The Political Economy of Land and Extraction
Date and Start Time 30 June, 2017 at 16:00
Exploring the triangular relationship between local populations, investors and ruling elites in large-scale investments in natural resources from a political economy perspective.
Large-scale investments in natural resources, extractives and agriculture could help transform economies in Africa by accelerating economic growth, create jobs and strengthen links between local economies and the global economy. However, such investments often end up violating local land rights, which in turn can result in social protests and political instability. Land-related investments are examples of situations in which urban and rural interests and logics intersect, often in a conflictual manner.
This panel explores the triangular relationship between local populations in investment locations (smallholders as well as other community members), investors (domestic and foreign) and ruling elites (including both political and bureaucratic actors). The aim is to explore from a political economy perspective, the exchange deals that emerge between local populations and investors, the social relations underpinning the interchange between local populations and ruling elites, as well as the exchange relations between investors and ruling elite.
The panel welcomes papers on large-scale investments in natural resources that explore any of these three relations or the triangular relation of all three groups of actors, and especially welcomes empirical studies applying a political economy perspective and how it intersect with a rights perspective. Since recent research on land-related investments has primarily focused on conflictual relations between the local population and other actors, papers exploring conditions for other outcomes of investments are encouraged.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
The Political Economy of Land and Natural Resource Investments in Africa: an Analytical Framework
This paper develops an analytical framework for how to analyse the implementation of large-scale investments into natural resources, focusing on the triangular relations between investors; local populations; and ruling elites.
Large-scale investments in natural resources (extractives as well as agriculture) can help transforming African economies by accelerating economic growth, creating jobs and strengthening links between local economies and the global economy more broadly. However, they often end up violating rights. This, in turn, may lead to social protests and political instability. This paper develops an analytical framework for how to analyse the implementation of large-scale investments into natural resources. It focuses on the triangular relations between investors; local populations; and ruling elites. The framework points to the outcomes of these triangular relationships as 'reciprocal exchange deals' between investors and local populations, 'compatible interests' between ruling elites and investors, and 'productive social relations' between local populations and ruling elites. We show that in order to understand why some investments are more successfully implemented than others, it is necessary to grasp the politics behind an investment. The paper furthermore explores the conditions under which investments can be implemented without violating the rights of local populations. The paper is based on a review of relevant literatures and is linked to ongoing empirical studies of large-scale natural resource investment cases in Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda related to gas/oil, mining and agriculture.
Land investments in Rufiji District, Tanzania: a local perspective on their impacts on political dynamics and relations of power
Based on a seven-months field research, this paper looks at the local impacts on political dynamics of recent agri-food projects in Rufiji District, Tanzania. It highlights relations of power between government, elites, investors and local populations during acquisition and implementation processes.
Tanzania has been very actively courting investors, arguing that they will ensure the country's agriculture modernization and economic development. Yet, the implementation of agri-food projects has revealed highly problematic, as many investors have failed to develop their land and start operations, thereby effectively dispossessing local communities from their rights to land without fulfilling any promises of economic development.
Based on a seven-months political ethnography conducted mostly in Tanzanian villages, this paper addresses this issue by asking: what effects do recent agri-food projects have on local political dynamics in Tanzania, and inversely, how do local dynamics influence the implementation of these projects?
Focusing on Rufiji District—one of the most targeted area for new agri-food investments in Tanzania, I analyze the political reconfiguration of power relations associated to recent agri-food projects, highlighting power dynamics between government, ruling elites, investors and local populations. I contend that the acquisition process of land for agri-business ventures is key in understanding their local impacts, and their failure to become operational. I show that central institutions' knowledge and control over investors is fragmented and incomplete, and I argue that this lack of capacity allows government authorities and leaders to play an active role in subverting central policies, partnering and covering-up for unproductive investors in order to keep 'eating'. Moreover, I argue that top-down directives and governance are undermining villages' capacity and power to hold investors accountable. Finally, by comparing land acquisitions in nine different villages, I draw attention to the importance of differentiating local political dynamics.
Non-equity forms of production: Traders, producers and the state in large contract farming schemes. The case of tobacco in Southern Africa
This paper explores how contract farming is allowing for intense land and labour mobilization and how it has facilitated the integration of direct producers to commodity chains, without requiring the transfer of property over land.
Although countries in Southern Africa have traditionally been large exporters of tobacco leaf, important changes have taken place in the past two decades: exports and the geographic footprint of tobacco are expanding and non-equity forms of production (mainly in the form of contract farming) are displacing direct forms of investment. Taken as a region Southern Africa is the third largest exporter of tobacco now and the tobacco contract farming schemes are among the largest in the continent.
This paper explores how contract farming is allowing for intense land and labour mobilization and how it has facilitated the integration of direct producers to commodity chains, without requiring the transfer of property over land. By comparing Southern African experiences and focusing on the Mozambican case, the paper argues that non-equity forms of production are more adaptable to contexts in which direct agricultural producers have access to land and were corporate investors in land face political contestation and the risks associated with informal land markets. Non-equity forms of production raise fewer red flag and less attention from the region's states. However, while contract farming seems to unleash an extensification of production it does entail the risk of reinforcing exploitative land and labour practices and in the absence of targeted state involvement it has limited capacity for enhancing productivity and effective spillover effects on the rest of the economy.
Raw material extraction, conflicts of interest and inclusive development. The case of gold mining and gas extraction in Tanzania
To what extent have reforms for democratic governance been able to leverage the extractive sector in Tanzania through transforming the institutional structure and deal with competing interests on international, national and local level? Analysed through the lens of “political settlement theory”.
Tanzania has emerged as one of the leading gold mining countries in Africa. New urban areas develop around the mines. Still mining give a small contribution to GDP. Huge natural gas deposits are discovered, and have attracted the largest foreign investment ever in Tanzania. But so far little of inclusive development have been generated. The paper analyses how and to what extent reforms for deepening democratic governance are leveraging the extractive sector, for inclusive growth, through transforming and shaping the institutional structure (formal and informal) and organizational capacities to deal with competing interests (personal versus public; intra elite conflicts; party versus collective; local versus national; and national versus international). In the analysis of the underlying power structures on national and local level, we link to the expanding literature on "political settlement theory". This lens allows an analysis of the contending interests which constrain and facilitate institutional and developmental change.
Amongst the reasons attributed to the limited outcome in terms of inclusive development and local content, include inadequate political leadership capacity and political systems for reconciliation and coordination of competing local, national and international claims on the natural resources. Political measures to ensure inclusive benefits for current and future generations are not guaranteed through political settlements. At the technocratic level, weak technical leadership capacity and corruption are factors associated with the failure at the executive level to intervene and to link investments to local development plans, financing and implementation.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.