President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari GCFR delivering welcome address at the saving the Lake Chad conference, Abuja, Nigeria. Photo: @lcbcconference2018
The official outcome of the Feb. 26-28 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria is an unequivocal statement of support for the Transaqua project, calling for the transfer of water from the Congo River basin to Lake Chad. It clearly states:
*There is no solution to the shrinking of Lake Chad that does not involve recharging the lake by transfer of water from outside the basin.
*That Inter-basin water transfer is not an option, but a necessity.
*The Transaqua Project, which would take water from the right tributary of River Congo, conveying the water 2,400 kilometers through a channel to Chari River, is the preferred feasible option.
LPAC’s feature on the Transaqua project.
Furthermore it was officially announced by Italian Ambassador to Nigeria Stefano Pontesilli, during the High-Level Session of Presidents of the Lake Chad Basin Commission, that Italy will contribute EU1.5 million for the feasibility study of the Transaqua project, declaring that Italy was ready to partner with the proposed “Transaqua Project” to see the success of the water transfer. The feasibility study is planned to be carried out by the Italian engineering firm Bonifica and construction company PowerChina.
Participants and Chairmen at the International Conference on Lake Chad, February 28, 2018
Radio France International Quotes EIR’s Claudio Celani
Radio France International quoted EIR’s correspondent Claudio Celani in its coverage of the Feb. 26-28 International Conference on Lake Chad in Abuja, Nigeria. “Too ambitious, too risky, too expensive? The reasons to oppose it are not lacking, but the project to fill Lake Chad is back. On Tuesday, Feb. 27 in Abuja, Nigeria, the titanic ambition to transfer the waters of the Congo Basin was on everyone’s lips, as reported by the Italian analyst Claudio Celani:
“‘People here are very convinced that water transfer is the only way to revitalize Lake Chad. They see big things. They understand that they need a big project, Transaqua, the big project that is intended not only to move water from point A to point B, but also to build a real modern infrastructure in the heart of Africa,’ he explains.”
RFI continues: “Transaqua is being reborn from its ashes. The Italian company Bonifica at the origin of the project, is now associated with the Chinese company PowerChina. A joint feasibility study will be funded by the Chinese and Italian governments. PowerChina’s chief engineer is pleased with this collaboration: ‘I believe we are at the beginning of a new cooperation. We look forward to starting this cooperation.'”
While it quotes François Kalwele of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Environment Ministry, saying he advocates solidarity between African states, the rest of the article is on the possibility of oil being found in the region.
The coverage from Agence France-Presse (AFP) underscored the two choices facing Lake Chad, either bringing more water to the lake or turning the region completely over to the terrorist Boko Haram Islamists.
“Around 40 million people live on or around Lake Chad — but the vital resource is shrinking fast under the impact of climate change and water mismanagement…. It sounds like something from Wakanda, the futuristic African kingdom of the hit movie ‘Black Panther.’ But ‘Transaqua’ is a very real proposal for a very real problem — how to replenish the shrinking waters of Lake Chad.
“It imagines a 2,600-km (1,600-mile) canal from the Democratic Republic of Congo across the Central African Republic to meet the Chari River that feeds into the freshwater lake….
“The region’s worsening fragility has become a recruiting sergeant for Boko Haram. The jihadists have found it far easier to win over impoverished subsistence farmers and fishermen, and to base themselves on many of the lake’s islands….
“Experts met in Abuja for two days this week to discuss ways to stop Lake Chad from drying up — and Transaqua, although still in its infancy and facing many hurdles, attracted interest.”
AFP quotes Lake Chad Basin Commission Executive Secretary Sanusi Abdullahi: “Inter-basin water transfer is not an option but a necessity. We are faced with the possibility of Lake Chad disappearing, and that would be catastrophic to the entire African continent.”
Criticizing the UNESCO’s new $6.5 million research and conservation program involving Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria, as well as the C.A.R. as a “diversion, Horace Campbell, an African studies professor at the University of Ghana, told delegates ‘What the French intellectuals have been promoting is resilience and livelihood. But you can’t have that without replenishing the lake.'”
Technical director Franco Bochetto of Italian engineering firm Bonifica, which first designed the Transaqua project some 35 years ago, is quoted, “The vision of hundreds of people dying in the Mediterranean Sea” had spurred the Italian government to support the project. “In recent years the situation has rapidly changed, and what did not seem possible in the ’80s has become of interest,” he said.
“We work here for projects and we want to take social responsibility,” said Ziping Huang, an engineer at PowerChina. Bonifica and PowerChina will be conducting the feasibility study for the project.