Trading And Investing In & Out Africa

ISSUE 123 - VOL 2
July 15 - October 14, 2011

Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum
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Tribute to Gaddafi Panafricanism In Spite of Everything Else

By Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum

Since March 21, 2011, 4 months running at the date of current delivery, Libya's territory is submitted to daily heavy bombardments, carried out by NATO's war planes, under the code name "Odyssey Dawn," to assist the rebels from Cyrenaica/Benghazi region fulfill their quest for Democracy against the "dictatorship" rule of Colonel Gaddafi.

For that purpose to assisting the rebels, NATO's war planes are destroying roads, ports, army barracks, universities's compounds, oils fields's equipment, and even physically targeting Colonel Gaddafi in a clear search for regime change. As here explained, the UN's Resolution 1973 had been cleverly worded and coined by the sponsors - France, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, to provide legal interpretation for a regime change, beyond the strict No Fly Zone mandate.

However, "Odyssey Dawn" is lingering, not producing the quick result expected by NATO, and Gaddafi is holding on to power. Several huge gatherings of millions of supporters across Tripolitania/and Fezzan regions, mainly in Tripoli, the capital city on July 1, 2011, and in Sebba, in the deep south of Libya, on July 9, 2011, show the regime is still backed by the majority of Libya's people, which means that the downfall may not occur as fast as expected by NATO's coalition - if Gaddafi manages to escape physical elimination.

Gaddafi's economic achievements and wealth distribution policy cannot be denied

The "dictator" still benefits from the support of Libyans because his economics achievement in favor of the peoples cannot be denied by a sober observer. Judge by yourself.

First of all, education is free in Libya, from kinder gardens to university. 270,000 university's students pay a tiny annual fee of US$9 (yes nine!) to have access to an university education system, that is endowed with huge libraries, and research departments in all kinds of knowledge equipped to the existing highest international standard.

Second, water and electricity are free for Libyan citizens. The regime have invested billion to bring aquifer freshwater from southern Libya's desert to the coastal regions where the populations are concentrated. The Man Made River is a worldwide acclaimed achievement that would stand as a testimony to Gaddafi's huge contribution to the economic developing of Libya

It is worth noticing that the cost of the project (in excess of US$35billions) had been exclusively financed by Libya's Central/Reserve Bank, without borrowing a cent from abroad. That kept the cost of building at check - contrary to the dogma that money should be borrowed from abroad to implement projects in emerging countries in order to keep inflation down.

Should money being borrowed from the international financing system, the cost of the project would have doubled due to interests and capital repayment, increasing the debt load of Libya and depriving the country from financial resources to invest in Education, Health and other economic development areas.

Man Made River GridThe construction of the Man Made River was a defiant act of political and financial independence in face of the powers of the day. Let us see if NATO's bombings would target the Man Made River's network! (Picture of the Man Made River's Grid troughout Libyan territory is at the left of this paragraph.)

Petrol/gas cost US$75cents (yes seventy five cent!) per gallon for Libyan citizens - before the attacks from NATO started, disrupting the distribution system. Now, there are kilometers of files at gas stations!

Every Libyan bride is granted about US$90,000 dowry gift by the government, and automatically is eligible for a loan for house purchasing or construction in islamic loan's conditions, that is zero interest rate.

Health cost is free for Libyan citizens, care being provided in high end equipped hospitals and clinics.

Above short listed social and economic achievements are mentioned to show that Gaddafi, the "dictator" has not only implemented an independent developing policy that permits the country to have a per capita GDP in the range of US$95,000, but he also has put in place a wealth distribution system for all Libyans to benefit from.

- Gaddafi was planning to strengthen Africa's economic and financial independence.

As brilliantly demonstrated by Walter Rodney, Africa had been, and still is economically exploited to remain a subsidiary client to the economic powers of the day. Everything is done, through astutely implemented economic, political and financial policies, to keep the continent as a consumer of imported expensive goods, and remaining provider of cheap soft commodities and mineral raw materials.

Projects's financing are granted to African countries at conditions that not only increase sovereign debt load, but also most of the times, under strict procedural disbursement rules, that delay the implementation of vital infrastructure, in telecommunications, roads's development, agriculture and industries expansion.

Let us consider the example of global telecommunications, TV and satellite broadcasting, to illustrate above statement.

In 1992, 45 African countries incorporated Rascom, a company setup to supervise the construction and launching of a satellite, to control costs of telecommunication and TV broadcasting between the sponsoring nations.

Indeed, telecommunication's costs from one African country to another one was then one of the most expensive in the world because telecommunication's signals from one particular African country were first sent to the North (European countries,) and then diverted to the targeted African country.

The service for the transfer Africa-Europe-Africa was billed by European service providers at costs far more expensive that the one existing for interconnections between European countries. Europe was garnering about US$500million a year for that service, through its network of satellite system.

Rascom project was to put an end to the drain of scarce and vital financial resources from Africa, and use said resources for developing in African countries.

The cost of the project was estimated at US$400million. Just US$400millions paid once and for all. No more US$500millions annual financial drain from Africa to Europe.

