Central African Republic: European Timber Firms Fuel Conflict

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Report highlights how European timber companies are funding rebel groups in the Central African Republic, discrediting the multi-million Euro EU illegal timber agenda. 

The Global Witness report, entitled ‘Blood Timber-The Case of the Central African Republic‘ documents how European companies from France and Germany have paid in excess of US$4 million to Seleka armed groups and more recently smaller sums of around Euro 127,864 to anti-balaka groups in the south-western forested areas. Timber, the largest export for the Central African Republic (CAR), is poorly regulated allowing parts to be captured by armed groups and used to fund their activities.

The Seleka rebels, largely Muslim, rose against the then-president Francois Bozize in 2013, disposing him and installing Michel Djotodia until 2014 (detailed information on the conflict is available here). During this period Seleka rebels and the opposing mostly Christian anti-balaka rebels where responsible for widespread  human rights abuses. Recent developments in 2015 have seen reconciliation attempts, particularly the recent Bangui Forum, but the political and economic situation in the country remains factionalised, unregulated and corruption is rife.

The report states that “the EU and its member states hold a large degree of responsibility for the current situation. EU companies have been trading large quantities of CAR wood since the beginning of the conflict, by ignoring European legislation tailored to fight the illegal timber trade – the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR)“.

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Global Witness identify one particular company, Société d’Exploitation Forestière Centrafricaine (SEFCA), who were recently invited to the European Commission’s annual stocktaking event, despite a long record of illegal logging and paying “significant sums of money to armed groups… including a CFA Francs 250 million (€381,000) payment to the Seleka regime.”

SEFCA, currently the largest timber exporter in CAR, also attended the EU’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) conference earlier in March, even though one of the pillars of the FLEGT initiative is combating the illegal timber trade; a logging company like SEFCA does not belong at an EU stakeholder conference. It belongs in a courtroom”, said Alexandra Pardal, campaign leader for Global Witness.

“Blood timber is just as harmful as blood diamonds. The EU’s multi-million euro illegal logging agenda risks becoming a rogues’ gallery and discredited if it legitimises companies like SEFCA. If the EU decides to pursue a commercial timber trade agreement with CAR’s failed state involving SEFCA, that’s exactly what it will be doing,” Pardal said.

Similarly in what would seem a counter-intuitive move the French Development Agency (AFD) has been financially supported logging companies in CAR and in turn funding armed groups and funding, in part, the conflict French troops were sent to contain, explained the report.

Global Witness provide an extensive and thorough analysis of the issue (available here)

Find out more the Africa Research Bulletin:

Central African Republic: Timeline
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.50, Issue.4, Pp.19670B-19670C

Central African Republic: Agreements Between Armed Groups
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20536B-20537A

Timber: Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol. 45, Issue.5, Pp. 17859C-17860C

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Africa – UN Economic Development Report

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Report highlights the potential for the service sector to catalyse growth but the Greek crisis harks back to African IMF-imposed structural reforms and the continents’ continued indebtedness. 

The United Nations (UN) Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report, ‘The Economic Development in Africa Report 2015: Unlocking the Potential of Africa´s Services Trade for Growth and Development’ (available here), launched on July 8th,  provides extensive analysis of different policy issues facing Africa’s service sector and recommendations to enhance regional integration and inclusive development on the continent.

Starting with the basis that the services sector is a “critical source of income and employment…and the most dominant sector” in 30 out of 53 African countries, contributing almost half of the country’s economic output and around a third of formal employment between 2009-2012.  The reports, however, also comments that such “dynamism…has failed to translate into structural transformation” necessary for developmental needs and is delivered at a high cost.

The report claims that the services sector has the “potential to become a significant driver of sustained economic growth and structural transformation” but that this would require policies to build bridges between the “services sector and other sectors of the economy, especially manufacturing”.

The report highlights some examples where African economies are tapping into opportunities in the services sector; examples of “emerging regional services” are financial and banking services industries in Mauritius and Nigeria, the commercial and cargo air transport industries in Ethiopia and South Africa, educational services industries in Uganda and Ghana, telecommunications services in Egypt and port service industries in Djibouti and Kenya.

