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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (

Laws give corporations upper hand over natural resources

The individual landowner in Africa has few, if any rights to the riches their lands contain. New research by the World Resources Institute has found that corporations wield the upper hand. This in turn only flags poverty and environmental damage in sub-Saharan Africa - destroying valuable resources that could assist in the native population.

Leaving citizens with no rights to the resources above or beneath their African land, then creates a 'lose-lose' situation.

Leaving citizens with no rights to the resources above or beneath their African land, then creates a "lose-lose" situation.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

1/28/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Africa

Keywords: Africa, landoners, corporations, law, inequity

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - African governments traditionally favor laws that govern rights to resources than rights to land. This in turn means that African landowners powerless to economically benefit from their land.

"The rights to surface resources are the most important, as these are the ones that are readily available to the population without the need to engage expensive exploration and mining technology," Peter Veit of the Washington-based World Resource Institute said.

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"Most natural resource laws only allow communities to use certain trees or certain amounts of water, for domestic and subsistence purposes only, but they don't allow them to take advantage of the resources that are on or below their land to actually generate a meaningful livelihood," Veit said.

A major oil and gas producer, Africa has some of the earth's largest supplies of gold, diamonds, metal ores as well as other high-value resources above ground. In spite of this, the African continent is home to 25 of the top 30 poorest countries in the world, according to the World Bank.

Mahogany sells for around $2,000 per cubic meter in current market conditions, ivory sells for $1,000 per pound in the illegal market. Trophy hunting can bring in as much as $350,000 for some species such as the recent auction of a permit to hunt a black rhino.

Three years ago, the government gave one company in Northern Liberia the rights to search for and exploit iron ore minerals in an area that has an authorized community forest, owned by local communities under the Community Forest Management Agreement with the government.

"If the mining company finds mineral resources, they will have the right to access the mineral resources even if it destroys the forest resources in the process," a development expert working in Liberia said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In Ghana, the farming communities of Prestea, Himan and Bondaye have been in conflict with a Canadian mining company for over 10 years. They say the company has taken large amounts of their agricultural land and provided little compensation for their losses.  

Leaving citizens with no rights to the resources above or beneath their land, then creates a "lose-lose" situation.  

"In parts of Ghana, farmers have no rights to naturally occurring trees on their farm. They're afraid the government will grant harvesting rights to mining companies or timber operators without benefitting them, so they cut down, burn or uproot the trees and grow crops on the land, rather than preserving them," Veit says.

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