Nigerian VP: Osinbajo “Climate Justice Must Include Ending Energy Poverty” Especially for Sub-Saharan Africa

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), as well as Nigeria’s gas initiatives, will help transform Nigeria into a gas-based industrialized nation. (Courtesy of pulse.ng, Tolani Alli)

April 29, 2022

Nigerian Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, over the last year, has repeatedly demanded ending global energy poverty, which is a life and death necessity for the majority of the world’s population. Speaking at the Atlantic Council on April 13, VP Osinbajo challenged the prevailing green-environmental dictates against using fossil fuels to supply energy to energy starved nations. He told his virtual audience, “climate justice must include ending energy poverty .” (Osinbajo seeks justice for Africa.) (Emphasis added)

For sub-Saharan Africa, there is no more vital need to the survival of these African nations, than energy, energy, and more energy. Over 600 million Africans living in sub-Saharan Africa are without access to electricity. Another 300 million use charcoal and firewood to cook, both environmentally harmful. For Africa to end poverty and hunger, nothing is more essential than to have on-grid, plentifully, and accessible energy, with the capability to power an industrialized economy, for which solar and wind are insufficient. Any advocate for Africa, who does not fight for the creation of abundant energy for the continent, does not have Africa’s best interest at heart.

My own estimate is that for African nations to achieve the levels of energy consumption of the advanced sector, a minimum of 1,000 additional gigawatts of electrical power must be created. In his remarks VP Osinbajo stated, “For every Nigerian to consume the Modern Energy Minimum of 1,000 kilowatt hours per year by 2050 would require a 15-fold increase in our national power generation.” To achieve that goal, “Nigeria must add 200 gigawatts of new power capacity by 2060…”

West’s Green Hypocrisy

Writing in Foreign Affairs, August 31, 2021, The Divestment Delusion: Why Banning Fossil Fuel Investments Would Crush Africa, VP Osinbajo, confronted the discriminatory green anti-development “policies directed at African nations.

Hitting at the hypocrisy by developed nations, the Vice President wrote:  

“After decades of profiting from oil and gas, a growing number of wealthy nations have banned or restricted public investment in fossil fuels, including natural gas. Such policies often do not distinguish between different kinds of fuels, nor do they consider the vital role some fuels play in powering the growth of developing economies, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. As development finance institutions try to balance climate concerns against the need to spur equitable development and increase energy security, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have all taken aggressive steps to limit fossil fuel investments. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks are being urged by some shareholders to do the same. The African Development Bank, for instance, is increasingly unable to support large natural gas projects in the face of European shareholder pressure. Even UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called on countries to end all new fossil fuel exploration and production. ”

(Courtesy of Inside Africa-Facebook)

Under the subhead: Little Gain, Much Pain, he wrote:

“Curbing natural gas investments in Africa will do little to limit carbon emissions globally but much to hurt the continent’s economic prospects. Right now, Africa is starved for energy: excluding South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa’s one billion people have the power generation capacity of just 81 gigawatts—far less than the 108-gigawatt capacity of the United Kingdom. Moreover, those one billion people have contributed less than one percent to global cumulative carbon emissions.”

He continued:

But limiting the development of fossil fuel projects and, in particular, natural gas projects would have a profoundly negative impact on Africa. Natural gas doesn’t make sense in every African market. But in many, it is a crucial tool for lifting people out of poverty. It is used not only for power but for industry and fertilizer and for cleaner cooking. Liquified petroleum gas is already replacing huge amounts of hazardous charcoal and kerosene that were most widely used for cooking, saving millions of lives that were previously lost to indoor air pollution. The role of gas as a transition fuel for developing countries, especially in Africa, cannot be overemphasized.

Yet Africa’s progress could be undone by the rich world’s efforts to curb investments in all fossil fuels. Across sub-Saharan Africa, natural gas projects are increasingly imperiled by a lack of development finance.

Gas pipelines and power plants in the most energy-hungry markets need development finance to attract other capital and enable such projects to proceed

 But many more such power plants are needed to deliver electricity to our people, to power our industry and growing cities, and to balance intermittent solar power. A blanket ban on finance for all fossil fuels would jeopardize those objectives.” (Emphasis added)

African Leaders Contest Green Agenda

Gwede Mantashe (Courtesy of bussinesslive.co.za)

Gwede Mantashe, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa, has echoed VP Osinbajo, in his ddetermination to use South Africa’s abundant energy resources to end energy poverty. On December 9, 2021, Minister Mantashe, issued a powerful statement asserting that  South Africa’s “deserves the opportunity to capitalize on its natural resources.” (Shell: Gas and oil industry in SA under attack).  

He wrote in language more vigorous and iconoclastic than VP Osinbajo:

“Oil and gas exploitation has been carried out for decades across other economies in the World, including for more than 50 years in Norway, more than 80 years in Saudi Arabia and over 100 years in Germany. These economies are thriving today, and they were built on the back of the exploitation of these resources. Africa deserves an equal chance to develop its economies on the strength of her natural resources. 

“Several countries on the African continent have announced their oil and gas finds which present massive opportunities for economic growth, industrialization, and job creation. As these developments unfold, we have noted with interest, the pushback, and objections from environmental lobby groups against the development of these resources.

“I cannot help but ask myself, are these objections meant to ensure the status quo remains in Africa, in general, and South Africa, in particular? That is, the status quo with regards to energy poverty, high unemployment, high debt to GDP ratio at country level and economies that are not growing and, in some cases, jobless economic growth. Could it be possible that this is an extreme pure love for the environment or an unrelenting campaign to ensure that Africa and South Africa do not see the investment inflows they need?”

