation in nuclear energy, to help with training and the utilization of expertise in reactor management, and security, safety, and the possibility to provide formal advisory services to the EAEA

Africa’s Ports Revolution: Railway Ports of the East

This an informative article written on February 23. 2017, reporting on the exciting potential for the developments of Africa’s East coast ports with railroad connections to the interior of the continent. 

The population of Africa is presently 1.2 billion and growing at a rate of 2.5% a year, more than twice that of any other continent. In two years’ time, it will gain the population of the UK; in 12 years of compounded growth it will gain the population of China.

All these extra people may add dynamism to economies, but only if the increase in labour supply can be matched by an equivalent increase in economic activity; otherwise,  rising population density may destabilise social and political systems – an effect already seen in Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

This challenge has led to a different pattern of development for ports on Africa’s east coast, compared to the west coast. In the west, the centres served by these ports are close by, sometimes right outside the port gate. In east Africa, by contrast, they are between 500km and 1,000km away, and most of the infrastructure needed to reach them has not yet been built. In the case of the Doraleh container terminal at Djibouti, the goal is the Ethiopian highlands and the valley of the White Nile at Khartoum, a cluster roughly equivalent to the population of Japan. In East Africa, a similar-sized population is grouped in the Great Lakes states, South Sudan and the DRC. All of these centres, with the marginal exception of the DRC, are landlocked.

Their ability to attract investment and benefit from globalisation depends, among other things, on having efficient rail, road and pipeline links to the Indian Ocean “transit  states” of Kenya, Tanzania and Djibouti.

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President of Ghana Speaks out for Strong Independent Africa

Speaking at the Presidential Palace of Ghana on December 4, 2017 with French President Macron, Ghanaian President Akufo-Addo spoke eloquently of the need for Africa to be self-sustaining and independent. Emphasizing that when African nations became developed their people would have no need to migrate to Europe. To watch his speech click: Speech by the President of Ghana

Through Science, Africa’s Challenges Will Be Met

December 10, 2017)–South Africa’s Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor told the third Science Forum in Pretoria on Dec. 7, that “it is through science that many of the challenges faced by our communities can be addressed.” A primary objective of the two-day forum, she said, is “to put science in the service of African society.” She stressed the importance of international collaboration, welcoming delegates from around the world to Africa’s largest “open science” event. Pan-African cooperation, in particular, is a hallmark of all of South Africa’s science and technology programs.

The purpose of the forum was to discuss the role of science in society. She said that one objective of the forum was to “showcase African science and technology to the world. We want to change the way they talk about us.” Pandor is dedicated to promoting African breakthroughs in science, which will change the way Africa has historically been viewed, and will help eliminate the “Afro-pessimism” on the continent itself.

China Extends Loan and Grant Facilities in Zimbabwe

December 7, 2017 — In a show of confidence in the new situation in Zimbabwe, China has extended a loan and grants for key development projects. They include a concessionary loan for the upgrade of the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare, and grants for the construction of the new Parliament Building and for the High Performance Computing Center being constructed at the University of Zimbabwe for a total of $213 million.

The loan and grants will be administered through the Export-Import Bank of China. Zimbabwe’s Finance and Economic Development Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping signed the deal in Harare yesterday on behalf of the two governments.

The $153 million loan carries a concessionary 2% interest rate and is payable over 20 years with a seven-year grace period. The expansion of the airport aims to double the airport’s capacity from the current 2.5 million passengers per year to 6 million. “The government of the People’s Republic of China also gave support to the people of Zimbabwe during the liberation struggle,” said Minister Chinamasa.

“China is the only source of infrastructure financing. If you look at Kenya, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, their source of funding is China. We look forward to China and we have a lot to know from them. They are second largest economy after United States of America,” Chinamasa said. He described that the support springs from the state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping on Dec. 1, 2015, when he pledged to support the construction of the new Parliament building, and that more deals with China were in the offing, according to the Harare {Herald}.

For his part Ambassador Huang said: “The Chinese government will continue to support the Zimbabwean government and people in their economic revival and social development. The agreement we have signed today is just a testimony of our efforts and our true friendship that withstands the test of time.” He said China was pleased to be lending financial support to Zimbabwe at “this new juncture of Zimbabwe’s social and economic development.” Zimbabwe’s new President Emmerson Mnangagwa has committed his government to correcting the policy inconsistencies that have prevented the Chinese from expanding their investments in the country, especially in infrastructure.

Nacala Corridor Project Receives $300 Million from the African Development Bank

“The African Development Bank (AfDB) and other participating co-lenders have signed agreements for the financing of the Nacala Corridor project. This is an integrated and transformative infrastructure project which consists of a 912 km railway and a port meant to unlock the Western region of Mozambique and landlocked Malawi. The total project cost is estimated at $5 billion,” the AfDB website reported. “The project has received further financial backing from the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation, Nippon Export and Investment Insurance and the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa, for an overall package of $2.7 billion in loans,” Infrastructure News website reported on Dec 5.

