Speculators and hedge funds have begun to buy large areas of land in Africa, with an area roughly the size of France already been sold in 2009
"In a report, the Oakland Institute said hedge funds and other foreign firms had acquired large swathes of African land, often without proper
"The research exposed investors who said it is easy to make a deal - that they could usually get what they wanted in exchange for giving a poor
tribal chief a bottle of Johnnie Walker [whisky]," said Anuradha Mittal, executive director of the Oakland Institute.
"When these investors promise progress and jobs to local chiefs it sounds great, but they don't deliver."
"The report said the contracts also gave investors a range of incentives, from unlimited water rights to tax waivers."
While I don't think having hedge funds buying up large chunks of land in Africa is a good thing, I don't see how there is much that can or should be
done about it. These nations are either soverign or not and to the extent that they are soverign and wish to sell part of their country, thats their
business. Much of the US was purchased, so there is no difference.
What is likely to be the case is that soverign wealth firms are behind much of these purchases, essentially meaning that soverign nations are buying
soverign land under the guise of an investment fund. Again, if its found out that China now actually owns this land, whats to be done about it?
Should anything be done about it?
If a country is being led by a gent who will sell millions of acres for a few bottles of booze, thats unfortunate, but thats his right - or at least
the right of the citizens of that country who have chosen him to represent them.
It does raise interesting questions, about the political voice of a nation, how aid will be distributed and by whom, and the on-going level of
autonomy these countries actually have, votes on international bodies, treaties and other areas of international affairs.
It could well be that bankers have found a new way to shuffle lines on the globe about to generate wealth for themselves.