‘The rubber will hit the road for developing countries at COP22 in Marrakech’ 04.10.16

 

In her latest op-ed for The Conversation, GovInn senior research fellow Dr. Camilla Adelle considers the implications of African states swift adoption of the Paris Climate Agreement ahead of the 22nd Conference of the Parties (COP22) taking place in Morocco. The discrepancy between the US$ 100 billion promised to developing countries to assist with climate change and the actual number mobilized is problematized against the accepted OECD report claiming a figure of around US$ 57 billion which is accepted as credible. Read the full article here.

‘When politics and academia collide, quality suffers. Just ask Nigeria’. The Conversation, 25.10.16

 

In his latest op-ed for The Conversation GovInn deputy director Dr Chris Nshimbi considers the ramifications of politicising academia amid the ongoing student protests across South African Universities. The article explores Nigeria’s experiences with similar problems and the resultant decline in universities administrative, academic and financial autonomy while contributing to the departure of many academics. The full article can be read here.

Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production

“Africa remains a target as Global South ‘land rush’ moves to production” The Conversation, 11.10.2016

This article was originally published on The Conversation

Now, almost ten years have after the term “land grabbing” first entered the popular imagination, large-scale land acquisitions remain shrouded in secrecy.

The Land Matrix Initiative aims to shine some light in the deals by providing open access to information on intended, concluded, and failed land acquisitions that have taken place since the year 2000. Over recent years, both the quality and the quantity of the data have improved considerably.

This led us to take a fresh look at the current trends in international large-scale land acquisitions.

The start of production

The Land Matrix records more than 1,000 deals covering 26.7 million hectares of contracted land, equal to about 2% of the arable land on Earth.

Most of these deals cultivate pure food crops, and crops that have multiple uses, such as oil seeds. Palm oil is the single most important crop driving large-scale land acquisitions.

Palm oil production in Côte d’Ivoire. Thierry Gouegnon/Reuters

One of the most striking things we found about land deals is their increasing rate of implementation. While speculation was discussed as one of the main drivers of the “rush for land” in earlier years, our data indicates that about 70% of the deals have now started activities on the ground.

Compared to previous figures published in 2012, the number of operational projects has almost doubled. For most deals, it takes less than three years to enter the production phase.

Development of size under contract and size under operation. Authors’ calculation based on the Land Matrix data, April 2016, Author provided

For a subset of deals – 330 out of 1000 – we are familiar with the area under production. This means we are able to look into the implementation of these deals over recent years.

The chart above shows that while the area under contract increased rapidly since 2004, (red bars), the area under production has only increased since 2011 (blue bars). Today, about 55% of the contracted area is under production.

Africa remains a target

Africa remains the most important target area of land acquisitions, with deals concluded in many countries across the continent.

Africa accounts for 42% of the deals, and 10 million hectares of land. Land acquisitions are concentrated along important rivers such as the Niger and the Senegal rivers, and in East Africa.

The second most important region is Eastern Europe, mostly due to the large average size of land per deal: 96 deals covering 5.1 million hectares of concluded deals. One single deal in Ukraine by the company UkrLandFarming covers an area of 654,000 hectares alone.

Another emerging trend is that investors from the Global South have gained in importance. Malaysia is now the leading investor country, with Singapore at number four (the USA and UK are second and third). Global South investors show a strong preference for investment in their own region.

Most investors are still based in Western Europe, and their interests in 315 concluded deals cover nearly 7.3 million hectares. Private sector investors account for more than 70% of the concluded deals. So we know that governments are not the main driver of large-scale land acquisitions.

But investors are part of complex chains, which often include state-owned entities. This means the indirect impact of governments through these entities, and also through policy and trade agreements, is likely bigger than what we can see in the data.

Increased competition

We find that land acquisitions take place in relatively highly populated areas, dominated by existing croplands. About one-third of the area acquired was formerly used for smallholder agriculture – implying an increasing competition over land use between investors and local communities.

We will only see the full impact of the deals in years to come. Positive impacts of large-scale land acquisitions generally include more local jobs and better access to infrastructure. On the negative side, loss of access to land and natural resources, increased conflict over livelihoods and greater inequality are frequent issues.

Given their increasing rate of implementation, the topic of land acquisitions remains hugely important, with many deals entering the production stages for the first time. The fact that land deals often target areas that have been used before hints at considerable socioeconomic and environmental implications for the target regions. And the more we know about these deals, the better we can understand how they will affect local people.

