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.

Ethiopia Celebrates Launch of First Satellite-Science is the Driver of Economic Growth

Ethiopia Launches First Satellite into Space from China
Ethiopia’s satellite orbiting the earth. (courtesy of africanexponent.com)

December 22, 2019

Space exploration is an essential driver of economic growth. Mankind’s discovery of new physical principles of the universe leads to the creation of new technologies, which transform economies to higher levels of production of physical wealth.  It is science and assimilating new technologies like fission and fusion energy that are the  engines of real economic growth; not money or stock values. Exploration of space stimulates the mind and breeds optimism.  

“Ethiopia’s first satellite was sent into space on Friday, a landmark achievement for the ambitious country that also caps a banner year for Africa’s involvement in space.

“A Chinese Long March 4B rocket hoisted the first Ethiopian Remote Sensing Satellite (ETRSS-1) aloft from the Taiyuan space base in northern China.

“Scores of Ethiopian and Chinese officials and scientists gathered at the Entoto Observatory and Research Centre outside the capital, Addis Ababa, early Friday to watch a live broadcast.

“The 70-kilogramme (154-pound) satellite was developed by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology with the help of 21 Ethiopian scientists, according to the specialist website africanews.space…

“For us as a society, we are valuing this launch as something which lifts our national pride,” Paulos said.

“You know, this is a very poor country. Many in the younger generation don’t have big hopes of reaching space. But today we are giving this generation hope, helping this generation to think big and have self-esteem.”

Read: Ethiopia Celebrates Launch of First Satellite

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Nuclear Energy is Necessary for Africa’s Growth

Russia’s Rosatom already is building a $29 billion nuclear plant complex for Egypt, and the company is also helping Nigeria, Uganda, the Republic of Congo, and Rwanda establish nuclear facilities. The El Dabaa Nuclear Power Plant in Egypt will have four VVER-1200 reactors, or water-water energetic reactors, which are Russian-designed Generation III+ reactors. Russia is financing 85% of the project with a loan of about $25 billion to Egypt, and Egypt is paying the remaining 15% over a period of 13 years, wrote Darrell Proctor in Power on Dec. 2.

Africa’s only current operating nuclear power plant is the 1.8 GW Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, north of Cape Town, which is owned and operated by Eskom, South Africa’s power utility. The plant recently had its operational period extended for another 20 years from 2024 when it was originally supposed to be decommissioned.

African nations are trying to increase their power generation capacity on a continent that has long struggled to sustain reliable power. The International Energy Agency recently reported that 57% of Africa’s population still does not have easy access to electricity, and those with access to power deal with frequent power outages.

African nations desperately  need nuclear power for their survival. Without access to plentiful energy,  people will die and nations will not develop.

 

China & Russia-Africa Leads to Economic Growth; Not Debt Trap

Below you will read about the success of the second segment of Kenya’s Standard Gauge Railroad, and President President Cyril Ramaphosa’s firm refutation of allegations that a number of countries in Africa are being led into a debt trap by China and Russia

November 2, 2019

“Proponents of the New Paradigm in Africa have a new milestone to celebrate, with the opening of a new segment of the Mombasa-Kisumu Standard Gauge Rail (SGR) line in Kenya. On October 16, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta led a celebration to open Segment 2A, a 120 kilometer (75 mile) extension from the capital (and current terminus) of Nairobi, to Naivasha, a large town northwest of the capital. Opening of this—admittedly rather short—segment nonetheless brings the SGR project one step closer to its planned destination: Kampala, the capital city of neighboring, landlocked Uganda.”

Stunning Progress

Kenya’s SGR project, the most advanced in Sub-Saharan Africa, began in 2014, when the country began construction of a modern, standard gauge (1.435 meter) rail line from the port of Mombasa on the Indian Ocean, northwest to the nation’s capital of Nairobi, a distance of 450 km (275 mi). Opened in 2017, on Madaraka Day—Kenyan Independence Day, when the people took political control of their destiny from the British Empire on June 1, 1963— the rail line has been a huge success, cutting transport and delivery time significantly for both goods and people. Exceeding expectations, the railway transported two million passengers within its first 17 months; and in 2018, its first full year of operation, carried over 5 million tons of freight.

