The Hope to Revive Lake Chad Could Become Reality under New Italo-Chinese Agreement

The feasibility of one of the largest infrastructure projects ever envisioned for Africa, dubbed Transaqua, will soon be studied under the historic agreement reached between the Italian engineering firm Bonifica Spa and Power China, one of China’s largest multinationals.

The letter of intent was signed during a meeting between the executive leaders of the two companies in Hangzhou in early June, in the presence of the Italian ambassador to China, but was only made known at the beginning of August.

Transaqua is a tremendous idea developed by Bonifica in the 1970s involving the building of a 2400 km long canal from the southern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which would intercept the right bank tributaries of the Congo river through dams and reservoirs, and carry up to 100 bn m3 water per year, by gravity to Lake Chad, in order to refill the shrinking lake, while at the same time providing for electricity production and abundant water for irrigation. The canal would be a key transport infrastructure for central Africa.

Since the 1970s, the situation around Lake Chad has become increasingly explosive and urgent. The drying out of the lake has forced a mass emigration to Europe, and the impoverishment of the region has become a fertile ground for recruiting terrorists to Boko Haram. Although Transaqua offered a viable solution to such problems, western nations and institutions refused to accept it for financial and ideological reasons.

It is thanks to the fight taken up by the LaRouche organization during all those years, together with the authors of the Transaqua concept, that this project can now become reality in the framework of the One Belt One Road Initiative. In 2015, EIR and the Schiller Institute first made it possible for the Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC) and the Transaqua authors to come together. In Dec. 2016, the LCBC signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Power China, and subsequently organized the contact between the Italian and the Chinese companies.

In discussing the groundbreaking agreement with the Nigeria Tribune online on July 25, Nigerian Water Minister Suleiman Adamu noted that China is carrying out a similar project, of “transferring water from Southern China to Northern China. Just like Nigeria, Southern China has more water than the North. The Northern part, some areas are semi-arid so they are transferring water. The total canal that they built is about 2,500 km and that is phase 1.”

The minister added that Nigeria is working with UNESCO to hold an international conference on Lake Chad before the end of the year in Abuja, in order to rally international support for the project.

In past discussions between the LCBC, the Schiller Institute and the Transaqua authors, it was suggested to first explore the feasibility of building the first stretch of the canal, which goes through the Central African Republic, to find out how much water this first section can collect, with an eye to extending the canal through the DRC at a later point.

The Bonifica engineers calculated that ca. 50 bn m3 of water would be enough to replenish Lake Chad, and the feasibility study should determine how much water the CAR section could carry. The original Transaqua project, however, would be capable of transporting up to the double, with the surplus water being used for irrigation purposes.

In a letter to the LCBC, Bonifica officials expressed their satisfaction with the meeting their confidence that a further agreement will lead to joint action for solving the critical situation of the Lake Chad Basin.

The head of the LCBC, Engineer Abdullahi Sanusi, expressed his confidence that the new cooperation will succeed “to be part of good history to bring hope to the voiceless”.