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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.

 

“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

GovInn Junior Researcher elected to ASA board

GovInn is proud to announce the election of junior researcher Ruth Murambadoro  to the prestigious Africa Studies Association (ASA) Board of Directors. Founded in 1957 the ASA is the leading organisation of African Studies in North America with its headquarters at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Ruth will serve as the Emerging Scholar Representative-elect commencing at the Fall-semester meeting of the Board.

Ruth’s work has previously been recognised by the ASA as well as African Studies Centre, Leiden. She was also a recipient of the ASA’s Presidential Fellowship in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Africa Thesis Award in the same year. As the ASA Presidential fellow she presented lectures at the University of Louisville, Kentucky and a conference paper at the 58th ASA Conference in San Diego, California. She is also a recipient of the African Pathways NIHSS-CODESRIA doctoral fellowship (2015/16) and the Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa fellowship (2015).

For the full announcement follow the link here.

Prince - Zuma 702

Senior Researcher Prince Mashele on radio 702: “ANC and Zuma attempting to undermine Constitution”

This morning on radio 702, Senior Researcher Prince Mashele said that Jeremy Gauntlett’s concession in the Constitutional Court hearing against Zuma exposed attempts by the ANC and Zuma to undermine the Constitution. 702’s John Robbie spoke to Mashele as he delved into an analysis of the recent developments in the Nkandla saga.

In the end, something will bind… The core of our systems still works, but there are serious attempts by the ANC, and particulary Jacob Zuma to destory it.

Listen to the interview here.

 

Prince - Zuma 702

Prince – Zuma 702

Lorenzo Fioramonti Business Day Column

Charity must begin at home for graft-riddled Department of Home Affairs, Business Day 28.08.2015

South AfricaGovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses the shortcomings of the South African Department of Home Affairs, looking at the negative effects of recent travel restrictions for foreign migrants and those travelling with minors.

 

THE Department of Home Affairs has never been particularly efficient. Recent events have confirmed that its traditional weaknesses have not been addressed, while showing that new problems have developed, particularly in relation to how foreigners and, above all, migrants are being treated.
With a view to resolving the impasse, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa is now leading an interministerial committee, comprising Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, his tourism counterpart, Derek Hanekom, and their colleagues from the security cluster. Their responsibility is to “examine and solve the potential and unintended consequences of the new immigration regulations on various sectors, including tourism and investment”.

 

Read the full article on Business Day, 28.08.2015

Prof. Roberto D'Alimonte

Professor Roberto D’Alimonte visit to GovInn

The first two weeks of June saw GovInn hosting Prof. Roberto D’Alimonte from Luiss University in Rome. During his time at GovInn, Prof. D’Alimonte presented three seminars:

  • “What is wrong with the Euro?” on 4 August 2015 at the Old College House.
  • “Macho Politics: Power, conflict and scandal in the age of Berlusconi and Zuma” on 12 August 2015 at the Old College House, co-presented with Prince Mashele.
  • “Electoral systems and democratic accountability: a critical analysis with lessons for South Africa” on 14 August 2015.

The events were both successful and well attended, with a wide range of seminar guests from local municipalities, embassies to students and University of Pretoria staff. These seminars were well received, with Prof. D’Alimonte not just showing his knowledge of Italy, but providing lessons for South Africa. Prof. D’Alimonte based this on his own accumulated knowledge and on a seminar he co-presented with Prince Mashele on 12 August.

GovInn looks forward to extending this partnership with Prof. D’Alimonte and Luiss University.

 

Water shortages about to put load-shedding in the dark – Business Day 05.05.2015

Business DayThis week on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper, GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses the upcoming crisis that South Africa needs to address now: water shortage.

“WHILE load-shedding continues, there is an even more worrying prospect ahead: water-shedding. Like the energy crisis, the abysmal state of water in SA is a combination of at least three factors: resource depletion (and contamination), growing demand and inefficient infrastructure.

Rainfall levels are dropping quickly due to climate change. A recent study published by the World Economic Forum says droughts this century will become more recurrent and severe than in the previous millennium. We feel that already. Over the summer holidays, for instance, eThekwini municipality took the unprecedented decision of asking residents and holiday makers to drastically reduce water consumption to avoid systemic cutbacks, given that the Hazelmere Dam had reached dramatically low levels because of prolonged drought.

Besides climate change, we also have a skewed economy that is out of touch with natural equilibrium: it demands more and more water to fuel economic growth, while wasting and contaminating what we have.”

Read the full article on Business Day

Beyond GDP documentary wins the Jury Prize at FReDD film festival

“Presi per il PIL”, a documentary by Stefano Cavallotto, Andrea Bertaglio and Lorenzo Fioramonti won the Jury Prize at the FReDD Film festival in Toulouse, France. The FReDD (Film, Recherche et Developpement Durable) selects the most interesting productions on sustainable development. “Presi per il PIL” won thanks to its positive approach:

The Jury wished to honour a positive movie, which brings solutions to the energy issues. The director met with  emerging realities and groups who work to reconstruct society while disregarding GDP. GDP is the parameter of a destructive growth: Growth leads to individualism while de-growth leads to sharing.”

Watch the trailer here:

Read the news on FReDD website (French) 

African researchers to receive leadership training at UP

The University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Global Young Academy  and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, is pleased to announce the establishment of the Africa Science Leadership Program (ASLP).

This initiative has been developed to support early to mid-career African academics in developing leadership skills. The program will serve researchers in basic and applied science, engineering, social sciences, arts and the humanities.
The program is an exciting new venture for UP, and part of an overall strategy to become a leading African research university.
“Developing researchers in core areas of leadership is essential if they are to initiate and steer collaborative, international and transdisciplinary projects that are needed to advance Africa’s development agenda,” said the University’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Cheryl de la Rey. GovInn will contribute to this transdisciplinary leadership training.

“The University is expecting to host more of these projects in the coming years, and we anticipate this program will attract some of the best academic talent across the region and prepare them to make an even greater impact in our communities,” she continued.

The program will commence with a first group in June 2015, and will run annually for an initial period of 3 years. Potential candidates are invited to learn more about the program and the application process at www.up.ac.za/ASLP

 

Robert Bosch Stiftung Logo Global Young Academy

Creative ideas on migration will open the doors to growth -Business Day SA-

“South Africa is the destination of many workers from the rest of Africa and from the rest of the world. We know that about 7% of SA’s workforce is foreign. More than 38% of workers in gold mines are non-South African citizens and more than 22% of mine workers in all sectors hail from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Data are sketchy and grossly underestimate the phenomenon. Many migrants are employed in informal positions, with precarious jobs, both in terms of safety and social security. Most undocumented migrant workers are poorly captured by official statistics. By all means, migrant workers are a fundamental factor in SA’s economic development. But how supportive and reliable is the present administrative and legislative framework?

What we need is a simple and clear framework to allow citizens of neighbouring countries to seek work and business opportunities in SA. We may even want to consider experimenting with free movement, for instance, within the Southern African Customs Union. In the European Union (EU), where free movement is a reality, most people have not relocated to other countries. As they benefit from clear arrangements that allow them to return regularly to their home country, they need not relocate permanently.”

In his regular column on Business Day, Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses how South Africa could transform its position of African immigration hub into an economic opportunity.

Read the full article on Business Day