The Mombasa-Nairobi line was initiated in 2009 discussion between the China Road and Bridge Corporation and the Kenyan government, as reported by P.D. Lawson in the April 27, 2018 EIR. China’s Exim Bank extended credit for 90% of the project. By May 2016, initial track laying was completed in just over 1 year. Passenger service was opened May 31, 2017, eighteen months ahead of schedule. Freight services commenced in January 2018. Plans are now underway to electrify the segment from Mombasa to Nairobi, which will greatly lower operating costs.

Benefits of the new, faster technology now extend far beyond mere transport, where the railway has taken hundreds of trucks (and buses) off the notoriously congested highways, making them safer and more useable for the population.

With the increased capacity and speed of freight transport, Kenya’s exports to the East African Community (including neighboring states Uganda, Tanzania and South Sudan) have hit a three-year high in the first eight months of 2019. Not only have government earnings from domestically produced goods increased 6% compared to 2018, but Kenya’s domestic consumption of electricity—certainly not a nation known for its over consumption of this resource—has increased 3.2% in the first 8 months of 2019.

Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya.
President Kenyatta has launched additional infrastructure projects, building on the Kenya Vision 2030 plan. In addition to the opening of SGR Section 2A on October 16, he has announced plans for construction of an inland container depot (ICD) at Naivasha (to store or transfer goods from rail to truck, or from SGR to the old meter gauge rail, MGR); a new 23 km expressway in Nairobi; and a water project in rural Kimuku (stemming from a natural spring accidentally discovered during construction of the rail line!). He wants to create a Special Economic Zone—to include the port of Mombasa—to further speed up freight delivery.

EIR magazine, Nov. 1, 2019: “Kenyan Standard Gauge Successful in Looking Beyond the Here and Now

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NEWS October 28, 2019

Russia-Africa Summit: African countries not being led into debt trap —South Africa’s Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday refuted allegations that a number of countries in Africa are being led into a debt trap as they take up loans to fund a number of projects.

Ramaphosa said this during his weekly address from the Desk of the President in Cape Town, after returning from the Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last week.

“One need only look at initiatives such as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, which was last held in Beijing in 2018, to see that the focus is now on partnership for mutual benefit, on development, trade and investment cooperation and integration,” Ramaphosa said.

He lambasted remarks which label initiatives like the recent Russia-Africa Summit as an attempt by world powers to expand their geopolitical influence. African countries had taken part in the  summit to discuss ways of how to increase trade and cooperation between Russia and Africa. He said the summit was a sign of the growing economic importance of Africa on the world stage.

“What we are witnessing is a dramatic re-balancing of the relationship between the world’s advanced economies and the African continent,” he said.

African countries have consistently affirmed that Africa no longer wants to be passive recipients of foreign aid, said Ramaphosa. The president said African countries are developing and their economies are increasingly in need of foreign direct investment.

“We are ever mindful of our colonial history, where the economies of Europe were able to industrialize and develop by extracting resources from Africa, all the while leaving the colonies underdeveloped,” said Ramaphosa.

Even now, African countries are still trying to stop the extraction of its resources, this time in the form of illicit financial flows through commercial transactions, tax evasion, transfer pricing and illegal activities that cost the continent more than 50 billion dollars a year, according to Ramaphosa. The age where “development” was imposed from outside without taking into account the material conditions and respective requirements of our countries is now past, the president said.

“China, Russia, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries and other large economies are eager to forge greater economic ties with African countries. “This is because they want to harness the current climate of reform, the deepening of good governance, macro-economic stability and the opening up of economies across the continent for mutual benefit,” the president said.

 

Rwanda Moves Forward With Nuclear Energy: Time for Africa To Go Nuclear!

October 23, 2019

A nuclear plant. FILE PHOTO | AFP
A nuclear plant. Russia’s nuclear agency Rosatom has signed co-operation agreements to set up the nuclear plants in Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. FILE PHOTO | AFP

Nuclear power is essential to meet the needs of Africa’s huge energy deficit. However, it will do more for Africa. Nuclear energy not only has a higher energy flux density than hydro, coal, gas, inefficient solar, and silly wind mills, but it embodies a higher level of technology. This will enable African nations to raise the skill level of their workforce, as they learn to build an operate a more technologically advanced energy platform. More engineering schools and training centers will be required as African nations enter the age of civilian nuclear power. Thus, the nuclear energy industry will serve as a science driver for society, while creating higher levels of economic growth. 

