sugar cane plantation in Mauritius
With the sharp rise and fall of global grain prices, many affluent countries with limited arable land have begun looking to Africa for food security.
Countries like Angola, Tanzania and Ethiopia have already shown interest in foreign investments and have restructured their land allocation laws to allow for this. The horticulture industry is one of the fastest growing non-traditional export sectors of many African countries, including Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi.
South Korean firm Daewoo has unveiled plans to plant corn on one million acres of land in Madagascar, to sharply cut its reliance on US imports.
Daewoo is leasing the vast tract of land – half the size of Belgium – for 99 years and hopes to produce 5 million tonnes of corn a year by 2023.
It will use South African expertise and local labour on the plantations.
Large Investments in Ethiopia and Kenya have been very profitable and now with countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait looking to invest, the African Agricultural sector seems like a great bet.
Yesterday I had the good fortune of attending an event titled “Africa: The Next Development Miracle?” The lecture was hosted by the World Affairs Council Peninsula Chapter, and the speaker was Prof. Jeremy Weinstein, an assistant professor of political science at Stanford University and Director of the Center for African Studies.
The primary question for the evening was whether Africa will be the next development miracle or should we be prepared for continuing instability, violence, and economic stagnation? Also, what should the United States’ policies be?
Professor Weinstein presented his list of “Policies for the Next president” which I found interesting and felt summed up his lecture well:
- Security is a prerequisite to sustained growth (based upon the Copenhagen Consensus)
- Recognizing the critical role of institutions especially domestically driven institutions
- Encouraging experimentation with different models for development
- Using aid to support reform (such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation which has been a center piece of the Bush Africa policy)
- Providing assistance to where we know it works (HIV, malaria, water, education)
- Prepare for major disasters and shocks perhaps as a consequence of climate change
- Make Globalization work (not just trade but migration, property rights and the subsidization of appropriate essential technology)
While the jury is still out on what measures are best to encourage positive growth in Africa, the need for better policy to support thriving economies in Africa cannot be disputed.
There is still an unrelenting flow of disturbing headlines, soaring food prices and shortages, continued violence in Darfur, stolen elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya. Nevertheless the overall picture is far more positive. Africa is observing positive economic growth; democracy is on the rise; and great progress is being made in the fight against disease, as hundreds of thousands of Africans now have access to life-saving anti-retro viral treatment.
What policies have worked for your country and what policies and/or initiatives should the next U.S President support ?