Africa’s Great Deficit: Challenges of Infrastructure Decay, Development

By Lawrence Freeman

With the creation of the Organization of Africa Unity by thirty-two African signatories on May 25, 1963, there was a sense of optimism in Africa and the world, which corresponded with election two and half  years earlier of the pro-African President, John F Kennedy, an adherent of President Franklin Roosevelt. A mere six months later President Kennedy was assassinated, which began a long wave of pessimism, and decline, especially in the US, from which we have never recovered.

As the OAU transitioned into the African Union in the early years of this century, its focus shifted away from liberation wars against colonialism to an emphasis on “Africa’s development and integration.” The vision of the AU is for: “An integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena.” (AU website) The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted by both the OAU and AU, emerged from the struggle of 1970s and 1980s and: “Faced  with the onset of an economic crisis-huge foreign debts and declines in social development-and the  failure of the international financial institutions’ free market polices, African countries  tried to reverse these trends by calling for a new international economic order (NIEO) through which they could craft self-reliant, culturally relevant and state-influenced development strategies.” (http://www.nepad.org)

Unfortunately this vision has not been realized, and African nations today are still controlled from the outside by the tentacles of those same those financial institutions that reside in the City of London.

Speaking truthfully, I can tell you that African nations will never develop their full potential, achieve true economic sovereignty, and end the continued suffering of their citizens, until the power of these financier-predators is broken, and a new radical transformation in long term strategic economic thinking for Africa and the world is brought into being. The development of African nations have been deliberately suppressed initially during the colonial period, and following the “Winds of Change,” by neo-colonial practices that have accomplished the same desired result: the looting of the continent’s abundant resources under the ground, accompanied by the killing of tens of millions of “natives” above the ground. That is how Lord Cecil Rhodes described British Imperial policy over a century ago, and sadly these polices have not changed today, only their form.

The two chief mechanisms used to achieve these desired ends have been: 1) the intentional refusal to build regional and trans-continental infrastructure projects in vital categories of power, water, and rail transportation; and 2) the manipulation, creation, and nurturing of “ethnic-religious’ differences. The intended consequence has been fragile or weakened states throughout all regions of the continent. Suffering from the lack of the basic necessities of life, desperate people, predictably turn on each other; fighting and killing their brothers and sisters over food, land, and water, simply to stay alive. We witness these conditions today in Sudan and South Sudan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Mali.

Conflicts, wars, famine, and the rise of insurgency, will continue until their root causes are extirpated, and replaced by a new economic system committed to growth and progress.

What Is Wealth?

It has become the latest popular fad, rampant in western capitals, to fraudulently claim that six of the fastest growing countries in the world are in Africa. I say bunk!  Look at what are they measuring and the fallacy is obvious.  The problem is popular opinion; the belief that money has intrinsic wealth, and therefore everything can be measured in money related values.

Take Nigeria for example, which is reported to have one of highest rates of growth over the first decade of this century according to statistics from the International Monetary Fund. What is the IMF measuring? Not the real growth of economy. Instead it is simply adding up monetary statistical price-values of various sectors, such as; oil, banking-finance, housing, the stock exchange, and who can forget, cell phones. Lyndon LaRouche, the founder of Executive Intelligence Review has insisted on the fundamental distinction between financial-money values and real physical wealth. When we measure the progress of an economy over time, we look at values of physical production per capita and per land area. For example, what is the real economy of Nigeria?

We should examine: food consumption per capita and food production per square kilometer of land; electrical power per capita, per square kilometer, and total megawatt output; total kilometers of rail lines relative to the total land area. The same type of measurements can be done with production levels of steel, turbines, tractors, etc. Next we measure the rate of change of these categories of physical production from one production cycle to the next, with special attention to the levels of capital intensity and energy flux density-(the power of your energy source) employed in the production process.

Once we look at physical wealth per capita per land area, we see why Nigeria is in its current condition: over 100 million people trying to live on 1-2 dollars a day; a measly 4000 megawatts of power for almost 170 million people; imports of basic food such as wheat, rice, fish and sugar, growing at 11% annually. And, it was just in March of this year, that Nigeria finally has an operational rail line between two key cities-Lagos and Kano-even if at only at 20-30 miles per our.