He concludes:

“South Africa deserves the opportunity to capitalize on its natural resources including oil and gas, as these resources have been proven to be game changers elsewhere. We consider the objections to these developments as apartheid and colonialism of a special type, masqueraded as a great interest for environmental protection. South Africa’s economic development is oppressed in the name of environmental protection when we have environmental framework that ensures that licensing is done with the utmost environmental care founded on Section 24 of our Constitution. We therefore appeal to all objectors to acknowledge this and allow South Africa to exploit its natural resources for the benefit of its citizens.” (Emphasis added)

Presidents Yoweri Museveni-left and Muhammadu Buhari-right (courtesy of dailypost.ng)

President Buhari of Nigeria has also challenged the attempt to keep African nations from utilizing their resources to industrialize their nations for the benefit of their citizens. Read: President Buhari of Nigeria, Demands More and Reliable Energy for Africa from COP26. President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has raised similar objections. Read: Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa: Africa Needs Reliable Energy-Nuclear-to Power Industrialized Economies

Live With Energy or Die with Green

Will the Western dictated green-reset to shield civilization from climate change end up killing more people than it purports to save? How many lives will perish from the dearth of plentiful and reliable energy, which is required to end poverty and hunger in Africa?

At the highest echelons of the corporate and financial world, in conjunction with Western governments, it has been decided that investments in fossil fuels-hydrocarbons will be halted. Coal, oil, and gas production will be replaced by channeling money into solar and wind renewables, which are both unreliable to supply energy 24/7. Given that it is known that neither solar nor wind are capable of providing sufficient power to drive an industrialized economy,* it should be obvious the intent of these policies: prevent African nations from industrializing. The fact there is not an all-out effort to invest in nuclear energy, especially Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which will provide safe, reliable power, indicates that there is an intent to keep Africa in energy poverty.

From slavery, through colonialism, and following independence, African nations have been denied what Kwame Nkrumah, and Cheikh Anta-Diop knew was essential for their sovereignty: the right to have industrialized economies.

Without energy dense, and infrastructure dense economies, to include mechanized farming, and robust manufacturing sectors, large portions of African nations will be forced to exist in miserable living conditions, which will lead to higher death rates.

It is criminal to prohibit African nations from using their own natural resources for the development of their economies, without which, hundreds of millions of their citizens will remain in wretched poverty.

*The sun “miraculously” maintains life on our planet, but is not an efficient energy source to perform work, because solar radiation reaching the earth’s surface is too diffuse i.e., has a low energy-flux density. Windmills are not cost efficient when one compares the energy required to construct acres of windmills, to the net energy produced. Both solar and wind are also dependent on weather conditions.

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

President Buhari of Nigeria, Demands More and Reliable Energy for Africa from COP26

Mahammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, issued a forceful statement (printed below) to the COP26 Summit, on the need for African nations to have access to abundant and reliable energy. This followed by one week, a likeminded statement from President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda.

Western nations, global institutions, and the international banks, have declared that African nations should not have the energy-i.e., electricity needed to fully develop their nations. So called renewables, wind and solar energy are inefficient and inadequate to power industrialized nations. COP26 and the fanatical neo-Malthusians who spawned the radical environmentalist movement, do not want African nations to develop. They do not want to see African nations become industrialized. They would rather  see the population of Africa reduced. They are using so called environmental concerns to deny African nations the right to eliminate poverty and have access to 1,500 watts of electricity 24 hours a day-7 days a week, like Western nations. Western nations developed because they had access to abundant and reliable energy. Sub-Saharan African needs an additional 1,000 gigawatts of power. Yet, COP26 is trying to impose inferior and limited energy for African, and all developing nations. Why was nuclear energy, which is an absolute necessity for Africa, not even allowed to be brought up for discussion at COP26? For six decades, since the liberation of Africa from the colonial powers, there has been no effort to bring light i.e., electricity to Africa. However, now these same nations want to limit energy to prevent the  industrialization of African nations. This is a complete fraud! Africans are dying daily from multiple causes; all related to the lack of energy. Why hasn’t the international community been concerned enough for the last sixty years to empower African nations to build adequate national electricity grids? Worth thinking about.

The Climate Crisis Will Not be Fixed by Causing an Energy Crisis in Africa | Opinion

MUHAMMADU BUHARI , PRESIDENT, FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
10/30/21, Newsweek Magazine OPINION

Without extra and stable power, we cannot build the factories that will transform Africa from a low-job, extractives-led economy to a high employment middle-income continent. Children cannot learn for longer and better by battery light any more than by candlelight. No more than the Africa of today, the Africa of tomorrow cannot advance using energy production that intermittently delivers.”

Dire warnings of the end of the world are as old as civilization itself. But each year as the countdown to United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) begins, they grow in volume and intensity. Recently, senior United Nations officials raised the alarm of “world conflict and chaos” and mass migrations and institutional collapse should greenhouse gas emissions remain unchecked for much longer.

Mankind has a duty to act on these dangers. But because of their seriousness we must not do so rashly. It is an inconvenient truth, but energy solutions proposed by those most eager to address the climate crisis are fuel for the instability of which they warn. No more clearly can this be seen than in Africa.

For today’s 1.3 billion Africans, access to low-cost and reliable energy is the highest of all possible concerns. Estimated to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050—by 2100 Nigeria alone is projected to have the second largest population on the planet—this “great doubling” (for Nigeria, quadrupling) has the right to more dependable electricity than their forebears.

