By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK | 5 February 2024 (IDN) — Winding up his four-nation tour of Africa, Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken announced a super generous gift of close to a billion dollars for our new ally, Angola, to fund a solar energy project and upgrade a rail corridor.
These major new U.S. investments were seen as sweeteners to help counter China’s influence on the continent.
U.S.-Angola relations are at their strongest point in history, said Blinken as he and Angolan foreign minister Tete Antonio posed for pictures before their country’s flags.
New American investments include more than $900 million for solar energy projects and $250 million to upgrade a rail corridor that carries critical minerals, including cobalt and copper, from Central Africa to Angola’s Atlantic port of Lobito.
The $900 million Sun Africa solar energy project will get financing from the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM) and was approved in October. Sun Africa is expected to construct two utility-scale solar photovoltaic parks that will provide more than 500 MW of renewable power with the money.
U.S. funding will also cover $363 million in financing of Acrow Bridge’s 186 prefabricated bridges. This promises to support critical infrastructure and thousands of Angolan and American jobs.
EXIM declared the Sun Africa program its “Deal of the Year” for 2023.
The transportation project is expected to further President Biden’s goal of diversifying American supply chains – in part to reduce U.S. dependence on Chinese control of the vital ingredients for a modern economy. It stretches from the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Atlantic Ocean.
Not long ago, Angola concluded a civil war in which as many as one million people died. During that war, the Soviet Union provided military training and equipment to the Marxist MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) which ousted the U.S. supported rebels with help from the Soviets and Cuba.
Extreme Hunger in East Africa
While Angola reaps monetary and other benefits, as many as 20.4 million people across Ethiopia require food support, according to the World Food Program. It is one of four countries in East Africa where Oxfam is responding to extreme hunger.
The transaction here is simple, said senior analyst Paula Cristina Roque of the Brenthurst Foundation – the recognition of an undemocratic leader in exchange for geostrategic support, mineral extraction and defense alignments. But this isn’t just any African country—this is Russia’s oldest military ally and one of China’s biggest trading partners on the continent.
This is the first step of what will be numerous bilateral agreements, beginning with trade, investment, renewables and energy, and likely ending in defense, says Roque.
Meanwhile, according to the British Red Cross, soaring food prices, conflict and climate change are plunging parts of Africa into a severe and enduring food crisis, with millions of people in Africa facing extreme hunger.
Nearly 400 people have died of starvation in Ethiopia’s Tigray and Amhara regions in recent months, according to th. e national ombudsman. It’s a rare admission of hunger-related deaths by a federal body—the government normally dismisses famine warnings as “politicking. SOue”. . [IDN-InDepthNews]
Photo: A sick child being treated. Source: Global Information Network
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