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What are the main implications for Africa’s peoples of the “New Scramble for Africa”?

What are the main implications for Africa’s peoples of the “New Scramble for Africa”?

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Yasmin Andrews. Originally submitted for The International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr. Ian Taylor in the category of International Relations & Politics
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards (International Programme) Competition by Yasmin Andrews. Originally submitted for The International Relations of Sub-Saharan Africa at University of St. Andrews, with lecturer Dr. Ian Taylor in the category of International Relations & Politics

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 31, 2012
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05/13/2014

 
 
What are the main implications for Africa’s peoples of the“New Scramble for Africa”?
 
Word Count: 4984
 
 
1
 Abstract: The New Scramble for Africa
In the last few years, the African continent has witnessed an unprecedented upsurge in
the intensity of interest from the international community. This ‘courting’ of the continent 
(French, 2006,p.127),
often viewed as a “new deal” being offered
(Mbow,2010,p.1) and gearedprimarily towards the resource-rich countries, is being labelled as the
‘New Scramble’ for Africa
.Reminiscent of previous foreign incursions on the continent, particularly because of neo-colonial implications, the major difference is the immense scale of interest and amount of landbeing acquired by foreign investors. Estimates vary but in 2009 alone, nearly 60 millionhectares of land were reportedly either purchased or leased on the continent (Abate,2011b). Asprospective foreign investors must now obtain state permission, Africa
’s
agency also differsgreatly to the past precedence of conquering acquisition.This scramble for African land has concentrated mainly around oil, minerals and cropproduction for food exports or biofuels. In contrast to oil and uranium, biofuels are a relativelynew exploit, which have quite a different geography and are more difficult 
to ‘map’ as they are
diffuse resources (Carmody,2011,p.6). Taking into account that this is an enormous topic andexternal attention in Africa spreads across a wide spectrum of interest, for the purpose of thisessay, this essay will focus purely on land grabs. These
“large
-scale purchases of land indeveloping nations by foreign investors
(Robertson & Pinstrup-Andersen,2010,p.272) are not anew phenomenon, as arable land expanded annually by nearly 1.8 million hectares between1990 and 2007 (Deininger,2011,p.219). However, with 48% of the recent projects beingundertaken in Sub-Saharan Africa and spanning over 39.7 million hectares (Ibid., p.223), thereis just cause for stating that a new race to acquire land on the continent exists. As there aremany differing and contrasting cases on the continent, it is impossible to encompass all theimpacts that this scramble has had. As such, this essay will focus on the effect of land grabs inTanzania looking at the proposed investment of AgriSol Energy, and how this is expected toimpact the people of Tanzania.
 
 
2
Land Grabs: Opportunity for whom?
The land grabbing phenomenon is ripe with controversy. The acquisition of land iscritiqued for
contributing to the African development dilemma of the ‘paradox of plenty’,
inwhich the resource-rich continent lacks economic development (Carmody,2011,p.2). GRAIN,one of the leading NGOs in the criticism of land grabs, describes this influx of capital andattention
from ‘ene
rgy-
hungry countries’ as being “reminiscent of Europe’s initial colonial
expansion
(GRAIN,2007,p.36), thereby perpetuating the dependency of the continent on itsnatural resources, rather than priming it for expansion into other sectors. The dependency
theory explores this “
exploitative [relationship], simultaneously creating wealth at one of itspoles, the metropolis, or the centre, and poverty at the other pole, or the periphery,
(Friedmann& Wayne,1977,p.401)noting that this asymmetrical relationship between societies has becomepart and parcel of the growth of capitalism. This essay will thus be approached through thetheoretical lens of the dependency theory.One of the contributing factors behind the scramble for land was the food crisis in 2008and the subsequent US and EU energy policy reforms to have renewable energy account for20% of their total supply (Tanzania Daily News,2011).This set off a chain reaction encouragingother states to re-direct their attention to biofuel production in Africa. However, despite thehype and attention given to the increase in interest in the once-
Dark Continent 
, an increasingnumber of Africans are being negatively affected as a result of land acquisition.
Described as being, “irrational at best and violent at worst,”
(Abate,2011b) many groupsare campaigning against the potential devastation that is increasingly becoming synonymouswith land grabbing (GRAIN,2007,p.36). The infamous example that portrays the intensity of thescramble and also the local struggle against foreign invasion of international companies is that of the South Korean company,
Daewoo’s dealings in
Madagascar. In November 2008, Daewoosecured a 99-year lease of over 1.3million hectares of land. The revelation that the companyplanned to simply export all of its goods back to South Korea without any foreseeable benefits

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