ACCRA, (Xinhua) --
Ghana urged leaders of the African continent here
late Monday to make the creation of comprehensive policies that
guide access, utilization and management of land a priority.
This, it said is necessary to deal with the complex land
administration issues that hinder the development on the continent.
Opening the African Lands Commission Conference and the African
Regional Gender Workshop here, Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural
Resources, Benito Owusu Bio lamented that production levels in
Africa were abysmally low in spite of abundant arable lands.
“While we have the most suitable lands for agriculture, our
productivity gap turns to be the highest. We see land ownership
inequalities and landlessness growing in several African countries.
Women as majority primary producers are constrained by customary
laws,” the minister said.
He continued that arable lands, forests and wetlands are being
degraded at an alarming rate while there is a high rise in urban
slums that undermines urban development and poverty reduction
The official however lauded the recognition given to this situation
by the heads of state and governments of the continent with a firm
declaration by the African Union (AU) on land issues enjoining all
countries to take steps to recognize the centrality of land to
sustainable economic growth, development and security of the
social, economic and cultural livelihoods of their peoples.
In dealing with these issues, Bio said Ghana has since 1999 embarked
on reforms on land administration.
He said the project which is in the second phase recognizes the
fundamental role of Customary Land administration in the country.
“Estimated close to 80 percent of land ownership is held in
Customary Tenure; any reform measure that does not take this
fundamental fact into account is doomed for failure,” he cautioned.
Bio therefore urged the participants to arrive at concrete steps
that are needed to make land tenure in Africa an enabler of
The workshop, which is part of the AU Agenda on land being
implemented by the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) seeks to facilitate
cross-country learning and information-sharing about the results and
experiences in different countries among key actors within land
commissions on challenges and opportunities to secure the land
rights of local communities, women, and Indigenous Peoples through
statutory recognition of customary (collective) land tenure and its
Customary land regimes are not uniform but vary from community to
community. Lessons across Africa suggest that the integration of
customary land regimes into formal land governance systems is
equally not uniform, observed Janet Edeme, Head of Rural Division,
Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union
These functional characteristics, she added, largely explain why
customary land tenure is viewed as a tenure regime that is not
static, but continually evolving in response to multiple factors
including, urbanization and demographic change, monetization of
economies, increasing integration with the global economy, political
processes and cultural change.
Beyond the core issues confronting community land governance, Edeme
noted that evidence available at the LPI also points to serious
capacity needs even among the land administration agencies at
governmental level abound.