When China met Africa

Title When China met Africa
Director(s) Marc Francis, Nice Francis
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Bullfrog Films
Length 90 mins
Location Zambia
Keywords/tags China, neoliberalism, natural resources
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PA9w3eVGJS8
http://www.whenchinametafrica.com
Synopsis A historic   gathering of over 50 African heads of state in Beijing reverberates in Zambia   where the lives of three characters unfold. Mr Liu is one of thousands of   Chinese entrepreneurs who have settled across the continent in search of new   opportunities. He has just bought his fourth farm and business is booming.

In northern Zambia, Mr Li, a project manager for a multinational Chinese   company is upgrading Zambia’s longest road. Pressure to complete the road on   time intensifies when funds from the Zambian government start running out.

Meanwhile Zambia’s Trade Minister is on route to China to secure millions of   dollars of investment.

Through the intimate portrayal of these characters, the expanding footprint   of a rising global power is laid bare – pointing to a radically different   future, not just for Africa, but also for the world.

Download and watch the whole film here: http://whenchinametafrica.com/distrify

Reviews/discussion Andrew Pulver, The Guardian, Thursday   6 October 2011:  

An eye-opening documentary that puts   into concrete images that truism of the geo-political commentariat: that   China is a new economic superpower. Specifically, it illustrates a new type   of colonialist exploitation in present-day Zambia, enthusiastically aided and   abetted by the national government. On a micro level, it involves individual   Chinese emigres buying large plots of scrub, and hiring locals to clear and   farm the land. On the macro, giant Chinese corporations are handed contracts   to improve infrastructure: we follow one such, building a highway more than   300km across the country. On the face of it, there’s an anti-western,   post-imperial rhetoric fuelling the relationship, but fairly evidently it’s a   grossly lopsided one, with considerable benefits to China in the form of   plentiful and cheap natural resources. If this documentary is anything to go   by, the Chinese incomers are just as suspicious and disrespectful to the   Africans as their European forebears; you have to wonder how long it will take   the Zambians to become aware of what they’ve let themselves in for

 

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2011/oct/06/when-china-met-africa-review

 

Xan Rice, The Guardian, Sunday 6 February 2011, China’s economic invasion of Africa: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/06/chinas-economic-invasion-of-africa

Links to other resources Watch interview   with director here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OJ33UWKfhVQ

 

Wenran Jiang (2009). Fuelling the   Dragon: China’s Rise and Its Energy and Resources Extraction in Africa. The China Quarterly, 199, pp 585609

 

China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/

The Debate: China in Africa

 

Title THE DEBATE – China in Africa   (part 1)
Director(s)  
Date released (year) 2013
Production company France24: Anelise   Borges, François Picard, Ignès Bebea, Christopher Davis,
Length 18 mins
Location South Africa
Keywords/tags China, neoliberalism, natural resources
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgTzqnMrFH0
Synopsis Why   the backlash against Beijing? François Picard’s panel pays close attention to   the terms and conditions attached to the $20bn in loans pledged by China’s   new president to Africa and the true pros and cons of a China-Africa   relationship that continues to grow.
Panel:
Solange GUO CHATELARD. Associate at the Max Planck Institute for Social   Anthropology. CERI Sciences Po Paris.

Alexandre KATEB. Managing Director, Competence Finance Consulting. Lecturer,   Sciences Po Paris;

Adama GAYE. Author of ‘China-Africa, the Dragon and the Ostrich’;

Reviews/discussion From Xan Rice, The Guardian, Sunday   6 February 2011 20.29 GMT

 

China’s economic invasion of Africa

 

A million Chinese people, from engineers to chefs, have moved to work in   Africa in the past decade. How has the trade boom changed their lives? In   December 1999, a 24-year-old Chinese man called Zhang Hao left behind the   freezing winter of his native Shenyang city to fly to Uganda. Zhang was nervous. He   spoke no English. The journey was not even his idea, but that of his father,   who had worked in Uganda a few years before on a fishing project involving   the Chinese government.