However opportunities aside, many African countries are feeling serious economic and social strain; the Ebola-affected countries of West Africa, tourism-reliant countries such as Egypt and Tunisia suffering from recent terrorist attacks and mineral heavy economies affected by global price drops, alongside the many regional conflicts that are hampering economic and social development.

In Ghana, the Premium Times on July 3rd reported that sources were suggesting that public debt in the country could reach 70% of GDP by the end of this year, with the Ghana Cedi loosing 99% of its value against the US dollar and increasingly high inflation. Ghana has borrowed from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) 26 times since 1966, leading to the imposition of more and more conditions for the repayment of loans. The article concludes that the IMF and World Bank with extensive privatisation, foreign direct investments (FDI) and deregulations, have led to debt traps that have further encumbered and disregarded the poorest. Recently on July 7th, Ghana gave signs that it may  consider renegotiating its bailout terms with the IMF, viewed by some economists as unrealistic.

A recent commentary by Radio France Internationale draws parallels between the recent Greek economic crisis in Europe and similar actions by the IMF during the 1980-1990s in Africa. Greece, defaulting on its 1.5bn loan repayment, has felt the imposition of strict capital controls and the country is heading towards an exit from the Eurozone.

François Ndengwe from the African Advisory Board explained that “what is happening to Greece, happened to Africa for over three decades”. Dr Samuel Nyambi, Executive director of CAPDEV, a development company commented that “for myself and many other Africans, we feel a lot of sympathy with the Greeks and the reforms they’re having to swallow, because we went through the same thing with the IMF’s structural adjustment programs.”

During the 1980s-90s the IMF and the World Bank imposed a stringent set of structural reforms to repay debts owed; these reforms have been critiqued by many economists as seriously hindering economic and social development on the continent. According to GlobalInsolvency, reforms centred on the repayment of loans led to lay-offs, privatisation, salary cuts and reduced spending, that made the pursuit of long-term development agendas impossible, resulting in further indebtedness and increased poverty in almost every African country where the IMF structural reforms were implemented.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Africa-IMF: Mission Visits and New Funding
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.5, Pp.20852B-20855A

Africa: Competitiveness Report
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.5, Pp.20841A-20842B

Africa -IMF/World Bank: Growth Remains Solid, but Slows
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.4, Pp.20815C-20818A

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South Africa – Drive for Offshore Resources

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South Africa’s mineral heavy economy turns to the ocean in search of new economic opportunities, to the dismay of local communities

Coal recently overtook gold as the leading contributor to South African GDP;  in 2014 coal stood at South African Rand (R) 101.05bn (US$8.319bn), platinum group metals and iron ore at R58.7bn ($4.81bn) and gold at R46.8bn ($3.83bn). Xavier Prévost, Senior Coal Analyst at XMP Consulting, said “coal (is the most important commodity for the future of South Africa’s economy) because it is our source of energy. Without it the whole country will be paralysed”.

As part of the National Development Plan South Africa is planning to turn to its 3m sq km of oceans as a source of economic return, to create an estimated 1m jobs and R177bn worth of economic product. The plan focuses on a number of key areas; offshore oil and gas, aquaculture, marine transport and manufacture, and marine protection services, largely looking for large-scale industrial investment from the private sector, reported the Mail & Guardian Africa.

This new drive towards offshore resources is being catalysed by Operation Phakisa, which is heavily steered by the Government Mineral Resources Department and PetroSA, the national oil producer, who will be involved in granting mining and exploration licenses. With the recent expansion of the South African marine area from 370km to 650km from the shore, the government is now fast tracking 30 deep-water exploration wells, although to date from 300 wells drilled no significant reserves have been found.

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Offshore Drillship Deep Ocean Ascension off Cape Town. CC 2010

Phakisa, from the Sesotho word meaning “hurry up”, has been hailed to “fast track the implementation of solutions on critical development issues”. However for the Mining Affected Communities United in Action (MACUA), which represents 100 communities through 70 organisation, the operation is just a “a fast tracking of the killings of our people and continued environmental destruction as it puts profit before the people”, reported South African community journalism network Groundup.