Read: Rwanda Approves Nuclear Power Deal With Russia

Excerpts below:

The Rwandan Cabinet has approved an agreement with Russia to advance the use of nuclear energy for “peaceful purposes,” a move that is expected to bolster relations between the two countries and advance the latter’s interests in the region.

This comes ahead of the first Russia-African Forum next week in the city of Sochi, which President Paul Kagame has confirmed attendance, accompanied by a delegation of senior government officials.

The nuclear power deal was first signed in Moscow last December and will see Russian scientists set up a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in Kigali.

The deal was boosted in May when a Russian government nuclear parastatal, Rosatom Global, reached an agreement to set up the nuclear plant by 2024—that the government says will help in the advancement of technology in agriculture, energy production and environment protection.

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Nuclear Power at Russia-Africa Forum

The Russia-Africa Economic Forum in Sochi will host a special panel discussion, “Contribution of Nuclear Technologies in the Development of Africa,” on October 23, with the participation of Alexey Likhachev, Director General of Rosatom-the State Nuclear Energy Corporation.

“Rosatom has been active in Africa for a long time. The creation and development of the nuclear industry in Africa will not only solve the problem of the energy crisis, but also change the standard of living, providing full access to public health services, increasing the level of education and food security. We see a great interest on the part of African countries in creating new ties for further technological development. Moreover, we are ready to discuss all possible options for cooperation on the continent. I am sure that Russian-African nuclear projects will have a great future,” said Likhachev on Oct. 15, in a preview of the Sochi event.

The forum in Sochi was also prepared by a conference in Nairobi last week that featured officials of Rosatom and over 150 energy and nuclear professionals from across the globe. Representatives from key African countries that are planning or already implementing their respective programs for developing peaceful nuclear technologies included Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zambia.

Speaking in Nairobi, Dmitry Shornikov, CEO of Rosatom Central and Southern Africa, emphasized the advantages of joining the atomic club through creating nuclear industries in newcomer countries, and gave an overview of projects with the maximum positive effect on industrial development, enhancing the quality of life and developing ‘knowledge economy’.

Russia’s Growing Involvement in African Nuclear Development

One of the questions of the Oct. 23-24 Russia-Africa Summit is the need for Africa to develop civilian nuclear power. Russia is at the front end of the strategy to equip Africa with nuclear power, reports Sébastien Périmony in his blog “Africa with the Eyes of the Future” in France. No fewer than eight African countries have already signed agreements with Russia’s nuclear power company, Rosatom: Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.

“The stark reality is that Africa is in dire need of energy: 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa produce as much energy as the single country of Spain produces in Europe. That means that every other African has no access to electricity. According to the Global Energy Architecture Performance Index Report 2017, only five African countries have 100% electrification, all of them in  North Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco. South Africa follows immediately after, with a rate of 85.40%. Then come Ghana, 64.06%; Senegal, 56.50%; Ivory Coast, 55.80; and Nigeria, 55.60%. Some francophone countries: World Bank Reports gives access to electricity as 16% for Niger, 9% for Chad, 14% for the Central African Republic, and 20% for Burkina Fasso.”

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Read: Time to Invest in Nuclear Energy in Africa

Excerpts below:

“The future of energy and base-load generation is in nuclear, and probably coal and liquefied natural gas. Kenya needs to push ahead with the nuclear agenda to meet the country’s energy needs,” said the managing director of Kenya Nuclear Electricity Board Collins Juma.

Mr Juma said that Kenya requires at least 18,000MW to become a middle-income and an industrialized nation. With the total installed capacity at 2,370MW, it will need to diversify its energy sources to reach that target.

Countries in East Africa are among those on the continent seeking to build nuclear power plants driven by the need to end power challenges, and accelerate industrial and economic growth.

Russia, China and South Korea have emerged as the key vendors of nuclear energy, offering to help in financing the deals.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been at the forefront of the campaign to sell nuclear to Africa. Its deputy director-general Mikhail Chudakov told The EastAfrican that nuclear energy holds the key to industrial development.

“Africa needs to understand that solar and wind are good for home lighting [but not manufacturing],” he said.

Massive investments

But nuclear energy needs massive resources to build and operate, so state-owned companies like Russia’s Rosatom, China General Nuclear, China National Nuclear Corporation and Korea Electric Power Corporation are pushing various financing and construction models for the continent’s customers.

