Since he was appointed chairman of the board of directors of Ecobank at the end of June, the way Alain Francis Nkontchou, 57, speaks has not changed in substance. The former investment banker, co-founder of asset manager Enko Capital, expects the financial sector to support African economies better.
Liberian land for sale but Liberians are the last informed
Liberia has one of the highest rates of land concession on the continent, according to the World Bank’s ‘Rising Global Interest in Farmland’ report in 2010.
A report from the Center for International Conflict Resolution at Columbia University studied four companies’ impact on communities in Liberia – Golden Veroleum Liberia, Sime Darby Plantation, ArcelorMittal and Putu Iron Ore Mining Corporation.
It found evidence of ‘land grabbing’, desecration of sacred sites and negative food security.
The Sustainable Development Institute’s Silas Siakor says there is very little benefit for Liberians, claiming land is being taken away without consultation.
“There are people who have titles for their land, but it falls within the concession areas. Some of these [deeds] are being ignored.”
Hawa Fahnbulleh, a farmer and mother of three, lives in Konja town inside Sime Darby’s concession area.
The Malaysian-based multinational company signed a 63-year lease for 220,000ha covering four counties in the west of the country.
“Sime Darby takes the whole bush. Nowhere to make a garden, nowhere for our children to make a farm. Sime Darby takes everything. Even no good drinking water. They finished spoiling the whole place,” she says.
Mohamed Zulkifli Isa, Sime Darby’s head of development in Gbarpolu County, admitted “mistakes happened in Grand Cape Mount” but said “we will make sure [they] don’t happen elsewhere.” ●