“If you want to start   something – and be the boss – Africa is the place to do   it,” Zhang’s father had told him when he asked for business advice.

Zhang had quit university   to travel to east Africa, but he did not need a degree to spot easy   money-making opportunities as soon as he set foot in Kampala: goods that were   available cheaply in every city in China were either expensive   here, or unavailable. He started by importing shoes. Then schoolbags. Then   fishing nets, nails and bicycles.

“I imported   everything. At that time they needed everything!” recalls Zhang, an   affable man with rimless glasses.

His business grew quickly;   he made money and local friends. But after a few years he grew weary of the   long buying trips to China. So he and his wife bought a large plot of land in   Kampala. On it they constructed a spectacular Chinese-Korean restaurant, with   private dining areas, karaoke rooms and a giant 500-seat dining hall. To the   side of the restaurant they built a bedroom, which became their home. The   business prospered, and soon he started additional enterprises including a   bakery, a firm selling flat-screen televisions and a security company.

“Chinese don’t think,   they just try without studying the market too much. Otherwise, the chance is   gone,” he says.

At the site of each new   enterprise, Zhang built a room for his family – he had a son in 2007 – to   sleep in. They literally live at work.

It has paid off. Zhang   says he is now the biggest Chinese employer in the country, with 1,200 local   staff. He has even been offered a Ugandan passport, but has refused, just as he   has declined to take an English first name.

“I am Chinese, and we   need to build a Chinese name here – to let people know that our country is   not like before. We are richer, catching up the world.”

Few Ugandans need   reminding of that. When Zhang arrived in 1999 there were only a few hundred   Chinese in the country, including embassy staff. Today, the most conservative   estimate is 7,000, from the petty traders who have taken over whole blocks of   the central business district to the construction engineers changing   Kampala’s skyline and the sharp-suited oil executives who frequent Zhang’s   restaurant. It is a similar story across the continent. Figures are hard to   come by, but a decade ago there were probably no more than 100,000 Chinese   people working in Africa. Today, there are around a million.

The first Chinese reached   Africa nearly 600 years ago during the Ming dynasty, when the armada of   admiral Zheng   He landed on the Kenyan coast. The next significant arrival was in the   early 1900s, when 60,000 Chinese miners worked on the South African   goldfields. Half a century on, Chairman Mao Zedong sent tens of thousands of   agricultural and construction workers to Africa to enhance ties with   countries emerging from colonialism.

But post-cold war   migration concerns economics rather than politics. China-Africa trade grew   from $6bn in 1999 to more than $90bn (£56bn) in 2009, roughly split equally   between imports and exports: Africa’s natural resources – oil, iron,   platinum, copper, and timber – flowing east to feed China’s factories, and   finished goods, from flip-flops to trucks, travelling the other way. Last   year, the trade is   estimated to have topped $100bn. Chinese state involvement in the trade   is crucial. Each year Beijing provides billions of pounds in grants and loans   to African governments as a sweetener to secure raw material deals or to   finance infrastructure projects that could benefit its companies.

That is what brought Liu   Hui to Kenya. A slight, 41-year-old   civil engineer, he was working for China Wuyi, a state-owned construction   firm, in Fujian province in 2006 when he was called into his   “leader’s” office, and told he was needed on a project to upgrade   Nairobi’s main airport. Liu had never set foot outside China. He was   reluctant to leave his wife and seven-year-old son. He knew as little about   Kenya as Zheng He’s sailors. “My image was: very poor, dry and   hot,” says Liu. “But if my company wanted to send me somewhere,   what could I have done? You have to show your capacity for work.”

On arrival, Liu found that   Nairobi was neither dry nor too hot. When the airport contract finished, he   was assigned to oversee the construction of a highway between Nairobi and   Thika, a pineapple-growing district to the north-east.

