THE TIME HAS COME FOR TRANSAQUA

The Time Has Come for Transaqua

 

 

Transaqua – Interview with Mr. Lawrence Freeman

June 11, 2018

 

Lawrence Freeman is an outspoken opponent of the current policies of neo-colonialism. He is a highly respected researcher, writer, and speaker on a variety of topics concerning Africa. An outspoken critic of the ICC attacks on African countries, Freeman led a delegation of American State Legislators to Sudan, who subsequently exposed the charges that the Khartoum government was engaged in slavery as fraudulent. Insisting that Africa no longer be forced to live in a dark age, he has consistently brought African governments a roadmap for transformative infrastructure projects. As the author of dozens of articles and reports on Africa, having traveled to the continent 25 times, Freeman served as a member of AFRICOM’s Advisory Committee under U.S. General Kip Ward. Most recently, he was appointed Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Basin Scientific Committee and is currently working on a project to replenish the shrinking Lake Chad.

Transaqua is an inter-basin water project to transfer a sufficient flow of water from the tributaries of the Congo River to restore Lake Chad from its current diminutive size of 1500-2500 square kilometers to its 1963 level of 25,000 square kilometers. The Transaqua design is to create a navigable 2,400-kilometer canal that by gravity will deliver between 50 to 100 billion cubic meters of water to the Chari River in the Central African Republic, which is the primary tributary to Lake Chad. The channel will be created through a series of dams of the tributaries to the right of the Congo River.

Transaqua, the brainchild of Dr. Marcello Vichi of the Italian Bonifica engineering firm, was first proposed almost 40 years ago. Its unique feature lies beyond refurbishing Lake Chad, in restoring economic growth to the poor people living in the Lake Chad Basin This mega-project will create a super economic zone of trade and commerce between all the nations of the Congo river and Lake Chad Basins; potentially affecting one third of the entire African continent. In addition to the generation of desperately needed hydro-electric power, new roads will be built, new manufacturing-agricultural centers will be created, new fisheries will develop, and food production will expand with an additional 40,000 hectares of irrigated land.” Source: Lawrence Freeman

Africanagenda: Hello Mr Freeman, thank you for joining us today to discuss the Transaqua Project.

You are very well informed on this subject and since 2014 have been the Vice Chairman of the Lake Chad Scientific Committee. Earlier this year you spoke in Abuja, Nigeria at the International Conference on Saving Lake Chad. Could you tell us about the sense of optimism that this project is bringing to Africans? I believe this was a dream of Ghana`s President Kwame Nkrumah, that the Sahara Desert could bloom.

 

Heads of State of the Lake Chad Basin nations sign Abuja accord

L. Freeman :The endorsement of the Transaqua inter-basin water transfer project at the International Conference to Save Lake Chad held in Abuja from February 26-28 was a milestone for the entire African continent. Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari deserves credit for initiating this conference and his support over many years to recharge Lake Chad. This project would be the largest infrastructure project in Africa connecting a dozen African nations in a super economic zone of development. The Transaqua proposal has been known for several decades, but it was only at the Abuja conference that the Heads of States of the nations of the Lake Chad Basin Commission- (LCBC) officially decided to explore the feasibility of the inter-basin water transfer project. As a result of the conference, approximately $3.6 million will be allocated for the first ever feasibility study of Transaqua to be conducted jointly by PowerChina and Bonifica.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project.

As the news of the success of this conference held in Africa spreads, it will create a wave of optimism across the continent. One reason is that African leaders are thinking big with a vision for the future, having taken it upon themselves to discuss and support such a transformative infrastructure project. Secondly, the endorsement of a feasibility study of Transaqua is an historic decision to replenish Lake Chad that has been contracting for the last 65 years.

The Sahara Desert, the largest in the world-the size of the continental United States- can bloom if it has water. The loss of lake Chad, the largest body of water in the desert would be a catastrophe not just for those living in the Lake Chad Basin, but for the entire continent, and implicitly the world. Therefore, I am optimistic that the Abuja conference will be a turning point for Africa.

