PROF. ABDALLA A. ABDALLA
All Africa Is in a Crisis of Survival
Professor Abdalla, from Khartoum, is Sudan's former Minister of Agriculture and former Ambassador to the United States. The following speech was delivered to a conference panel entitled "Peace through Development in Africa: The Moral Challenge for Europe," on May 5.
Thank you very much. Mr. Chairman, let me first express my gratitude to the Schiller Institute for availing this opportunity for me to come from Sudan and be with you in this conference, and to share with you some observations and some thoughts relating to Africa in general, and perhaps, if time allows, Sudan in particular. And, to engage with you in this very lively debate, that I'm sure is going to be very fruitful.
Yesterday, Mr. LaRouche gave a very moving and meaningful statement about Africa, very supportive for Africa. Mr. LaRouche gave a presentation which I can give the term of "LaRouche Global-Strategic-Afro-Framework." It was a strategic framework, a rational framework, and also, a rational approach, with very clear vision and will relating to Africa, past, present, and future. And that framework has provided us—I'm sure all of us—with fresh vision needed for the modernization of Africa, based on the principles, in his words, of the common welfare, and that Africa should be given the cognitive power over its destiny.
Yes, I would agree with all the vision, the framework, the strategy, the thought, that Africa is entitled to an agenda, an economic development agenda, just like other continents have had the opportunity, especially Europe after the war. That Africa is entitled to that agenda, and must have it, and must have it through its own toil, but also supported globally. I accept that vision. I accept that strategy. I accept that framework. I accept it as a strategic vision, but, I will say that it is not complete. I would say that, while we are in need of that vision, and of that strategy, and of that framework, we are equally in need of an immediate framework, an urgent framework, to salvage the African people from the current miserable and sad situation they are in. And that cannot wait for a long-term strategy. That is the situation. We are living now very miserably. Very sad. Extremely urgent. And we should also not only look for strategic ideas to salvage the situation, but we should also look for immediate options, immediate notions, immediate ideas that can help the African people survive. We are in a crisis of survival. We are in a structural crisis, a crisis of survival for many African countries.
Genocide, by Design
I will give only some examples to illustrate how urgent the situation is: In my own country, Sudan, we have now a war going on. A war that has been going on approximately for the last 40 years, with a break from 1972, after the Addis Abeba agreement, to 1983, when the war was revived again. And it still goes on now. That war, together with other wars in the Great Lakes, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, Mozambique—you name it—these wars have resulted in [the deaths of] about 78 million people. And, as Mr. LaRouche said, it is highly probable, and highly likely that it is by design, that the population of Africa should not be allowed to increase. That it is by design that Africa should remain trapped in being a provider of raw materials. That it is by design that the African population should not increase, so that they do not consume those raw materials. Because they are for others to consume, and not for them. It is by design that this is being done, as Mr. LaRouche said yesterday.
In Sudan—now we are meeting here; yesterday, Mr. Bush made a decision to send a special envoy for humanitarian assistance, Mr. Andrew Natsios, to be his special envoy in Sudan, to monitor the humanitarian assistance reaching, or supposedly should reach, those who are trapped in the conflict in southern Sudan. Well, I would have thought that this was not the priority for Mr. Bush. I would have thought that the priority for Mr. Bush was to exert pressure on both parties, government and rebels, to stop the war. His contribution should go toward a cease-fire, before it goes to a humanitarian envoy. Because humanitarian assistance would not stop the war, it would rather prolong the war. If you continue giving humanitarian assistance, it would rather tend to prolong the war, not stop it. But, what will stop the war, is a cease-fire decision. And I think Mr. Bush, and others, are capable of exerting that pressure, particularly so, that the government of Sudan has been repeatedly announcing that they are ready for a cease-fire.
But, the SPLA [Sudanese People's Liberation Army] leader [John Garang] has been consistently denying that, and his latest condition, in the last week, is that he would go for a cease-fire, if the government of Sudan would stop exploring and getting out petroleum and exporting it.
And here I see a contradiction. It must be through the petroleum, and development, that we should promote peace! That peace could be promoted if we can take the proceeds of the petroleum and put them into development in the south, and in the east, and in the west, and in all the marginalized areas that have remained underdeveloped in Sudan. Not to ask for stopping the oil, but to go for a cease-fire, and then to go for deliberations, for negotiations; and then, to see to it that the proceeds of petroleum should go into the development of the devastated areas of the South, the devastated areas of the West, and of also the Southeast.
A Problem of Poverty and Poor Resources
So, my point here, is that, this is a country that has got a conflict in hand, so we need, first, to settle that conflict. We need conflict resolution to resolve the conflict. It is possible to resolve the conflict, if you can address the real root causes of the problem, and also to let the Sudanese handle these root causes. The real root causes are not religious. Religion has never been, in Sudan, a question. Never. Christianity and Islam have been living together like everything you would like to see living together. It is not a religious question.