Liu lives at China Wuyi’s   main site office, a four-storey building alongside the highway. Though the   commute to work consists of a flight of stairs, the day is long – from 7.15am   to 6pm. The pace of work is often frustrating, and can be complicated by   language difficulties; Liu speaks in halting English, and knows a few phrases   of Swahili. “Chinese work very hard, very quickly,” he says.   “But here we are training local people to do the work, and if someone   does not understand, he works slowly. You have to watch.”

Most evenings Liu and his   Chinese colleagues – there are about 100 on the road project – watch DVDs on   their laptops or chat to family and friends over the internet. But they do   get out occasionally, for coffee or dinner in nearby malls. Liu says he   intends to return to China for good – his bosses permitting – when the road   project finishes, in order to spend more time with his family.

But for Wang Lina, seated   in her shop in downtown Nairobi, a few miles away, family is the reason she   is here. The child of “normal worker” parents, Wang grew up with   few thoughts of leaving Benxi, an industrial town nearly 600 miles north-east   of Beijing. But in 2003, when she was 21 and newly married, her husband’s   uncle approached them with a proposition. A few years before he had travelled   to Kenya to set up a home furnishings company. Now his business was expanding   fast, and he was looking for family members to help run it. Wang and her   husband agreed to join him.

But she missed her   friends. In Kenya she could not find any clothes to fit her. She was too shy   to talk to local people. So, after a year, she and her husband quit and   returned to Benxi. But soon his uncle came calling again, begging them to   give it another try.

This time Wang found   herself appreciating the upside of living in Nairobi. In Benxi, she had lived   in a flat, but was now sharing a large house and garden with two other   couples from the extended family. Instead of simply being a cashier in the   store, Wang moved into design and sales. She works hard, often seven days a   week, but has also found time to enjoy some of east Africa’s best tourist   attractions – a safari near Mount Kenya, a beach holiday in Zanzibar. She and   her husband have saved enough to buy an apartment back home, which is the   goal of many young Chinese who take jobs abroad, even though she has no   intention of returning soon.

“My friends who now   work in Beijing and Shanghai are so tired,” she says. “There’s no   time to relax, it’s always faster, faster! Things are slower here, and I like   that. No hurry in Africa, that’s what they say.”

China’s move into Africa   has not all been driven from the east. Countries such as Uganda have actively   courted Chinese companies, to good effect: in 2010 China replaced the UK as   the biggest source of foreign direct investment. One of the largest firms to   have set up in Uganda is ZTE, China’s second-biggest telecommunications   equipment company. Zhu Zhenxing, 32, is its MD in Uganda. Growing up in   Jiangsu, along China’s east coast, Zhu was certain about two things: he   wanted to learn English, and wanted to be an international businessman. He   was recruited by ZTE at a job fair, with the promise of a job abroad.

“I did not want to   stay in my home area, or even in China,” he says, puffing on a Dunhill   cigarette. “I wanted to experience things, to grow. The further away the   better.”

So when he was asked to go   to Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, Zhu did not   hesitate. “Other people said: Africa is like this and like that. But I   thought if other humans lived there, I could too.”

He learned a lot. The   corruption dismayed him. But Zhu liked Nigerians’ optimism, “always   talking and smiling, not worrying about tomorrow”. He was so desperate   to prove himself that he nearly burned out. He developed vitiligo, a disorder   that causes loss of pigmentation. His face turned white “like Michael   Jackson” and he was forced to return to China to recover.

He returned to Africa via   Vietnam. In Uganda, he has grown ZTE’s business exponentially – the company   sold more than 500,000 handsets this year. Zhu looks the modern high-flyer –   smart shoes, trousers with a Mont Blanc belt, a dress shirt and trendy black   glasses. At weekends he plays golf with clients and Chinese embassy staff.   But beyond that his lifestyle is far more modest than that of most expats. He   and his staff all live in the same apartment block. A company vehicle takes   them to and from work each day. His salary is good by Chinese standards but   not comparable with those of his western competitors. Still, he has no   complaints.

