US criticised over increased private sector investment in Africa
Friday, August 8, 2014
New Alliance agriculture initiative risks prioritising profit over people and pushing poor farmers further into poverty
Civil society groups have criticised the US government’s enthusiasm for private sector investment in Africa, as the head of the country’s development agency announced a controversial agriculture scheme had now attracted more than $10bn (£5.9bn).
On Tuesday, at the US-Africa summit in Washington, the US aid agency, USAid, lauded the increased company investment in the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative, launched by Barack Obama at the G8 summit in 2012 to accelerate agricultural production and improve the lives of 50 million people in Africa by 2022.
The initiative has been condemned as a new wave of colonialism for its requirement that governments change laws and policies in favour of businesses. Critics have also expressed alarm at the lack of effective monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
US officials claim the total investment will now create about 650,000 jobs and benefit more than 5 million smallholder farmers in the 10 African countries that have signed up to the New Alliance – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal and Tanzania.