Without extra and stable power, we cannot build the factories that will transform Africa from a low-job, extractives-led economy to a high employment middle-income continent. Children cannot learn for longer and better by battery light any more than by candlelight. No more than the Africa of today, the Africa of tomorrow cannot advance using energy production that intermittently delivers.

Yet in our rush to address climate concerns, and for western aid agencies and investors to burnish their green credentials, we rush to install the most alternative of energy sources which are often the most unreliable. Wind and solar, the most fashionable of modern energy technologies, are flawed by their reliance on back-up diesel generators or batteries for when there is no wind for the turbines or sun for the panels.

It also seems unnoticed that in our global rush for electric cars we risk replacing the last century’s scramble for fossil fuels with a new global race in lithium for batteries. Where significant deposits are to be found, such as in Africa, this could endanger geopolitical stability. This makes the economic migrations the U.N. warned of more likely. We must think carefully whether our dash to terminate the use of fossil fuels so swiftly is as wise as it sounds.

A view of yellow canola fields

There is no single “green bullet” that can be deployed either in Africa or the world that solves concerns of environmentalists while simultaneously offering the power to fuel hope of greater wealth and progress for the extra 1 billion citizens of our African future.

But there are certain things we can and must do—starting with transitioning to cleaner, but consistent, energy production. Fossil fuel power generation that can provide electricity 24 hours a day in all conditions can be re-tooled greener through carbon capture and the conversion of coal and heavy fuel oil power stations to biomass. We can bring forward new technologies such as mini-hydro power plants which can operate and produce power day and night along shallow waterways without damaging the aquatic life on which local communities are sustained.

We can also invest in nuclear. Though not renewable it is carbon neutral and capable of producing baseload, constant electricity production on which sustained economic progress can be built. Nigeria is among a handful of African countries exploring nuclear power, with a research reactor already operational.

And we can also learn from our friends in Europe and America who do not always practice what they preach. We call on them to lift the moratorium they have placed on fossil fuel investments in Africa. Nigeria has pledged to eliminate illegal gas flaring by 2030—a by-product of our oil industry—and harness it for electricity production. Our intention to end Nigeria’s single greatest contribution to greenhouse emissions may stall without it. Yet there are no such limitations on investment in natural gas power in the West where it is considered a transitional energy source.

There is a deal to be done at COP26, but none without the agreement of the nations of Africa. The climate warnings we hear them. We live them. But no one has the right to deny the advancement of our continent. Yet unless the developed world wakes up, we run the risk of trying to fix the climate crisis with an energy crisis.

Muhammadu Buhari is president of Nigeria.

Read statement from President Museveni : Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa: Africa Needs Reliable Energy-Nuclear-to Power Industrialized Economies

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

Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa: Africa Needs Reliable Energy-Nuclear-to Power Industrialized Economies

Wind turbines operate at a wind farm near Vredenburg, South Africa, Oct. 6. Photo: Dwayne Senior/Bloomberg News

The comments below by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, are very timely as G-20 nations convene in Glasgow for the COP26 Summit. President Museveni is absolutely correct. The Green energy movement proposed by the West will lead to more deaths, increase poverty, and impose more misery, and suffering across the continent of sub-Saharan African (SSA). Under the guise of reducing C02, the “Green Reset” supported by all the global financial instructions, will suppress the growth of agriculture, manufacturing and industry in SSA.  The deficit of energy in SSA is killing Africans today and has retarded economic growth in SSA for decades. Over the last several decades Western nations and intuitions have done nothing to address the huge infrastructure needs in Africa. However, now these same institutions are using the Green ideology to prevent Africa from developing. My estimates are that SSA needs at least 1,000 gigawatts of energy. I support burning as much oil, gas, and coal as necessary in preparation to transitioning into economies powered by nuclear energy. Only in the last ten years as we seen minimally, but important construction of vital infrastructure by China and Belt and Road Initiative. 

OPINION | COMMENTARY-Wall Street Journal

Solar and Wind Force Poverty on Africa
Letting us use reliable energy doesn’t mean a climate disaster.

By Yoweri K. Museveni
Oct. 24, 2021

Africa can’t sacrifice its future prosperity for Western climate goals. The continent should balance its energy mix, not rush straight toward renewables—even though that will likely frustrate some of those gathering at next week’s global climate conference in Glasgow.
My continent’s energy choices will dictate much of the climate’s future. Conservative estimates project that Africa’s population of 1.3 billion will double by 2050. Africans’ energy consumption will likely surpass that of the European Union around the same time.

Knowing this, many developed nations are pushing an accelerated transition to renewables on Africa. The Western aid-industrial complex, composed of nongovernmental organizations and state development agencies, has poured money into wind and solar projects across the continent. This earns them praise in the U.S. and Europe but leaves many Africans with unreliable and expensive electricity that depends on diesel generators or batteries on overcast or still days. Generators and the mining of lithium for batteries are both highly polluting.

This stands to forestall Africa’s attempts to rise out of poverty, which require reliable energy. African manufacturing will struggle to attract investment and therefore to create jobs without consistent energy sources. Agriculture will suffer if the continent can’t use natural gas to create synthetic fertilizer or to power efficient freight transportation.

