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Nigeria and nuclear fusion – Part 5

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Nuclear fusion

Nuclear fusion

A minerals policy based solely on “commercial exploitation” is childish, shortsighted and, in racial terms, suicidal.It is childish because commerce in minerals ultimately entails the exchange of nonrenewable resources for manufactured goods, such as computers, cellular phones, imported foods and clothing.

These are the modern equivalent of beads, cannons, mirrors, guns and booze—items our ancestors received, during the slave trade, in exchange for Africa’s best physical specimen.

But the slave buyers left with a lot more than labor. They carted off attractive young women for breeding, musicians to augment group control and productivity, as well as invaluable African technology.Liberia and Sierra Leone are referred to, historically, as part of the “Grain Coast,” for example, because both grain and grain technology were obtained from that region.

In fact, the rice industries of Georgia and South Carolina are based on a one-thousand-year-old West African technology, which slaves brought to the U.S.A.Hence Wikipedia notes that slaves imported via the port of Charleston, South Carolina, “brought the highest prices in recognition of their prior knowledge of rice culture…”

In short, the African slave traders who “commercially exploited” these human resources had no estimate of their true worth—beyond the muzzleloader guns, mirrors and trinkets they got in return.

Contemporary policy makers and political leaders don’t seem to have learned a lot. Let me digress a bit further, to illustrate my point. Then we will get back to lithium and nuclear fusion.

Drive through the Nigerian countryside and note carefully, the nature of the landscape. It hardly appears to be denuded. There is greenery. Thick grasses, shrubs and thin stands of trees are visible.

Yet the vegetation you see, is largely secondary growth—the understory of rainforests which prior generations of policy makers “commercially exploited,” impervious to the interests of the unborn.

Now, Nigeria has produced a generation of brilliant furniture makers. But they have virtually no raw materials to work with.Most of the great hardwoods for which this country was famous (obobo, danta, walnut, afara, mahogany, etc.) were shortsightedly sold to multinational timber companies for “foreign exchange”.

There is nothing inherently wrong with selling minerals. But the objective should be to install industrial capacity and to advance Nigeria’s strategic interests.A truly independent country, for example, must necessarily manufacture arms and prime movers (generators, locomotives, ships and aircraft). This, of course, requires heavy industry.

Ideally then, the terms of a mineral exploitation agreement ought to take Nigeria’s industrial needs into account.Accordingly, Government would be well advised, to extract from its trading partners more than just “foreign exchange”.

A reasonable criterion, for the sale of strategic minerals, would be that the potential buyer commits himself to the advancement of Nigeria’s own strategic interests.
This could entail either the direct sale of self-replicating industrial machinery, reactors, particle accelerators, tokamaks, etc. or assistance to Nigeria—politically and diplomatically—in acquiring them.

No mineral should be shipped out, merely for money. Policy makers must learn to factor into their agreements the needs of their progeny.This is especially important when it comes to energy research, where Nigeria lags far behind and the costs are astronomical.

But while the required outlays are admittedly enormous, they are by no means prohibitive—at least not to the creative and resourceful policy maker or political leader. Even nuclear fusion energy, is within Nigeria’s reach. What it boils down to, are re-ordered national priorities and a strong collective resolve.

In 2010, for example, Portuguese-speaking countries held a precedent-setting plasma physics conference in Mozambique.
To be continued.


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