“We are still working   towards being a world-class company,” he says. “Our core competency   is our low costs, so we must keep expenses down.”

If there is one home   comfort Chinese migrants in Africa can’t do without it is their food. Most   companies, including ZTE, bring over their own chefs. Xu Jianwen, 34, is one   of them. Raised and trained in Sanhe, in northern China, he was working in a   restaurant in Beijing when he heard that the China Road and Bridge   Corporation, a state-owned construction giant, was hiring cooks. When he was   offered a job in Uganda, his wife, with whom he has a young daughter,   protested vehemently. But he won her over when he told her the salary – two   and half times what he was earning in China. “Salaries in China are not   enough,” he says. “I had to come for the money.”

His first job was to cook   for 20 Chinese workers in Soroti, a small town in eastern Uganda. He had two   local assistants but, lacking English, no way to communicate with them. At   least the cooking was uncomplicated. Only five vegetables were available   locally – aubergine, cabbage, potatoes, green peppers and tomatoes. “And   there was no spicy sauce,” he says. “I work every day, because   people need to eat every day. I wake up at six in the morning and finish at   seven. Every day is like that. I rest on Chinese public holidays.”

Currently based at head   office in Kampala, Xu plans to spend another two or three years overseas,   saving all the while for “housing, education and food” for his   family. He won’t miss the mosquitoes, he says, but he will miss the people.   “They are very nice. Friendly to Chinese.”

That is not always the   case. In parts of southern Africa there has been strong resentment towards   Chinese traders, many of whom arrive on tourist visas and stay on illegally.   In Zambia, the Chinese managers of a coal mine recently shot two Zambian   employees who were protesting over pay, causing anger across the country. And   in Sudan and Ethiopia, rebel groups have killed Chinese workers because they   view them as proxies of the local government.

In Kenya, home to up to   15,000 Chinese, the main problem for some of the early migrants was a   mistrust of their goods. Xu Hui gave up an editing position at the state news   agency Xinhua to start a toy-import business in the mid-90s. But when he   moved into computers, people did not trust the quality. He resorted to   showing potential clients the labels on the computers they already owned that   said: “Made in China”.

Today Xu runs a successful   business importing Great Wall-brand televisions and giant rolls of toilet   paper that are repackaged locally. He regards Kenya as his home – he enjoys   the “simple, healthy lifestyle”, playing badminton at a sports club   every week – and only reluctantly sent his family back to China for   educational reasons. But though the attitude to Xu’s products may have   changed, he is aware that western attitudes to China’s push into Africa   remain largely negative – something he struggles to understand.

“Western countries   also buy oil, and have mines around the world. People don’t talk about   ‘grabbing’, or ‘new colonialism’ there. So why is it different for Chinese?   We are not sending our armies to places and saying: ‘Now sell us this!'”   Xu says. “If you can’t compete with us, you find an excuse. It’s like   two children fighting, and the losing one crying to his parent about funny   tricks.”

In fact, there is   competition now on lots of levels. Every month thousands of African merchants   travel to cities such as Guangzhou and Yiwu to buy wholesale goods. And other   Chinese firms, including state-owned companies, battle for local tenders.

This can be stressful for   company managers. Just ask Dong Junxia, an earnest, smartly dressed woman.   Since 2008 she has been in charge of the small Ugandan office of the China   Railway Seventh Group Corporation, a subsidiary of CREC, one of the world’s   largest construction companies. She worked on road-building projects in   difficult environments in Tanzania and Liberia, with some success. But in   Uganda her company had yet to win a large tender. Dong seemed ashamed, and   insisted that her name and that of her company stay out of this story.

“I have progressed   professionally [in Africa], but suffered loss in being away from my family.   In western culture it’s different. Being with the family is the priority.   Chinese sacrifice themselves for the family. It is hard to decide which is   more important.”

But a week later she   called to say that her name could be used. She sounded exuberant: her company   has been awarded a large contract to build a road. “After two years of   hard work! You must understand how good that feels.”

