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Large-Scale Land Acquisition in Africa

Large-scale land investment is not a new phenomenon in Africa, but the speed and scale at which it is occurring today makes it one of the most pressing issues on the continent. These land investments are promoted by advocates as “win-win” solutions - benefiting national economies, rural development and ensuring food security at the same time. Critics on the other hand view large-scale land acquisitions as “land grabbing”, a process that undermines local land rights and that disproportionately affects the socially and economically vulnerable who bear the bulk of the costs while reaping few of the benefits of the transactions.

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This fact sheet has been produced by GRID-Arendal in collaboration with partners to highlight some of the key aspects of large-scale land investments in Africa.

Ninety percent of land transactions can be attributed to private-sector investors; ten percent are government-owned investments, through sovereign wealth funds, state-owned enterprises, and less frequently government-to-government transactions. 

The prosperous and emerging economies of the West, the Gulf States, South America, and Asia are active in acquiring land overseas.

South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, and Nigeria are also actively involved in regional investments in Sub-Saharan Africa.