The companies have signed agreements and memoranda with African countries, ranging from research and development and human resources development to full reactor projects. Russia and China, in particular, have crafted packages providing state-backed loans, in the process altering the dynamics of nuclear markets.

In Egypt, for instance, Russia is providing 85 per cent of the funding for the 4,800MW plant currently under construction at a cost of $21 billion.

 

Can IGAD Achieve Peace Without Economic Development?

September 17, 2019
{Below is a provocative article that challenges the accepted method of achieving peace without economic development. I have always strongly believed that true peace and sovereignty can only be obtained, if the common-shared interest of the parties involved is a the center of negotiations. Improving the living conditions of all the people involved in the conflict is essential for long term viable peace. For example, after the unnecessary separation of Sudan, the West, which helped engineer the creation of South Sudan, failed miserably to build up the economy of the newly created South Sudan. As a result, the people of South Sudan are suffering massively from horrific living conditions. While I do not agree with Mekki Elmograbi’s approach of solely relying on the private sector and the so called free market, I concur with the thrust of his argument. It is clear to me, that the search for peace without economic development is a fool’s errand, and will not succeed.}

igad logo big

By Mekki ELMOGRABI

Could the endless search for peace be a trap? Yes, because “sustainable peace objectives with high standards of security and stability” is the bait that entices stakeholders to ignore the need for private sector development and regional economic integration until peace is achieved.

“We hear questions like peace through development! The maxim is good in theory but in reality, political peace is touted at the cost of economic integration. I no longer believe in everlasting peace as a condition to development or economic growth. In a simple economy, market people could pay to build a police station to increase security in border areas. IGAD, in the meantime, when it is not preoccupied with the “peace trap” it can advise governments on how to allocate the taxes from borders markets to local roads and how to create security in the area. Feasibly, IGAD and AU can hold peace talks and workshops at borders to promote markets and countryside African resorts rather than five-star hotels in the cities.”

Read: IGAD and Peace Trap!

Russia Assists Uganda With Nuclear Energy. China Land Grabbing Is A Myth

(iStock)
{Development of nuclear energy in Africa is not only essential to provide the hundreds of thousands of additional megawatts of power required for Africa’s peace and economic growth. It also elevates African nations to higher scientific platform of infrastructure, which will raise the level of productivity of the entire economy.}

Russia to help Uganda develop nuclear energy

September 18, 2019

Russia’s state-owned companies have been at a key part of the strategy to bolster Moscow’s presence on the continent.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s is seeking to use his country’s uranium deposits to develop nuclear power.

The deal “lays the foundation for specific cooperation between Russia and Uganda” in the field of nuclear energy, Rosatom said.
It also paves the way for working together in “the creation of nuclear energy infrastructure, the production of radioisotopes for industry, medicine, agriculture, as well as the training of personnel”.Rosatom said the parties had agreed to organise visits by specialists in the “near future”.Moscow first signed a memorandum of understanding with Kampala in this area in 2017, ahead of Beijing, which signed a similar agreement in 2018.

Russia To Help Uganda Develop Nuclear Energy

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French Agronomist Proves that China’s “Land Grab” in Africa Is a Myth

PARIS, Sept. 16, 2019 – After the nomination of Chinese biologist, Vice Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China Qu Dongyu, as Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on June 23, rumors went wild against the alleged Chinese plot to “take over” African food production.

French agronomist Jean-Jacques Gabas, a scientist, who traveled over Africa to investigate the situation, offered some clarity to {Le Monde} on September 13.

In effect, China became the head of the Organization for Industrial Development, the International Union for Tele-communications, the International Organization of Civil Aviation and, between 2016 and 2018, of Interpol.

“As a matter of fact, OECD financing of agriculture has been very poor over the last 30 years. It fell increasingly and led to the 2008 food crisis…. When you discuss the Chinese strategy with African agriculture ministers, they tell you: ‘Stop giving advice and creating fear. What did you finance over the last 30 years? Very little, given the need.’ And they aren’t mistaken,” he pointed out.

Asked if China wants to develop its imports of African agriculture products, Gabas, debunking what so many people fear.