• This article was amended   on 7 February 2011. The original said Shenyang was a province. It is a city.   This has been corrected.

 

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/feb/06/chinas-economic-invasion-of-africa

Links to other resources Wenran Jiang (2009). Fuelling the   Dragon: China’s Rise and Its Energy and Resources Extraction in Africa. The China Quarterly, 199, pp 585609
FRANCE 24 INTERNATIONAL NEWS 24/7
http://www.france24.com

China Talking Points: http://www.chinatalkingpoints.com/video-unreported-world-chinas-african-takeover/

Solar farming in Africa

 

Title Solar Farming in Africa: Green Electricity Powered by the Sun
Director(s) Intelligence Squared
Date released (year) 2012
Production company Intelligence Squared: the world of   debate
Length 5.33 mins
Location London
Keywords/tags Renewable energy, solar, natural   resources
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIWeZQpZ5QE
Synopsis In the fourth installment of our iq2 Shorts series,   Professor Michael Düren of DESERTEC argues that we can harness the African   desert sun to power the world.

The animation is adapted from our Switched On evening ‘Energy Game Changers’   from March 2012. Click on the following link to watch the four other carbon   cutting energy solutions presented that evening http://bit.ly/I8HLSw

Reviews/discussion African renewables potential mapped

Bernard Appiah

1 March 2012 |

Some of the best potential   for solar power is in the Sahara belt

European Commission Joint   Research Centre

Tapping into Africa’s renewable energy could transform living standards across   the continent, according to a report that has mapped the potential of   renewables in the region.

The report aims to help   African governments set up renewable energy plans, and has called for the   urgent transfer of relevant knowledge to research and technology partners in   Africa.

“Only if much of the   research, prototyping, demonstration and large-scale deployment are done by   African people, one can accelerate the uptake of renewable energy,” says   the report, published by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC)   last month (8 February).

Renewable energy has   particular relevance in remote and rural areas, where around 600 million   people live without electricity, and where renewables would be cheaper than   extending national grid services, the report says.

The authors used geographical   data to map out regions that could generate electricity from the sun, wind,   biomass and water. They then identified those regions where using renewables   might be cheaper than existing sources such as diesel or electricity grids.

“We found good wind   energy potential in North Africa and good solar energy potential in Sub-Saharan Africa   and the Sahara belt,” said the report’s editor, Fabio Monforti-Ferrario.

The report says small hydroelectric   power plants would suit Equatorial Africa, where many people live closer to   river systems than to existing electricity grids.

Monforti-Ferrario added that   “biomass is the ‘green gold’ of Central Africa”, but cautioned against   its widespread use on sustainability grounds.

Speaking more broadly, he   said Africa’s ability to tap the potential of renewables potential is   hampered by reliance on subsidised diesel fuel.

“It is the policy of   African countries to keep the cost of diesel low, even though [this policy]   is unsustainable. It makes the use of [alternatives like] photovoltaic   systems unattractive to consumers,” he said.

This view is backed by   Dieter Holm, honorary   board member of the International Solar Energy Society based in South Africa.   But he said the report had focused too heavily on petrol subsidies, and not   enough on the ability of renewable to create jobs.

Holm said that in Africa   photovoltaics and wind energy can create 62 and 12 jobs per gigawatt hour of   electricity produced respectively, compared to less than one job in the coal   industry for the same energy output.

“Political   decision-makers in Africa should be well-informed of the overall potential of   renewable energy sources in terms of electricity generation, job creation,   and environmental sustainability,” Holm told SciDev.Net.

 

Link to full report      [3.16MB]

 

Source:   http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/renewable-energy/news/african-renewables-potential-mapped.html

Links to other resources http://www.intelligencesquared.com/

 

The 4th Revolution: energy autonomy

Title The 4th Revolution: energy autonomy
Director(s) Carl A. Fechner
Date released (year) 2011
Production company Fechner Media
Length 8mins (trailer to full length feature film)
Location International
eywords/tags Energy, sustainability, technology
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15S-Pz3s3Rg
Synopsis We   know that we can do something.

