Why a Multimillion Dollar Clock Might Mean Time is Up for Francafrique

Africa

Reflex Eco Group – Africa News

by Paul Carlucci  (Columnist of ThinkAfricaPress)

http://thinkafricapress.com/

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

The French investigation into the massive wealth of long standing Central African rulers and French allies may be changing the French model of neo-colonialism in Africa.

 

For three Central African leaders, the days of impunity and scandalous accumulation of wealth could be over, following an investigation by French prosecutors. The case of the ‘ill-gotten gains’ was first brought to court by two non-governmental organisations and an association of the Congolese diaspora in 2007. It aims to bring Central Africa’s most flagrantly corrupt leaders to justice for their alleged theft and embezzlement of public resources.

William Bourdon, who has previously advised French President François Hollande and is now the president of Sherpa, one of the organisations prosecuting the case, told Think Africa Press that “The case is historic and could open the…

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Fake Chinese goods harming Africa’s economy

Reflex Eco Group – Uganda News

by Othman Semakula (Ugandan journalist of Daily Monitor)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

A scan through Daniel Kalanja’s house tells of how the Chinese influence has over the years grown in Uganda; taking over living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens among others.

His office is a mirror image that further cements the Chinese conquest of Africa in terms of trade and influence.

However, notwithstanding the increasing trade volumes, consumers have increasingly become incensed with Chinese products claiming forgery and a lack of durability.

A survey conducted by global audit firm PwC recently revealed that consumers buy counterfeits deliberately because they tend to be cheaper compared to genuine ones.

Their cheap quotations in a way entice consumers’ purchasing decisions.

According to data, about 50 per cent of goods that enter Uganda are either fake or substandard; however, there are indications that importers demand for such goods because they are cheap.

Experience shows that though these goods are purchased cheaply, they tend to become expensive in the long run because they breakdown easily and soon require repair or replacement.

A counterfeit electric power extension bought at $6 [Shs15,000] has the potential to cause a loss worth millions. It can cause a burnout of all appliances connected to it.

It is estimated that counterfeits kill at least 100,000 people annually, mostly in low developing economies.

Records of buildings collapsing have been registered due to fake or substandard cement on the market.

 

Chinese manufactured phones continue to hit the market with names closer to those of genuine brands like Nokla instead of Nokia. These phones look fancier, have double line provisions and come cheaply compared to the genuine Nokia.

 

Mr Kenneth Oyolla, the general manager for Nokia’s business operations in the East and Southern Africa region, recently said about 6 per cent of the value of large phone brands worldwide are counterfeited.

He said Nokia loses about 10 per cent of the value in counterfeits.

“The situation in Uganda is a bit worrying, and the rate seems to be high. Counterfeiting is threatening our integrity and good name. The Nokia brand is associated with quality and reliability, but we usually get complaints from consumers who are cheated by phone users,” he said.

A duplicated designer Gucci bag, which is spelt Guci in the counterfeit world for example, goes for $18 [Shs45,000] in Uganda, while a genuine one goes for between $100 and $900 depending on the location of the shop one is buying from.

The beauty with spending this kind of money on a genuine bag is that one if handled well can carry it for more than 10 years unlike the fake one that you might have to replace every year.

Mr Lawrence Kinyanjui, the Microsoft East and Southern Africa anti-piracy conversion manager recently said that the software industry loses about $2.8 billion (about Shs6.3 trillion) in unauthorised use, reproduction and installation of software programmes in Africa and the Middle East annually.

He noted: “For every dollar a rightful owner makes, a person selling an illegal version makes $6 or more.”

Counterfeit medicine accounts for $200 billion (Shs468 trillion) and $50 billion (Shs117 trillion) in counterfeit cigarettes while pirated music and movies account for $60 billion (Shs140 trillion) world-wide.