A better solution is for Africa to move slowly toward a variety of reliable green energy sources. Wildlife-friendly minihydro technologies should be a part of the continent’s energy mix. They allow for 24-hour-a-day energy production and can be installed along minor rivers without the need for backup energy. Coal-fired power stations can be converted to burning biomass, and carbon capture can help in the meantime. Nuclear power is also already being put to good use in South Africa, while Algeria, Ghana and Nigeria operate research reactors with the intent of building full-scale nuclear facilities.

All this will take time, meaning Africa will have to use fossil fuels as it makes the transition. Natural gas is a greener option that will help the continent reduce emissions even as it grows, as developed nations have done themselves.

Saying any of this meets with backlash from developed nations. Instead of reliable renewables or greener fossil fuels, aid money and development investments go to pushing solar and wind, with all their accompanying drawbacks. And many Western nations have put a blanket ban on public funding for a range of fossil-fuel projects abroad, making it difficult for Africa to make the transition to cleaner nonrenewables.

In the coming decades my continent will have a strong influence on global warming. But it doesn’t now. Were sub-Saharan Africa (minus South Africa) to triple its electricity consumption overnight, powering the new usage entirely by gas, it would add only 0.6% to global carbon emissions.

Africans have a right to use reliable, cheap energy, and doing so doesn’t prevent the development of the continent’s renewables. Forcing Africa down one route will hinder our fight against poverty.

Mr. Museveni is president of Uganda.

We Must Have a WW II Type Military Mobilization NOW to Combat Covid-19 in Africa

This report below by the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, published July 19, should serve as a call to arms for immediate action to prevent the deaths of several hundred thousand Africans in the months ahead. Now is the time for action; not debate. Africa needs 3 billion doses of the vaccine, not the few hundred thousand doses that are being dribbled out by the Western countries. Africa’s 1.5 billion people must be vaccinated now-not in 2023. We African nations need to upgrade their weak healthcare system. Manufacturing and distributing centers for the vaccine must immediately be created along with necessary infrastructure, logistics, and training. Now is not the time to quibble about money. Human life is more precious than money. Don’t worry about lending money, give the money outright to prevent Africa from experiencing what India has suffered, and potentially far worse.

READ: Spotlight devastating human toll delta-Covid-variant-takes-hold-in-Africa

By the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, July 9, 2021

The surge in the Delta coronavirus variant in Africa is set to cause hundreds of thousands of deaths in the coming months absent a dramatic scaling up of preventative measures and COVID vaccine access.

While parts of the world have seemingly begun to turn the page on the pandemic, COVID’s third wave is the headline story across Africa. There has been a near tripling in the number of COVID cases and 30,000 fatalities on the continent since the end of April when the Delta variant emerged in Uganda.

Read my earliuer posts:

Vaccination and Healthcare for Africa NOW! Prevent Scourge of Covid-19 and Save Lives

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

Rising Covid19 Death Rate Threatens Africa. Vaccinations and Healthcare Must Be Provided

International Cooperation and Collaboration Needed to Save Lives in Africa From COVID-19

New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

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

“HARD INFRASTRUCTURE IS WHAT WE NEED TO GET OUT OF POVERTY.”

Watch the video interview below with Olawale A-Rasheed, CEO of Abuja, Nigeria-based African Railway Consulting Ltd, who provides an excellent discussion of Africa’s needs for massive railroad construction.

The Silent Revolution in African Rail

2 June 2021

In this new podcast of the Belt and Road Institute in Sweden (BRIX), host Hussein Askary discusses with our guest Olawale A-Rasheed, CEO of Abuja, Nigeria-based African Railway Consulting Ltd, the current situation and future plans for railway connectivity in the African continent. We try to answer the following questions: – What is the status of transport sector in Africa, West Africa, and Nigeria? – What projects are completed, under construction? Who is building them? – What are the plans to develop this sector? Trans-African High-speed rail? – What is the role of China and the BRI in this process, and what can the U.S. and Europe contribute to it? Why they should learn from China in focusing on building the hard infrastructure in Africa? – There are many initiatives proposed by the U.S., the UK, and the EU to “rival” the BRI and China in Africa. Are these realistic? Wouldn’t it be better if the West and China join hands with Africa to reach the development goals? Mr. Rasheed is also the Director of the African Rail Roundtable and editor of the specialized magazine Rail Business (http://railbus.com.ng/)

“The real friends of Africa now are those trying to bridge the infrastructure deficit…..China has done it. It has pumped billions of dollars into the Belt and Road Initiative. Now, whatever critisism they have on that initiative, it has helped Africa. It has opened up Africa and it has challenged the world, that to be a friend of Africa, come and help us to build roads, bridges, have vision, high cities, power, and all those. So it is a clarion call to all friends of Africa in the West, East, Asia that HARD INFRASTRUCTURE IS WHAT WE NEED TO GET OUT OF POVERTY.”

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

Nuclearize Africa: It Is Necessary To End Poverty and Hunger

In the article below; Energy for Africa: The Power to Industrialize and Reach Zero Poverty, author PD Lawton, creator of the website, africanagenda.net, discusses the progress by African nations in acquiring nuclear energy. As the article makes clear, “nuclear technology will enable countries to realize more than 9 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.” Nuclear energy will supply the power for the industrialization of African nations.