Sun, wind, hydro and geothermal energy are natural sources accessible to   everyone all over the world without making any difference. And they are   renewable, free and available in the long run. Only the widespread knowledge   about the possibilities of renewable energy can ignite an international   movement and take the absolutely necessary energy transition. We need a   quickly enlightening medium that conveys this knowledge comprehensible and   compactly. This can be provided by a great documentary. We have made it.

Reviews/discussion a great, informative, realistic and well   done movie/documentary on the upcoming change/opportunity behind renewable   energies. the movie is entirely sponsored/funded by single individuals with   no support/influence of any governmental organization whatsoever. it covers a   broad spectrum of existing realities and sheds its light on future   perspectives: the transformation of currant energetic, ecologic and economic   crisis into a process of democratization and global solution. the movie   starts in los angeles with hermand scheer, expert of ren. energy, scientist,   author and alternative nobel price winner, pointing out critical words to the   current model of architecture…. >>

that is not   implementing minimally solar and renewable technology on its high-rise   buildings and general urban design. It further brings you to the innovative   -Nordic Folk Center- in Denmark, where clean renewable energy has been   introduced since 30 years successfully providing now a whole region with   sufficient energy coming from 100% renewable sources. The Center is today a   shining example for the world and many students from all over the world come   here to learn and expand their knowledge. Like Malinese Ibrahim Togola, here   for one year and now developing, with the support of its government,   renewable energy projects into the small rural communities of his country.   The Movie continues to Bangladesh with Muhammad Yunu (”The Banker of the   Poor” Nobel Price Winner for Micro-Credits) where woman co-operatives   started to educate their communities and families introducing solar panel in   their villages and gaining so major financial and individual independence   from the urban cities. Germany, China, The Amazons – the movie takes various   looks at individuals and protagonist as projects, debunking the myth that   ‘renewable energy’ is an unrealistic affair so often propagated by media and   high corporate ranks that are fearing the loss of power and money behind such   a much awaited and inevitable process.

 

Source: http://thenofrontiers.blogspot.com/2010/04/4th-revolution-energyautonomyorg.html

 

African renewables potential mapped

Bernard Appiah

1 March 2012 |

Some of the best potential   for solar power is in the Sahara belt

European Commission Joint   Research Centre

Tapping into Africa’s renewable   energy could transform living standards across the continent, according   to a report that has mapped the potential of renewables in the region.

The report aims to help   African governments set up renewable energy plans, and has called for the   urgent transfer of relevant knowledge to research and technology partners in   Africa.

“Only if much of the   research, prototyping, demonstration and large-scale deployment are done by   African people, one can accelerate the uptake of renewable energy,” says   the report, published by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC)   last month (8 February).

Renewable energy has   particular relevance in remote and rural areas, where around 600 million   people live without electricity, and where renewables would be cheaper than   extending national grid services, the report says.

The authors used   geographical data to map out regions that could generate electricity from the   sun, wind, biomass and water. They then identified those regions where using   renewables might be cheaper than existing sources such as diesel or   electricity grids.

“We found good wind   energy potential in North Africa and good solar energy potential in Sub-Saharan Africa   and the Sahara belt,” said the report’s editor, Fabio Monforti-Ferrario.

The report says small   hydroelectric power plants would suit Equatorial Africa, where many people   live closer to river systems than to existing electricity grids.

Monforti-Ferrario added that   “biomass   is the ‘green gold’ of Central Africa”, but cautioned against its   widespread use on sustainability grounds.

Speaking more broadly, he   said Africa’s ability to tap the potential of renewables potential is   hampered by reliance on subsidised diesel fuel.

“It is the policy of   African countries to keep the cost of diesel low, even though [this policy]   is unsustainable. It makes the use of [alternatives like] photovoltaic   systems unattractive to consumers,” he said.

