China’s Belt-Road Initiative Advancing Growth in Africa and Germany. Will the US join?

June 20, 2019

Everyday, nations around the world are experiencing economic growth by participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative-BRI. For a truly global transformation, the United States must join this new paradigm of development. The most productive way to enhance relations with China, is for President Trump, at next week’s G-20 meeting, to discuss with President Xi Jinping, the US joining the BRI. This would create an unprecedented level of economic growth throughout the world. It would also be a brilliant flank against those voices in the US, and internationally, who are demonizing China, and trying two divide our two great nations. 

{Independent}: Belt and Road Contributing to Prosperity in Africa

A feature today in the South African {Independent Online Business Report} publication reviews the benefits of the Belt and Road Initiative for Africa, saying that Liberia, Morocco, and Tunisia have benefited from African development projects, as has Ethiopia from the Addis Ababa Light Rail, which cut travel time to and from the city. Through the BRI, China has also built a light-rail system in Abuja, Nigeria, the first to be built in Western Africa. Chinese construction companies have further assisted Angola in rebuilding its Benguela Railway, which had been destroyed in the civil war. The country can now transport goods from Angola’s western coastline to the border of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Chinese-funded projects have also led to the construction of the Isimba and Karuma hydroelectric power stations, two new sources of electricity to Uganda, which will ultimately aid development. In Rwanda, road construction projects have brought young citizens into construction through their employment. This ultimately improved their welfare and provided labor skills. In the spirit of BRI’s trade ambitions, Egypt now looks to make the idea of the Cape-to-Cairo road a reality. Since taking the reins as 2019-2020 chairperson of the African Union, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt plans to construct a superhighway through multiple African nations, eventually ending in Cape Town, to open
countries to trading in the Cape’s ports and in Cairo, Egypt’s gateway to the European Union.

German Mittelstand Supports New Silk Road

China’s proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been creating opportunities for German enterprises, said Hans von Helldorff, chairman of the board of the Federal Association of German Silk Road Initiative (BVDSI), in an interview with Xinhua on June 17.

“The future markets and the new markets, for example, are in Asia, Africa, as well as Eastern and Southern Europe. They are not so well-connected. China has been providing the connections, thus it will generate great opportunities,” said von Helldorff, stating that new markets are needed by Germany’s Mittelstand firms.

Von Helldorff said that, thanks to the inter-connectivity, businesses have already been on the rise in some German cities, such as Hamburg and Duisburg. Many small and medium-sized companies in Germany got contracts with seaborne and logistics enterprises from China and other countries for local registration, legal, accounting, and tax services, von Helldorff stated.

“The infrastructure projects along the Belt and Road countries also need a lot of know-how. Harbor-related, road-related, train-related, etc. We have to open our eyes and participate in them,” von Helldorff said, declaring that the strengths of German businesses can contribute as an “innovation and investment engine.”

Speaking about prevailing doubts and worries about the BRI, allegations that the initiative might be politically motivated and harm local industries, von Helldorff said that some of them are simply clichés and that some are unfounded.

“The BVDSI sees China as a fast-growing economy that follows a plan. We need to sit and make eye-to-eye contacts and negotiations. Only cooperation in the sense of fair competition is for the benefit of humanity,” von Helldorff said. The BVDSI, founded in March 2019, is a business association serving as a platform for the interests of small- and medium-sized German companies. The BVDSI plans to organize a
forum later this year in Germany on the BRI for partners to establish project-related contacts.

 

China’s Belt and Road Aids Africa’s Growth in New Globalization

(China’s CGTN published my article today, on the eve of the historic 2nd Belt and Road Forum)
Opinion-April 24, 2019

Belt and Road Initiative: Another path to globalization

by Lawrence Freeman

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

On the eve of the second Belt and Road Forum (BRF), it is irrefutable that the world has been transformed in the five years since Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).China’s archetype for global development is based on the more elevated concept of each country contributing to the “common destiny of all nations” and mankind’s “shared future.”

By focusing on “global connectivity” through massive investments in infrastructure, linking China to the rest of the world through its land and maritime new Silk Roads, China has presented the world with a new paradigm for development – in effect, redefining globalization.

According to the World Economic Forum (September 2018), “the BRI will encompass 70 percent of the world’s population (4.4 billion) and 63 percent of the world’s GDP (21 trillion U.S. dollars),” primarily from construction of rail lines, highways, ports, airports, hydro-energy plants and pipelines.

The first BRF held in May 2017 included 29 foreign heads of state, 11 heads of international organizations and over two dozen attendees on the ministerial level. Because of the expansion of the BRI over the last two years, already 40 world leaders have confirmed their attendance for this year’s conference.

Awakening the Sleeping Giant, Africa

Nowhere, outside of China itself, are the positive effects of China’s BRI more evident than on the African continent. At the 2017 BRF, the only African heads of States who attended were Ethiopia and Kenya, and ministers from Egypt and Tunisia. With Nigeria, the most populated nation in Africa, officially joining the BRI in 2019, and increased collaboration with China throughout all geographical sections of Africa, participation at this year’s BRF from Africa will undoubtedly be higher.