As a result of global shortages and rising national demand the focus on more ‘unconventional mining’ is increasing; in a recent National Biodiversity Assessment, the South African National Biodiversity Institute said that this type of mining is increasingly necessary and applications are growing. Ventures that carry particular risks include the awarding of three prospecting permits for offshore phosphate licenses, which uses machines to break up the ocean floor. A valuable insight into the developments and environmental hazards from offshore mining activities can be in this Greenpeace Technical Report.

The main opponents to proposed offshore resources extraction are the hundreds of thousands of local fishing communities that rely on the South African waters as their primary livelihood, whose main concern is the threat to fishing stocks from pollution, disasters, increased traffic and other environmental disturbances. Commentators, critical of Operation Phakisa, have in the light of the often violent and destructive nature of the mining industry,  instead advocated Operation Bhekisisa – Sesotho for look closely.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Gold: South Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.53, Issue.2, Pp.20756C-20757A

South Africa: Shrinking Economy
Economic, Financial & Technical
Vol.51, Issue.5, Pp.20403A-20404c

South Africa: Platinum Strike Rumbles On
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.2, Pp.20309A-20310A

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Morocco – Western Sahara: Africa’s Last Colony?

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Occupation of the Western Sahara continues as international bodies urge for the self determination of Saharawi peoples

The resource-rich Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since the withdrawal of Spanish colonisers in 1975; an autonomy movement,  the People’s Liberation Front of Saguia al-Hamra and Rio de Oro (Polisario Front), has expressed long-standing claims to an independent territory.

In 1976, after the Spanish exit, the Polisario Front declared the region as the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). However following negotiations with Spain, Morocco controversially decided to occupy the Western Sahara even though it contradicted recommendations from the International Court of Justice and United Nations (UN) Declarations on the Independence of Colonial Countries and Peoples. A fifteen-year guerilla war followed, until a UN-brokered peace deal in 1991 and the establishment of the UN Mission for the Referendum of the Western Sahara (MINURSO).

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Currently up to 165,000 Saharawis, an ethnic grouping populating the Western Sahara and parts of Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania, live in refugee camps in the Algerian border region of Tindouf. Within the liberated zone of the Western Sahara, an area claimed by the Polisario Front, around 30,000 live in a stretch of land divided from the western Moroccan controlled region by the Berm, a 2,700km wall twelve times the length of the Berlin Wall, behind which is one of the world’s largest minefields and thousands of Moroccan soldiers.

Morocco has exploited the phosphate rich land, some of the world’s best fishing and has also exported sand from Western Sahara  to build up beaches on the Canary Islands.  Algerian Prime-minister, Abdelmalek Sellal, described the Western Sahara as a region that continues to suffer from the “horrors of colonialism from another age”, adding that “Africa’s decolonisation remains unfinished”, reported the official news agency of the SADR, the Sahara Press Service.

The UN recognises  the right to self determination for the Saharawi people, Morocco however only  offers the status of an autonomous region within its sovereignty; this has been rejected by Polisario who insist on the right to determine their own future in a UN-monitored referendum.

The Moroccan government has been accused of “unethical tactics” in a recent leaked UN report documenting how Moroccan authorities intercepted internal UN communications and made large donations to the UN Office for the High Commission for Human Rights (OHCHR), lobbying to cancel fact-finding missions, reported UK-based the Guardian.

Earlier in 2015, despite comments from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the African Union (AU) and Human Rights Watch (HRW), the UN Security Council voted to renew the MINURSO mission without a human rights mandate, the only UN mission to do so, prompting widespread dismay. In response to allegations of human rights violations and cover ups, the Moroccan government has repeatedly reiterated its “long-standing commitment to human rights”, cited the Guardian

A statement by the President of the SADR and Secretary General of the Polisario Front, Mohamed Abdelaziz, called for the release of Saharawi prisoner Salah Lebsir, other political prisoners held in Moroccan prisons and accountability for at least 600 Saharawis missing since the beginning of the occupation; “we call on the UN to assume its full responsibility to ensure the safety and protection of the rights of Saharawi citizens in the occupied territories, and create an effective UN mechanism to monitor and report violations of human rights in Western Sahara”, reported the Sahara Press Service.

