Tuesday, December 27, 2011


The African Development Bank defines the African middle class as people who spend the equivalent of $2-$20 (£1.30-£13) a day. It acknowledged that many living on $2-$4 a day are "floating" and could easily slip back into poverty. Taking these people out of the equation, it put the "stable" middle class at 123 million, 13% of the population.

Yet economic growth does not necessarily mean shared growth: in some cases it means widening inequality, most vividly in South Africa.

There are now more than 100,000 Africans with at least $1m to invest. With an estimated fortune of $10.1bn (£6.5bn), the Nigerian cement tycoon Aliko Dangote is Africa's richest man and one of the continent's 16 billionaires. The South African diamond magnate Nicky Oppenheimer – who also owns the country's largest private game park, the Tswalu Kalahari reserve – comes second, with a $6.5bn fortune. Patrice Motsepe, a 40-year-old mining magnate, is South Africa's first and only black billionaire, with $2.5bn. Together, the combined wealth of Africa's 40 richest is $64.9bn – roughly twice the GDP of Kenya ($32bn) or Ghana ($31bn) in 2010.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Nigerian poverty

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has said 90 per cent of Nigeria live on less than $2 per day. 70 per cent are living on less than one dollar a day. Despite being a major oil producing nation, poverty, lack and deprivation reign supreme.

"...how come we have so many women dying in child birth, how come we have so many children that are out of school, how come life expectancy is down to 55 or 54. What has happened to us? We need to ask what have we done ?” Sanusi said.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

charity for who?

Kenya has a history of land-grabbing by senior government officials. Land disputes are common as legal documents of ownership are often missing or have been forged.

Around 2,000 pastoralist Samburu families have stayed squatting on edge of territory after the land they lived on for two decades was sold to two US-based wildlife charities. The two conservation groups gifted the 17,100 acres to Kenya's government in November to create a national park to be run by the Kenya Wildlife Service. NGO Survival International said the Samburu were evicted following the purchase of the land by two American-based charities, the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation.

There has been an ongoing, constant level of fear, intimidation and violence towards the community

"The displaced community has nothing but their livestock, thousands of which were impounded – with no reason given – on 25 November 2011. This is an urgent and serious violation of the rights of this community, which has been left squatting beside its land with no amenities" Survival said.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

South Sudan's land grab

South Sudan became the world’s newest country on 9 July when it seceded from the north after decades of war. The US-based Oakland Institute (OI) says land deals done in newly-independent South Sudan “threaten to undermine the land rights of rural communities, increase food insecurity, entrench poverty, and skew development patterns”

Deals done prior to South Sudan’s independence this year for almost 9 percent of the new nation’s land will do little to help the nation build itself up from one of the least developed countries in the world.

“In order to meet its developmental challenges, the government of South Sudan has begun promoting large-scale private investments as a short cut to rapid economic development. However, recent data about the rate at which the government is leasing land to foreign and domestic companies” shows questionable benefit, the report says.

Over five million hectares of land had already been signed away for investment for biofuels, ecotourism, agriculture and forestry in the four years leading up to a January 2011 referendum on independence. Evidence from documented deals “suggests that these projects are far more likely to undermine food security by dispossessing people from land and natural resources that are indispensable to their daily livelihoods”, it says, as deals have been struck with individuals with little or no community benefit or consultation.

Jeremiah Swaka, undersecretary at the Ministry of Justice says land deals are another case of “hit and run” by foreigners wanting to exploit the country’s wealth and cannot be called “investment”.

USAID Economist David Gosney said the two classes of investors currently coming to South Sudan were those looking for quick returns or buying speculatively in a murky market.

US-based company Nile Trading and Development's 2008 deal to lease up to a million hectares of land to produce biofuels has been described as “South Sudan’s largest land grab”.

“Evidence suggests that the companies are using the agro-forestry venture as a means of advancing their oil, gas, and mining interests in South Sudan”, OI’s December report said of NTD’s 49-year lease signed with an allegedly fictitious cooperative in a densely populated area.

“If food is going to be produced for export, then there is no way it is going to help the local community…. On the other hand, if fertile land is taken away by foreign companies, it will impact food security negatively,” said Norwegian People’s Aid’s project manager for land and resources, Jamus Joseph.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

land grab - who benefits

AgriSol negotiated tax breaks with the government of Tanzania for income earned on a 325,000 hectare plot, for which the agro-giant will likely net an annual profit of 275 million dollars. This sum surpasses the Tanzanian ministry of agriculture's total yearly budget.

A report by the East African NGO Uwazi estimates that "2009/10 tax exemptions in Tanzania amounted to 425 million dollars. That money could have financed 40 percent more resources for education or 72 percent more resources for health between 2009-2010."


The U.S. leases its land for 16,000 dollars per hectare for just one year, Ethiopia leased 10,000 hectares of land to the Saudi Star for free over a 60- year period, while Mali leased 100,000 hectares for free over a similar time period.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The "new oil"

With food expected to become the “new oil” of the 21st century, the Standard Bank Group says Africa’s agricultural output is set for explosive growth in the coming decade.

According to a research analyst at the South African-based bank, Simon Freemantle, “There could be a doubling in African agricultural output within the next decade.”

“In China, home to 20% of the world’s population and less than 8% of its arable land, total cropland is expected to decline from 135-million hectares today, to 129-million ha in 2020. Almost half of China’s cities face water shortages. Other areas in the emerging world are even more pressed. In 2011, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia were ranked as three of the four most water stressed nations in the world. Already, Gulf States import around 60% of their food, and natural water reserves are able to support only 30 more years of agricultural production.”

“Given these threats, attention is increasingly turning to Africa. It is estimated that over 60% of the world’s available and unexploited cropland is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Of Sudan’s 105-million ha of cultivable land, only 16% (or 16.6-million ha) had been cultivated by 2009. A similar ratio is evident in the DRC, where less than 10% of the country’s 80-million ha of cultivable land has been cultivated. The Congo River Basin alone holds 23% of Africa’s irrigation potential, with the Nile River Basin holding a further 19%,” he said.