Engineers from the Addis Ababa Information & Communication Technology Development Agency in Ethiopia, Africa, train on Huawei’s networking equipment at the training center at Huawei headquarters in Shenzhen, China, September 15, 2011. /VCG Photo

Prior to the announcement of the BRI, China had already forged a close working relationship with Africa by convening China-Africa Summits (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation) every three years beginning in 2000, rotating the venues between China and Africa.  At the seventh summit held last year in Beijing, all but one of the 54 African nations attended.

Unfortunately, the West lost its vision of development for Africa after the death of President John F. Kennedy, instead adopting a no-infrastructure policy. What Africa has needed most since the 1960s “Winds of Change” liberation from colonialism is infrastructure, water, energy, rail and roads. China has a different view on this.

Ambassador David Shinn, a respected scholar on Africa, wrote last month: “China has been indisputably the single most important builder of infrastructure in Africa since the beginning of the 21st century.”

Take, for example, Djibouti, which is a BRI hub. China is building the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone in this northeast African nation, strategically located right off the Indian Ocean and on the Gulf of Eden. It is estimated that one-third of global shipping passes by this port.

In 2016, the first electrically driven train in sub-Saharan Africa, connecting Addis Ababa, the capital of landlocked Ethiopia, to the port city of Djibouti was inaugurated. This rail line built by Chinese companies utilizing and training African laborers and engineers is key to the develop-ment of the Horn of Africa, providing Ethiopia a port to export the products of its nascent manufacturing sector.

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua that “projects involving cooperation with China are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region… which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as seaports and railway connections.”

Chinese workers help to build a new train station in Beliatta in a southern province near Hambantota, which is Chinese managed and designed in Beliatta, Sri Lanka, November 18, 2018. /VCG Photo‍

Hadi called the “debt-trap” propaganda against the BRI, “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

African nations are attempting to industrialize their economies with growth in their manufacturing sectors. China is assisting by creating special economic zones, industrial parks, and industrial zones in Nigeria, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Egypt, Morocco, and Rwanda. Industry and infrastructure generate jobs, raise skill levels and transfer technology.

Will the West Join the BRI?

Africa’s requirement for infrastructure is enormous, allowing Western nations the opportunity to join with China to industrialize this vast undeveloped continent, which is projected to have 2.5 billion people by 2050. President Xi, at the first BRF, said: “We should foster a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation” and “development holds the master key to solving all problems.” Regrettably, western nations have been hostile to joining the BRI. However, last month’s ground-breaking signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by Italy – the first G-7 nation to join China’s BRI – portends a potential change towards a new constructive dynamic.

Read: China’s New Approach to Globalization

China’s BRI Expanding Trade in Africa With Infrastructure Where the West Has Failed: Djibouti

March 28, 2019

Djibouti Port Director: The BRI Has Vastly Expanded All African Trade and Development

Aboubaker Omar Hadi, chairman of Djibouti Ports and Free Zone Authority, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the Africa CEO Forum that “projects involving cooperation with China (such as the Ethiopia-Djibouti railway and the Doraleh Multi-Purpose Port and international free trade zone) are helping Djibouti promote trade in Africa as well as distribution across the East African region.” Hadi said that more than $40 billion in exports and imports has been recorded through Djibouti ports, “which couldn’t be achieved without developing proper infrastructure, such as sea ports and railway connections.” He went on: “I am expecting more movements of goods, infrastructure develop-ment from the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation slated for April in Beijing, as well as stronger interconnection between Africa and the rest of the world,” speaking with Xinhua News.

Hadi also said that the accusations against China made by Western countries about letting some African countries fall into a debt trap due to cooperation on the BRI, are “complete nonsense, as benefits generated from infrastructure construction will far exceed the investment.”

China Prevails Where Europe Has Failed Miserably

“The New Silk Road is the biggest economic venture in mankind’s history,” former chief economist of Bremen Landesbank Folker Hellmeyer told Sputnik, saying it would be quite absurd if Europe did not take a part in it.  “The West could have built infrastructure in these countries in the past 50 years. We have not done this. China is now filling this gap–and we are criticizing that. That is also power play to a certain extent. That is also why it meets resistance. But we are developing human capital and a sustainable growth potential which is enormous. We could have done it, but we haven’t done it. And that is why we should not accuse others.”

Hellmeyer also said that “what I hear here in Europe in terms of criticism, I rather see as a kind of front line politics serving the interests of the U.S.A.”

Newly Elected President of D.R. Congo Addresses Issue of Lake Chad Water Transfer

Newly elected President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Félix Tshisekedi addressed the issue of water transfer to save Lake Chad at the just- concluded Africa CEO Forum in Kigali, Rwanda. Speaking at the concluding panel together with host, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Tshisekedi said that someone is proposing to pump water from the Congo River to save Lake Chad, but there are better options than that.