According to Issandr el-Amrani, North Africa analyst for the International Crisis Group (ICG), cited by Al-Jazeera, “the risk of losing Western Sahara, let’s say by accepting a referendum for self-determination, is too great for the monarchy to take”. However no country in the world recognises Morocco’s territorial claim, and a significant number of countries now officially recognise the SADR.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Western Sahara: Renewed Violence
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.47, Issue.11, Pp.18603A-18605C

Algeria-Morocco: War of Words
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.50, Issue.11, Pp.19911B-19912C

Algeria-Morocco: Bone of Contention
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.51, Issue.11, Pp.20342A
Subscribe to the Africa Research Bulletin today.

Africa – ‘Indigenous’ Crops and Food Security

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Research suggests that the potential contribution of native crops to African food security could be huge.

The answers to problems of food insecurity and malnutrition in Africa are often seen, by organisations such as the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and international agribusiness companies, as lying with new highly developed crop varieties. However an article published by Nature explores a different avenue which looks at the abundance of ‘indigenous’ crops grown across the country, often overlooked by seed companies and researchers as lagging behind in terms of productivity and quality

The article explains how in some urban areas such as Nairobi these food crops are now becoming more popular; Kenyan farmers increased the area used to grow such crops by 25% between 2011 and 2013, and they are increasingly available in markets.

Mary Abukutsa-Onyango, a horticultural researcher at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Juja, Kenya said that “in Africa, malnutrition is such a problem. We want to see indigenous vegetables play a role”; Abukutsa began surveying and collecting Kenya’s indigenous plants in the early 1990s.

It is hoped that more emphasis on indigenous foods, those that are well adapted for a particular climate and environment, rather than foreign plants that often are less nutritious and take large external inputs to be successfully grown, can contribute to some degree towards food security and improved nutrition in Africa.

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CC 2009

The large majority of vegetables being studied in East Africa are leafy greens such as the African Nightshade, Amaranth Leaves and the Spider Plant; such plants according to Abukutsa can be important sources of protein; “some people just live on vegetables, and they cannot maybe afford meat.”

The US National Research Council (NRC) in the 1990s convened a panel to explore the potential of Africa’s ‘lost crops‘, chaired by renowned researcher Norman Borlaug. It concluded that native plants held huge potential to improve food security and nutritional intake across Africa. Today in Nairobi the World Agroforestry Centre is studying more than 3,000 indigenous fruit species finding nutritional, drought-tolerant and pest and disease resistant characteristics.

However these crops are not subject to the same standards as modern farming and are not genetically designed for a maximisation of yield or uniformity in seed. Some commentators have said that efforts to genetically improve these crops, while possibly increasing yields, could eliminate many other benefits, as would incorporating these crops into monoculture-type systems.

Important research into the potential of ‘native crops’ as well as the performance of low-input agriculture is  increasingly being conducted in Africa; in Ethiopia Dr Melaku Worede, having previously held positions in the Ministry of Agriculture, has made an invaluable contribution to the genetic research and food sovereignty in the country, establishing the Genetic Resource Centre in Addis-Ababa, the first gene-bank in Africa, now known as the Institute for Biodiversity Conservation. A film documenting his work is available here.

Elsewhere the African Biodiversity Network, a regional network of individuals and organisations working towards socio-economic and ecological problems facing the continent, is also conducting important work relating to genetic diversity, indigenous food crops and food sovereignty.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

East African Community: Climate Smart Agriculture
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue. 9, Pp.20550A-20550C

Food Security
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.50, Issue.2, Pp.19889A-19889B

Women in Africa
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.49, Issue.10, Pp.19743B-19743C

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Benin – Important Political Juncture

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Accusations of corruption are increasingly levied against the West African nation in a period of important democratic elections.

On April 26th parliamentary elections took place in Benin with President Thomas Boni Yayi‘s ruling Cowrie Forces for an Emergent Benin (FCBE) gaining a narrow victory of 33 out of 83 seats at the National Assembly, a drop of 8 seats from the previously held parliament.

The FCBE were followed by the Unite the Nation party at 13 seats, the Democratic Renewal Party (PRD) at 10 seats, the Alliance of the Benin-Renaissance and Revival Party (RB-PR) at 7 seats, alongside many other smaller parties.

