The Political Economy of Large-Scale Land Acquisition in Sierra Leone : An Empirical Application of a Computable General Political Economy Equilibrium Modelling Approach
The transfer of large areas of agricultural land from small-holder farmers to international investors, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, has become one of the mostly contested topics in International development circles. Even though there is a broad agreement among both critics and opponents that these land transfers have profound welfare implications, there is a dearth in the academic literature about their distributional and welfare effects at both the household and country level. Moreover, beyond pure economic anaylsis, political economy analysis have rarely been provided. This thesis, which is comprised of four articles, attempts to fill these gaps by adopting a Computational General Political Economy Equilibrium (CGPE) Modelling approach to undertake an empirical political economy analysis of the role of political preferences, policy beliefs and political power in the large-scale land acquisition policy processes in Sierra Leone. It also undertakes a quantitative assessment of the distributional and welfare effects of large-scale land acquisition at both the household and country level in Sierra Leone. Our results suggest that even though some stakeholders put extremely high political weight on maximizing the profit of large-scale land investors, land market policies are not driven by land grabber preferences. Furthermore, land market policies would be only significantly inefficient if small-scale farmers hold rational expectation beliefs. These findings have significant implications for development institutions, and donor organisations seeking to promote stakeholder engagements and bolster evidence-based policy making in developing countries like Sierra Leone. We suggest that, to overcome the wide variance in the estimated policy beliefs among key policy stakeholders, a transdisciplinary research apprroach that allows for the scientifc and political community to interact and narrow policy belief differences, is required.