“On the water issue, which is a battle expecting us in the future, we can think about solutions at the mouth [of the Congo River], before the meeting with the ocean waters. There is a way to catch that water from the river and send it through pipes to countries that need it, rather than doing what has been proposed at some point in Chad — i.e. diverting the course of the Ubangi River. This can have consequences, including on energy, because of the peat bog system that helps the CO2-absorbing natural lungs. We believe that there are other solutions and the D.R.C. is ready to offer them to its partners to build this integration which is so important for us.”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pKAsR0qhtQ

President Tshisekedi is right when he rejects foolish ideas such as pumping water from the Congo River or diverting the course of the Ubangi. However, he should know that “other solutions,” namely the Transaqua project, have already been approved by the countries of the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) at the February 2018 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria, which was attended by a representative of the D.R.C.. He also should drop the narrative of the peat bog system, created by the British to block the development of the Congo basin.

LCBC observers see the glass as half-full and emphasize the good news of the D.R.C. government addressing publicly the issue and expressing its readiness to help. Notably, this was the first time that a President of D.R. Congo and of Rwanda have appeared together in public. Rwanda President Kagame stressed this in his speech, explaining that Africa will move forward only if personal animosities are put aside. Kagame has recently strongly supported China’s Belt and Road Initiative and blasted the West for having failed in its Africa policies

 

Will Africa Emulate China in Eliminating Poverty with BRI? More Electrical Power Needed

March 7, 2019

Rwanda Acknowledges Partnership With China Is Beneficial for Both Nations

President Xi Jinping left and President Paul Kegame-right (East African)

Answering a media query in Kigali on March 5, Rwandan Foreign Minister Richard Sezibera said that the Belt and Road Initiative is a partnership that is mutually beneficial for Rwanda and China, and addresses Rwanda’s development challenges, Xinhua reported. China is an important partner for Rwanda at all levels, and Rwanda welcomes the growing partnership with China, he said, adding that Rwanda and China have important relationships in infrastructure development, party-to-party and people-to-people exchanges, and at the political level.

Last August, {China Daily} reported Rwandan Ambassador to China Charles Kayonga telling the newspaper, through e-mail, that in Rwanda, “we have had financing for a number of roads, and we have seen direct investment by Chinese companies in a number of businesses rise.” 

 Africa is in need of infrastructure, among other things, to achieve sustainable economic transformation, he said, adding that cooperation with China will help finance the infrastructure projects to help spur the continent’s industrial development, which will, in turn, favor China in its vision of going global.

Prescient Xi: China is Eliminating Poverty

Speaking today with deputies from Gansu Province, President Xi Jinping underlined the importance of reaching the goal of eliminating poverty by 2020.

“There should be no retreat until a complete victory is won,” Xi said. “Decisive progress has been achieved in the country’s tough fight against poverty over the past years, marking a new chapter in the poverty reduction history of mankind.” Xi stressed, that the goal to eradicate extreme poverty must be achieved on time. He warned that the tasks ahead remain arduous and hard, as those still in poverty are the worst stricken. He also warned that, “the practices of ‘formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism hamper the effective advancement of poverty reduction.” He also warned against the tendency to celebrate short-term gains when it comes to addressing the problem of poverty. He insisted that claims of success should be grounded in reality, and that the results of poverty alleviation work must be able to stand the test of time.

 Also today, a comprehensive briefing was given on the success of poverty reduction over the last few years by Liu Yongfu, Director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. He held a press conference outlining the progress of the poverty-alleviation campaign. Liu noted that between 2012 and 2018, some 80 million people had been brought out of poverty at an average of 13 million people a year. Of the nine eastern provinces, eight were now free of poverty. He said there are 832 counties still enmired in poverty. In 2016, there were 28 counties that had been lifted out of poverty, and in 2017, some 125 counties, and in 2018, an estimated 280 counties. In 2013 there were 128,000 villages in poverty, while in 2018 there were 20,000. Poverty has been reduced during that period by 85%, Liu said, and the goal this year is to bring 10 million more people out of poverty. In 2019 the government will increase the funds devoted to poverty alleviation by 18.9%


African Development Bank Funding New Power Transmission Line For East Africa

In an article on its website, the African Development Bank (AfDB), pointing to regular power cuts in the East African countries from Kenya to Tanzania, from Uganda to Ethiopia, said this is about to change with the upcoming commissioning of a power transmission line to interconnect Kenya and Ethiopia. This project falls under one of the AfDB’s ‘High 5 priorities’ to ‘Light up and Power Africa.’ Working with
institutional partners, the Bank has mobilized resources to ensure the success of this project. At a cost of $1.26 billion, the project was co-funded by the African Development Bank ($338 million), the World Bank ($684 million), the Government of Kenya ($88 million), and the Government of Ethiopia ($32 million), the article noted.