Upon completion, the Nacala Corridor project will fulfill West Mozambique and Malawi’s dream to connect by rail to the sea, for a cheaper way of transporting goods. Parts of yhis project have been completed, and last August, the inauguration of the Kachasu Nkaya railway section of the project has now linked Malawi to the Indian Ocean by rail. Last May, {Railway Gazette} had reported Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi inaugurating the deepwater port of Nacala-a-Velha.

This is the starting point to develop a 912 km “integrated logistics corridor” by rail, serving northern Mozambique, southern Malawi and the Moatize coalfield.According to AfDB, “the project is expected to have a catalytic effect in the region and create economic benefits for the various stakeholders, including sponsors, governments and the local population. It will enable a significant reduction in transportation costs and increase coal export volumes. Furthermore, additional capacity created in general along the corridor is expected to contribute to creating economic opportunities in the local economy, notably by increasing agricultural trade in the region.”

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Industrialization of Ethiopia With Chinese Cooperation

Below are excerpts from a speech by Mr. Mehreteab Mulugeta Haile, Consul General of Ethiopia , reporting on the progress that Ethiopia has made to develop its nation, with its emphasis on infrastructure.

Ethiopia is one of the largest Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a population of about 100 million people. After suffering economic stagnation for decades, its economy began to grow in the mid-1990s after a new administration led by the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) took the helm of government.

For the last 15 years, Ethiopia has become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, with an average Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of about 11% per annum. To continue with this rapid economic growth, the Ethiopian Government rolled out in 2010, an ambitious five-year Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP). This plan aims to attain a lower-middle-income status by 2025. Currently the country is implementing the second Growth and Transformation Plan (GTP II), which is built on Sectoral Policies, Strategies  & Program and Lessons drawn from the first GTP and the post-2015 “sustainable development goals” (SDGs). It has also taken into account global and regional economic situations having direct or indirect bearing on the Ethiopian economy.

Expanding the manufacturing sector will focus on identifying new investment areas such as biotechnology, petrochemicals, electricity and electronics, information and communication technologies (hardware and software production industries).

In the infrastructure sector, the overall strategic direction is to ensure the creation of infrastructure that supports rapid economic growth and structural transformation. This direction will create mass employment opportunities, an institution having strong implementation capacity, ensure public participation and benefit, construct decentralized infrastructure development systems, solve financial constraints, ensure fairness and profitability, and ensure integrated planning of infrastructure development.

Within infrastructure overall, rural roads are given high focus to help reduce poverty by facilitating easy access of agricultural products, at low transportation cost, to the market, improving access to basic socioeconomic services, and strengthening rural-urban linkages.

If we take my country, Ethiopia, as an example of Chinese cooperation and involvement in Africa, we find that what has been said above is false. According to the Ethiopian Investment Commission, Chinese companies, with close to 379 projects that were either operational or under implementation in the 2012-2017 period, are on top of Ethiopia’s investment landscape, both in number and financial capital. Among these companies, 279 were operational with projects that are worth over 13.16 billion Ethiopian birr (over 572 million U.S. dollars) during the reported period, while the remaining 100 are under implementation.

In terms of employment creation, Chinese companies have created more than 28,300 jobs in various sectors in Ethiopia during the reported period, of which over 19,000 were created in Ethiopia’s manufacturing, as it is the leading sector in attracting companies from China. China brings not only investment, knowhow, and transfer of technology, but also skills and entrepreneurship.

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Sudan Is Indispensable To China’s Silk Road Vision For Africa

 

The Sudan Tribute [sic Tribune] recently reported that its eponymous country signed a deal with China to explore the viability of constructing a railway from Port Sudan to N’Djamena, with an eye on completing a long-awaited connectivity project that had hitherto been held up due to various degrees of regional instability. According to the publication, the original plan was to link up the Chadian and even nearby Central African Republic capitals with the Red Sea in order to provide these resource-rich landlocked states with an outlet to the global marketplace, which is increasingly becoming Asia-centric ergo the Eastern vector of this initiative. In terms of the bigger picture, however, the successful completion of the Port Sudan-N’Djamena Railway would constitute a crucial component of China’s unstated intentions to construct what the author had previously referred to as the “Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road”, the relevant portion of which (the Chad-Sudan Corridor) is a slight improvisation of Trans-African Highway 6.

Per the hyperlinked analysis above, the following custom map illustrates the full cross-continental vision that China has in mind:

 

Red: CCS (Cameroon-Chad-Sudan) Silk Road
Gold: Trans-African Highway 5
Lavender: Ethiopia-Nigeria Silk Road (the most direct route through resource-rich territory)
Pink: West African Rail Loop
Blue: Lagos-Calabar Silk Road
Green: Lagos-Kano Silk Road
Yellow: Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Silk Road

Each of the aforementioned tracks are described in a bit more detail in the cited article about the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road and the author’s extensive Hybrid War study on Nigeria, but the two pertinent points to focus on in this piece are the CCS Silk Road (outlined in red on the map) and its larger purpose in possibly connecting Africa’s two largest countries and future Great Powers of Nigeria and Ethiopia. One of China’s grand strategic objectives in the emerging Multipolar World Order is to lay the infrastructural groundwork for facilitating the robust full-spectrum integration between these two giants, understanding that their Beijing-built bicoastal connectivity would bestow the People’s Republic with significant influence in the continent by streamlining an unprecedented corridor between them, thereby giving China the potential to more directly shape Africa’s overall development across the 21st century.

