Land Grabbing in Africa: The New Colonialism


In my last post about post-colonization in African I discussed dependency theory and how it was a way for former colonizers to continue to exploit their former colonial countries with economic dependence. Essentially, trapping poor countries by large debts which prevent them from developing. To understand how Africa was trying to unscramble itself from foreign debt we have to look at land grabbing. “Land grabbing is the buying or leasing of large pieces of land in developing countries, by domestic and transnational companies, governments, and individuals” -(Stopafricanlandgrab).

I see land grabbing as a step towards re-colonization in Africa. Like the 19th century colonization, the new wave of land grabbing is well-intentioned. It is also well-planned, in the same way the 19th century colonization was by European powers of the time. But, this time around the African Union is complicit in this new plan. Introducing the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa” and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).The  African Centre for Bio-Safety has labelled the plans as a “new wave of colonialism” (Mwesigire, 2014). The plans includes direct foreign investment in agriculture, allows the use of genetically modified seeds, and allows land ownership laws to favor these foreign companies. This takes away major opportunities from small-scale farmers. The foreign companies who will grow food for their own consumption are disempowering local farmers. How? They are essentially controlling their lives by turning them into consumers of products they cannot produce. Also, these genetically modified seeds the foreign companies are using are destroying the continents sustainability.

In Lorenzo Cotula’s book The Great African Land Grab? (2013). Provided evidence about the current situation by focusing on a handful of countries where land inventories have been conducted: Sudan, Nigeria, Mozambique, Liberia, and Ethiopia. The evidence Cotula provides about these five countries show that 10 million hectares of land was taken from the citizens and given to investors between 2004 to 2009. Also, a study reviewed in Cotula’s book showed that about half of all the land acquired in Africa between 2005 and 2011 was by Western companies; with European companies leading the way. This is a situation that resembles the colonial era land grabs.

In Ethiopia it was reported that the government has forced tens of thousands of people off their land, and given it to ‘investors’ in 2012. That land was bought Saudi Arabian and Chinese investors with the intention to grow rice and export that rice to their countries. Also, in Liberia, around 169,000 hectares had allegedly been given to the Equatorial Palm Oil (EPO) (a British palm oil company) by the government, without consulting over 7,000 people of the Jogbahn clan who have lived on the land for several generations.

As a result of the growing situation, the first Africa Conference on Land Grab is being organized at the Pan African Parliament. The goal of this conference is to halt the recolonization of the continent.

Works Cited:

“African Land Grabs; We Cannot Expect Companies and Financiers to Regulate Themselves.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 13 Mar. 2015. Web

“The Land Grabs in Africa You Don’t Hear about.” Africa Is a Country. 13 Nov. 2015.

“Land Grabbing in Africa, the New Colonialism.” This Is Africa. Web

Cotula, Lorenzo. The Great African Land Grab?: Agricultural Investments and the Global Food System. Print.

“Stop Africa Land Grab – The Global Movement to Rollback Africa Land Grab.” Stop Africa Land Grab – The Global Movement to Rollback Africa Land Grab. Web.