Africanagenda: Transaqua is unique.It is it the largest engineering project ever proposed and as the largest infrastructure project in the world it has the potential to radically transform the economy of the continent`s interior, not just in terms of agriculture but through industry. Could you explain to our readers how transformative Transaqua will be?

L.Freeman: The land area of all the nations that would be affected by Transaqua equals approximately one third of the African continent. The inter-basin water transfer project would create a navigable canal that would facilitate a new level of trade and commerce between the nations of the two basins: Congo River; and Lake Chad. Resulting in an increase in farming, manufacturing, fishing, electrical power, roads, and other related infrastructure.

Thanks in part to China’s New Silk road, African nations are presently engaged in the most intense level of development of infrastructure, most especially in new railways that potentially could cross the continent from Djibouti to Dakar. Plus progress is being made on several East-West highways that would also connect to South-North routes crossing the Sahara Desert.

image: The Schiller Institute

The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

If you look at a map of Africa, you will see that Transaqua will travel northwest from the southeast corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo through the Central African Republic, thus intersecting the East to West network of new railways and highways. The combined effect of the completion of these infrastructure projects would create an economic renaissance for Africa that portends the elimination of poverty and hunger for hundreds of millions of Africans.

Africanagenda: So the DRC will be getting a great deal economically in exchange for the Congo River water which is currently unharnessed, just flowing into the sea. On the subject of the Congo River tributaries being the origin of the water transfer, could you please clear up for our readers a myth that is circulating . A number of sources are saying that the Ubangui River basin will be the origin, was this ever proposed?

L.Freeman :There has been great misunderstanding regarding the subject of the Ubangui River and Transaqua. Some of the misinformation circulated has been deliberate and some out of ignorance. Decades ago, in the 1980s, the Transaqua proposal was presented to the Democratic Republic of  Congo and the LCBC. There was considerable interest at the time, but it was not adopted, and a far more limited proposal, with no vision for transforming Africa was put forth to take water from the Ubangui River to refill Lake Chad.

 Some people in the DRC mistakenly believe that Transaqua would “steal” water from the Ubangui, and become very passionate in their objections to Transaqua.

I can state unequivocally  that Transaqua is not designed to drain water from the Ubangui, but rather to develop the industrial and agricultural potential of the DRC.

This would not work, the cost is too high, and the water transfer would only expand Lake Chad to 40% of its 1963 level. Some people in the DRC mistakenly believe that Transaqua would “steal” water from the Ubangui, and become very passionate in their objections to Transaqua.

I can state unequivocally  that Transaqua is not designed to drain water from the Ubangui, but rather to develop the industrial and agricultural potential of the DRC.

The volume of the mighty Congo River that flows unexploited into the Atlantic Ocean is between 40-60,000 cubic meters of water per second; annually between 1,2 to1,9 trillion cubic meters. Since we humans were created to use our minds to intervene into the physical universe, we can use that water for the benefit of mankind. Transaqua would create a gravity canal utilizing between 5-8% of water from the tributaries to the right of the Congo River, and in return the DRC would become the pivotal nation in the transformation of a large part of the Africa continent.

Transaqua would create a gravity canal utilizing between 5-8% of water from the tributaries to the right of the Congo River, and in return the DRC would become the pivotal nation in the transformation of large part of the African continent.

Africanagenda: There is currently an extreme food shortage in the Kasai region of DRC brought on by population displacement and the presense of militia groups. How do you think the Transaqua project will affect food crises and the militia culture?There is also the question of Boko Haram in Nigeria.

L.Freeman :If Transaqua had been adopted 35 years ago, we would not be witnessing the crisis in the DRC and Central African Republic that exists today. All the lives lost and money spent over these decades could have been prevented with the economic progress that would have resulted from the construction of Transaqua. Food, jobs, all types of infrastructure including electrical power would have been available to the citizens of the DRC, if construction of Transaqua would have begun when it was first proposed.

A major motivation for the Nigerian government under the leadership of President Buhari, to support  Transaqua at the Abuja conference to Save Lake Chad, was his understanding that refurbishing Lake Chad was an essential component to defeating Boko Haram. If you provide jobs and the potential for a meaningful future, you can drain the swamp of the potential young men, who join Boko Haram out of desperation and despair. The economic transformation of the Lake Chad Basin, which must include expanding Lake Chad, will be an essential element in the rebuilding of Northeast Nigeria.