This polarization of Christian-African South and Arab-Muslim North is a creation of—is an outside creation. It is not—I am a Sudanese, I don't feel that. I don't feel anything against Christians. As a matter of fact, my religion dictates to me to respect Jesus Christ's teachings, and if I don't do that, I am not a Muslim. And I think most of you know that [it is] Abrahamic religions, from which Islam and Christianity derive: the same principles, the same human principles. So, it is not a religious problem at all. It is not even an ethnic problem. And you heard the speaker before me, speaking about the Tutsis and Hutus: We have no problems there with the tribes, the ethnic. They have been living together.
Perhaps there are conflicts over resources, over water, over grass, over land. But these are just simple conflicts between tribes over these poor resources. If you develop these resources, then you remove these conflicts. It's a problem of poverty that initiates the conflicts. It's not a problem of ethnicity or religion. It's a real problem of poverty and poor resources. And if these potential resources, big resources, like in Sudan, for example—lots of land, lots of grass, lots of animals, lots of water: If these are managed well, then the reasons for the conflicts between the tribes are meant to be removed. So, it is really a political, developmental question. It's not an ethnic or religious question.
I would say, this illustrates the point made by LaRouche yesterday, that it is really external factors, like Bush sending this envoy; like this Christian Coalition in Washington, getting together the fundamentalist Christian Coalition, then the evangelicals, and, strangely enough, the issue being raised is the issue of slavery in Sudan. And when we hear that in Sudan, we are just amazed. We have never known, in our recent history, what slavery is. Never. Well, I don't know quite. I'm a Sudanese, and I have never seen, or practiced, or even rationalized, or have a notion of slavery. But this is now the issue in Washington. And even African-Americans are now being brought into this. Trying to get the African-Americans in with this coalition, which is trying to destabilize Sudan, and have it continuously destabilized; bringing this issue, which is very sensitive, to the African-Americans. But I'm sure that they will be aware of this: why these religious leaders are being brought together; and even Michael Jackson is being mobilized to go fight slavery in Sudan. And even Jesse Jackson, also.
An Immediate Agenda Is Needed
I think I would like—I asked Mr. LaRouche for a model, or for an agenda, an immediate agenda. I would like to propose what I could see as probably an immediate agenda for these countries that are either now in war, or where the conflict has been resolved but the peace is not yet durable. All those countries that had been out of the conflict, and now are trying to develop, but still, yes, still, even in these areas—Sierra Leone, and Mozambique, and so on—it is not yet durable peace. So, I think, if we look back, if we want to suggest certain policies, or to suggest certain actions, or certain activities that likely will help resolve the situations, resolve the conflicts, help in moving forward with their development, I would like to mention that several economic models, largely based on foreign ideologies, have been practiced in Africa, and this was during the Cold War. Many of the African countries have either sided with the East or the West. And therefore, their economic models were brought from these ideologies, either East or West, because then it was a rather safe policy to align yourself with one of the powers. But, now, it is not the same situation. And these models of development, which were brought from outside, based on different ideologies, planted in different cultures, in different soils in Africa—they did not take.
Then, we had our independent governments, and most of these governments have adopted now, or in the last decade, the IMF [International Monetary Fund]-World Bank economic stabilization and structural adjustment programs. But these also have failed, to a large extent, to achieve the goals of sustainable economic development and welfare of the people. These policies did not help resolve conflicts, or curtail civil war; they, rather, increased poverty, and resulted in great environmental degradation. These policies have curtailed the role of governments, and therefore, with the private sector that is not yet strong, a private sector that is not yet powerful enough, or engaged enough in private business, the government walked out, and there was no private sector prepared to take over. And when the government walks out of even infrastructure, services, education, health, it is not likely that the private sector will take over that.
So, privatization and liberalization of the economy were, rather, done in reaction to the prior state interventions, because there was a lot of state intervention in our economy, particularly those which had taken from the East at that time, during the Cold War. Privatization and liberalization was done—and in reaction to the prior state intervention. And this has been very damaging to the economy, and particularly, to the poor sectors of the population.
For Peace: Ameliorate Social Inequalities
So, if these policies are failing, what are some of the new policies that African countries can adopt, so that they can consolidate peace, and have durable peace and economic development? Policies needed here are those that can address, that are required to ameliorate social inequalities that have been the causes of the wars. Because there have been social inequalities, and these, I assume, I take it, that these social inequalities, these disparities in development, themselves were the causes of the war. So, any policies that are adopted, should be aiming at ameliorating social inequalities that produced the wars; policies that can be relevant to the situation, the cultural-economic situation.
These policies should not follow narrowly defined stabilization and Structural Adjustment Programs. Some of those SAP programs are perhaps acceptable—some of them—but, in most cases, they are not acceptable to situations where there is war, situations where countries are just getting out of war, or situations where countries have got out of the war, but the peace is not yet consolidated. These are conditions that call for different policies, because Structural Adjustment policies are very narrowly defined, with very specific targets that have been proven, that their consequences have been very, very, very bad on, especially, the poor sector of the population.