According to the CIA fact book, counterfeiting and piracy has the ability to frustrate creative efforts, lower countries’ incentives to innovate, threaten existence of some companies and deprive national economies of vital tax revenue that would have translated into economic growth.
The fact book adds illegal reproduction and sale of goods and services also exposes legitimate businesses to unfavourable competition, encourages criminal organisations, erodes respect for intellectual property rights and threatens the health and safety of consumers.
Recently, Mr Zou Xiaoming, a trade expert at the Chinese Embassy was quoted in the Ugandan press as saying that most importers especially from Uganda ask Chinese manufacturers for low quality goods, which they go on to label as super brands known in world business circles.

 

He said: “When such goods get onto the market, they are sold expensively by unscrupulous importers only for consumers to realise that they were sold fake goods after a few days of usage.”

 

UNIDO Addresses Challenges In Wood sector

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Reflex Eco Group – Ghana News

by Samuel Boadi (local journalist)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

The UNIDO Trade Capacity Building Programme for Ghana hosted stakeholders in the wood industry to a day’s workshop in Kumasi with the aim of helping identify gaps and areas that require intervention in the wood/timber value chain and facilitate competitiveness of the industry.

The workshop was organized in collaboration with CSIR Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG) for participants drawn from the private and public sectors.

The representatives came from the wood industry, academia, science associations and institutions.

“Trade in timber products contributes significantly to the Gross Domestic Product of Ghana and despite the availability of high quality wood species, the quality of wood and furniture products in the country is rather low,” said the National Project Coordinator of the programme for Ghana, Victor Mills in his remarks at the workshop.

“UNIDO intends to identify the main challenges and draw up activities that will add value to the industry for easy access to local and international markets.”

He added that one of the most important factors that affect value addition to wood products is the lack of an accredited testing center in the country to ensure that standards are complied with in the manufacture and processing of wood products.

He said as part of the programme, Berne University of Applied Sciences, Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering (BFH-AHB), Switzerland is partnering FORIG to upgrade and accredit its existing lab to conform to the requirements of ISO 17025:2005- General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

The first phase of the UNIDO/MOTI TCB Project assisted a number of laboratories at the Ghana Standards Authority to gain accreditation to ISO 17025:2005.

The programme also established a Certification Body within GSA (GSA-MSCS).

The Scheme is accredited to certify systems to the ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 22000: 20005.

The Swiss Government (SECO) is funding the trade capacity building programme, which is being implemented by UNIDO in collaboration with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI).

The programme contributes to the development goal of supporting Ghana’s integration into world markets by developing a sustainable and competitive export economy compliant with trade-related standards.

Put Up Modern ICT Infrastructures

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Reflex Eco Group – Ghana News

by Cephas Larbi (Local Journalist)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

Mr. Paul Victor Obeng, Chairman of National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), has called on African leaders to raise sufficient resources to put up modern Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure for citizens to realize their potentials and improve sustainable livelihood.

However, he said, in as much as there is the need to expand broadband services, the consequences of cyber security must not be taken for granted.

Mr. Obeng who made this known at a Regional Development Forum and Regional Preparatory meeting in Accra said given that ICT has become a dynamic tool for stimulating economic growth, African governments must champion development of infrastructure and make its user friendly.

He urged African leaders to place people at the centre of learning ICT to enhance sustainable development and improve quality of lives on the continent, adding that development without people at the centre is an aberration.

Mr. Obeng said governments could translate textbooks into ICT compatible for use at all levels of the educational ladder, and introduce ICT at early stages for children.

Mr Braimah Sanou, Director, Telecommunications Development Bureau, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) said countries must develop local content to suit the aspirations of respective environments.

He said “this would ensure proper applications of ICT in financial institutions, education, healthcare delivery, transportation, agriculture and other sectors of the economy”.

Mr Sanou said ICT must be defined in a way to stimulate social and economic improvement of the people and to make equal opportunity and access a guiding principle.

The conference, which was on the theme “ICT for development and empowerment of Africa,” gave stakeholders an opportunity to share knowledge and experience on ways of enhancing Broadband sustainability, Broadband Applications for Development Empowerment and create a safer cyberspace.