Let us be blunt: African nations will not achieve true stability, peace, and democracy until poverty and hunger are eliminated! From decades of examining  the physical economies of Africa, I can say with complete authority, as long as large sections of the population of African nations are desperately attempting to simply survive and find ways to feed their families everyday, there will not peace, security, and democracy. Abundant and and inexpensive energy, with 100% access by the population and industry is the bedrock of any successful economy. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) needs minimally, 1,000 gigawatts of additional energy. A gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts. SSA presently has a mere 100,000-130,000 megawatts-100 to130 gigawatts. All forms of energy generation must be employed to power African economies. However, even clean hydro-electric is limited by the flow of water, as we have witnessed recently in energy shortages in Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Nuclear energy is the most efficient form of power society currently operates. The technology is well known and safe. Delaying the construction of nuclear powers across the African continent will only contribute to more misery and death for Africans. Thus, nuclear energy should become an increasingly larger portion of new energy for African nations, beginning today! 

Read:

ENERGY for Africa : The Power to Industrialize and Reach Zero Poverty

Read: Nuclear Energy Can Bridge the Skills Gap in Africa

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

 

Hunger Stalks Africa: Nations Should be Food Self-Sufficient

Desert Locust invade Ethiopia (Courtesy TESFANEWS)

February 27, 2020

Right now, as I write, two regions of Africa are experiencing food emergencies: East Africa and Southern Africa. This is a crime against humanity. There is no objective reason for starvation and malnutrition in this continent rich with arable land. Actions should be taken today, not tomorrow, to reverse this life threatening, but preventable food shortage. It is morally repugnant to witness so many human beings perishing due to the persistence of poverty, hunger, and disease in Africa.

On January 20th, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) requested a mere $76 million to combat the spread of the destructive Desert Locusts.  A just released joint statement-UN Joint Statement on Locust in East Africa signed by several organizations, Locust in Africa: A Race Against Time, reports that since February, the locust swarms originally sighted in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, have spread to South Sudan, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania,  and have reached the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has not since a locust incursion since 1944.  With the expansion of the locust invasion, the FAO has doubled its request for emergency funding to $138 million, of which only $33 million, less than 25% has been collected of pledged.

In this region of the world the food supply is already so fragile that 20 million Africans are deemed food insecure. Experts estimate that a one square kilometer swarm of Desert Locusts can consume as much food as 35,000 people in one day, which potentially increases the number of food insecure Africans in this zone to almost 40 million.

The joint communique boldly states: “The next wave of locusts could devastate East Africa’s most important crop of the year, right when it is most vulnerable. But that doesn’t have to happen. The Window of opportunity is still open. The time to act is now.”

The statement concludes: “It is time for the international community to act more decisively. The math is clear, as is our moral obligation. Pay a little now, or pay a lot more late.”

Read: UN Joint Statement on Locust in East Africa

Read my recent post: End Threat of Locust Plague: Transform the Desert

 

Village women receive aid from a charity organisation in Chirumhanzi, Zimbabwe, File picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP
Village women receive aid from a charity organisation in Chirumhanzi, Zimbabwe, File picture: Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi/AP

Southern Africa

Simultaneously, on the Southern end of the Africa continent; Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola, Lesotho, and Eswanti (Swaziland) are also facing shortages of food.

Journalist, Shannon Ebrahim, reports that “according the World Food Program (WFP), 7.7 million Zimbabweans are facing the worst hunger emergency in a decade…An astounding 90% of infants are malnourished and have stunted growth.” However, severe food shortages are not limited to Zimbabwe

“In Angola, 2.4 million are affected by food insecurity, where children are barely eating one meal a day. World Vision staff in Angola report they have never seen hunger and malnutrition on this scale.

“In Zambia, 2.3 million are facing acute hunger, and in Eswatini 24% of the population are suffering food shortages. In Lesotho, 20% of the population is food insecure

WFP regional director for southern Africa Lola Castro has said, “The hunger crisis is on a scale we’ve never seen before and evidence shows it’s going to get worse.”

Ebrahim writes, “As a result of drought, widespread flooding, and economic problems, 45 million people in southern Africa are facing food shortages.”

Hunger Can Be Eliminated

Droughts, locusts, and other disasters that contribute to food insecurity may not easily be prevented, but human intervention can mitigate and surmount so called natural catastrophes. However, there is no justifiable reason for hunger to persist in a continent of abundant, fertile, arable land.

Food self-sufficiency, which is a national security priority, in this age of out sized and exaggerated globalization, has worsened in the majority of African nations over the last several decades.  Not only does this jeopardize the health and existence of society, but it drains nation’s foreign reserves with mega-food import expenditures.

The most critical, essential, fundamental, and undeniable ingredient to a successful agricultural sector, as well as a manufacturing sector, is infrastructure.  It is the sine qua non for progress. Africa is suffering from a lack of infrastructure, particularly in the most crucial categories of hard infrastructure; electrical power and railroads. No concerned official in Africa or from a friendly government, who does not place their emphasis on energy and rail, is not helping African nations to develop. No NGO activist, no matter how sincere, who does not advocate for such infrastructure is not truly helping Africans to free themselves from the shackles of poverty, hunger, and disease.

I do not make these statements lightly. Without massive construction of hard infrastructure, African nations will not have productive agricultural and manufacturing sectors capable of producing the physical goods necessary for society’s continued existence. This is a scientific-economic reality.

Why are trees being cut down across the Sahel? To provide firewood and charcoal for cooking. This is foolishness. Trees are one of the best means to reverse the march of the desert. However, trees are being cut down, because homes do not have access to electricity and gas. If a portion of the tens of billions of dollars being spent on “global warming” were spent providing electricity to the nations of the Sahel, the counterproductive practice of charcoaling would be eliminated. If we built the decades’ overdue East West railroad, along with irrigating the desert (again energy) we could, can, transform the desert.