The International Monetary Fund -IMF, had been solicited to finance the project. The usefulness of which was evident. Guess what? From 1992 up to year 2006, the IMF dragged its feet, finding all kinds of excuses to delay the financing. Make a quick calculation, in the meantime US$500millions a year, that is US$7billions had been extracted from African countries coffers for the benefit of European nations!

That is when Gaddafi steps in, disbursing a hefty US$300millions, African Development Bank providing US$50millions, and the West African Development Bank US$27millions. Finally, the first African satellite system was live on December 27, 2007.

Other satellites had been launched since then, by Angola, Algeria, South Africa, benefiting from low-cost technology transfer from China and Russia. Another second African satellite had been launched in July 2010. Let us notice that this new African satellite will lower the cost of inter-telecommunication between African countries to just one tenth of what it was when European monopoly was dominant.

Examples as above exposed, blocking the implementation of vital infrastructure and the setup of profit making projects in African countries are endless.

So you see, Gaddafi's gesture to providing 75% of the initial cost of the first African telecommunication satellite, was a breakthrough that freed the continent from financial blackmail.

Gaddafi was also planning to assist the continent reaching financial independence through the setup of (1) An African Monetary Funds, with an initial equity level of US$42billions - to be established in Yaounde, Cameroon; (2) An African Investment Bank, with headquarters in Syrte, Libya; and finally (3) The African Central/ Reserve Bank, with headquarters in Abudja, Nigeria.

One sees that Gaddafi was ambitious for Africa. The establishment of above listed institutions, on African soil, managed by African decision-makers would obviously be a serious economic (and political) challenge to the powers that are striving, since centuries, to keep Africa as a subservient client to the North (Europe and America) - as described by Walter Rodney.

- Gaddafi became the Danger Man for the powers of the day, adamant to remove him from power

In view of above exposed actions undertaken by Gaddafi to secure the financial independence of Africa, one can easily understand why his is now targeted for physical elimination.

Of course, he himself, Gaddafi had made political mistakes - internally and on the international political stage. No need to discourse on that.

One can state, however, that the biggest mistake he made was to suppress opposition parties. Not to forget his bravado style of ruling. But the man is not mad as his "histrionics" make believe. For sure, he is a showman, but he is not mad.

He is in the contrary a very lucid ruler, who has a good knowledge of the real power structure in the world, as shown by the economics he performed in his home country - protecting its oil resources from sharks, and the financial independence vision he is planning for the black continent.

It would be interesting to see the outcome of the showdown with former colonial powers, France, Italy and UK, united under NATO's flag for regime change in Libya. Would the coalition succeed in putting the rebels into power?

If such is the case, one would scrutinize the evolution of the Reserve/ Central Bank's policy. Would the Libyan central bank remain independent from the international financial system as it is now under Gaddafi's leadership? What will be the destination of the about 150 metric tons of gold stacked in Libya's central bank?

And also one would be watching to see if social benefits granted to Libyan citizens would remain unchallenged by the new rulers. Would they abide to IMF dicta of curtailing social benefits, and tightening belts to pay back international debts? And what about the oil policy? Would the profit sharing plan remain at current level, that is 90% for the Libyan party?

A reservoir of the man made riverWhatever maybe the outcome of the showdown with NATO member states, Gaddafi deserves a vibrant tribute from African nations, for his dedication to promoting the financial independence of the black continent. He has shown the way to follow to reaching sound economic development and real political independence

With the construction of the Man Made River, he has shown to emerging countries's rulers how to use national financial resources, that is National Central Banks's resources to finance national projects at no "expensive" costs - not relying on external financing disbursed at drastic conditions.

That lead us to ask what money is finally about? A digital creation on a computer screen, to be 'in a normal world" used for the benefit of the peoples.

About the author: Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum is the principal/ managing director of Dr. Quenum & Associates, IBC; an experienced Investment & Business Planner with 30 years consulting practice in African countries; author of Africans, Stop Being Poor! and the editor in chief of Africabiz Online

1- Libya: From Colony to Independence
by Ronald Bruce St. John
2- Libya Since Independence
Oil and State Building
by Dirk J. Vandewalle
3- Seeking Gaddafi
by Daniel Kawczyinsky
4- Libya's Qaddafi:
The Politics of Contradiction
by Mansour El-Kikhia
5- Libya
The Political Economy of Oil
by Judith Gurney

6- Libya: Continuity and Change
by Ronald Bruce St. John (April 2011)
7- 2011 Complete Guide to Libya
Government, Politics, Military, Human Rights
by the US government & the CIA
8- Libya: The Lost Cities of Roman Empire
by Antonio Divita, Ginette Divita-Evrard, Lidiano Bacchielli and Robert Polidori (Feb 1999)
9- The Making of Modern Libya
by Ali Abdullatif Ahmida (Aug 1, 2000)
10- Democracy at Gun Point?
by Dr. B.M Quenum, Article, April 2011

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  Dr. B.M. Quenum
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