Unfortunately, US policy towards Africa has been very short sighted and does not include economic development in its strategy in combatting violent extremists. Of all the branches of the US government, only the Department of Defense has shown even lukewarm interest in Transaqua in the fight to eliminate Boko Haram. US leaders lack any comprehension of the role of economic development in addressing Africa’s problems. Only recently as result of the massive migration across the Mediterranean Sea, has Europe, especially Italy, begun to realize that developing northern Africa is essential to obviate the desperation that drives Africans to risk their lives to escape their homeland.

Africanagenda: The Transaqua Project is an enormous investment.Critics say Transaqua is too big. Could you explain that this is a qualitative investment for the future economy of the African interior? And this kind of economic thinking was what Kwame Nkrumah proposed more than fifty years ago!

L. Freeman :President Kwame Nkrumah, the “father” of modern Africa had a bold vision for Africa. With his creative imagination, Nkrumah foresaw an Africa composed of advanced agro-industrial nations. During his nearly ten years residing in the US (1935-1945), Nkrumah witnessed President Franklin Roosevelt’s profound economic transformation of the continental US—the greatest rate of expansion of the US economy since the completion of the transcontinental railroad, initiated by President Lincoln.

Nkrumah learned the importance of infrastructure as the foundation for economic growth. In his writings and speeches, he discussed how the African continent could be integrated through a vast modern rail network. He knew that, if Africa’s vast potential of natural wealth was properly managed, its future was bright.

 Today, Transaqua represents the type of Pan African project that can drive economic progress across the continent.

He like other leaders was acutely aware of the huge potential of the Congo River as a resource for the African continent. And like Roosevelt, perceived the imminent possibility of “blooming” the Sahara Desert. Today, Transaqua represents the type of Pan African project that can drive economic progress across the continent.

Africanagenda: You wrote that “Money is not wealth” Could you explain how the Transaqua Project can be the implementation of the New Paradigm in the African continent.

L. Freeman: Transaqua, which will affect the transformation of a dozen or more African nations, in truth, has never really been too expensive or too big. The failure to realize Transaqua has been the result of leaders, who think too small and have no understanding of the relationship of the production of physical economic wealth in long term strategic thinking.

Wealth, not money, is that which enables a society to advance its capacity to increase its production of physical goods from one generation and/or production cycle to the next. Sustained improvements in the living standard of a nation’s population depend on continuous injections of science and technology into the education-culture of society.

The source of discovery of new technologies and the ability to assimilate new technologies; is the human mind. Money provides none of this. However, credit extended over a long period of time at modest interest rates, facilitates the investment in new capital formation, most especially infrastructure. Often, the most accessible forms of “cheap credit, is government-public credit.

China utilizing government credit has almost miraculously lifted almost 700 million of its population out of poverty, and publicly expressed its desire to help African nations to eliminate poverty as well. China is applying the same concept of credit in its global infrastructure initiative: One Belt-One Road.

China utilizing government credit has almost miraculously lifted almost 700 million of its population out of poverty, and publicly expressed its desire to help African nations to eliminate poverty as well. China is applying the same concept of credit in its global infrastructure initiative: One Belt-One Road.

This has created a new paradigm of development for the rest of the world, one no longer dependent on the dictates of Western financial intuitions. Africa is benefitting from this New Silk Road spirit by collaborating with China to build railroads, airports, ports, roads, etc. replacing the old colonial broken down structure.

The time for Transaqua is now! In this new geometry of an African economic renaissance, the capacity of African leaders to think big and in the future, has been enhanced, as I personally witnessed  at the Abuja Conference to Save Lake Chad, where the initial steps to realize the potential of Transaqua were taken by the leaders of the Lake Chad Basin. My hope is that this new optimism will spread, enabling African nations to shed the economic shackles that have preventing them from realizing their full potential.

Africanagenda: Mr Freeman,thank you for joining us today.

For further information on Transaqua from Lawrence Freeman :

Lake Chad-Transaqua