The interconnection will function by means of a 1,068-km, 500-kilovolt high-voltage direct current transmission line, 437 km in Ethiopia and 631 km in Kenya with related facilities at Wolayta-Sodo (Ethiopia) and Suswa (Kenya). By December 2020, it will have a transmission capacity of 2,000 MW. This will make Ethiopia the energy giant of East Africa, while Kenya will become the epicenter of electricity trading in this part of the continent.

“The project will initially be able to transfer 400 MW from Ethiopia to Kenya, but negotiations are under way to better match the capacity of the line to Kenyan demand,” said Joseph Njogore, first secretary at the Kenyan Ministry of Energy, at an energy forum held in Nairobi in August 2018, the website noted.

 

Presidents Kagame and Museveni Discuss; Democracy, China, Infrastructure, and Jobs

President Paul Kagame: Time for Europe To Invest in Industry and Infrastrucure

December  26, 2018)

In an exclusive interview with Austria’s {Die Presse} news daily, Rwandan President Paul Kagame stated that “Europe has invested billions upon billions of dollars in Africa. (But) something must have gone wrong…. Part of it is that these billions had a return ticket. They flowed to Africa and then back to Europe again. This money left nothing on the ground in Africa.” The European money was invested in the wrong place, he said.  Instead it should go to investments “in industry, infrastructure, and educational institutions for Africa’s youth, whose number is growing fast. That is the only way to create a  demographic dividend.” It would be a better way of preventing migration of young Africans to Europe, which the Europeans were so much worried about. Europe could cooperate with China, Kagame hints: “China is active in Rwanda, but not in an inappropriate way. The new roads in Rwanda are largely built with European money. Sometimes there are Chinese subcontractors.”

 What Africans do not need, is Europeans trying to give them lessons on democracy, Kagame said. The European model of democracy is a failure, Europe is in a profound political crisis, as shown by the recent mass protests and other aspects, this model cannot be one for Africans to follow. Europe finally has to give up its attitudes of fake generosity, and begin accepting Africa as a real partner, he said.

Presidents Museveni of Uganda and Kagame of Rwanda

China Creating Tens of Thousands of Jobs for Ugandans in Infrastructure Projects

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni revealed in an interview with {Xinhua} with its focus on infrastructure development, the country wanted to attract more invest-ment from China: “We are likely to advance the project of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR)… in the government-to-government (talks).” Extending the Chinese-built SGR line from the Kenyan seaport of Mombasa, which is expected to reach the border areas with Rwanda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Uganda would make sense as a catalyst of economic growth. To finance its infra-structure development agenda, Uganda looked at China because of the country’s favorable lending terms compared to some of the Western global financiers.

Other major infrastructure projects in Uganda will benefit from Chinese support as well: A few months ago, the Kampala-Entebbe Expressway, linking the capital Kampala to Entebbe Airport, the country’s gateway to the world, was completed. China financed the construction of the mega road  project, the first of its kind in the country. China is also financing the expansion of Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport. Official figures show that after completion of the first phase of expansion, the cargo center can handle up to 150,000 metric tons of goods, compared to the previous 69,000 metric tons.

In the northern part of Uganda along the River Nile, the world’s longest river, China is constructing the 600MW Karuma Hydropower Plant. While touring the facility in July, President Museveni said he was amazed by the progress noting that the plant will not only address Uganda’s inadequate power supply, but also that youths have become skilled through the construction process.

Farther upstream on the River Nile, in the central Ugandan district of Kayunga, construction of a Chinese-funded 183MW Isimba Hydro-power plant that is nearing completion according to the Chinese engineers on site, power generated by the plant is expected to come onto the national grid early next year.

The power development plan is crucial for the Uganda’s industrialization policy, which has designated over 22 industrial parks across the country where investors can set up base, taking advantage of the incentives that come with establishing their factories in the parks. In October, President Museveni launched the first phase of a $620 million Chinese industrial project in the eastern district of Tororo. The project has dubbed the Uganda-China Free Zone of International Industrial Cooperation, undertaken by the Dongsong Energy Group, will manufacture glass, steel, and organic-fertilizers, creating about 3,000 jobs at peak when completed in 2020.

President Museveni, in March of this year launched another Chinese-owned Mbale Industrial Park. The park owners, Tian Tang Group, said it will attract more than 30 investors with a total investment of about $600 million and an annual output value of $1.5 billion. The park will directly employ about 12,000 locals.

 The $220 million Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park, is another park that will play a critical role in transforming the economy. According to government figures, almost 80% of the country’s population derives its livelihood from agriculture.

 When fully operational, Kehong China-Uganda Agricultural Industrial Park is expected to produce about 600,000 tons of agro-products annually to meet the domestic and regional market demands.

 It will also create 25,000 jobs as well as making opportunities for training local people available, according to the managers of the park.