Ghana: Fruit processing companies look offshore for fruits

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Reflex Eco Group – Africa News

Antony Sedzro (Ghanaian journalist)

sedtony@yahoo.com

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

Ghana’s pineapple production and exports have slumped to the lowest in nine years, throwing more than 500,000 people, mostly farmers out of job.

Not only has the situation denied the country the millions of dollars it used to receive in foreign exchange, the economy has lost some fruit processing companies, with the surviving ones struggling to get raw materials to process.

Processing companies such as Blue Skies, HPW, Peelco and Pinora have had to import more than half of their raw materials such as mangoes, pineapples and papaya (pawpaw) as they struggle to source them locally.

Other processing companies in Adeiso in the Eastern Region, Nsawam, Asamankese and Tema have all folded up for lack of raw materials that can make them competitive.

Industry value chain actors told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS newspaper that the worsening condition was due to the lack of financing for cultivation, low quality inputs, especially pineapple suckers and the age-old challenge of the country not adapting quickly to a new variety now preferred in Europe, the MD2, developed by Costa Rica.

An acre of pineapple farm requires between GH¢8,000 and GH¢9,000 to cultivate. This has put the thousands of farmers out of the farm, even though there is huge market for fresh pineapples and other horticultural produce locally and internationally.

Currently, the country only exports about 35,000 tonnes of pineapple a year, with exporters reducing from 50 in 2004 to about 15. Employment in the industry has significantly slumped from about 600,000 to about 60,000.

Chief Agronomist at Blue Skies, Mr Ernest Abloh and the Head of Administration and Control at HPW Fresh and, Mr James Obeng, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS in separate interviews that their sources of fruits to supplement what they get locally were Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo and Benin

Mr Abloh said Blue Skies had just sealed a deal to air-lift 120 tonnes of mangoes a week from Brazil for 10 weeks, mainly due to inadequate local supplies and from the sub-region, especially during the crop’s off seasons.

GRAPHIC BUSINESS newspaper investigations revealed that the lack of credit is the principal challenge facing the industry, since pineapple cultivation is capital intensive.

Blue Skies, which has the capacity to process 30 tonnes of fresh pineapple a day for export, is only doing 20 tonnes a day. Last month, the company laid of over 400 workers due to lack of raw materials for off peak production.

HPW, a Swiss company which used to export fresh fruits from Ghana, had to make a hard U-turn to dry fruits – pineapple, mango and coconut.

“Ghana’s fruit industry consists of a huge amount of small farmers often with a weak set-up and very few large and professional fruit growers/exporters. Our demand of more than 6,000 tonnes of fresh fruit is substantial for the industry,” top company officials told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS at the factory at Adeiso.

Exports of fresh pineapples reached the highest in 2004 with 71,000 tonnes a year, making Ghana the second largest exporter of the produce, after Cote d’Ivoire. These exports raked in approximately US$50 million to private sector exporters.

The Director of Export Marketing and Quality Awareness Project, (EMQAP) Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Mr Mawuli Agboka, told the GRAPHIC BUSINESS that although finance was a challenge for the farmers, the project was making very holistic intervention in the horticultural sub-sector.

According to Mr Abloh, the company cited its operations at the current location because of proximity to raw materials, but with time, productivity had dipped, particularly after the world demand shifted to MD2 from the smooth cayenne that Ghana used to export.

He said the company got its extra fruits from other countries, but had started “a vertically integration” to produce its own raw materials.

“We didn’t want to go into production ourselves, but now we have to do it. We already cultivate all our raw material needs for passion fruit,” Mr Abloh said.

Infrastructure abandoned

Huge edifices of pack houses and cold chains constructed in some pineapple and mango growing areas with grant from the United States government are lying idle, with the low productivity.

Some farmers have also converted their farms to grow other crops or sold them for estate development.

This is prevalent in Samsam, a village near Nsawam, where the GRAPHIC BUSINESS found some farmlands turned into sand winning pits or for the construction of residential property.

