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.