Scientific Economic Progress is Essential to Stem the Migration of Africans

The only real solution to the migrant crisis is the economic development of Africa. Sadly, Africans will continue to take dangerous journeys and risk their very lives searching for opportunities for productive employment in other countries. Economic growth is the sine qua non for Africa and this depends on massive expansion of infrastructure across the continent. The levels of investments required in vital areas of infrastructure cannot be accomplished by the private and financial sectors. Government issued public credit is necessary to fund the trillions of dollars of infrastructure needed to develop the African continent. The application, training, and education in new scientific endeavors in nuclear energy and space satellites are key components of a healthy growing economy that all African nations should enthusiastically embrace to secure the their future. 

More African Refugees Take Dangerous Atlantic Route to Europe

Dec. 5, 2018 –Reuters reports “a  resurgence in African migrants taking the treacherous Atlantic route to the Spanish territory this year in search of jobs and prosperity that they cannot find at home. It marks the revival of a worrying trend. In 2006 — when 30,000 migrants managed to reach the Canary Islands — some 7,000 people died trying to make the crossing, rights groups say.”

Faced with the land route via Libya ending now in detention camps, with no hope of ever reaching Europe, migrants increasingly take the sea route from West Africa to the Iberian Peninsula.

“Managing … migratory flows is very much like squeezing a balloon. When one route closes, the flows increase on another,” the Reuters report quotes Izabella Cooper, spokeswoman for EU border agency Frontex, as saying.

“Migrants face many dangers on the open ocean, including mountainous waves, blistering heat and starvation,” writes Reuters, and, although reliable data are not available, authorities in Senegal and Gambia said there has been a rise in boats attempting to reach the Canary Islands this year. The boats are often canoes not really seaworthy for ocean voyages, or tiny boats with dozens of refugees on board, propelled by engines not fit for such voyages either. Empty boats have been spotted repeatedly, and their real numbers remain unrecorded. “The sea is
very, very big. And they can leave from wherever in Senegal, Gambia or further south,” the Reuters report quotes Rafael Carballo Abeger, an attaché at the Spanish Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.

Rwanda Has Signed a Nuclear Deal with Russia

Dec. 6, 2018– During an official visit of Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure Claver Gatete to Moscow, an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of atomic energy was signed between the two countries. “The cooperation agreement will lay the foundation for active dialogue between the two countries in the field of peaceful use of atomic energy, and will allow for practical implementation of particular projects,” {ESI Africa}, a power journal, reported on Dec. 6. Rosatom’s Director General Aleksey Likhachev signed the agreement on behalf of Russia and Gatete signed on behalf of Rwanda.

Likhachev said: “We are happy to share our more than 70 years expertise in the field of peaceful use of nuclear technologies with our Rwandan partners. We hope that our cooperation in that area will contribute to the economic growth and improve the quality of life of the Rwandan population.” The document establishes a legal basis for interaction between the two countries including elaboration of the project for the construction of a Center for Nuclear Science and Technology, and of a Nuclear Power Plant in the Republic of Rwanda, {World Nuclear News} reported.

 

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Final Call: IMF and World Bank real culprits in Africa’s debt crisis

This article debunks the myth of China colonizing Africa through a “debt trap” policy. It also has quotes from me on this subject. You can read more comments from me with this link to my post: A Brief Response: Marshall Plan for Africa or “Debt Trap?”

africa_watch_logo_18.jpg

FINAL CALL: IMF-and-World-Bank-real-culprits-in-Africa-debt-crisis.

BY JEHRON MUHAMMAD |  SEP 12, 2018 

Many Western press outlets, including CNN, have repeated a recent claim presented to the U.S. State Department that the “Chinese government is leveraging billions of dollars in debt to gain political leverage with developing countries.”

The phrase they use to accuse China is “debt book diplomacy,” a play on the past usage of the term “gunboat diplomacy” about U.S. policy. They accuse China of miring Africa in debt and “undercutting their sovereignty.”

rwanda_kagame_china_xi-jinping.jpg

Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meets with African Union Chair Paul Kagame who is President of Rwanda at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 4, 2018. (Xinhua/Ju Peng)

Not to be outdone, ABC News chimed in: “China’s commercial presence in Africa has prompted complaints in some countries that the continent gets too little from the relationship. Africa is a major target of Beijing’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative to build ports, highways and other trade-related infrastructure, but some critics in Tanzania, Kenya and other countries say they leave hosts with too much debt.”Pushing back, China claims to be helping African development, not piling up debt, one top China government official said.

“If we take a closer look at these African countries that are heavily in debt, China is not their main creditor,” its special envoy for Africa Xu Jinghy said, during a news conference. “It’s senseless and baseless to shift the blame onto China for debt problems.”

Claims that China is an “economic predator” in Africa, pillaging natural resources and dragging it into debt crisis are “as false as they are sensational,” the Xinhua official Chinese news agency said in a commentary.

According to African economic and political analyst Lawrence Freeman, “It is more than ironic that the West is complaining about Africa’s debt to China. Since the 1960s, Western nations, the IMF, World Bank, Paris Club, etc., have ‘looted’ Africa of hundreds of billions of dollars in bloated debt payments and through the manipulation of currencies, and terms of trade.

