Ramaphosa Argues, No Climate-Change Tax Unless We Electrify Africa, Proposes Inga Dam
June 30, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—French President Emmanuel Macron hosted a Summit for a New Global Financial Pact in Paris, June 22-23. Among the attendees were many of the leaders of Western European, African and Latin American nations, as well as the heads of the IMF, World Bank, U.S. Department of the Treasury, the ECB and the European Commission. The organizers were pushing for a global tax of at least $1 trillion per year to use for climate change.
The African leaders would have none of it, several of them pointing out that conferences like this one often make grand promises of money for developing Africa, but nothing comes through.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, at the closing session, proposed a concrete infrastructure project that urgently needed funding. Ramaphosa said 600 million Africans still have no electricity even though Africa has all the resources needed to have abundant electricity, especially from the Congo River. He said the Inga Dam project on the Congo River would generate sufficient electricity for 12 to 15 African countries.
“This is what, President Macron, I believe would be one of the most important outcomes,” said President Ramaphosa. “The reform of the financial architecture as well as the practical project—infrastructure project—that is going to add a lot of value.... Generating electricity and building power stations on the Inga dam is the most important.... Let’s get that done and then we will be convinced that you are serious with the promises that you make.” He added that the plan for a railroad connecting South Africa with Cairo must also be on the agenda, “but that’s for the next summit.” It is estimated that the price tag would be $80 billion and generate at least 42 gigawatts of electricity, and would have an absolutely revolutionary impact on the entire continent’s energy supply and economy. Ramaphosa’s recent successes (sharply reduced load-shedding at home, African Peace Mission abroad) are clearly emboldening him.
Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema warned that he would be a bit abusive to President Macron, and pointed out that “Zambia was used, more or less, like a guinea pig” by Western powers. He stressed that, “before we talk about financing, more financing, new financing ... you cannot expect a poor person to carry an additional burden.... Poverty actually exacerbates the climate change mitigation measures.... For us as a global community to mobilize resources—yes, but these resources must be invested to help grow our economies.” He openly praised China for its support and thanked China for generous development funds offered at only 1% interest.
Kenyan President William Ruto also weighed in. Referring to the funds collected from the proposed global tax, President Ruto rejected the idea that those resources be controlled by the World Bank and IMF, “because at IMF and World Bank you have the final say, we have no say. We want another organization of equals.... [Y]ou are not hearing us!”
Brazilian President Lula da Silva, who announced there that he had thrown out his prepared speech to speak extemporaneously, spoke of having learned about an African plan for infrastructure, and cited the President of Congo’s speech to the conference the day before on the Congo River, and the dam’s not being built for lack of financing. Lula then blasted those who do “proselytizing with resources,” where people say “Ah, I will help this little thing here, this little thing there”; what is needed is a leap in quality. “Make investments in structural things which change the life of countries.”
For more on African development, see EIR’s “Extending the New Silk Road to West Asia and Africa.”