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.

 

High level expert group on the measurement of economic performance and social progress, Durban 2015

 

The Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi (SSF) Commission Report raised a number of questions about GDP, including its neglect of (i) non-market and social transactions, (ii) stocks and flows of physical, natural and human capital, and (iii) broad distributional issues. The OECD- hosted High Level Expert Group on the Measurement of Economic and Social Progress (HLEG) has been working on developing further the recommendations of SSF. In particular the suitability of GDP, and alternatives to it, for developing countries has been a focus of the discussion. At the same time, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) process has been put in train by the UN system and has proposed a number of goals and targets as successors to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from 2015 onwards. All of this links to and feeds in to ongoing processes in developing countries to develop robust indicators of human, social and economic development.

With this background, the Government of South Africa, the OECD-hosted High Level Expert Group, Initiative for Policy Dialogue (Columbia University), Center on Global Economic Governance (Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs) the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management (Cornell University) and the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (Cornell University) are organizing a conference to bring together the best thinking and practice in going beyond GDP in the measurement of wellbeing and development in Africa. The conference was supported financially by these institutions, and by the OECD, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the International Labour Organization, the Roosevelt Institute and the Ford Foundation.

The conference organisers included the South African Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, Nobel Laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz, OECD Chief Statistician Martine Durand and Cornell Professor of World Affairs Ravi Kanbur.

The focus of the conference was on conceptual frameworks and on statistical systems for measuring human, social and economic development, and on tracking the evolution of multidimensional inequality and wellbeing. The agenda was structured around eight 90 minute sessions. The participants were leading analysts and practitioners to facilitate a discussion between methods and frameworks on the one hand and the practicalities of implementation and monitoring on the other and included GovInn director Professor Lorenzo Fioramonti. For the full programme follow the link here.

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.

Fees Can Fall Prize to be awarded to innovative students

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The Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn) will launch a ‘Fees can fall’ annual prize starting in 2017. The award will target students who have developed innovative initiatives aimed at fostering wellbeing in their universities. The details of the call for applications will be published at the end of October 2016. Stay tuned for more.

Call for applicants to the GEM-STONES PhD fellowships 2016

The European Joint Doctorate on Globalisation, Europe and Multilateralism- Sophistication of the Transnational Order, Networks, and European Strategies (GEM-STONES) is awarding up to 15 full-time 3-year PhD Fellowships dealing with the EU’s capacity to provide purposeful complex regime management on a global scale. In regional studies an open call is extended to graduates for a PhD position in International Relations and Comparative Regionalism in three programs, “Comparing Responsibility to Protect Diffusion in Regional Organisations: The EU, ECOWAS, UNASUR and the ASEAN Regional Forum”, “Comparing Overlapping Regional Security Institutions and the role of the European Union’s External Action ” and “Comparing Competing forms of Regionalism and their Impact on Regionalism”.

The deadline for applications is the 15th September 2016. Follow the links for further information regarding the fellowships available as well as application procedures and contact information. For more information on the other GEM-STONES fellowships on offer see their web page 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.

“Zimbabwe is reaching a breaking point”, by Eric Manyonda and Ruth Murambadoro

by Eric Manyonda and Ruth Murambadoro, GovInn senior researcher

On the 24th of August 2016 the Zimbabwe Republic Police clashed with protesters over a planned demonstration led by a coalition of opposition parties and the civil society.

Since the birth of the citizens’ movement, #ThisFlag earlier this year, there has been an increase in sporadic outbursts of citizens demanding the government to deliver on its election promises. As such, the citizens who in spite of their political affiliations joined forces and launched a mega demonstration on the 24th of August through which they demanded the president Mr RG Mugabe to step down.
Initially the police had attempted to block the protest by rejecting the clearance application that had been made by the protesting parties in accordance with the Public Order and Security Act (POSA). According to the POSA, any groups of people intending on holding a meeting are required to notify the police of the event and get permission. This according to the Act, is done to protect and prevent the gatherings from turning violent. Upon notice of the ‘Mega demo’ the police rejected the application citing lack of manpower to monitor the event. Opposition parties however sought the intervention of the high court, which acted in their favour by overturning the decision of the police. Armed with the high court ruling the opposition parties went ahead with their planned demonstration and launched the Mugabe Must Go Now campaign.

Zimbabwe Unrest 2016

To their dismay, the peaceful protestors were caught up in the crossfire as police had been deployed heavily armed to attack and disrupt the protest. The innocent protestors were forced to run for their lives while the police fired water cannons, teargas and even button sticks to disperse the crowds. The dire situation also agitated some already desperate protestors who retaliated to the police attacks by torching police vehicles, looting and launching attacks on businesses in the city, thereby escalating the violence to unprecedented levels. By Friday the violence had intensified pushing the government to increase the police force and even deployed the military, a phenomenon that last occurred in Zimbabwe during the food riots of 1998.

Though a state of emergency has not yet been declared, the military is now guarding the capital city Harare and some parts of the country are under heavy security surveillance. It appears as if Zimbabwe has reached its breaking point and the government is desperately trying to prevent the Arab Spring phenomenon.

All pictures by Eric Manyonda

The South African Land Observatory

Land governance and access to information

GovInn welcomes the opening of the South African Land Observatory (SALO), an initiative that promotes  evidence-based and inclusive decision-making over land resources in South Africa.

SALO offers people and organisations an accessible, open-data and open-source online hub for informed debate and interaction. The initiative makes user-friendly land-based information available to all stakeholders with the aim of creating an informed land community in South Africa, through facilitating access to data, information and networking. It is a one-stop help desk for the land community to debate the pressing questions of land ownership and land use in South Africa.

The platform, as it is seen now, is only a starting point. The website is participatory, populated through crowd-sourcing information for accuracy and updating by relevant stakeholder participants. We invite you to join the land community for debates, information exchange and networking for a participatory governance of land: Contribute here!

A pro-active process to introduce SALO to land stakeholders in South Africa and to engage with them in developing the land community will follow shortly.

SALO is supported by the Flemish Cooperation and hosted by the University of Pretoria, through the Postgraduate School of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation, and the Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development. A small dedicated team of researchers, data and communication specialists created it and keep it constantly updated. Learn more about the South African Land Observatory 

‘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

ICBTs_beitbridgeprotest_SAPS-750x300

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.