Of note is the fact that the anti- China accusation is fairly recent. An April 18 Financial Times article, headlined “African nations slipping into new debt crises,” did not mention China one time as the source of the continent’s debt crisis.

In fact the FT’s piece is critical of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. “The increase in debt should have raised all sorts of flags and triggered triage, but it didn’t. Neither the International Monetary Fund nor the World Bank sounded the alarm,” the London-based financial paper reported.

In addition, the FT claimed some African countries were hit because “they borrowed in foreign currencies and were finding debt hard to finance after a significant depreciation.”

In 2017 Quartz Africa reported, again not mentioning China, that “African eurobond debt is growing to risky levels.” A eurobond, also referred to as sovereign bond, is a debt security issued by a national government and is denominated in a foreign currency, usually dollars, rather than the euro that its name implies.

This debt crises have been cyclical. Africa’s debt of the 1980s mushroomed to $270 billion and had many factors, according to Quartz, “depending on which side of the fence you’re on.”

Those events came full circle. Even though Quartz recognized the repeating “hallmarks” of unchecked corruption, poor governance, and political mileage investment, the “single catalytic factor to trigger debt unsustainability in Africa has always been the crash of commodity prices on the global market.”

The news service Reuters reported in May of 2017 that “most sub-Saharan African countries still rely on U.S. dollar-denominated debt to finance their economies. Some investors say this is sowing the seeds of future debt crises if local currencies devalue and make dollar debt repayments more expensive.”

The United Nations trade body UNCTAD estimates that Africa’s external debt rapidly grew to $443 billion by 2013 through bilateral borrowing, syndicated loans and bonds. But since then sharp currency devaluations across the continent have pushed up the cost of servicing this debt pile, which continues to grow, the agency said.

It’s no wonder over 50 African heads of state attended the Sept. 3-4 Forum on China-African Cooperation (FOCAC) in Beijing. During the forum China president Xi Jinping announced a hefty $60 billion package to compliment another $60 billion pledged at the 2015 summit.

This breaks down, according to press reports, to $15 billion in grants and interest free loans, $20 billion in credit lines, a $10 billion fund for development financing, $5 billion to finance imports from Africa and waving the debt of the poorest African nations diplomatically linked to China.

On top of President Jinping letting the numbers speak for themselves he had words for China’s detractors: “Only the people of China and Africa have the right to comment on whether China-Africa cooperation is doing well … . No one should deny the significant achievement of China-Africa cooperation based on their assumptions and speculations.”

The African Union chairman, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, has been heard to call Chinese aid and investment strategy in Africa “deeply transformational” and respectful of the continent’s global position.

He said FOCAC had grown into a powerful engine “of cooperation fully aligned with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and sustainable development goals.”

“Our growing ties with China do not come at anyone’s expense. The gains are enjoyed by all who do business with us. Building the capacity of African institutions to transact and monitor more effectively is what will make the biggest difference,” he said.

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

Lawrence Freeman

September 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

Debt and Credit for What?  

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

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

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

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

Economics and the Common Good

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AFRICA’S INDUSTRIALISATION

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

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

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

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

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

Big Plus for Africa: Belt & Road, BRICS, and Africa-China Summit, Converging for Development

{Heading into the 7th  Forum On China-Africa Cooperation-(FOCAC) we are already witnessing significant changes in the physical infrastructure of Africa as a result of China’s One Belt and Road Initiative, the BRICS and previous FOCAC summits. Next week’s China-Africa Summit portends greater cooperation for investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, leading to the long over due industrialization of the continent. Thus finally liberating Africa from the effects of 500 years of slavery and colonialism. In addition to China, many nations are investing in Africa in constructive ways, but unfortunately not the United States, which is retreating from Africa. President Trump can and should reverse this trend by joining China’s Belt and Road development of this great continent, which in less than two generations will be the population center of world. Please review the articles below.}

Chinese Envoy to FOCAC: `Twin-Engines’ of BRI and FOCAC Will Transform Africa

Aug. 29, 2018 –Zhou Yuxiao, Chinese Ambassador to the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), spoke of the historic impact of the Sept. 3-4 FOCAC summit, in an interview with Xinhua yesterday. His observations come as many African heads of state are already arriving in Beijing, even before the Sept. 3-4 formal sessions of the Forum take place. Founded in 2000, FOCAC has had two previous heads-of-state meetings, one in 2006 and one in 2015.

Zhou said that the China-Africa collaboration had proceeded in small steps, but successfully over the years. All the while, China’s ability to “walk the walk,” and Africa’s success in collaborating, made things work, to the point of widespread trust and effectiveness. At the 2015 FOCAC meeting in South Africa, China pledged financing in the range of $60 billion for implementing ten cooperation plans announced at the time. Now financing is also coming from the Silk Road Fund, the BRICS New Development Bank, and private Chinese firms.