Centre of excellence

The GRAPHIC BUSINESS gathered the industry has no centre of excellence to bring best practice to the industry including tissue culture, multiplication of planting materials and other specialised studies.

Blue Skies has built one ultra-modern centre of excellence for mango, but until now the Ministry of Agriculture has not posted scientists and other personnel to make the centre functional.

Currently, the fresh fruit company has its own centre of excellence with which it supports its out-growers.

But the Director of EMQAP said the project had a number of interventions to increase productivity and make best practice part of the horticultural sub-sector.

He said the seven-year EMQAP project was tackling infrastructure, technology, provision of inputs and technology to support the industry.

For example, to make pineapple planting materials available, EMQAP was helping four farmer groups in the Ga West and Akwapim South districts to multiplicate planting materials.

The project has given each group 44,000 plantlets which could be multiplied six times as well as inputs. This intervention is expected to affect over 200 farmers.

Mr Agboka said EMQAP was also supporting the Crop Research Institute in the Ashanti Region to do maintenance breeding of selected crops under the project.

The project has also spearheaded the enactment of the Plant and Fertiliser Act, Act 803, 2010, which among other things, allows for certification of nursaries and vegetative planting materials for the country.

“We certified eight planting material producers in 2011. This is to ensure that we have quality planting materials on the market,” Mr Agboka stated.

The project director, however, agrees that beyond the direct intervention by the project, there was also the need for creating a pipeline of financial support, through public-private partnerships, to enable the farmers access finance to cultivate their produce.

He believes that Ghana had much more favourable conditions to do far better in pineapple and other horticultural produce than Costa Rica which currently leads in the sector.

History and Potential of Pineapples

Horticultural produce from Ghana has shown a lot of promise over the years. The country has been involved in the export of horticultural exports since the 1980s. Exports rose quickly from US$28 million in 2000 to US$75 million by 2006, with a lot of potential at hand, with mangoes, pineapples and chilies showing firmer promise.

Statistics indicate that there are about €1 billion worth of pineapple market; €3.5 billion for bananas and US$250 million, all in the European Union alone.

Ghana’s pineapple exports blossomed in the 1990s when pineapple exports formed an association and reached an agreement with a vessel to lift fresh produce from Ghana, after visiting Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire.

The twice a week lifting accelerated exports of fresh pineapples and other horticultural produce. Pineapple exports, thus rose from a few tonnes a week to 71,000 tonnes in 2004. The exports started slumping very fast when Costa Rica introduced the much sweeter MD2 pineapple which caught on well in the EU market.

This caused the market for Ghana’s variety, the smooth cayenne, to plummet to the current low levels of 35,000 tonnes in 2012.

Agriculture begins attracting funding

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Reflex Eco Group – Uganda News

by Stephen Otage (Local Journalist)

sotage@ug.nationmedia.com

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

The European Investment Bank has given three local banks a 11m-euro grant to lend to farmers at low interest rates so as to ensure availability of long-term and affordable financing.

Among the banks benefiting from the grant are Centenary Bank, DFCU Bank and KCB Bank.

While announcing the grant last week, Pim Van Ballekom  the Vice President European Investment Bank (EIB) said the three banks will be able to lend the money to farmers to invest in new opportunities and small businesses to act as a motor for new jobs and economic growth.

“The European investment Bank has a strong track record supporting private sector investment in East Africa and today’s lending demonstrates our continues and firm belief of supporting private sector investment by entrepreneurs and smaller companies in Uganda,” he said.

He added that improving access to finance and reducing constraints farmers face in accessing it are the key goals the European Investment bank hopes to achieve so as to support small business growth adding that the priority focus of Europe’s long-term lending institution is to support the private sector investment by smaller companies by reinforcing support for small businesses for to directly address the financing gap hindering their expansion.

While signing the agreements a total of EUR 11 million was handed over to DFCU bank in Uganda and KCB Rwanda and this is the first time that the EIB has lent to the two banks marking a new beginning in lending in the region.

