By Calistus Tandong Jong
(Abidjan, Ivory Coast) A Conference on Land Policy in Africa, CLPA-2019, was held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast from November 25 – 29, to boost the fight against corruption in the land sector in Africa.
The conference, organised by the African Land Policy Centre which is a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank Group, has as theme: “Winning the Fight against Corruption in the Land Sector: Sustainable Pathway for Africa’s Transformation.”
Dr. Stephen Karingi, the Director, Private Sector Development and Finance at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, in his opening remarks, said land was the foundational asset upon which economies were built, adding that property rights were essential for creating a conducive environment for attracting private sector investment on the continent.
He said, globally, success in achieving the sustainable development goals, SDGs, is underpinned by good land governance, as it contributes to eliminating poverty and hunger; promoting sustainable agriculture; advancing gender equality and women empowerment; and promoting inclusive economic growth; among other developmental objectives.
HE Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, African Union’s Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, said good land governance was essential for Africa’s development.
“Land in Africa is an important factor of production as most livelihoods and developmental activities are undertaken on land. With this in mind, we need to ensure that the way in which land is distributed and used plays an essential role in promoting sustainable development and achieving peace and stability on the continent,” she said.
Corruption in the land sector, the Commissioner said, can inhibit the ability for people to access and own land which in turn marginalizes some sectors of society, thereby undermining their livelihoods and perpetuating conflicts, hunger, and poverty. She added that, for Africa to win the fight against corruption, they need to ensure that land is equitably distributed and accessed by all, more especially women, youths and other vulnerable groups. Women continue to contribute significantly towards agricultural production in Africa, but in some circumstances, they are not able to enjoy their rights to land. It is, therefore, a reality that women and men still do not enjoy the same rights over land.
The keynote speaker, Charles Boamah, Senior Vice President, African Development Bank Group, said a sound land policy is critical to economic growth, food security, and poverty alleviation across the continent of Africa. He added that it can catalyse growth in agricultural productivity through tenure security and protection of land rights, and can also enhance investment opportunities inland,” he said, adding land administration systems in many countries on the continent are characterised by poor infrastructure and management malpractices largely because of corruption. “Corruption is truly costly in every sense of the word. And it hits the poorest the hardest, particularly women and, as a result, we perpetuate income and gender inequality,” he said.
The African Land Policy Initiative, LPI, was established in 2006. The key achievements of the LPI include: the development of the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (F&G), provide guidance on the development and implementation of sound national land policies and the Guiding Principles, GPs, on Large- scale Land-based Investments availed to African Union member states in support of the negotiation of fairer and more sustainable land investments. The Framework and Guidelines were adopted by the African Ministers responsible for Land in April 2009 and further endorsed by the African Heads of State and Government through a Declaration on Land Issues and Challenges in Africa during the 13thAssembly of the African Union in July 2009.
The Conference on Land Policy in Africa is convened every two years as a policy dialogue platform for African stakeholders on land governance, land policy and promoting knowledge for evidence-based land policy development, review, implementation, and monitoring.