21st century colonialism

By Reinout Huizer

The world’s population is rapidly growing and will continue to do so. Due to the increasing middle class in many countries consumption rates have gone up. Land is scarce and in order to fulfill the needs of this growing group companies and governments are buying and leasing land in the developing world. Countries sell or lease out their land in order to stimulate development, but in most instances this is not the result. Contrary to what the host countries are expecting products are exported out of the country and leave the local population empty handed. Is colonialism a term of the past?

Extracting resources from a country is not a new concept and has been done on an extreme scale during the colonial era. Towards the end of this era colonizers wanted to make as much profit as possible and in order to do so they exploited the countries they had claimed. Nowadays countries are not able to produce enough food on their own territories and to meet the level of consumption they look across the border. In 2009 Saudi Arabia exclusively produced for the Kingdom itself in Ethiopia, where at the time being the population was suffering due to famine. This example clearly illustrates that this modern-day land grab is purely based on the self-interests of foreign investors.

Ethiopia is not the only country that has given up its land, countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have signed contracts that only profit the twenty-first century colonizers.

The majority of these deals will harm the developing countries in the future and only provide them with money and do not stimulate their long-term development. Because foreign governments are involved in this process it can be argued that colonialism is still present today and that the second scramble for Africa has started.