Over the last decade around $3bn has been earmarked for investment in the sugar cane industries of some of southern Africa’s poorest countries, including Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia. These investments have originated from foreign companies looking to produce sugar and ethanol biofuel, largely for export. The promise of economic growth and more jobs has been warmly received by these countries’ governments and many experts have suggested that this could just be the start. The Chief Executive of one UK biofuel supplier has gone as far to say that ‘southern Africa could be the Middle East of biofuels’ (Owens 2007). Yet there is some doubt as to whether this wave of investment is such a ‘sweet deal’ for the rural poor. The BBC recently listed sugar – along with oil, diamonds, cocoa and coltan – as commodities produced in Africa that could prove more of a burden than a blessing to the continent (Greenwood 2010)
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