Last week, the Uganda development bank also announced similar scheme where farmers are now able to access agricultural loans. In an interview Patricia Adongo Ojangole announced that the bank is lowering its interest rates by 26% where long term financing was reduced to 12.5% from 17%, the medium term financing from 18% to 13% while the short term financing is falling to 14% from 19%.

She said the bank was lowering the interest rates to address the shortage of cheaper development finance in the country which has been identified as a hindrance to the growth of private-sector led development especially to support development of industries for the private sector to play part in key development sectors like agriculture, value addition, industry and health.

She said the bank has identified crops like sorghum, Irish potatoes, tea and sugar cane where organized farmer groups which are adding value to the crops can be bank rolled by managing their risks through crop insurance by ensuring where the farmers will sign contracts with off takers.

“We must collect the money back because we are not only banking the farmer groups but also the off-taker by creating the market for the farmer through the off taker who in this case is the person involved in value addition,” she said.

Currently the bank is supporting Dairy farmers in Jesa dairy farm and the Balitweigomba farmers’ cooperative farm in Luuka district where the farmers who are involved in cotton sector are being supported by securing them market for their cotton.

Currently the source of funding is mainly from Arab Bank for African Economic Development, Islamic Development Bank, Afri-Exim Bank through which the bank hopes to cover its mandate which stretches across all Uganda.

Turkey Builds Industrial Parks In Ghana

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Reflex Eco Group – Ghana News

by Samuel Boadi (local journalist)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

Turkey is to construct two industrial parks at Accra and Kumasi respectively beginning next year at a cost of over $300 million.

Outgoing Charge d’Affairs of Turkey Embassy in Accra, Simay Erinoglo, speaking to journalists in Accra on Tuesday, said the two projects, which are designed to attract many Turkish investors into Ghana would be funded by the Turkish Exim Bank.

The Ankara Chamber of Industry and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce & Industry signed an agreement to that effect recently.

Ms Erinoglo said Turkish exports to Ghana last year recorded $223.5 million while it imported $303.5 million worth of goods from Ghana.

For the first six months of 2013, Turkey exported $103.6 million worth of goods to Ghana while it imported $128.9 million worth of goods from Ghana.

The outgoing diplomat also indicated that Turkey was currently supporting a yam growing project in the country since the crop is a rich source of starch. “We are planning to start an advertisement on yam imports to Turkey soon.”

She added that other crops, including cassava and cocoa would also be grown with the support of her Government in selected locations in the country.

Ms Erinoglo added that Turkish investors were eyeing a number of projects in the various sectors of Ghana’s economy, including construction.

Also, it intends to help with the construction of an international airport.

In the health sector, Turkey wants to assist with the construction of eight pre-fabricated hospitals at a cost of $118 million.

The Turkish Development Agency (TIKA) is working on a lot of projects in Ghana, she indicated.

Turkish investors are hesitant to come over to Ghana to invest because of the monstrous land acquisition challenges, she stated.

Turkey, a friend of Ghana since the 1960s, broke up the relationship in 1980 and returned in 2010.

Housing Supply in Ghana

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A recent study by UN-Habitat reports that Ghana’s housing need is expected to hit 5.7 million units by 2020. The analysis highlights that housing in the country has never been a significant component of the country’s national economic planning, but has been seen rather as part of its welfare sector. As much as 90 percent of Ghana’s housing stock has been produced through self-build. According to the Ghana Real Estate Developers Association, the slow pace of residential property construction is now changing. Since 2005, completions and new building plan approvals have increased. Permit approvals for registered real estate developers and parastatal real estate developers have more than doubled. In 2012, activity declined somewhat, however, with cement production increasing by only 5.82 percent, compared with an increase of 11.22 percent in 2010. This was mainly due to a temporary shutdown of the West African Cement production plant following a lightening storm. Cement prices increased by 85% from GH¢14 (US$7.38) to GH¢25. This affected the entire construction industry – although by the middle of the year, the crisis seems to have abated.

