Foreign Direct Investment in Extractive Industries in Sub-Saharan Africa – A Real Hope or a Mirage?

Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in the Extractive Industries are playing more and more an important role for the economic environment of the African continent. Billions of US Dollars are annually invested in the different African countries to extract minerals like gold, platinum, copper, iron, coal etc. which are of immense importance for the industrial development of emerging markets like China, India and Brazil and the developed world in Europe, the US/Canada, Australia and Japan. For example China has become the third largest investor in Zambia. The Question of FDI particularly in the Extractive Industry sparks a greater flurry of questions.

Walmart into Africa.

As Massmart/Walmart sets up to drive more deeply into Africa, it is essential that labour rights, good corporate governance and social responsibility move with it. Unions that have members working in Massmart/Walmart have joined together as affiliates of UNI Global Union to form an alliance to engage with the company towards this end. At the launch meeting of the UNI Africa Walmart Union Alliance in June 2012 unions organising in Massmart/Walmart operations across Africa set themselves the challenge of demanding that Massmart/Walmart sign a Global Framework Agreement with UNI Global Union which guarantees all Massmart/Walmart workers the right to organise for a better life (See Appendix 13). The process of a campaign for a Global Framework Agreement is key in signalling to Massmart/Walmart that they are no longer going to simply be able to bypass South African labour laws but that all workers in Africa are working towards the goal of decent work.