Number three, which starts from the premise that unless the peace process is allowed to reshape the economic policy, both will fail: the peace and the economic policy. Policies that will lead to real development should also be emphasized. We spoke about infrastructure; there has been a lot of talk about infrastructure. The SAP policies do not give that its due. So, it is very important that a lot of investment be made into infrastructure: railroads, roads, water, water management, drinking water—we have certain parts in Sudan where we have plenty of productive land that can be utilized, but it is not being utilized because people have no drinking water to stay there and till the land.
There had been some talk, by Professor Mohammad, about the Cairo-Khartoum—I would say, the Cario-Khartoum-Juba, and go on into Uganda, Kenya—railway. My surprise was not that it was only a different gauge; yes, it was a different gauge, however the gauge in Sudan has been very narrow. The railway in the Sudan from Wadi Halfa to Khartoum was made to carry the troops that had invaded Sudan. That was the objective for it, across the desert. My concern, my surprise, is that, since our independence in 1956—these are now about 44 years—that gauge has not been changed. And that link has not been made. So, it shouldn't have taken that time for both the Sudan governments and the Egyptian governments to realize that that link is really very important for the development of both. And I would comfort Professor Mohammad, that I would agree that the gauge of Sudan should be widened to be similar to that of Egypt. I wouldn't suggest that the Egyptian one be narrowed, because speed and time are money, and these gauges should be wide enough so that they can provide for speed and for time, which is money.
Accelerate Regional Infrastructure Projects
In as far as infrastructure is concerned, there had been discussion of Eurasia. In Africa, we speak about the Nile Basin, the Congo Basin, the Niger Basin, and these are all areas of cooperation. The cooperation in the Nile Basin, which has got about eight countries, that are either currently using and benefitting from the Nile water, or will benefit. And this is now—I'm referring here to regional cooperation between countries in Africa, which is really very important, to have regional cooperation, in addition to the policies I mentioned, and other policies that are probably good.
One of the other suggestions for immediate salvage, and immediate correcting of the situation, would be to accelerate regional, integrated projects, like the Nile Basin project. And fortunately, this is now under way, because in 1992, there was an action plan by the Ministers of Water Resources in the eight countries, and now we have the Nile Basin Initiative, which allows for equitable utilization and benefits from the Nile waters. And so, that the Nile waters are not reasons for conflicts—people speak about conflicts because of water scarcity, and the coming wars are going to be water wars, and so on—here is an initiative that will guarantee that the Nile waters are not going to be a source for war; rather, they will be a source for development. Because there are these initiatives.
There is also, in addition to the Nile Basin Initiative, the Shared Vision program, which is designed to eradicate poverty in the Nile Basin. So, this is a regional project which I think will help. The countries that are involved are Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea—this is in as far as the subsidiary action programs are concerned. And then, there is the Nile Equatorial region: Burundi, D.R.C. [Democratic Republic of Congo], Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda; and downstream countries, such as Sudan and Egypt, can also be benefitting and part of that.
The second regional requirement for accelerated development in this part of Africa, or all of Africa, is electricity. We have rivers that can generate a lot of electricity. But, if I tell you that our total electricity in the Sudan is 500 megawatts, and in Egypt, 7,000 MW—I think, it is in this range. Recently, there has been a meeting of the managers of electricity companies in Africa, and I think this was a very important meeting, because electricity is really required for science and technology, for technology for industry; and if we don't have that electricity for our rural areas and industrial areas, we are not going to progress.
Another regional initiative is the Sahel and Sahara group of countries, 15 countries: North Africa, West Africa, Sudan, including Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia—all of these have got now a three-year-old initiative called the S&S, the Sahel and Sahara group. And they are also now coming together on a combined agenda, and they are creating a bank, just like LaRouche suggested, a bank that will help these countries on long-term credit, soft long-term credit for real development. The Comesa [Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa] in East Africa, also, a grouping for trade, better terms of trade; these are regional initiatives that can also support the policies.
Africa Needs Science and Technology
And the third component is to see to it that our strategies for development must combine science and technology with economic policy, economic development policies. These two go together: We cannot develop, if we do not develop our science and technology capacity. Because one of our mere reasons now, is lack of agricultural development; for example, our low productivity, low productivity of our crops, low productivity of our animals, low productivity of our water use—all of these are extremely low productivity, because of lack of proper, good level of technology. We are using very low levels of technology, sometimes no levels of technology at all, no high inputs, no high technology. And we are just living with what we get from the rain and from the farmer.
I will conclude by saying that, yes, a strategic framework is necessary for Africa. Yes, a special agenda is necessary for Africa. Yes, a global coalition to help the Africans, who should take the principal role in this, but be helped by this coalition, the global coalition—this is a must, and I think it should be pursued. But, I also think that we need means, ideas, models of development, and policies that are suitable for quick crisis management, for survival, for stopping the wars, for making the peace more durable, and for saving our human lives, and saving also our environment. This will need national policies, to reverse the worsening situation; this will need will, to resolve conflicts; this will need, that external influences are eliminated and reduced; this will need, that we should combine science and technology, and economic development policies for our development; and this would mean that we must accelerate our regional development programs.
 Prof. Mohammad Al-Sayed Selim's speech to the conference, delivered the same day, was published in last week's EIR.