So what is actually growing; financialvalues, not the real physical economy. It should be obvious why financial-monetary statistics are not only wrong, but are worse than useless in forecasting the future of any economy. This was highlighted by the IMF’s 2010 report of Tunisia’s economy, praising it as a great model, months before it was overthrown by a population demanding jobs and food.

Credit Verses Money

Mr. LaRouche has advocated for decades to replace the post 1971 floating-rate exchange money system we have today with a Hamiltonian credit system, named after the revolutionary proposals by President George Washington’s first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, who created the First National Bank of the US in 1791

There is a fundamental difference in principle between money and credit; they are two different and distinct species, so to speak. While most people have become obsessed with the amount of money they can possess in their greedy little hand in the present moment, the principle of credit takes one into the realm of the future. Credit as opposed to money is extended for the creation of new-augmented wealth above what already is consumed in the present.

To understand the most elementary notion of credit, look at the production of food by the farmer. When the farmer is provided with adequate infrastructure and credit, he works to grow more food, whose value is above and beyond the costs that went into producing that crop. The creation of credit for the purchase of  land, fertilizer, seed, and capital equipment are essential features of Hamilton’s American System of economics, which will successfully increase food production when not sabotaged financial interest of the City of London.

It is immoral and without any justification to allow millions of people on this planet, especially in Africa with its fertile soil, to suffer from starvation and food insecurity, when mankind knows how to grow food. Nations’ agriculture sectors have been destroyed over the last two decades or more by the evils of globalization in the name of free-trade. African courtiers approached self sufficiency in feeding their people from their own land and labor through the 1960s and 1970s, even into the early 1980s. The combination of globalization which demands buying food at the cheapest prices and the World Trade Organization’s liberal mantra, not to interfere with the so called free-markets has caused people to die and suffer needlessly. It has been proven again and again, that when governments provide adequate amounts of credit and subsides to their farmers, not only does food production increase dramatically, but the whole economy progresses.

We have seen famines and severe food shortages throughout the Horn of Africa that have resulted in the deaths of millions. This is a form of population reduction, caused by the deliberate refusal to develop the agricultural potential of countries. It has been known for decades that Sudan could and still can, be the bread basket for Africa, with studies showing that it has the potential to feed the entire continent-1 billion people. Now South Sudan has 58 million acres of quality arable land, yet a large portion of its 9 million people require food aid to survive, and it is forced to import 95% of its food. Why was there a complete fixation by the west to indict President Omar al-Bashir, and not the same commitment to develop this great untapped agricultural potential, decades ago? Isn’t it a crime against humanity; to let people die from starvation when we could have provided them with food?

Leadership Is Living In The Future

Intervention by the state to improve the output of its agricultural sector is not only a matter of national security, but is an obligation of the state to provide for a better future for its citizens.

As I discussed earlier, growth of an economy takes place in an entirely different domain, from one that is based on foolishly on simply adding up monetary aggregates. It is not money that improves an economy, but investments in all forms of hard and soft infrastructure that lead to an increase the productive powers of labor of that society to provide it current population and its posterity.

A nation dedicated to providing for its citizens and their posterity need leaders who live in the future. As opposed to Adam Smith’s so called indivisible hand, nations develop and progress by the willful intention to create a better, and more prosperous future, than exists in the present. That intention to create additional-new physical wealth over the next 10-20 year production cycle, to accommodate an expanding population and a rising per capita standard of living, is what must govern the decisions of the present. Mastering such a time-reversal concept is necessary for competent economic planning. Only when our mind lives in the imagination of the future can we truly understand how to organize our activities in the present

For long term, durable economic growth, we must also create a culture that will give birth to a continuous flow of discoveries of new scientific principles, which generate the technological advances required to continually transform the economy to the next higher level. Mr. LaRouche has revolutionized economic forecasting by identifying that the power to make these discoveries lies uniquely in the creativity of mankind. Each new child born is endowed by the Creator with the power of creative mentation, thus a source of potential new wealth for all of humanity.

       The truest definition of economic value, is that unit of action, generated from the creative mind of man, which transforms the productive powers of labor to cause an increase in the physical wealth of society measured in output per capita and per square kilometer.

