Investors into Africa with great appetite

“Afrika, the final frontier” - with this slogan the Dutch bank ABN Amro is trying to bait investors into buying a 10 euro-share in the Africa-certificate, which was launched early February. Already last year the bank marketed a Africa Raw Materials certificate, as well as a cerficate for Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria and South Africa. Not surprisingly these are the biggest growth countries in Africa, for years securing the continent an economic growth percentage of over 5 percent.
ABN Amro, as well as the Swedish HQ Fund, the Irish Capital Magna Africa and the Dutch Mango Capital Fund, are pioneering direct and risky investment through African stockmarkets. ‘Extraordinary profits of 50 percent and more!’ is the enthousiast claim of the many websites for investors. Since share prices are yo-yo-ing and deliver less short-term profits, ever more investors are turning their hungry eyes to the ‘damned’ continent. The world’s economies are faltering under decreasing oil reserves. But many African countries still have unexploited oil and gasfields, and plentiful stocks of raw materials such as gold and other minerals.
What’s in it for the average African? The ABN Amro’s African portfolio consists mainly of shares in financial institutions, telecom and mining companies. Number one is the Egyptian constructor Orascom Construction. Or, more adequately: former Egyptian company, as recently it was bought for nearly 9 billion euros by the French Lagarde, the world’s biggest cementcompany. Number three is mining company Anglo Platinum, which by way of South Africa produces 40 percent of the world’s platinum. (Platina is destined a.o. for jewels and carburetors in cars)
Recently, the British consultancy bureau ActionAid and the Dutch Institute for Southern Africa (NIZA) published their research report, stating that platina-mining in a few South-African provinces has devastating consequences for about 20,000 farmers. It also leads to acute pollution of drinking water and soil. “We used to live here in harmony, we had food, and electricity. Then the mine arrived and buried us alive. It is as if someone first comes to in your house, then kicks you out.” says 56-year old Rose Thlarera from the Limpopo-province, one of the hundreds of witnesses in the report.
Anglo Platinum claims they are socially and environmentally correct, but the report, which excels in detailed and founded argumentation, denies this claim completely. According to the researchers, the company ‘makes huge profits on the back of the neighbouring people: 1.12 billion euros  in 2007’ Recently ABN AMRO-top executive Van Oudheusden said: “We use strict selection procedures with regard to the companies we fund, but we can’t guarantee the local work force be treated to western standards.” Let alone the local population…

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