As voting went under-way President Yayi insisted that he would leave after his mandate expires next year and he has completed his second term, although opponents have alleged a secret attempt to reform the constitution and remove presidential term limits, report Reuters. In 2008, Yayi appointed a technical committee to review the country’s 1990 constitution and presented the Constitutional Amendment Bill to parliament for debate one year later.

The president claims that the amendment will “restore the rule of law, reinforce Benin’s democracy, and solidify the country’s economic development” while opponents claim that it is part of his bid to break the presidential term limits, reported Xinhua news service.

A survey carried out by the AfroBarometer Research Network postulated that three out of four Benin nationals were opposed to the proposed constitutional amendments, showing that the majority (90%) of the public felt the review should not touch on presidential terms and age, but should rather strengthen parliament’s role to check the executive.

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(CC US Department of Agriculture 18/5/2012)

According to the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Benin is currently in an important political period, with parliamentary elections already held, upcoming local, municipal and communal elections, and  presidential elections scheduled for 2016.

However the postponement of municipal, communal and local elections has been extended to June 28th, originally scheduled for May 31st after a lengthy delay since 2013. According to President of the National Electoral Commission Emmanuel Tiando,  this was in order to correct some irregularities in the April 26th parliamentary elections.

Following independence Benin, then called Dahomey, experienced a unstable period of military Marxist rule between 1972-1990 until in 1990 a ‘Democratic Renewal’ process was put into place and a constitution was established. An ISS report on Benin identified some issues hanging over the elections, such as the postponement of local and municipal elections from 2013, socio-political tensions and President’s Yayi’s possible bid for a third term.

Other recent events have added to the pressure and scrutiny mounted on President Yayi in recent months; on May 14th Benin’s Minister for Energy and Water, Bethelemy Kassa, resigned over an ongoing corruption scandal involving millions of dollars of Dutch financial aid going missing, leading to the suspension of aid by the Netherlands.

Dutch Ambassador Jos Van Aggelen said that “the Dutch government is aware of the consequences that this decision will have on the population in Benin given the progress made in recent years…but we cannot tolerate resources being made available to Benin being managed in this way”, reported Reuters.

Money has also been spent on projects that were not part of the agreement; the Netherlands government stated that they “would like to offer the people of Benin a better future by carrying out effective programmes…but if it transpires that government institutions are seriously failing, then we have to take steps” quoted Dutch News.

Meanwhile, on May 6th Benin security forces surrounded the Canal 3 television station in Cotonou, the commercial capital, as opposition members including Candide Azannai, a prominant critic of President Yayi, tried to deliver televised statements, according to Bloomberg Business.

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Benin is often held as an example of democratic progress in Africa and in 2014 the World Bank cited a “robust” growth rate of 5.5% in 2014, largely due to the efficiency of Cotonou port and a rise in crop production.

During the 2014/15 season cotton output rose by 28% to 393,000 tonnes and it is forecast to reach 500,000 tonnes next season. Cotton is one of Benin’s top exports, employs around 70% of its 10 million population, and has contributed some CFA Francs 200 billion to state revenue according to Agriculture Minister Issa El Hadj Azizou, cited by Reuters.

However despite this the World Bank claims poverty levels have not decreased significantly and there are risks of protest and violence in the wake to the proposed  constitutional arrangements.

In  a relevant comparison, Blaise Compaoré, ex-President of Burkina Faso, called for a presidential term limit referendum in 2014, spurring protesters onto the streets. Before the vote on October 30th 2014 protesters stormed the National Assembly and called for Compaoré’s resignation, who subsequently fled to Cote D’Ivoire, and protesters refused to leave the streets until a civilian leader was installed.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

Benin: Coup Arrests
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.50, Issue.3, Pp.19633A-19633C

Benin: Cabinet Dismissed
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.50, Issue.8, Pp.19805A-19806B

Benin: Presidential Poll
Political, Social & Cultural Series
Vol.43, Issue.3, Pp.16570A-16571C

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Mali – Land Deal Stalls

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Huge land deal halted following regional political instability and security issues, leaving thousands of local families with uncertain futures

In 2008 exiled Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure signed a highly secretive lease with the then-president of Libya, Muammar Gaddafi, for a 100,000 hectare area of fertile agricultural land in the Office of Niger region, in the north of the country. The deal was granted to Malibya, a subsidiary of Libyan wealth fund the Libyan African Investment Portfolio, reported Reuters.