“No. Since the end of the 2000, Beijing certainly is the first trading partner of Sub-Saharan Africa, but the share of agriculture in African exports to China represents only 2-3% of trade volume, almost nothing. China’s investments in African rice and sugar production go to regional African markets. Of course, Africa has 1.4 billion people to feed, which makes it very dependent on food imports. However, China knows that in world economic crises, notably in case of a food crisis in Africa, prices will be shaky and products will become scarce, impacting China’s domestic cereal production. China also wants to stabilize the African continent’s food production. What it imports from Africa are rubber, manioc for food packaging, and, depending on the years, peanuts, cotton, and wood. South African vineyards are also bought for export purposes. All of this implies very low volumes, far less than African food exports to Europe or those of mining products and fossil fuels to Africa….

Chinese companies are present and profit from market and investment opportunities, but without a marked strategy to ‘feed China.'”

Asked about the allegation of Chinese “land grabbing,” Gabas answers: “Respecting Chinese land acquisitions, viable statistics tell us that China is not number 1 and comes in only as 8th or 9th. Be it land for farming, mining, forestry, or rubber production, the largest investors remain OECD countries (U.S.A., U.K., and France), national companies or Gulf States such as Saudi Arabia. One observes that whenever the Chinese buy land and a conflict arises about the land or with part of the population, they retreat or change the nature of the utilization. … Chinese land grabbing is a myth.”

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Italian economist Antonino Galloni discusses principles of economic growth for developing nations.

Speaking from Xi’an, China on Sept. 12

“Africa and countries with an higher rate of demographic growth and lower GDP growth should promote a higher domestic growth,” Galloni said, by “improving their domestic industries, substitute imports, upgrading infrastructure, building efficient connections with Europe and the rest of the world.” Those countries should “export less raw materials and semi-finished products, create a productive capacity to fulfill the domestic demand and cut down low-wage exports.”

Galloni recalled that the first economist who understood this was the Italian Antonio Serra, at the end of 16th century, who demonstrated to the Spanish Viceroy in Naples that national wealth was not achieved through gold or silver, through taxation or selling raw materials, but “by improving the industriousness of citizens, mainly by education.”

Galloni also pushed the Transaqua project to bring water to Sub- Saharan Africa.

“Recently industrialized countries, like China, have correctly chosen to increase domestic demand instead of exports.” Investments in infrastructure, higher wages and employment are compatible with the increase of profits, but not with the “increase of the rate of profit,” which is typical of stock markets and financial investments.

 

Ebola Crisis: How Many Africans Must Die Before the World Acts?

FILE – In this Sunday, Sept 9, 2018 file photo, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo. Top Red Cross official Emanuele Capobianco said Friday April 12, 2019, that he’s “more concerned than I have ever been” about the possible regional spread of the Ebola virus in Congo after a recent spike in cases. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro, File)

Today is the one-year anniversary second eruption of Ebola in sub-Saharan Africa in five years. On August 1, 2018, an outbreak of Ebola was declared in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), when four cases of Ebola in town of Mangina were verified. After 426 cases of Ebola were confirmed, the World Health Organization-(WHO) on November 29, declared this to be the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history. The largest outbreak was from 2014-2016 in West Africa that caused 11,310 deaths.  By May 3, of this year over 1,000 human beings had perished from Ebola. As of June 4, the number of cases exceeded 2,000. Yet, it wasn’t until July 17, 2019, after more than 1600 people had died from this deadly disease that the WHO declared a “public health emergency of international concern”. This declaration by the WHO is far short of what is required to combat this killer disease. To date, there are 2,593 infected with Ebola and more than 1,770 have died, according to the The New Humanitarian on line journal.

The fear of Ebola spreading to the city of Goma, a transportation center with a population of 2 million, bordering Rwanda, was realized on July 14, with Goma’s first confirmed case. July 30, health officials confirmed a second case, unrelated to the first. However, on August 1, two additional cases were discovered, of relatives to the second deceased, thus establishing the transmission of Ebola in Goma itself, as reported by AP. Thursday, BBC News reported that the border between Goma and its neighbor Rwandan city, Gisenyi, was closed in response.  On June 11, Uganda reported the first of two deaths cause by Ebola.

The WHO should declare a full international health emergency, not “a matter of concern.” Although the WHO does not have the resources to fully combat this latest outbreak of Ebola, such a declaration would sound the alarm. This could mobilize international institutions like the World Bank, United Nations et al, along with forcing western nations to act.  However, for such an emergency declaration to be issued more Africans must die to meet the criteria of at least 20 deaths in several countries. For now, the world is watching, as Ebola murders more and more Africans. The government of the DRC should also be making appeals to the rest of the world, including Russia and China, who have indicated their willingness to help, if approached officially by the DRC.  A full scale emergency mobilization could potentially provide the impetus to expand the healthcare capacity of sub-Saharan Africa, which is urgently needed.

