Unlocking Africa’s Productive Potential Requires Effective Land Policies

ADDIS ABABA – If African countries create innovative and good land governance policies that promote equitable access to land, and create an enabling environment for investments, it will unlock the productive potential of the continent.

These are the sentiments echoed by leaders at the opening of the Fifth Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA) in Addis Ababa, Nov 21-24, 2023.

Judith Nabakooba, Uganda’s Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development said there is a need for Africa to have good land governance policies that strengthen women‘s rights to land to achieve fair and sustainable outcomes for all.

“Uganda understands the relation between land, trade and wellbeing of the people. Effective land governance and management is the cornerstone of sustainable social justice,” said Nabooka.

“Policies formulated should be visionary and must integrate climate change issues, reform land justice systems.”

According to the African Union, there have been “significant strides” since the last CLPA in advancing land policies across its Member States.

“Two years ago, we convened to address the challenges impeding sustainable land governance,” said Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development.

“I am pleased to report that there has been a noticeable momentum in the implementation of policies aimed at fostering sustainable land administration practices,” Sacko continued.

“One significant area of progress pertains to the advancement of women’s land rights, in alignment with the African Union’s agenda on land.”

Africa’s Agenda 2063 calls for the government to fully empower women in all spheres, with equal social, political and economic rights, including the rights to own and inherit property, sign contracts, and register and manage businesses.

“Through targeted policy interventions, legal reforms, and awareness campaigns, we have witnessed tangible progress in elevating the status of women as key stakeholders in land governance,” Commissioner Sacko said, commending efforts made in Tanzania, DR Congo, Guinea, and Malawi to assess women’s rights to land in policies and laws and action taken to address the identified gaps.

The ongoing Conference on Land Policy in Africa takes on the AU theme of the year which, in 2023, is ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation.’

The adoption of the theme is expected to generate greater political commitment and accelerate the effective implementation of the AfCFTA to fully benefit the African citizenry and achieve the aspirations and goals of Agenda 2063.

“If African governments enforce good land governance and policies, it will support agro-industrial parks, infrastructure and renewable energy, all needed ingredients for industrialization and trade,” said Robert Lisinge, Acting Director of the Private Sector Development at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Lisinge – speaking on behalf of ECA’s Executive Secretary Claver Gatete – noted that inclusive digital technologies can support land and trade policy-making processes through data-driven decision-making. They can identify opportunities for reform, job creation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and food needs in Africa.

CLPA is organized by the tripartite consortium consisting of the AU Commission, the African Development Bank (AfDB), and UNECA.