It goes without saying that Sudan is poised to play an indispensable role in making this happen by virtue of its advantageous geography in allowing China to circumnavigate the “Failed State Belt” of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and increasingly, maybe even Cameroon, as well by charting an overland Silk Road connectivity corridor between Ethiopia and Nigeria via Sudan and Chad. Moreover, the potential linkage of the planned Ethiopia-Sudan railwayto the prospective Port Sudan-N’Djamena railroad would enable Sudan to provide China with alternative access to these two landlocked states. Regional military leader and energy exporter Chad is already in physical touch with the outside world through Cameroon, just as the world’s fastest-growing economy and rising African hegemon Ethiopia utilizes the newly built Djibouti-Addis Ababa railway for this purpose, but the shrewd and far-sighted Chinese always feel more comfortable if they’re not dependent on a single route, hence the strategic importance of supplementary access to Chad and Ethiopia through Port Sudan.

While Sudan’s financial standing was left reeling ever since the American-backed separation of oil-rich South Sudan in 2011, Khartoum might fortuitously find itself wheeling and dealing along the New Silk Road if it’s successful in providing China with alternative market access to Chad and Ethiopia in the future, and especially if it can do the same with Nigeria in saving China the time in having to sail all the way around the Cape of Good Hope in order to trade with it. For as easy as all of this may sound, however, the premier challenge that China will have to confront is to ensure the security of this traditionally unstable transit space, specifically in the context of maintaining peace in the former hotspot of Darfur and dealing with the plethora of destabilization scenarios emanating from the Lake Chad region (Boko Haram, Nigeria’s possible fragmentation, etc.).

In view of this herculean task, China could be lent a helping hand by its Pakistani and Turkish partners who each have a self-interested desire to this end, with Islamabad slated to patrol CPEC’s Sea Lines Of Communication (SLOC) with East Africa while Ankara is already a heavy hitter in Africa because of its recent embassy and airline expansion in the continent. Moreover, both of these countries are leaders of the international Muslim community (“Ummah”) in their own way and accordingly have soft power advantages over China in the majority-Muslim states of sub-Saharan Africa through which Beijing’s grand Silk Road projects will traverse. Seeing as how Pakistan and Turkey are also on very close relations with China, the scenario arises whereby these Great Powers enter into a trilateral working group with one another for effectively promoting their African policies through joint investments, socio-cultural initiatives, and the collective strengthening of Nigeria, Chad, and Sudan’s military capacities in countering their respective Hybrid War threats.

This is especially relevant when considering that all three transit states aren’t exactly on positive footing with the US. Washington initially refused to provide anti-terrorist assistance to Abuja when it first requested such against Boko Haram in 2014, and the Trump Administration has inexplicably placed N’Djamena on its travel ban list. As for Khartoum, it’s been under US sanctions for over two decades now, even though the State Department partially lifted some of them last month as part of its “carrots-and-sticks diplomacy” towards the country. Therefore, the case can convincingly be argued that these three African countries would be receptive to Chinese, Pakistani, and Turkish military assistance because their prospective Eurasian security partners are perceived of as being much more reliable and trusted than the Americans or French who always attach some sort of strings to their support. The only expectation that those three extra-regional states would have is that their counterparts’ collective stability would be enduring enough to facilitate win-win trade for everyone.

There’s a certain logic to the comprehensive strategy behind this Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership between Nigeria, Chad, Sudan, Turkey, Pakistan, and China. Nigeria, as the West African anchor state, could help expeditiously funnel the region’s overland trade to the Red Sea via the landlocked Chadian transit state and the maritime Sudanese one, thus making Khartoum the continental “gatekeeper” of West African-Chinese trade. Turkey’s hefty investments and newfound presence in Africa could help to “lubricate” this corridor by making it more efficient, with President Erdogan trumpeting his country’s version of a moderate “Muslim Democracy” at home in order to score significant soft power points with these three majority-Muslim African states and their elites. Pakistan would assist in this vision by providing security between Port Sudan and what might by that point be its twinned sister port of Gwadar in essentially enabling the flow of West Africa trade to China by means of CPEC.

Altogether, maritime threats are kept to a minimum because of the shortened SLOC between Sudan and Pakistan (as opposed to Nigeria and China) while the mainland ones are manageable due to the military-security dimensions of the proposed Hexagonal Afro-Eurasian Partnership, but it nevertheless shouldn’t be forgotten that Sudan and Pakistan are the crucial mainland-maritime interfaces for this transcontinental and pan-hemispheric Silk Road strategy which is expected to form the basis of China’s “South-South” integration in the emerging Multipolar World Order.