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Who Can Break This Curse On Africa?
 
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15-Jan-2018  
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If it is a curse that has kept Africa refusing to keep strife and division out of the continent to develop, then, the time has come to break this. This is because there is so much that the continent can do to stop people referring to it as “Shithole”.

A good example is the Grand Inga project which is to construct a dam on the Inga River in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Experts who worked on this project said, it would help provide power across the continent. This should have motivated our diplomats at the Africa Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to find a way of ending the fighting in the DRC. Sadly, nothing is being done and so, an otherwise beneficial project is still lying on the shelves.

It is not only this project that should make us worry about the DRC; there is a lot that this country can benefit if only the AU can help provide the leadership that is required to bring about peace in this land of prosperity that has been kept so poor. Admittedly, foreign interventions have played a role but, is it not time that we learned to live in peace?

Aside of the DRC, there are other countries that division has kept from developing. Nigeria is a classical example where local politicians are using rebel groups to fan division that has kept the central government focused on trying to find peace rather than on development. Somalia, Sudan and now Libya have remained volatile and yet our diplomats seem to be doing very little to get the people to see the need for peace. May be after many unsuccessful attempts they are at their wits end.

In fact when the Inga project was announced, it gladdened my heart because l saw it as one that would bring about the change we have all been crying for. Therefore, one would have expected the AU diplomats to put sense into the various groups engaged in the destruction in DRC. This is not about getting involved in the internal affairs of a country, rather we must see it as an African problem that requires African intervention in order to find a solution.

From what the experts say, the Inga project, estimated to cost $80 billion as at 2013, if completed, is likely to bring to an end, Africa’s quest for power. This is because it will produce twice the power that the Three Gorges Dam in China generates. The site for the project is in Bas Congo, a province at the extreme south-west of DR Congo, about 50km from the mouth of the Congo River where there are powerful rapids and waterfalls.

The experts say, there will be six different hydroelectric power stations to produce about 40,000 Megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2020 when the first of the Inga 3 phase is expected to be completed. Unfortunately, it is not clear if this deadline will be met.

The Inga 3 is a collaborative project of the Western Power Corridor (Westcor) which is aiming at an interconnection of the electric grids of the DRC, Namibia, Angola, Botswana, and South Africa. Already, The World Bank, the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, bilateral donors, and the Southern African power companies have all expressed interest in pursuing the project.

There have been some criticisms, which have condemned the huge amounts of money required for the project, with the claim that the money would be better spent on smaller scale, localized energy projects that would better meet the needs of Africa’s poor majority. One study from Oxford University has given the cautious approach claiming that, the average cost overrun for 245 large dams in 65 countries across six continents is 96 per cent in real terms.

Former President John Kufuor gave his support and described the project as the “centrepiece of a grand vision to develop a continent-wide power system that will be the greatest manifestation of Africa’s integration into the new evolving world order globalisation.” Nice words; because President Kufuor seems to be in tune with the majority of Africans who believe that, it is only renewable energy that offers the continent, strong environmental benefits.

The experience in Ghana and many other African countries has shown that relying on fuel to generate power has been very expensive and if there is a resource that is capable of generating the power that we all need, why should we not take advantage of it. What must be noted is that, we have always heard critics condemn many projects across the continent and by the time they are completed, these projects come to prove their importance to our lives.

Though the DRC is a show piece with such a big potential, it is sad that, the people in that country continue to live in abject poverty because of one crisis after the other. This is a country with high potentials; a country with a population of over 75 million and said to be the nineteenth most populous nation in the world and the fourth most populous nation in Africa. In addition, it is one country in Africa that has been widely held to be the richest in the world, regarding natural resources with untapped deposits of raw minerals estimated to be worth in excess of US$ 24 trillion.

The country is a major producer of copper and diamonds, and should be up there with major countries in the world. Experts say, copper production which comes from the Kasai province in the West and diamond mines in the Katanga province in the south, are highly mechanized, with a maximum capacity of several millions of tons per year of copper and cobalt ore. Besides, the country is credited to have the capacity of refining cobalt ores into metal.

Economic experts have also confirmed that, in terms of annual carats produced, the country is the second largest diamond-producing nation in the world, with artisanal and small-scale miners accounting for most of the production. By 1960, when the country became independent, Congo Kinshasha, as it was then known, was the second industrialized country in Africa after South Africa.

Unfortunately, internal conflicts have come to change the face of an economy that should be hailed. Wars have reduced national output and government revenue; increased external debt, and have resulted in deaths of more than five million people from war, and associated famine and disease Ebola and Aids come to mind.

Consequently, foreign businesses have either reduced or ended their operations due to uncertainty about the outcome of the conflict, lack of infrastructure, and the difficult operating environment. The internal conflicts have also impacted highly on the country leading to uncertain legal framework, corruption, inflation, and lack of openness in government economic policy and financial operations.

That is why the AU should take the lead to start a long term programme to bring together all the feuding sides in the DRC conflict to see what is at stake for the continent. They must be made to know that their parochial interests should not become a block to the development of the lives of millions of DRC citizens and Africans at large.

Without peace in the DRC, the Inga Project cannot materialise. Therefore, as the various groups intensify their search for the financing of the project, the AU and Africans of goodwill should lead a crusade that will bring about peace in DR Congo once and for all. That country has suffered and we must ease its pain. The realisation that its fortunes are tied to that of Africa in general, should wake us up at last.

One would wish that our diplomats in Addis Ababa would spend this year to find out how to end the fights going on across the continent. If diplomacy is not producing results, they should turn to the men of God to remove the curse that has divided us so that feuding groups see reason and unite to build our countries. In case the prayers do not help, the traditional religious priests should be involved. They worked wonders in the past and just may be, they can be of help again.

Breaks:

1.Aside of the DRC, there are other countries that division has kept from developing. Nigeria is a classical example where local politicians are using rebel groups to fan division that has kept the central government focused on trying to find peace rather than on development.

One would wish that our diplomats in Addis Ababa would spend this year to find out how to end the fights going on across the continent.
 
 
 
Source: today
 
 

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