Land grabbing by foreign investors in Africa

Interesting analysis from the Oakland Institute about the very opaque land investments in Africa, from the Pambazuka website:

PAMBAZUKA NEWS: In your study of 50 deals in seven countries, you’ve found no evidence for fair financial returns to countries or their people. And not only do agrofuels plantations displace food crops, they also need twice as much water. Weighing the lack of economic benefits against the social and environmental costs, it’s irrational for countries to make deals with investors. What’s driving this destructive behaviour? Why are governments so willing to accept poor deals from investor?

OAKLAND INSTITUTE: Many African governments fervently encourage foreign investment in agricultural land and often offer what some investors have called ‘mouthwatering’ incentives. Some officials seem to genuinely trust that land deals will spur growth with incoming capital, assist with infrastructure, and create employment for local people. This belief that large-scale land investment will result in much needed economic development has been strongly promoted by white-collar experts from the World Bank and officials from donor countries.

The trend of large-scale land investment in Africa could not take place without the work of the World Bank over the past two decades, which has been orchestrating the establishment of business-friendly environments for investor access to land. From helping attract investors, to shaping policy and law that allows for streamlined and lucrative investor contracts, the World Bank has clearly played a key role to enable and promote land investment.

Read the full version here.

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2 thoughts on “Land grabbing by foreign investors in Africa

  1. sekastudio says:

    Of course Africa once again is the proverbial “grass that suffers when two elephants fight” – apparently an African saying.

    Ironically this time, the land grabbing ‘foreign investors’ are being sought after by African dictators who have miserably failed to have any development to show for their longevity in power. They’re now desperate to hold on power a while longer until they complete setting the stage for their hand picked successors!

    The poor Africans who have depended on their small pieces of land for survival are being forced by circumstances beyond their control to sell their land (if they are lucky).

    Not to worry though, these kind of machinations rarely pan out! Revolutions like the recent Arab spring are spawning others southward. The land grabbing investors are smarter than to attempt to stave off burning spears of an angry people trying to regain their balance.

    My advice to the investors is to tread cautiously because dictators are on the way out.

  2. africo says:

    Thanks for your comment.
    I would even go further, by saying that land investments, as well as mineral investments have deteriorated the livign conditions of African people (whether it is by reducing the farming land, polluting the land, generating waste).

    As long as we do not have good governance, investors will only take advantage of our abundant resources.

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