Sierra Leone

Two foreigners shot at land protest at Socfin plantation in Pujehun, Sierra Leone

Eleven people have been arrested for the shooting of one Belgian, and one Zimbabwean worker at a palm oil plantation in Malen Chiefdom, Pujehun District, in Southern Sierra Leone. Reuters reports that shots were fired from a haunting rifle as landowners attacked a vehicle carrying the two workers. Both victims have been treated for non-fatal injuries.

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We Harvest--You Profit: African Land Ltd's Land Deal in Sierra Leone

From rising food prices to growing demand for biofuel, the current obsession for agricultural land borders on speculative mania as private companies, hedge funds, private equity funds, and sovereign wealth funds join the land rush looking for lucrative deals in the developing world. An estimated 500 million acres, an area about ten times the size of Britain, has been bought or leased in the developing world in the last decade. The social, economic, and environmental impacts of this trend have been extensively researched and made public by the Oakland Institute.

This brief offers insight into a new class of companies, such as African Land Limited, that use the idea of helping African communities, together with deception around yields and profits, to dupe investors—including retired individuals who’ve handed over their life savings—to make more while doing good.

With the tagline “We Harvest—You Profit,” the UK-based African Land Limited offers an opportunity for land investment in poor countries that sounds too good to pass up. Unhappy investors, legal troubles, and a history of controversial directors reveal another story.

World Bank's Bad Business in Sierra Leone

Since 2004, the World Bank has provided continuous “investment climate advisory services” to Sierra Leone. Business reforms and Bank-piloted programs such as Sierra Leone Business Forum and the Sierra Leone Investment and Export Promotion Agency led to the World Bank classifying Sierra Leone among “the top 15 economies that improved their business regulatory environment the most” since 2005 and rank the country third in the regional “Protection of Investors” category. In the agricultural sector, reforms around land, mapping of parcels, and fast-tracking land leasing processes have attracted investors eager to develop large-scale monocrop plantations of sugar cane or oil palm, which deprive local communities of their resources and undermine human, social, and environmental rights in Sierra Leone.

Une Tribu de Sierra Leone Lutte Contre l'Exploitation d’Huile de Palme

L’exploitation par une entreprise luxembourgeoise, la Socfin, d’un terrain de plantation de palmiers à huile sur le territoire de la tribu Malen, dans le district de Pujehun, au sud de la Sierra Leone, provoque depuis 2011 de vives tensions. Plusieurs dizaines de Malen ont été arrêtés puis relâchés cette semaine après avoir protesté contre un projet d’extension de l’exploitation qui, selon eux, bafoue leurs droits.

Sierra Leone: la Police tire sur des Manifestants Opposés à un Projet de Plantation du Groupe Bolloré

La police sierra-léonaise a ouvert le feu, le 10 décembre, sur des manifestants armés, protestant contre un projet d'expansion d’un projet de culture d'huile de palme de la Société financière des caoutchoucs (Socfin), a déclaré un responsable de la police.

Basée au Luxembourg, Socfin est détenu par l'entrepreneur français Vincent Bolloré (38,7 %) et l’homme d'affaires belge Hubert Fabri. La société est engagée depuis 2011 dans un bras de fer avec des groupes d'agriculteurs et des propriétaires terriens de la tribu Malen.