Geopolitical drivers of foreign investment in African land and water resources

A. Sebastian, J.F. Warner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Resource grabs, particularly land and water, can be a proxy for geopolitical influence. As such, ‘grabs’ become intertwined in international power relations and the competing collective goals and state priorities of economic development, poverty elimination, ecosystem management, energy, self-sufficiency, and food supply stability. African land has become the most appealing and vulnerable to acquisition. In this article we will analyze external investor actions in Africa by South Africa to explain how regional and global geopolitics are fostering a ‘new’ scramble for natural resources on the African continent. This south–south geopolitical concern examines South Africa's investment in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Lesotho. We argue that ‘grabbing’ is important, but often it is not the foremost factor in south–south relations and, as such, is an inadequate basis for exploring the role of domestic capital and government investment corporations. We contend that grabbing is not only about food, finances, energy, or even water itself, but also about geopolitical influence. Land and water resource acquisition become intertwined in international power relations and the competing goals of state priorities. This article uses an International Relations framework to analyze these complex relationships, spheres of influence, and asymmetries. Its central argument is that countries with limited arable land ‘securitize’ (B. Buzan, O. Waever, & J. de Wilde [Eds.], 1998, Security: A framework for analysis, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf) their food supply and seek ways to increase the supply of food and sources of ‘virtual’ water by targeting ‘easy targets’ for resource imperialism, like weak states
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-25
JournalAfrican Identities
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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