The West Is Dying

When the long simmering fictitious-bubble financial system of the Trans-Atlantic nations exploded in 2007-2008, it was no longer possible to have any illusions, that the west, under the current bankrupt monetarist financial system would invest in Africa at the levels necessary to transform the continent.

The Euro Zone nations, stripped of their sovereignty are undergoing an accelerated contraction of their economies under the diktats of the Troika; the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the EU Commission. As a result of implementing these austerity measures European nations have experienced such a dramatic increase in the death rate; they have been characterized as being “Africanized.”

law8

[Graph of youth unemployment in Europe]

If you can see the graph it shows that from 2008-2012 youth unemployment in six European countries doubled. In Greece it increased from 22.1% in 2008 to 55.3% at the close of 2012. In Spain, youth unemployment increased from 24.6% to 53.2% in the same time period, and rose again in the first quarter of 2013. This is the result of implementing the Troika orders on behalf of trying to keep a bankrupt banking system alive, when it is already dead. These figures make abundantly clear, that the Europeans are experiencing youth unemployment at levels approaching what we have previously only witnessed in African nations, but are actually far worse, because they are happening in so called advanced sector urbanized nations.

What Must Be Done

Therefore, it is urgent that we have the immediate re-implementation of Glass Steagall as first passed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1933. My organization has spearheaded a drive over several years for re-implementation of Glass Steagall. I am happy to report to you that on May 23, Senator Harkin from Iowa introduced S. 985 in the Senate, and that Marcy Kaptur from Ohio at the beginning of the year sponsored HR 129 with bi-partisan support in the House. This law separates the universal-gambling casino banks from the legitimate savings and commercial banks that serve the interest of sovereign nations. Once this law goes into effect, it will end all “bail-outs” and “bail-ins” that have cost taxpayers and depositors trillions of dollars to keep alive “the too big to fail banks” in the US and Europe.  Other countries will follow the US example, resulting in the bankrupting-wiping out of over one quadrillion dollars of debt, derivates-gambling debts, and other worthless securities, allowing nations the freedom to return to traditional-normal banking practices. The immediate passage of Glass Steagall is not just a good idea, but the only option available to stop the downward spiral of the world economy into complete destruction.

The second step accompanying a Glass Steagall law is the creation of Hamiltonian credit banks by every nation, to provide the credit for investment in agriculture, manufacturing, and other categories of production most especially in infrastructure.

The third feature of this program for progress is investment in transformative infrastructure projects.

To quote NEPAD: “There can be no meaningful development without trade and there can be no trade without adequate and meaningful infrastructure.”

However, I can say with confidence that the private sector will never

fund the quantity and quality of infrastructure projects Africa requires. It must and can only be done by public credit earmarked for productive purposes, not for paying off debts, or for speculation. I would recommend that African nations move as quickly as possible towards allocating 50% of their budgets on infrastructure

Let me conclude by presenting an idea of what the future can be. These are not pie in the sky fantasies or white elephants. These are a few great-regional and trans-continental transformative projects beyond what has been discussed by the AU and NEPAD that are exemplary of the great possibilities of development that lie ahead for mankind, if we chose to accept the challenge.

MAIN LINES OF WORLDWIDE RAIL NETWORK-A GLOBAL LANDBRIDGE  Proposed by Mrs. Helga Zepp LaRouche in the EIR Special Report: “The Eurasian Land-Bridge; The New ‘Silk Road’-locomotive for worldwide economic development.” (January 1997)

MAIN LINES OF WORLDWIDE RAIL NETWORK-A GLOBAL LANDBRIDGE
Proposed by Mrs. Helga Zepp LaRouche in the EIR Special Report: “The Eurasian Land-Bridge; The New ‘Silk Road’-locomotive for worldwide economic development.” (January 1997)

 law4 

NAWAPA- North American Water and Power Alliance

Originally proposed in 1964 and revised by Lyndon LaRouche’s political action committee-“NAWAPAXXI” (2012 larouchepac.com)  

132 million acre feet of water from the northwest Pacific basin, will transform Canada, the US and Mexico, creating up to 12 million jobs, gigawatts of additional power, rail transportation across the US into Alaska, water management that will double irrigation in the US and Mexico, effecting a dramatic increase in food production and a total advance in the productivity of North America.