 

There is some delivery of housing by the government. Players include the Social Security and National Insurance Trust and the State Housing Company. Housing developments driven by the state, which primarily targets the public service, have, however, been unable to significantly dent the demand. Over the 10-year period 1991 – 2000, state housing institutions produced less than 40 000 mortgageable units. In 2012, a high profile development being driven by Korean construction firm STX, and which promised the delivery of 200 000 units, came to a halt due to difficulties in contracting arrangements. Concerns among the Ghanaian construction sector that local players had been sidelined in the project were also an issue. A second initiative by a local developer for the delivery of 10 000 affordable housing units has also been reported as having problems. Since the collapse of the STX programme, there have been reports of some smaller developments for public sector housing, but nothing significant. South African firm, Bigen Africa, has offered technical capacity and support in addressing Ghana’s housing backlog. Development in the upper income market remains vibrant, as developers scale-up on the need for high end expatriate accommodation. Companies such as Taysec and Clifton Homes offer housing in the US$100 000 to US$600 000 and above range – this covers two bedroom apartments to four to five bedroom homes.

 

The Tema Ashaiman Municipal Slum Upgrading Fund provides useful lessons for slum upgrading, and integrated development for the poor. Funded in part by UN-Habitat, the project is driven by the Ministry of Local Government in Ghana, and two municipalities. UN-Habitat provided a grant of US$400 000 as a capital enhancement, and a further $100 000 for administration and development. A further $400 000 capital enhancement grant is expected. Working with People’s Dialogue on Human Settlements, the first project will develop houses and shops, and ultimately an entire integrated development for the slum dwellers involved. By marking land both for residential and commercial purposes, the project addresses to some extent the competing land uses that often undermine the poor’s access to well located land.

 

Homeless International has been working in Ghana since 2003. It has partnered with the Peoples’ Dialogue on Human Settlements to support Ghana’s urban poor to advocate for their rights to adequate housing, safe settlements, secure tenure and affordable infrastructure.

 

Property Market

 

Demand for housing has accompanied generally good economic performance. Incomes of middle-class Ghanaians have risen gradually together with lively property markets. A significant rise in the number of Ghanaians living abroad who want to own houses back home, foreign buyers of residential property, and foreign investment by multinational companies into the country, have all contributed to growth in the market.

 

With the growth of the oil and gas industry in Ghana, private sector development of upmarket homes is rampant and almost all selling off-plan; these prices range from upwards of US$300 000 to more than US$1 million. Property rentals in the middle to upper sector range between US$2 500 and US$8 000 a month.

 

Ghana’s construction industry continues grow steadily. In the past decade, the industry’s annual growth in 2008 and 2009 was 8.6 percent and 9.3 percent, respectively. A more recent challenge has been the apparent market saturation with cheap but low-quality imported building materials, which has had a direct, negative impact on the local manufacturing industries.

THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA LANDS: Cash rich but land poor; whose interest is served?

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Reflex Eco Group – Africa news

by Paul Frimpong (Ghanaian Economist)

This Blog is sponsored by http://www.reflexecogroup.com

Land grabbing is not a new phenomenon. For centuries, communities have been intimidated to abandon – or have been forcibly removed from – their land. However we are now witnessing a new aggressive land grab, driven by high food prices and growing global consumption, with multinational corporations, often in partnership with governments, seizing the land.

 

High food prices, combined with growing demand for land and for other natural resources and a financial crisis that forced investors to look for new speculative investments, have triggered a new global land grab. Only now, it is multinational corporations, often in partnership with governments, which are taking the land, frequently depriving local communities of critical resources. These companies often secure long leases to exploit the land for profits, extracting natural mineral resources, or growing crops for food, fuel or carbon credits.

