I came across in an article recently through one of my Facebook friends entitled “Meet the Millionaires and Billionaires who are suddenly buying tons of land in Africa.” That article was a bit disturbing, and was, in fact, about how “a small number of investors” are paying next to nothing for huge plots of land in Africa.
These hedge fund managers can afford it.
“Lease deals” are arranged between them and ostensibly corrupt African leaders, without disclosing any of the details to the local communities, with the possibility that many people will be displaced through land development.
The article goes on to detail some of the land being purchased and the way that some of the locals are already being betrayed. One of those people is Miguel Pais do Amaral, a Portugese count, businessman, and amateur race car driver. He’s leasing land in Sierra Leone but at such a low rate that it doesn’t compensate the displaced farmers.
The article is a few years old – from 2011, and includes some land purchases by Muammar Kaddafi, who is no longer in power – but there’s no reason to believe the situation has gotten much better.
It’s not that African countries don’t need development. But this does not smell good. It’s always the rich getting richer and other people getting the shaft. And nothing can seem to be done about it.