 

Let us find win-win ways to make education affordable

In his latest op-ed for Business Day GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti considers the possibilities of affordable education in the wake of recent flare ups of student protests across South African universities. You can read the full article here.

TRAFO blogpost

‘New metres for a wider world’ – Frank Mattheis on interregionalism and Global International Relations

TRAFO blogpost

China and the Africa Union – an entanglement between interregional and regional dynamics (photo credit: Antonia Witt).

The Blog for Transnational Research (TRAFO) has recently launched the publication of a blog series dedicated to the theme ‘Doing Global International Relations‘. GovInn’s Senior Researcher Frank Mattheis contributed the fourth blogpost to the series: New metres for a wider world: interregionalism and Global International Relations.

“Imagining new concepts, using new delineations, and experimenting with new measurements are ways to enter in dialogue with the global world so as to try to understand its essence. Are we ready to change a discipline and our own research, once we realise that the world is not the one our categories painted?”

Read the entire blogpost on the TRAFO website. More contributions to the series will be published on a weekly basis.

‘Zambia post elections: President Lungu has his work cut out for him’, The Conversation, 22 August 2016

Govinn’s deputy director Chris Nshimbi  newest contribution on Zambia’s latest electoral result was published in The Conversation:

The national leadership should rise to the occasion and move the country in the right direction. To do this Lungu should build a team of selfless political, technocratic and civic leaders to steer Zambia for the next five years. Certainly, he will also need the support of the opposition parties, big and small.

Read more on https://theconversation.com/zambia-post-elections-president-lungu-has-his-work-cut-out-for-him-64058

‘Leave no trader behind: Ensuring that female informal cross-border traders do not lose out in formalisation processes’. 18.08.2016

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In his latest op-ed GovInn Deputy Director Dr Christopher Nshimbi takes a look at the inclusion of female informal traders in the process of formalising cross border trading in light of the recent unrest along the South Africa-Zimbabwe border in Include.

‘The violent protests by informal cross-border traders (ICBTs) at the Beitbridge border between South Africa and Zimbabwe in early July 2016 came as no surprise to many familiar with the informal economy and its operations in Africa. Informal trade provides employment and generates revenues that contribute to the livelihoods and welfare of the traders, as well as to local economies. And, now, the Zimbabwean government wants to cash in on the proceeds. While there is nothing wrong with this, once again, the government’s only means of achieving its goal is through a draconian, non-transparent, unaccountable and exclusive decision-making process.’

Read the full article here.

‘Brexit opportunity for Britain to find the courage to change’, Business Day 27.05.2016

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THERE is much talk about a potential exit of the UK from the European Union (EU), which will be decided by British citizens through a referendum in June. There are a number of unanswered questions over how this may affect Europe-Africa relations.

The latest polls indicate a neck-and-neck battle, with voters divided on the issue in roughly equal percentages. Politicians are split between those wanting to stay in Europe provided that Britain’s special status is preserved, and those who call for a unilateral exit regardless of the conditions offered. Only a minority believes in the intrinsic value of a united continent. This is perhaps not surprising for a country that has never been enthusiastic about the European integration project.

Please click here to read the entire article.

‘Brexit opportunity for Britain to find the courage to change’, Business Day 27.05.2016

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In his latest op-ed for BDLive GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses the upcoming Brexit vote and considers Great Britain’s often difficult relationship with the European Union. The article asks what “Britain can do for Europe?” in contrast to the traditional narrative of “what can Europe do for Great Britain?” and points out the Brexit vote is an opportunity to for British people to rethink their own governance as well as their relationship with Africa. to read the full article follow the link here.

 

‘Limited food options take their toll on the health of South Africa’s rural poor’, The Conversation, 23 May 2016

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Read Angela McIntyre’s latest contribution to the discussion on South Africa’s food security and health challenge:

Livelihoods and food environments – rather than personal choices – often determine the consumption of healthy or unhealthy food. In South Africa, for example, the particular challenge is that most rural people buy, rather than produce, their own food. This is because the country has an underdeveloped smallholder and subsistence-farmer sector and a weak culture of home food production. As a result their choices are severely limited by income, the retail environment and their capacity to produce their own food.

Read more on https://theconversation.com/limited-food-options-take-their-toll-on-the-health-of-south-africas-rural-poor-56515