Multilateral Institutions: Towards an Action Plan on Land-Based Foreign Direct Investment in Africa – High Level Forum in Nairobi

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) Vice-President for Sector Operations, Kamal Elkeshen, is leading a large Bank Group delegation to an International High-Level Forum on Foreign Direct Investment in agricultural land in Africa. The meeting was opened on 4 October, in Nairobi, with several distinguished personalities in attendance, including former Botswana President, Festus Mogae, who also chairs the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA); and Naa Sebayem John Nabila, Chair of the National Council of Traditional Leaders of Ghana.

Co-organized jointly by the AfDB, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), with the support of CoDA, the two-day forum started its thematic sessions shortly after the opening ceremony.

Representatives of governments, international institutions, civil society and leading scientists participating in the sessions will take stock of the acquisition process of African agricultural land by foreign investors; examine the legal aspects of these transactions and their impact on water resources.

A high-level panel was moderated by CoDA Chairman, Festus Mogae, AfDB Vice-President, Kamal Elkeshen, African ministers in charge of agriculture and land reforms, as well as other prominent speakers.

The forum will propose a "Nairobi Action Plan on investments in land in Africa". It will assist in developing an African perspective on land-based foreign direct investment and in the collection of related information and experiences. The forum will also allow participants to come up with concrete interventions on the implementation of the Declaration of the African Union on land issues in Africa.

According to a joint study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), since 2004, there has been nearly 2.5 million hectares worth of “approved land allocations” in five African countries.

This fast evolving phenomenon led AfDB, AUC, ECA and CoDA, on the sidelines of the AfDB Annual Meetings earlier this year in Lisbon, to convene a political forum on land-based foreign direct investment in Africa.

The three institutions also launched a joint initiative known as the "Land Policy Initiative" designed to rally African governments around strengthening partnership among the various stakeholders and reinforcing donors’ commitment and support in crafting and implementing land policies.

Speaking on Tuesday at the opening ceremony, the Acting Director, AfDB Agriculture and Agrobusiness Department, Beileh Abdirahman, assured participants of “the AfDB’s strong commitment to assist African countries to address issues related to land-based foreign direct investment on the continent”.

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