The agreement purported that the land would be provided rent free for 50 years and include water rights “without restriction” between June and December, on the condition that the Libyan  government constructed agreed agro-industrial infrastructure such as canals and roads, and cultivated the land across the region.

The Director of the Malibya project, Abdalilah Youssef, explained in a report by think-tank the Oakland Institute that the project will ensure food security for Libya in conjunction with, not at the expense of Mali; providing higher yields with the introduction of hybrid rice varieties, employment to local populations and facilitating resettlement for those displaced.

However  following Gaddafi’s demise in Libya and increasing regional security troubles, the project stalled.  Currently the tens of thousands of families cultivating the land are facing uncertain futures and according to Malian representatives whether the concession goes ahead or not is a decision for the Libyan government to take.

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Thomson Reuters Foundation (April 29 2015)

The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) claims that family farmers  produce roughly 80% of the world’s food. Within the Malibya concession an estimated 60,000 small farmers live and work, each farming less than a hectare. Many of the farmers do not have formal deeds to the land they farm and while in principle Malian law recognises customary tenure, many of the locals said they were not consulted ahead of the deal.

Many commentators have highlighted the secrecy surrounding the deal and its potential negative consequences for the food security of local populations and the Malian nation. The critical perception has been fuelled by the lack of Environment and Social Impact Assessments (EIA & SIA), with suspicions that none were ever commissioned.

Additionally, critics have claimed that considering the prevalence of droughts over the last three decades, it is surprising that the contract provided investors with access to water “without restrictions” between June and December. A local Malian farmer, cited by Reuters, said “how can they guarantee water for foreigners and not us Malian people…it’s already difficult for us to survive.”

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The Oakland Institute observe that the contract does not require produce grown to be bought and sold within the country  and the hybrid rice originally selected was “not suited to the domestic market due to quality and taste” according to Office of Niger officials.  SEXAGON, a local farmers union, claims that when the region is transformed in to export-oriented region local people will lose both their lands and livelihoods.

A study commissioned by Sweden’s Lund University claimed that around 32 million hectares of land globally had been traded in similar land deals up to 2012, part of a trend that is evident across much of the African continent and ‘developing world’ as large scale investors buy land as a strategic asset at the expense of small-scale landowners and food producers who have cultivated the land for many hundreds of years.

A representative from the Regional Platform of Farmers Organisations of Central Africa, Alangeh Romanus Che, said that investment should be directed at farmers rather than the acquisition of land; “all farmers depend on land as their principal capital, any denial of this access will impact negatively on farmers,” cited the Guardian.

A number of other examples:

In 2009 the Mozambican government signed a deal with Korean based conglomerate Daewoo Group for a 1.5 million hectare stretch for fifteen years. This deal fell through due to widespread public backlash, unsurprising as it was equivalent to almost half of the country’s arable land.

In 2013 the Guardian reported that the UK was the third largest investor in land in Africa at 1,193,433 hectares, behind the USA at 4,334,134 , United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 2,794,121 and Saudi Arabia at 1,307,912. In terms of amounts of land, the UK holds its majority in Sierra Leone at 692,606 ha; the largest being the Whitestone Charles Anderson investment with 525,000 ha.

On May 8th 2015 Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe met Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of talks over a proposed US$ 4 billion Darwendale Platinum Mining Deal. The project is a joint venture between the Zimbabwean military through Pen East Mining Company and Russian investors including VI Holdings, Rostec and Vnesheconombank. The special mining lease will grant the Russians exemption from paying corporate taxes and royalties for a five-year period.

Online public database on land deals, Land Matrix, provides useful visual data and analysis.

Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin

Mali: Emerging from Crisis, Bracing for Hunger
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.51, Issue.2, Pp.20307c-20308A

South Africa: Controversial Land Reform Plans
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue.2, Pp.20739c-20740c

Zimbabwe: Land Reform Blunder
Economic, Financial & Technical Series
Vol.52, Issue. 2, Pp. 20740c-20742c

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