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Swedish investments in Africa criticised accused of aiding land grabbing

Wednesday, 02 May 2012
The Swedish state development agency, Swedfund has invested tens of millions in a company that will produce ethanol in Sierra Leone, but the local people are reported to have been affected by water shortages and hunger when the company took over their land. Now the poor inhabitants are seeking help from Sweden.

Radio Sweden reports that villagers are crying that land where they formerly grew their food, have been taken over by Addax bioenergy a company that is growing sugar cane there.

The company has also taken away a source of water supply by filling a river and spread the water to its fields instead. Sugar cane Tubes are plated to be used as biofuels and sold in Europe.

In November last year decided the Swedish state development agency, Swedfund decided to invest Skr90 million from the aid budget in the bio-energy company Addax bioenergy in Sierra Leone.

But radio Sweden has examined what the Swedish aid money is used for. The poor farmers talk about how they were persuaded to approve the lease agreement where the company gets the right to take over their land for 50 years. Most of the villages visit testifies to the same thing according to radio Sweden.

“They promised us schools and hospitals. They promised to create jobs, build schools, roads and hospitals for us if we gave our land to them. We were cheated,” some villagers said according to radio Sweden
The farmers receive only $3 and 20 cents a year per acre of land, barely half a hectare, the hiring company.

“I'm not saying there are problems, but the company has a good intention and also put considerable resources to solve these problems, says Anders Craft, who is acting CEO of Swedfund.
But a Sierra Leonean  lawyer,  Sonkita Conteh, has reviewed the contract that gives the company exclusive rights to the land and the water in the area.
“This is a violation of human rights. It threatens the villagers of their right to food and water. Very problematic,” says Sonkita Conteh.

EU countries' demand for biofuels, particularly ethanol, has made African land highly sought after in the international energy companies. Sierra Leonean lands are good for the cultivation of plants that are good for the growing of ethanol plant.

One of those companies that went into the project  was the Swedish state venture capital company Swedfund. Their activities in the impoverish African country is not good and cold simply reflect why the Africans always despise doing business with the western European countries.
By Team

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