Xinhua summarized, “A key aspect to watch, Zhou said, will be how China and Africa link the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and African countries’ development plans.” This year, diplomatic relations were established between the African Union Commission (currently headed by Rwanda) and FOCAC. Zhou referred to the the BRI and FOCAC being “twin engines” for driving cooperation further in Africa. Many African leaders and experts are forecasting what lies ahead.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister Thomas Motsoahae Thabane, said in an Aug. 22 Xinhua interview, that the upcoming summit, “is a landmark in the world aiming to improve itself for the survival of the human race, which faces multiple challenges today … the commitment is not only to specific countries in Africa, but to Africa in general.” China is a “true friend” of Lesotho, not “by word of mouth … but through actions, actions that push us to go from the situation of being underdeveloped to a situation of being developed. What more can you wish for from a friend than to stretch a hand of friendship in order to raise you up when you were flat on your stomach?”

Thabane further pointed out that relations with China are “mutually beneficial.” In the past, for Western countries, the benefit was “always for what they call `the Mother country.’ Now, China is not like that, that is why we feel like we have a true and loyal friend in China.”

Hisham AbuBakr Metwally, an Egyptian researcher with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry, wrote an Aug. 21 opinion article for CGTN, reviewing accomplishments in rail, agriculture, energy, education, and other areas in Africa, thanks to work with China to date. {“FOCAC — Unprecedented Successful Mechanism, Reshaped Africa”} But he forecast more and bigger projects and a bright future. “After the completion of all mega infrastructure projects and industrial zones, the continent will change completely.”

Note that CGTN has prepared a five-episode documentary entitled “A New Era of China-Africa Cooperation,” to show the development of African countries and to present the achievements of China-Africa cooperation.

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China-Africa Research Initiative-(CARI) at Johns Hopkins in Washington DC, provides a useful report on the progress of China-Africa collaboration. It also dispels the myth that Chinese loans are bankrupting all Africa nations. Many decades before China started investing in Africa, the continent had been suffocated by hundreds of billions of dollars of parasitic debt from Western institutions.

Excerpt from its conclusion highlight:

“Belt and Road. The language of the 2018 FOCAC will likely include more mentions of the Belt and Road Initiative, given that it is a priority of President Xi Jinping. Chinese contractors are keen to win Chinese finance for infrastructure projects desired by African governments, many of whom have been inspired by China’s industrialization and infrastructure capacity. Chinese-financed infrastructure projects in Africa such as the standard gauge railway transport projects in Kenya and Ethiopia, and new trade and industrial zones in Djibouti, Egypt, and Morocco, have been marketed as part of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Read the complete report: The Path Ahead: The 7th Forum on China-Africa Cooperation

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This article discusses the “deepening relations” with Africa by the rest of world, and appropriately asks: “Where does this Leave the United States?” Read: The World is Coming to Sub-Saharan Africa. Where is the United States?

 

BRICS Summit Portends New Era of Cooperation and Development for Africa and the World

July 27, 2018

Lavrov Welcomes South Africa’s Initiative for Africa at BRICS Summit

July 26, 2018–In an article in the South African magazine {Ubuntu}, published by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said “we support further strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness….

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most dynamically developing region of the planet, which plays a key role in world mineral and hydrocarbon markets, a broad and rapid-growing consumer market, and one of the most attractive investment areas,” Lavrov said, according to Moscow Foreign Ministry website.

Pointing out that BRICS-Africa Partnership that was launched during South Africa’s 2013 BRICS chairmanship is steadily developing, Lavrov said “we welcome special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues in the work of BRICS. This area of work is becoming increasingly important for Russian foreign policy as well. Russia has significantly contributed to decolonization processes and the rise of new independent states on the continent.”

Sergey Lavrov: BRICS a Stabilizing Factor in Global Affairs; Focus on Africa is Key

July 25, 2018-An article published in South Africa’s {Ubuntu} magazine, prior to the BRICS summit, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov noted the symbolism of the BRICS returning to Africa in 2018, the  100th  anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela,– “a prominent political and public figure on a global scale.”

Mandela contributed personally to establishing friendly relations between South Africa and Russia, he recalled, making possible today’s “high-level of a comprehensive strategic partnership.”

Lavrov particularly praised South Africa’s leadership in the BRICS, -“special attention paid by Pretoria to Africa-related issues,” that has become especially important for Russia’s foreign policy. “We support  further  strengthening of the sovereignty of African countries, their independent choice of the way of development while preserving national distinctiveness.”

Of special importance, Lavrov added, is that BRICS countries will foster cooperation with other associations and consolidate positions in international organizations to present a “united front.” The invitation to Argentina, Indonesia and Turkey, plus other African nations, to attend the July 25-27 summit reflects the BRICS-Plus initiative, he explained. “Thus we will expand the global reach of the Group and establish an outer circle of like-minded countries. In this regard, BRICs has good potential to become a unique platform for linking various integration processes in a flexible way.”