There is no time to waste. The population of the DRC exceeds 70 million, and it has one of the weakest infrastructure systems in the world. Is Africa, and the rest of the world willing to gamble with thousands, if not tens of thousands or more, lives?

The article below, by Debra Freeman, a public health specialist, provides a good overview of the Ebola crisis. She concludes:

“…stopping this latest outbreak and others like it requires more than vaccines and short-term measures…eradicating the threat of this most deadly of viruses, and others that may emerge in Africa, requires nothing less than an international crash-program mobilization to provide adequate economic conditions (sanitation, water, power, housing) along with the development and implementation of a first-class public health system.”

Read entire articleEbola: World Health Emergency

 

 

AU Demands: African Integrated High Speed Railway Network

July 4, 2019

The article below written by a friend of mine is a useful over view of the African Union’s plan to build High Speed Rail-lines in Africa.  High-Speed Rail together with the production of abundant supplies of energy are indispensable for the continent’s development and the industrialization of African economies. The link to the entire article that is worth reading follows the excerpts.

“The vital plan for an African Integrated High-Speed Railway Network (AIHSRN), approved by the African Union (AU) in 2014, appears to be going forward energetically. But in fact, Africa is getting only half a loaf at best. Standard gauge rails are being built, but to “save money,” they are not being built to standards permitting the high speeds that the African Union had specified. These “higher”-speed lines are not “high-speed” by any accepted standard. Or, worse, existing lines of the old colonial gauge are being rehabilitated—again because “there is not enough money.”

“Yet having “enough money” is not the problem it seems to be: The principle of Hamiltonian credit—credit extended by government, on the strength of nothing but the skills of the population, and earmarked for projects sure to produce leaps in productivity—has been known in theory and practice for 200 years, even if suppressed by the business schools.” Read my post from earlier this year on Alexander Hamilton: Nations Must Study Alexander Hamilton’s Principles of Political Economy

“AIHSRN is not a master plan for all rail transport in Africa. It is, rather, a plan for rapid rail transport across long distances. And Africa has long distances. To go from Cairo to the Cape of Good Hope by road or rail is more than 10,000 kilometers (6,200 miles)—the equivalent of going from New York to San Francisco and back again.

“Yet with the AIHSRN, an express train could depart from Cairo at 6:30 a.m. on Monday morning, travel at an average of only 220 km/h (137 mph), make only five half-hour stops—at Khartoum, Nairobi, Dodoma (Tanzania), Harare, and Johannesburg—and arrive in Cape Town in time for an early breakfast on Wednesday. The east-west trip from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Dakar, Senegal—“only” 8,100 km—will be quicker. The implications of such speed for the African economy—and for African integration in all respects—are enormous.

“The continental plan is for six west-east routes from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean/Red Sea, and four routes that run from north to south—a 6×4 grid (see map).

“Because of their high speeds, the trains must run on dedicated, standard gauge lines that will not usually accept traffic from other, slower lines of the sometimes denser, surrounding rail network.

“The plan includes the construction of railway manufacturing industries, parts suppliers, maintenance facilities, and the building up of railway training academies.

“The AIHSRN is part of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, a fifty-year plan for the economic, social and cultural development of the entire continent, born in 2013”

Read full article: Africa Integrated High Speed Railway Network

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.

 

African Union Affirms High Speed Rail For Africa Moving Forward

FILE - A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018.
FILE – A train conductor walks inside a carriage as passengers ride inside a Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train from the Mutindwa station in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 12, 2018 

“Plans are on track for a high-speed rail network connecting the continent’s borders by 2063, the African Union’s Development Agency says. The ambitious multi-billion-dollar project aims to ease the movement of goods and people across African borders, but the AU warns that corruption could derail that goal.Road, rail, and air traffic connections are so poor between some African countries that it is better to transit through Europe than to travel directly between neighbors.

Intra-African trade is less than 15% of total trade, says Adama Deen, the head of infrastructure at the AU’s Development Agency.

“You cannot have integration without connectivity, whether it is road or rail connectivity, especially when we are talking about the Africa Continental Free Trade Area, where you need a single market and connectivity to move goods, persons within the market,” Deen said

READ: African Union High Speed Rail Network On Track