Skip to main content

AfDB meet: Following Chinese, western "land grab" in Africa, Indian corporates seek economic space in continent

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at AfDB meet on May 23
By Rajiv Shah
While there isn’t anything extraordinary for the African Development Bank (AfDB) holding its annual meeting outside the continent, in India, experts believe, through the high profile meet in Gandhinagar, which began on May 22 and ends on May 24, the Government of India is seeking to provide a platform to Indian corporates to invest in African continent, especially in agriculture and mining.
The Gandhinagar gathering is the fourth time the annual meetings hosted by a non-regional member country, after Valencia, Spain, in 2000; Shanghai, China, in 2007; and Lisbon, Portugal, in 2011. In 2018, the AfDB will meet in Busan, Korea.
A senior expert who has been keeping tab on the development, Dr R Sreedhar, director, Environics School of Management Sciences, has told Counterview, the AfDB’s Gandhinagar meet is taking place when several African countries are becoming “wary” of China’s and the western countries' “land grab” in the continent.
According to him, “It is no secret that India wants as much economic space it can garner through all the mechanisms possible and do all the dirty things that corporates and hegemonies do.”
Africa accounts for about 60% of the world’s arable land, and most of its countries do not achieve 25% of their potential yield. No wonder, therefore, that there has been an increased interest on large-scale investment in land in Africa under the pretext of developing its agriculture.
The senior expert, who is also managing trustee of of Environics Trust, a top environmental advocacy group, says, “That’s why you find them investing in mining, telecom and oil and often in areas of conflict (Nigeria, South Sudan, Angola). Perhaps Indian state is concerned that China has so much surplus to invest that it has to enable AfDB and also find such filial nexus!”
Dr R Sreedhar
Not without reason, says Sreedhar, key discussions at the Gandhinagar meet are supposed to focus how to leverage agriculture and energy, leadership for agricultural transformation, creative energy solutions to boost African agriculture, innovative financing for agriculture, and financing African infrastructure.
According to Sreedhar, holding the meet in Gandhinagar has yet another focus – to ensure that civil society and experts do not make a huge issue out of the corporate world’s towards land grab in Africa.
Citing a civil society letter, signed by 111 NGOs, to the European Union France, which are trying to take advantage of the Africa Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI), Sreedhar says, there is already dismay that the AREI’s agenda – to “prioritise the needs of African people, in particular the poor, and contribute to sustainable development through policies and projects that engage with civil society groups and other stakeholders from the outset” – is being undermined.
Pointing out that AREI, which is part of the UN’s climate change initiative, was premised on “strong environmental and social criteria to ensure activities meet community needs, avoid land grabs, environmental harm and human rights violations”, the letter accuses EC and France or pushing their own agenda.
Doubting, in this context, that any civil society organizations were called at the Gandhinagar meet, Ashok Shrimali, general secretary, Mines, Minerals & People (MM&P), AfDB says, one of its focus areas is “energy and coal mining”, in which several Indian, including Gujarat-based tycoons, are seeking to make big inroads worldwide, including in Africa.
Taking a similar view, Debi Goenka, founder, Conservation Action Trust, believes, by holding the meet in Gandhinagar, and not in Delhi, the whole effort of the Government of India is to ensure that there isn’t any diplomatic intervention, on one hand, and civil society influence, on the other.
“Civil society in Gujarat does not really exist in the true sense of the word”, Goenka comments.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Govt of India appears to be working for the corporates only

TRENDING

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Whither SDG goal? India's maternal mortality rate fall target 5.5% per yr, actual 4.5%

By Srinivas Goli, Parul Puri* The maternal mortality ratio (number of maternal deaths per one lakh live births) is a key and sensitive parameter used by health policymakers to monitor maternal health conditions in particular and women's status in general in a country.

Fresh efforts to subsume Buddhism within Hindu fold 'undermining' Ambedkar

By Aviral Anand*  From Yeola in 1935, when Dr Ambedkar announced that he would not die a Hindu, to Nagpur in 1956 when he converted to Buddhism, is a considerable distance in time. But, there was in him a need to make a public announcement in 1935 about moving away from Hinduism. 

Unlike other revolutionaries, Hindutva icon wrote 5 mercy petitions to British masters

By Shamsul Islam*  The Hindutva icon VD Savarkar of the RSS-BJP rulers of India submitted not one, two,or three but five mercy petitions to the British masters! Savarkarites argue: “There are no evidences to prove that Savarkar collaborated with the British for his release from jail. In fact, his appeal for release was a ruse. He was well aware of the political developments outside and wanted to be part of it. So he kept requesting for his release. But the British authorities did not trust him a bit” (YD Phadke, ‘A complex Hero’, "The Indian Expres"s, August 31, 2004)

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Reverse progress in fight against hunger? 15.3% of India undernourished: GHI

By Harchand Ram*  Every year October 16 is observed as World Food Day to celebrate the date of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. In the year 2021, the theme for World Food Day is “Our actions are our Future-Better Production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life”.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam* In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.

Global Hunger Index: Govt of India response pathetic, 'lacks' scientific empirical evidence

By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ* Come 16 October – and the world once again focused on the most basic need for a person’s survival: food! The first World Food Day was observed in 1994, to mark the launch of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Ever since, the day is marked to highlight the need and importance of food security across the world. The significance is accentuated especially in these difficult times like the C-19 povidandemic. The theme for 2021 is ‘Safe Food Now for a Healthier Tomorrow’, emphasising on the various immediate and long-term benefits of consuming safe and healthy food.

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.