This view is backed by   Dieter Holm, honorary   board member of the International Solar Energy Society based in South Africa.   But he said the report had focused too heavily on petrol subsidies, and not   enough on the ability of renewable to create jobs.

Holm said that in Africa   photovoltaics and wind energy can create 62 and 12 jobs per gigawatt hour of   electricity produced respectively, compared to less than one job in the coal   industry for the same energy output.

“Political   decision-makers in Africa should be well-informed of the overall potential of   renewable energy sources in terms of electricity generation, job creation,   and environmental sustainability,” Holm told SciDev.Net.

 

Link   to full report      [3.16MB]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/climate-change-and-energy/renewable-energy/news/african-renewables-potential-mapped.html

Links to other resources  

Stop land grabbing! Life, land, and justice in Uganda

Title Stop land grabbing! Life,   land, and justice in Uganda
Director(s)
Date released (year) 2012

 

Production company The Source Film, for Friends of the Earth International

 

Length 5mins
Location Uganda
Keywords/tags Land grabbing, food security, agriculture, displacement
Link to film http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=17QxF61PVC4
Synopsis In   Kalangala, Uganda, John Muyisa woke up one day to find bulldozers clearing   his land to plant oil palms. John and his community have preserved their   forests and lands for generations. Now their way of life is at risk.
Reviews/discussion Land grabbing explained

This campaign highlights the destructive environmental and social   impacts of unsustainable resource use in the global North and South. We are   seeking to defend community territories, protect land rights and increase   awareness of corporations’ agendas, strategies, abuses and violations.

An elderly woman holds on to the fence separating her   land, where she rears goats, from the advancing soya plantations, in Cordoba,   Argentina.For centuries, communities have been intimidated to abandon   – or forcibly removed from – their land in a seemingly endless battle to   control natural resources. Today, these problems still occur and are   manifesting in more direct and disturbing ways: multinational corporations   occupy large swaths of community land that provides critical supplies for   local populations in order to extract profitable resources – including crops   for agrofuels, food, carbon offsets or minerals – for the benefit of often   quite distant national and international elites.

Driven by greed and materialism, the destruction of local communities   and their environments often results in the violation of both human and   community rights. We have seen increased militarization and criminalization   of communities who resist the appropriation of their communal lands. We have also   witnessed severe environmental degradation and the destruction of natural   commons for the longevity of communities.

More: Read   our report on Land Grabbing in Uganda

More: Watch   this true story about resistance to Lord Grabbing

This system continues to perpetuate the gross inequity in the   distribution of natural commons (healthy ecosystems, water and air), create a   poor underclass in both Global North and South, all of which further divide   our world in to the haves and have-nots. Meanwhile, the consumers of these   ill-begotten resources are not necessarily happier as a result of their   consumption.

This campaign seeks to stop the destructive consumption race by   creating, protecting and enforcing community and individual rights to land   and their commons. It will also challenge the current unsustainable   consumptive patterns of elites and target specific commodities with the aim   of significantly reducing their consumption.

Source: http://www.foei.org/en/what-we-do/land-grabbing/land-grabbing-explained

Investors must stop land grabbing, say civil society groups

LONDON (UK), November 30, 2012   – Major farmland investors such as banks and pension funds must stop   facilitating land grabs, say civil society groups [1] on the eve of a global   farmland investment conference in London on 3-5 December. [2]

Banks and pension funds are   increasingly engaging in large-scale acquisitions of land with extremely   damaging consequences for local populations. The London conference will bring   together funds with more than USD3 trillion in assets to explore   opportunities for investments in Africa, Latin America and Russia.

The civil society groups are warning that pension funds and banks attending   the conference, for instance Deutsche Bank, must ensure they do not fund   risky investments that threaten the livelihoods and food sovereignty of   countless local communities.

