Foreign Direct Investments or Economic Exploitation of Developing Countries? A Critical Discourse on the Concept of `Land grabbing’ in Africa

Heineken Lokpobiri


Since 2008 there has been a dramatic increase in foreign direct investments in large-scale agriculture in Africa. This has manifested in the acquisition, by foreign entities, of millions of hectares of lands in African countries and has given rise to the concept of `land grabbing in Africa’. This article critically evaluates various existing studies on the concept of `land grabbing in Africa’, and argues that the dramatic rise in foreign investments in agriculture in developing countries does not necessarily mean `land grabbing’. The article proposes a significant distinction between large-scale foreign investments in agriculture, which African countries direly need, and the concept of land grabbing as commonly used in existing literature. The article cautions that the resounding shouts about land grabbing should not drown the urgent whispers of the necessity of foreign investments in large-scale agriculture to the economic productivity and development of African countries. The article points the way forward for African governments to ensure that foreign investments in large-scale agriculture do not result to economic exploitation or land grabbing but contribute to national productivity and economic development of the continent.

Keywords: Large-scale agriculture, land grabbing, foreign direct investment, African development, economic exploitation

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