Foreign Investors Go After Cheap African Land, To The Detriment of Many

June 30, 2011  |  

By Charlotte Young

When investors think of Africa, cheap labor and cheap land are what come to mind. And they’re not holding back in new land expansion ventures.

San Francisco Bay View reports on a new study by the Oakland Institute on the investments. The study finds that as interest in African land grows, small farmers and communities are being forced to leave their native land, often with no compensation, to make room for foreign vision.

China and India are some of the major players in African land investments. Many European and US firms connected to large banks such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have also jumped on board at the opportunity, exploiting the resources of Tanzania and Sierra Leone, for example. Universities with large endowment funds are also getting a piece of the action.

The report states that “these largely unregulated land purchases are resulting in virtually none of the promised benefits for native population.” Job creation is minimal.

A recent land acquisition in Mali was large enough to sustain more than half a million people. In the hands on the 22 investors that now own it, it has the possibility to create only about a few thousand jobs.

In response to the injustice of these recent land acquisitions, the Oakland Institute declares that concerned people and organizations must not stand idly by.

Harvard, Spelman and Vanderbilt are among the universities investing in Africa. The Institute is urging that students and alumni be made aware of the ill effects of the acquisitions. In addition investment and pension funds must also be held accountable for their actions before they further destroy the lives of these disenfranchised residents and communities.

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