law3

TRANSAQUA

“The Congo-Chad Water Transfer: The Main Features of a Feasibility Study” (EIR Oct 8, 2010 pages 30-34)

This project; Transaqua: An Idea for the Sahel” was first proposed 1991-1992 by an Italian engineering firm, Bonifica, so it has been known for over two decades. The concept is simple; mankind intervenes to assist Mother Nature by transferring water from a wet region-the Congo Basin to a dry region-the Chad Basin, to improve human life and biosphere. The Congo River has 1.9 trillion cubic meters of water flowing out into the Atlantic annually. We can curtail about 5% of this discharge, 1 billion cubic meters, and build a navigable canal send it north to join the Obangui River, across Central Africa Republic, into River Chari, to refurbish Lake Chad. The CAR  would become an integrated river port, Lake Chad would expand instead of disappearing, effecting the lives of 50 million people, from Chad, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Niger, reversing the encroachment of the desert, over-all creating new possibilities for economic growth for the Sahel.

law5

 CANAL FROM EASTERN CONGO TO QATTARA DEPRESSION

EIR feature: “Program for an Economic Miracle in Southern Europe, The Mediterranean Region, And Africa.” (“Afro-Mediterranean Revolutionary Project” EIR June 8, 2012, pages 39-43)

This project proposed by Aiman Rsheed, in 2011. An irrigation canal 40 meters wide and 3,800 kilometers long flowing from the highlands of eastern Congo, with the Congo River flowing north through the CAR, Sudan, and South Sudan through Egypt to fill the Qattara Depression . This will transform the desert, increase agricultural and energy production.

law6 

AFRICAN PASS TRANSPORT CORRIDOR

EIR feature (June 8, 2012, pages 39-43)

 

This rail project begins with a seaport Sidi Barrani in north-western Egypt, to be connected to Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, DRC, the CAR, Sudan and South Sudan by high speed rails and highways, in the second phase extends to Somalia and Ethiopia, and in the third phase to Asia through a tunnel underneath the Suez Canal. The fourth phase includes a high speed rail across North Africa connecting to Europe through the planned Gibraltar tunnel.

law7

EAST-WEST RAIL ROAD-Dakar to Port Sudan

“Sudan Inaugurates Continental Railway.” (EIR, January 22, 2012, pages 9-14)

The Organization of the Islamic Conference is preparing to fund the Dakar-Port Sudan Railway Line of approximately 14,000 kilometers. The main line would link Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali, and Senegal as the main east-west line, followed by additional branches to Djibouti, Libya, Uganda, Cameroon, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Guinea, revolutionizing transport, production, and trade across the girth of Africa.

Final Concluding Comment

Africa is reported to have the fastest growing youth population, ages 15-24, in the world, making up 20% of the total population of the continent or 200 million, and 60% of the unemployed. Construction of these infrastructure projects will not only be the most efficient way to provide employment for Africa’s “youth bulge,”  but it will necessitate the education and training of tens of millions of youth as laborers, engineers and scientists.  This course of action will provide a bright future for all Africans, and benefit the entire world. .

There is no solution to continent’s curse of insurgency, war, and weak states without economic progress measured in physical terms. The very task of completing these types of infrastructure projects, ones that encompass several countries working together provides these nations with a vision for the future. This common mission; economic development in the service of the common good of all people, constitutes a new dynamic of relations, that will serve as a unique platform to achieve true unity. The AU should dedicate itself to this mission above and beyond all else.

I am always reminded, if not guided by, what Pope Paul VI wrote in his encyclical, Populorum Progressio-on the development of peoples-that “Development is the New Name for Peace.” This was written in March 26, 1967, four years after the founding the OAU. The fulfillment of this mission is more imperative today than ever. So let’s get moving! We cannot have another anniversary, years from now, and still be discussing these projects for the future, but instead Africans should be enjoying the fruits of their labor.

 

Text of a lecture by Lawrence Freeman, Director, Africa Desk at Executive Intelligence Review magazine  at the Conference Hall, African Union Mission to the United Nations. Africa@50 conference was organized by Center for Media & Peace Initiatives.

 

 

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.