Why should over 100 million Africans face food insecurity on this rich African continent? The truth is; there is no acceptable reason. Our own lack of action speaks volumes.

Read: Zimbabwe is Facing Starvation

Read my article below from March 22, 2017 

Famine in Africa: More Than Humanitarian Aid Required

 

End Threat of Locust Plague: Transform the Desert

End Locust Plagues: Transform the Desert

February 20, 2020

Lawrence Freeman

Today the food supply of East Africa is threatened by a locust swarm that is ravaging crops in several nations. The Desert Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) is an extremely destructive pest that is found from West Africa, east across the African continent to the Middle East, India, and Asia.

A Desert Locust upsurge can grow into a swarm, and under the right conditions develop into a plague, affecting two or more regions with concentrated locust infestations. When locust swarms grow and migrate, they endanger the food supply of dozens of nations that comprise a large portion of the earth’s surface. The 1986-1989 plague is reported to have affected over 40 nations destroying crops in the Sahel, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and southwestern Asia.

In 2016, the World Metrological Organization (WMO), and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO), released a report, Weather and Desert Locusts, documenting that the invasion area of the Desert Locusts extends to 30 million square kilometers, over 11.5 million square miles-almost the size of the entire African continent.

The international community must initiate a full scale military style operation to support African nations with resources and personnel, if we are to prevent thousands of more Africans from starvation. Africa, Arabia, India, Pakistan cannot afford a new plague; we have the power to act now to prevent such a catastrophe.

Now is also the opportune time for civilization to confront the more difficult task of “eliminating” desert conditions that spawn the locust. Many initiatives and water infrastructure projects exist to begin the greening of the Sahel.

East Africa’s Food Supply at Risk

A swarm of these deadly locusts can reach several billion, covering an area of 200 by 120 kilometers. Each locust consumes its weight daily in food-2grams, resulting in a loss of hundreds of thousands of tons of food meant to feed the population. According to the United Nations’ (FAO), “each square kilometer of swarm can include 40 to 80 million locusts and eat as much food as 35,000 people.”

The swarms are active in Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia, and have spread to Uganda, and South Sudan. It is estimated that 11 million people are already considered food insecure in this region of Africa. According to the U.N., this new invasion of locust swarms could cause food insecurity to an additional 20 million Africans. The UN reports that the swarms are the largest that Somalia, and Ethiopia have experienced in a quarter of a century. Kenya has not faced this severe of an incursion in 70 years. Somalia has declared a national emergency, in response to the Desert Locust invasion, as has Pakistan. Already, 71,000 acres of farmland in Ethiopia and Somalia have been destroyed.

Keith Cressman, senior forecaster for the FAO, reported that the swarms have moved across the border into Tanzania and Uganda. He said: “Action taken in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya – as well as Pakistan – will now determine what happens next. If the current upsurge crosses more borders and infests more regions, devastating more crops, it could be declared a ‘plague’.”

The Uganda government has responded appropriately to the threat to their food supply by deploying the military to assist in spraying of pesticides.

Desert Locust invade Ethiopia (Courtesy TESFANEWS)

Emergency Action Required

The U.N. has asked for $76 million in immediate aid. So far just under $20 million is in hand, including $10 million released from the U.N. emergency relief fund and $3.8 million from FAO. The United States originally agreed to contribute $800,000, and the European Union 1 million Euros. However, even with a pledge of $8 million to fight the locust incursion, announced by Secretary of State, Mike Pampeo during his recent visit to Ethiopia, the total is barely more than a third of the funds requested. The international community is being dangerously shortsighted, if not morally criminal, by allowing the locust swarms to exacerbate existing food shortages.

Dominique Burgeon, the FAO’s emergency and resilience director warned that without aerial spraying the current surge can turn into a plague, “and when you have a plague, it takes years to control.”  Mark Lowcock, the UN’s top humanitarian official, told ambassadors at a UN briefing last week: “We are running out of time. We do have a chance to nip this problem in the bud, but that’s not what we are doing at the moment.”

It is imperative the aerial and ground spraying be expanded immediately, and all necessary resources be provided. African nations lack the adequate number of planes necessary, most having less than a handful that can be deployed to combat the swarm. According to The New Humanitarian, the five planes that Kenya deployed to break up the swarms initially faced a shortage of the insecticide, fenitrothion. They report that the Deputy Minister of Agriculture for Somalia, Maud Ali Hassan said, “We are lacking all resources, including the expertise to prevent a humanitarian disaster.”

In addition to the full complement of aerial and ground spraying that must include a sufficient number of planes, insecticide, and four wheel drive vehicles to reach remote areas, which the locust infected nations lack, Cressman raises the possible deployment of drone technology.

Ultra Low Volume spraying with insecticides produces a mist with droplets that has proved effective in killing this deadly pest.

In his article, Preventing the spread of desert locust swarms, Cressman writes: “The operational use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) – also known as drones – could potentially overcome these limitations in many affected nations. In the field, UAVs could be used to automatically collect high-resolution imagery of green, vegetated areas potentially affected by locusts”

Civilian satellite imaging is being employed. However, advanced imagery is needed to locate more precisely infested and breeding areas. This requires that African nations have access to imagery from military satellites, which would also necessitate that their technicians be properly trained to interpret the data.

The application of electron magnetic pulses and other electromagnetic devices to emit tuned frequencies specifically aimed at killing the locusts should also be utilized in this war against these lethal pests.