Over the last couple of years, large-scale acquisitions of farmland in Africa, Latin America and Asia have made headlines across the world. Africa is in the period of witnessing one of the biggest transfers of lands in its history. Foreign investors are leasing hundreds of thousands of hectares of farm lands to giant business enterprises of agricultural nature–billions of dollars are been invested, so are a number of questions being asked.

Is this really a new form of neo-colonialism? Is there really the incidence of large land grabs? Who actually plan these mega deals? And who actually benefits from them?

Let’s remember that, land is very essential to the survival of people; without lands many will starve and die. The land acquisition in Africa is not by only investors from within Africa but also from foreign government, individuals and companies.

Land grab in Africa basically emanates from three sources; first of all by governments, especially those in the Middle East, Asia looking at their food security initiatives. Land and resource rich but cash poor governments are seeking foreign direct investment in land and agriculture. While many of the governments involved are seeking to expand their domestic production of food crops and crops for fuel, agribusiness is seeking to expand its operations and boost profits, growing more, more cheaply; growing new crops for new markets, particularly for agro fuels – as well as gaining access to new markets in rapidly developing economies. Investors and speculators are looking for good investment returns.

 

Secondly, institutional investors who have diversified away from the equities market to longer term investment such as in land perhaps as inflation hedge. Private companies are both keen to gain access to fertile land at a low cost. Countries such as China, India and Egypt want to ensure they have access to rice and grain. Other countries such as Saudi Arabia have recognized that the changing climate and limited water supplies mean that some crops can no longer be grown at home. Instead they are looking to outsource production to areas where fertile land and water are in greater supply. A lot of these multinational and private equity investors who are doing the land deals are using the land to farm for their own food security.

Lastly, we are looking at the previously small scale farmers within Africa also scaling up as a result of the attractiveness of the agricultural sector.
This incidence of land grab has led to a lot of uproar on the continent. I think that what the up roar is arising from is the fact that people want to see a lot more openness and a lot more benefits and even perhaps the method of engagement with the people interested in the land acquisition in Africa perhaps more participatory enough. For instance, no information is given to local owners while taking up their lands depriving them of the opportunity to feed themselves whiles at the same time, exposing them to negative environmental implications of the activities on such lands.

Government policies are very critical in this regard; to what extent is government policies directed towards attracting systematically the institutional investors in such way that there are long term sustainable benefits to both investment companies and also to the host countries? This is where a number of the engagement methodologies need to change to a more transparent ones. This again will require that government policies are geared towards addressing the social implications, environmental implications and also the engagement with the local partners.

Land grabbing leads to some level of local or domestic discomfort. For instance; the lack of adequate and secure access to land and natural resources by the rural and urban poor is a prime cause of hunger and poverty across the continent. In addition, inequalities in land contribute directly to inequalities in health and quality of life. These inequalities cannot be reduced without addressing the overconsumption that lies behind this growing demand for land.

The traditional users lose their land and access to water and other resources—and so lose their livelihood. Sometimes entire villages are displaced. Land grabbing again undermines food sovereignty. The farming taking place on these lands is not for local consumption but for ex-port.
Practices of industrial agriculture are geared to quick profits. They endanger biodiversity and water resources and damage the quality of the topsoil.

 

In addressing the issues of scramble for Africa lands, governments and stakeholders on the continent must ensure they respect constitutional provisions on land tenure. Thus move quickly to design, move a bill, enact and enforce a law to protect citizens who own land under customary tenure system

Measures must be put in place to stop the grabbing of land for agro-fuels, carbon credit trading and other monoculture systems and instead support policies and laws that promote agro-ecological farming systems and practices. Target public investment towards peasant agriculture, family farming, artisanal fishing and indigenous food procurement systems that are based on ecological methods

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Frimpong CEPA

Chartered Economist (ACCE-Global) who writes on the macroeconomy and global affairs. He is also an African Affairs Analyst

Tel: +233 -241 229 548

Email: py.frimpong@yahoo.com

py.frimpong90@gmail.com

Please kindly send all feedback, queries and comments to py.frimpong@yahoo.com