Coordination between BRICS and other major international organizations is crucial, Lavrov underscored, since consolidation of efforts “is a key to ensuring world stability and a way to settle serious conflicts.” He particularly referenced how the BRICS-Africa Partnership has advanced since 2013. At the current summit, “a special
outreach session will be held with the participation of the heads of State presiding over regional organizations of the continent in order to focus on its most relevant issues,” he said.

Why India Is Keen To Invest in Africa with China: An Overview

July 26, 2018–Ahead of the 10th BRICS Summit, China’s President Xi Jinping and India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi had embarked on tours through some African countries. Xi, arriving in South Africa on July 24, pledged $14.7 billion of investment in the country. During a less-than-24 hour visit on July 24, Modi pledged $205 million to Uganda. The sum is intended to help the East African country to develop its dominant agricultural sector and electricity distribution infrastructure.

Both Xi and Modi were in Rwanda earlier this week, where a total of over $300 million was announced in loans. The money will develop the tiny, landlocked East African nation’s agriculture, roads and special economic zones, CNBC reported.

In recent years, both China and India, which have been widely labeled in the West as rivals, have brought to African nations their focus on all-round development, investing to improve their infrastructure, agriculture, education, and technological skills, among other areas.

The reasons why they chose to cooperate and collaborate in Africa’s development are many. For instance, the African nations are most receptive to all actual developmental efforts, large or small. Because of the needs of the African nations, which had all along been looked at only as sources for natural resources consumed by developed nations, every bit of investment made in these nations has a positive effect and is welcomed. China and India consider that providing Africa the ability to develop will bring about a sea-change in the direction and magnitude of global trade.

India is keen to expand its economic relations mostly with Southeast Asia and Africa. For China and India, Africa does not pose any geopolitical threat. Moreover, the better understanding developed between Xi and Modi since their Wuhan meeting last April, enables both of them to work in tandem to improve the living conditions in Africa.

Putin BRICS Remarks Imply Need for New Monetary System

July 26, 2018–Very brief remarks delivered by Russia’s President Putin at the Johannesburg BRICS Summit today (apparently after a leadership meeting), implicitly point to the need for a new monetary system, and the basis which has been created for such a system in the cooperative banks, funds and institutions created by the BRICS, the Belt and Road and China, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. Putin’s statement dealt with this. He said:

“We view positively the activities of the [BRICS] Council to implement joint multilateral projects. It is necessary to conduct these activities in close cooperation with the [BRICS] New Development Bank. It is important that the business community should help enhance the Bank’s loan portfolio. “The New Development Bank has considerably expanded its operations as of late. Members of the Board of Directors have approved 21 projects worth over $1 billion, including five that will be implemented in Russia.

“We support the idea of opening regional offices of the Bank. Talks are underway with Brazil on this issue. Hopefully, the possibility of opening the Russian office will be discussed after the talks.

“The establishment of the BRICS Contingent Reserve Arrangement [to support countries under balance-of-payments pressure] deserves praise, and this has become an important mechanism for the prompt financing of our countries’ banking sector…

“In 2017, we met in Xiamen [China] and decided to establish the BRICS Local Currency Bond Fund. This is very important for the development of the financial systems of our states. Therefore, the Fund’s timely initial operations, due to commence in 2019, serve the interests of BRICS.”

BRICS Could be an Alternative Model of Development to Western Dominance

July 25, 2018–In a July 25 article published on the website of the Valdai Discussion Club, entitled “Brics and the World Order,” Georgy Toloraya suggests that the current BRICS grouping, plus other nations that form part of the “BRICS-Plus” structure (not official members) could offer the world “an alternative model of socio-economic development, differing from the West” that is based on “mechanisms of a liberal market or profit gaining…that assumes the dominance of the West.”

Toloraya is the Executive Director  of the Russian National Committee for BRICS Research. He debunks arguments that the BRICS is just a “China-centered structure,” intended only to promote China’s interests or its Belt and Road Initiative. These accusations, he notes, “are very sly statements. The Chinese factor is only one of the BRICS development facets.”

In today’s “turbulent global situation,” Toloraya adds, it is especially important that the BRICS “common denominator” grows. Why? In contrast to the G7, BRICS expresses a “touching unanimity, which is not faked. This is not a mutiny on the ship we see with the G7, when the captain led to one direction while the crew wants to go to another one.” By the time Russia takes over the chairmanship of the group in 2020, he notes, BRICS “could become a united center of the multipolar world…Now BRICS creates its own structure of global governance, and it must develop in that direction. I do not know, whether that could be accomplished in the context of growing counteraction from the West, but we have to keep working.”

Because the BRICS is a global organization, Toloraya concludes, “these five leading ascendant powers could create a world order that will be more just and balanced than what we see now.” It may not expand yet, but “what we see in the BRICS+ format, which is involving the largest countries that are not the group’s members, but show interest in it, is a significant step towards increasing the BRICS value and making this union a representative of the greater part of humanity.” On the eve of the Johannesburg summit, he concludes, BRICS is not {against}, but {for}: for just economic development conditions, for sustainable development concept centered on human beings.”