An all-out war against the spread of locusts, using all available technologies is required to save the food supply of African nations already suffering from nutrition deficiency. The cost cannot be a factor for inaction. Whether it is $80 million, $100 million or several hundred million dollars: this is a small price to pay to prevent another plague. Compare this relatively minor cost to the obscene amounts of money-billions of dollars-being spent on the US Presidential primaries. The Desert Locust assault on humanity can be arrested, if we act now, with full force!

Transform the Desert

Desert Locusts “are always present somewhere in the deserts between Mauritania and India…ready to mate when conditions are favorable. Eggs are usually laid in areas of bare sandy soil and require previous rainfall,” according to the report, Weather and Desert Locusts.

Since the sands, dry heat, and winds of African deserts create propitious conditions for the breeding and migration of desert locust, why not eliminate-i.e. transform the desert?

Contrary to popular beliefs, the Sahel and Sahara Deserts are not the natural-pristine state of North Africa. The desert was created millions of years ago when the African Plate migrated north, cut off the Tethys Sea and crashed into what is now known as Europe. The Sahara Desert was originally under water. The Sahara also alters itself, from three million square miles of arid sand into a tropical climate with lush vegetation, and waters filled with whales, and hippopotami. This occurs every 20-25,000 years in accordance with the cycle of rotation of our planet’s axis, known as the earth’s wobble. Given that the most recent drying up of the Sahara occurred approximately 5,500  years ago, the rains are not expected to return for another 15-20,000 years. However, we cannot afford to sit by idly for thousands of years suffering the harsh conditions of the desert.

Humankind was fashioned to intervene on our universe, to improve its condition, to enhance the biosphere in which we exist. The concept of the physical universe, that includes the lawful intervention of human creativity, was conceived as the “Noosphere” by the great Ukrainian geologist and scientist of the twentieth century, Vladimir Vernadsky.

The Sahara Desert has been an impediment for Africa’s development throughout hundreds of thousands of years. More recently, this uninhibited desolate expanse of land has become home to numerous violent extremist organizations that have challenged the sovereignty of Mali, and Nigeria’s Borno State.  Military only responses have so far failed to dislodge the terrorists from his region.

Think Big, Bold and in the Future

The physical universe is organized to respond to “noetic” intervention, i.e. humankind’s powers of reason. We should not be sitting on the sidelines watching disasters occur, but rather preventing so called natural catastrophes.

With sufficient density of infrastructure, functioning farms, towns, and cities, can replace mountains of desert sand. Deserts have been conquered in other parts of the world. An East-West railroad across sub-Saharan Africa from the Indian to Atlantic Ocean, which should have been built decades ago, would have already modified the Sahel and Sahara. It would be accompanied by a new platform of energy, trade, and industry that would revolutionize the economies of East and West Africa. A rail link across the Sahara, connecting this newly built East-West railroad to the nations of the Maghreb, and ultimately to Europe, would join the economies of the sub-continent to those of the Eurasian land mass. Sand would be supplanted by concrete and steel.

The desert can be converted into arable land by introducing moisture to this arid territory. Once there is continual penetration of water into the sand, vegetation and growth will occur, eventually altering transpiration cycles. This will cause a change in the volume, and patterns of rainfall.  Tree transpiration is the process by which water is carried through the tree from the roots to small pores on the underside of leaves and released into the atmosphere by evaporation. Trees consuming carbon dioxide and releasing moisture and oxygen, are the “best friends” of human beings and the environment.

Transaqua, a transnational infrastructure project to replenish the shrinking Sahelian Lake Chad to its previous area of 25,000 square kilometers, has been endorsed by the Nigerian government, and is awaiting a feasibility study.  Expanding Lake Chad with an annual flow of billions of cubic meters of water would affect climatic conditions across the Lake Chad Basin, and increase transpiration.

It is also necessary to aggressively move forward with the Pan African Great Green Wall Project (PAGGW), which  focuses on greening a strip of land of 15 km. wide and about 8,000 km. long that  will affect 20 nations including Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Sudan. PAGGW was adopted by the African Union in 2007 and ratified by member countries in 2010.

Another transnational infrastructure project that complements the Great Green Wall is the Trans Africa Pipeline (TAP). It is the first permanent solution to end devastating drought and increasing desertification across the Sahel region of northern Africa.

TAP is an 8,000 km. long freshwater pipeline that will provide clean, potable drinking water to 28-30 million people in 11 countries of the African Sahel. TAP will construct large-scale desalination plants on the west and east coasts of Africa. Regional tank farms and pumping stations for water storage and distribution would cross the Sahel for the management of the water source, which in turn can create upwards of 280,000 jobs across the Sahel.

The Trans Africa Water Pipeline has an agreement with the Pan African Great Green Wall Initiative, and both together can address 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals, but all member states and relevant stakeholders are needed to bring both projects to fruition.

We cannot impotently watch a pest, a mere insect, damage our human environment, when we have the means to defeat it.

Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

 

Africa Updates: Malian Crisis, Uganda’s New Hydroelectric Dam, Rwanda’s Infrastructure Goals, Kenyatta Speaks on China, US and Africa

In this interview, Lawrence Freeman exposes that the root cause of the present deadly crisis in Mali stems from the overthrow and assassination of of Muammar Gaddafi by the West in 2011, led by President Obama, Susan Rice, Hillary Clinton, and French President Sarkozy. .

