Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Urban & Regional Planning


Urban and Regional Planning

First Advisor

Xueming Chen


Observing the current wave of large scale land acquisitions in Sub-Saharan Africa, many have found it easy to call the situation land grab, the new form of neo colonialism in Africa. In Ethiopia, few underlining socio-economic and political currents have shaped the leasing of its arable land to both national and international investors in recent years. The Agricultural Development Led Industrialization strategy the country adopted in the early 1990s, followed with consecutive short-term strategic plans focused primarily on agriculture as the driver for the nation’s economic growth and structural transformation, have acted as the main underpinnings in the commercialization of its agricultural sector. These plans, though national in their making, have also been constructed in the context of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which put the deadline of 2015 to cut poverty in half of signee countries, of which Ethiopia is one. The Food Crisis of 2007/08, coupled with the global financial crisis of 2008, has meant that foreign direct investment in farmland has become the new phenomenon for long-term investment with speculation of substantial returns in the current uncertainty of food security and financial climate. There is a new food world order under way, one in which feeding one’s own population doesn’t necessarily mean it has to be cultivated at home. For a country like Ethiopia, one of the most food insecure and poorest country on earth, gambling on development based on foreign use of its most needed natural assets, both land and water, should not be looked over so passively.


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Date of Submission

May 2013