Since 2008 rising financial investments in land have contributed to more than   200 million hectares of land being taken from small farmers, fisherfolk, and   other rural communities, robbing them of their means of survival. [3] Land   grabbing also frequently involves violent evictions and human rights   violations. Institutional investors are expected to increase by 500% their   agricultural investment portfolios by 2017.

Kirtana Chandrasekaran, Friends of the Earth International Food Sovereignty   programme co-ordinator, said: “Unfortunately private investment in farmland   may be seen by many as low risk and positive for developing countries. Yet   they are often a disaster for local communities and the environment. Legal   uncertainty and community opposition means that most farmland investments are   also risky for investors.”

“Major investors such as banks and pension funds need to urgently investigate   their investment portfolios and stop funding land grabs,” she added.
Earlier this year Friends of the Earth Europe released the report ‘Farming   money: How European banks and private finance profit from food speculation   and land grabs’. The report analyses the activities of 29 European banks,   pension funds and insurance companies, including Deutsche Bank, Barclays,   RBS, Allianz, BNP Paribas, AXA, HSBC, Generali, Unicredit and Credit   Agricole. It reveals the significant involvement of these financial   institutions in food speculation, and the direct or indirect financing of   land grabbing. [4]

COUNTRY EXAMPLES

LIBERIA

In Liberia, farmland investments have facilitated land grabbing. A quarter of   the country – including vast swathes of fertile land- has been handed to palm   oil, rubber and logging companies, preventing its use for food production.   These large plantations are promoted as a means to create jobs, bring   development, and increase the government’s budget. In reality they are   jeopardizing the land rights of local populations, threatening local   livelihoods and putting the future of one of the world’s most significant   biodiversity hotspots into doubt.

This week in Liberia the Sustainable Development Institute (SDI) / Friends of   the Earth Liberia is holding a major conference with oil palm   plantations-affected communities who are demanding to be heard and consulted.

Between 2009 and 2010 the government of Liberia allocated more than a million   acres of land to transnational palm oil producers Sime Darby and Golden   Veroleum Liberia without consulting or securing the consent of those living   on and using the land. [5]

ETHIOPIA

In the past few years, Ethiopia allocated huge areas of fertile arable   farmland to foreign investors with little consultations with the affected   communities. Since 2008 more than 3.6 million hectares of land has been   allocated to foreign investors. For instance, in Gambela region, an Indian   company -Karuturi Global- has been allocated staggering 300,000 hectares of   land depriving indigenous people of access to water, fishing and grazing   grounds, traditional construction materials, and food. Like in many other   cases there has been a lack of prior consent and consultation with the local   people and affected communities were not consulted and did not give their prior   consent these farmland investments.

“In Ethiopia and elsewhere farmland investments for instance in plantations   are jeopardizing the land rights of local people, and threatening local   livelihoods ,” said Nyikaw Ochalla from Anywaa Survival Organisation-ASO.

MADAGASCAR

“In Madagascar, landgrabbing is caused by foreign and domestic investors   implementing agribusiness projects and setting up biodiversity conservation   areas, but also developing tourism and extractive industry infrastructure”   says Mamy Rakotondrainibe, from the Collectif pour la défense des terres   malgaches -TANY in Madagascar.

“We are currently supporting pastoralists communities’ claims against the   Italian company Tozzi Green which aims to lease 100 000 hectars in the   Ihorombe region to mainly cultivate jatropha for agrofuel production” she   adds.

UGANDA

A report released earlier this year by Friends of the Earth Uganda revealed   widespread violations of people’s rights and environmental destruction from a   land grab in Uganda. [6]

Source: http://www.foei.org/en/media/archive/2012/investors-must-stop-land-grabbing-say-civil-society-groups-1

Links to other resources Friends of   the Earth Internationa, land-grab campaign: http://www.foei.org/landgrab

World Bank Refuses to Stop   Funding African Land Grabs, October 8, 2012, African   Globe.  Source: http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/world-bank-refuses-stop-funding-african-land-grabs