 

Uganda is intending to build with ChinaPower, the Ayago Hydroelectric Power Station, located on a section of the Nile between lakes Kyoga and Albert. When completed, it will produce 840 megawatts of electricity at the cost $1.4 billion, and increase Uganda’s generating capacity by 40% to 2,800 megawattsTogether with the completion of Grand Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam GERD, East African nations are beginning to produce power necessary to develop their economies.  Read: Uganda-China Build New Hydroelectric Dam on the Nile

Rwandan Minister of Infrastructure, Claver Gatete, outlines plans for Rwanda to reach 100% access to electricity for its population in 2024, by adding 2.4 million households to the electrical grid in the next four years. Watch: Minister of Infrastructure on 100% Electricity by 2024

During his visit to the US, Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, warned about forcing African nations to chose between the US and China. China has made major contributions to building infrastructure in Africa that cannot be denied. The US should change its policy from treating Africa as a “pawn” in its geo-political chessboard, and instead join China in developing the vast underdeveloped African continent. Read: Kenya President Kenyatta Warns Against US-China Rivalry in Africa

In the Next Decade, Nuclear Power for Africa Is A Necessity, Not An Option

Image credit: IAEA

12/28/2019

In the next decade, beginning on January 1, 2020, African nations must pursue nuclear energy. This is necessary to provide energy to the continent, which is suffering from a huge deficit in electricity, but nuclear technology has many additional benefits to African economies.  This includes creating large amounts of potable water. With nuclear power plants along the Mediterranean and Red Sea, the equivalent of a “second Nile River” from desalination through nuclear powered desalination would transform the nations of the Nile Basin. Constructing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors-SMRs (see below) in every African nation would be a important first step towards ending poverty and industrializing the continent.  Let me bluntly state: without abundant, low cost energy, Africa will not develop, and its people will suffer. Energizing Africa is not an option, it is a life and death necessity!

{Sustainable Times} published a valuable article on December 23, 2019: Can Nuclear Unlock Africa’s Development?

Excerpts:

“Combining renewables with nuclear power, however, makes the task of powering Africa’s growing economies more viable – not to mention the other useful and often overlooked aspects that nuclear can contribute to development. Although South Africa is the only country on the continent currently operating a nuclear power plant, the technology is being increasingly considered by African leaders. For example, works are set to begin on a new 4.8GW plant in El Dabaa Egypt next year, which is being developed by Russia’s Rosatom.

“Other countries including Ethiopia, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana also have memorandums of understanding with Rosatom that pave the way for nuclear development. South Korea are also looking to invest in the continent’s energy industry, while Chinese nuclear firms have entered into agreements with Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Energy is a key driver for development. In Ghana, for example, nuclear is seen as the obvious way to provide reliable energy for bauxite refineries which would increase jobs and export capacity.

Technology beyond electricity

“But nuclear technology provides more than just energy: many advanced nuclear designs produce high-temperature process heat for uses in desalination plants, chemical production and even district heating systems. These subsidiary features would allow nuclear technology to benefit society beyond the generation of electricity – and potentially accelerating its deployment.

“Nuclear technologies are already being used in agriculture, for example, where isotopes and radiation techniques are harnessed to combat pests and diseases or to increase livestock and crop production. For instance, farmers in Benin have increased their maize yields by 50 percent, while simultaneously reducing the amount of fertiliser used by 70 percent, thanks to the deployment of nuclear-derived nitrogen-fixation methods – the same techniques that are allowing Maasai farmers in Kenya to double vegetable crop yields with half the irrigation of traditional methods.

“By contrast, nuclear desalination could use the excess heat from new reactor designs like Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) to produce thermal and electrical energy without emitting greenhouse gases, which then transforms seawater into freshwater. While capital costs for nuclear plants are initially high, fuel costs are low and stable: a doubling in the price of uranium would result in only a five percent increase in the total cost of energy generation. In contrast, an equivalent increase in oil would cause freshwater production costs to surge by 70 percent.”

 Read: Can Nuclear Unlock Africa’s Development?

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Progress for Small Modular Reactors

December 13, 2019—There’s some real good news for the U.S. economy today.  NuScale, an Oregon company that is developing a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR), has passed the next stage of review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Progress for Small Nuclear Reactors

Cross-section of NuScale small modular reactor (world nuclear news)

As this blog has reported before, the mass development of nuclear power is a critical component to bringing the productivity of the U.S. economy out of the doldrums, and thus bringing us into a new era of prosperity.  High-speed rail, modernized water systems, the space program, and many other components of an economic recovery program depend upon generating huge amounts of electricity that are way beyond our current capacity.  Nuclear represents a leap in productivity that will allow us to get there, as well as a step on the way to the development of thermonuclear fusion.

NuScale’s design for an SMR has now gone through four phases of review. It still has to go through stages 5 and 6. According to the company’s press release, the Oregon-based company is partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as other companies. It has received support from Congress.

As I outlined in a post approximately one year ago, the promise of SMRs lies not only in their safety design, but in the fact that the United States still has the industrial capacity to produce them assembly-line fashion. Over the past 40 years, the heavy industrial capability for producing a standard-sized nuclear reactor (measured in hundreds of megawatts or over 1000) has been dismantled. But a small reactor of 12 to 50 megawatts could be produced in assembly-line fashion, and provide a flexible means of providing power outside major urban areas, including hard-to-reach regions.

The United States is not the only country working on SMRs, and some in the industry are seeking to motivate investment in NuScale on the basis of “beating the competition.”  Such peaceful competition has a huge positive payoff for the human race, and can only be encouraged. Thus NuScale’s progress with the NRC is most welcome news.

The NuScale press release can be read in full here.