Making investment work for Africa: A parliamentarian response to “land grabs”
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A new wave of foreign investment in Africa’s farmland and water was triggered in 2008 by the growing demand in Europe and North America for biofuels, spikes in oil prices, the global food crisis and the world financial crisis. Widespread media coverage and a series of studies by the UN, World Bank, universities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), confirmed the scale and consequences. In its report Rising Global Interest in Farmland, the World Bank reported that land deals in Africa amounted to 32 million hectares in 2009 alone, larger than the total land area of Ghana or the United Kingdom. The countries that leased the most land to investors were Sudan (4 million hectares), Mozambique (2.7 million hectares), Liberia (1.6 million hectares) and Ethiopia (between 1.3 and 3.6 million hectares). Africa’s 832 million inhabitants represent 13 per cent of the world’s population but account for only 1 per cent of global gross domestic product and 2 per cent of world trade. The prevalence of people living on less than one dollar a day still remains a serious obstacle to development. More than 70 per cent of poor people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods.