Land issues have been gnawing at many societies in Africa for a long time, and multi-pronged approaches including dialogue have been initiated by the AUC and its partners, the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) through the Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA).
Speaking virtually at the opening of the 2023 CLPA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia November 21, 2023, Mad. Josefa Sacko, the AUC Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Development said: “Reflecting on the progress made since our last conference, it is evident that there have been significant strides in advancing land policies across the African Union Member States. Two years ago, we convened to address the challenges impeding sustainable land governance, and I am pleased to report that there has been a noticeable momentum in the implementation of policies aimed at fostering sustainable land administration practices.”
She said the commitment and collective effort from all stakeholders have contributed to the formulation and enforcement of policies that seek to promote equitable access to land, protect land rights, and ensure the sustainable utilization of land resources.
“One significant area of progress pertains to the advancement of women’s land rights, in alignment with the African Union’s agenda on land. The commitment to securing women’s land rights has gained significant attention and has translated into concrete actions across various Member States. Commendable efforts have been made in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Malawi to assess women’s rights to land in policies and laws and take action to address gaps identified,” she said.
She added: “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. The African Land Policy Centre (ALPC) has started the process of developing the Continental Strategy for integrating Gender within national land sectors and I hope that deliberations during this conference will contribute to this process.”
In remarks read on his behalf, the Executive Secretary of the ECA, Claver Gatete said, “the theme of the Fifth Conference on Land Policy in Africa, ‘Promoting sustainable land governance in Africa for accelerated implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)’, is at the heart of many of us as we explore ways in which the African citizenry can maximally benefit from their land and its resources by taking advantage the opportunity that enhanced trade brings, to boost sustainable and inclusive development and environmental stewardship”.
He indicated that The AfCFTA holds the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty, boost Africa’s income by $450 billion, while connecting 1.3 billion people.
“This is significant in view of the youth bulge and opportunities of an ever-accelerating digitalization, including in land-based sectors such as agriculture. Through several commitments, Africa is committed to agro-industrialisation for value addition and economic diversification, as a basis for enhancing the benefits of the AfCFTA. Through digitalization therefore, there is great potential for the youth to tap into the growing agriculture and agribusiness sector, projected to be $1 trillion by 2030. This is a low hanging fruit, given most of Africa’s youth, about 40-60% of them, are already engaged in agriculture and agribusiness,” he said.
“Good land governance promotes secure access to land, and creates an enabling environment for investments that are key to unlocking the productive capacities of Africa. Good land governance will support agro-industrial parks, infrastructure and renewable energy, all needed ingredients for industrialization and trade,” he added.
He also noted that at the regional level, harmonisation of land and related policies in light of the protocol on investment and other trade related protocols will facilitate cross border movement of people, regional investments and trade.
“Continental and regional institutions are therefore key to ensuring coherence in regional aspirations for trade and investments; and underlying policy and regulatory environment, including in the land sector,” he said.
In a speech read on her behalf, Dr Vanessa Ushie, the Acting Director, Africa Natural Resources Management Investment Centre of the AfDB said the Conference on Land Policy in Africa, has ably demonstrated its role as a convening policy, advocacy and lesson-sharing platform towards the implementation of the African Union Declaration on Land.
“It is also a Conference in which African Union member countries who are also our Bank member countries come not only to report on their respective country progress of the implementation of the AU Declaration on Land but also to take stock as well as benchmark respective country performance, discuss challenges and further identify areas for capacity building and research,” she said.
Dr Ushie said, estimates show that by 2040, the implementation of the AfCFTA will raise intra-African trade by 15 to 25 per cent, or $50 billion to $70 billion.
She pointed out that a successful continent-wide market for goods and services, business and investment, represents therefore a major opportunity for African countries to boost growth, reduce poverty, and broaden economic inclusion.
“Land governance regulating access to, use of and control over land, is an enabler of accelerating the implementation of the AfCTA through contributing to the production of goods, unlocking agricultural potential, promoting gender equality, supporting the development of resilient infrastructure, cities and communities, as well as balanced territorial development.
On the other hand, expansion of intra-African trade and resulting demand for goods such as agricultural goods will affect land systems including, land value, sustainability, increasing large-scale land acquisitions by public and private actors and insecurity of land tenure for women, youth, pastoralists, and other vulnerable groups. Therefore, the issue of good land governance becomes critical for the achievement of the AfCTA,” she said.
The organisers of the conference say the theme for this year 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.
More than 930 delegates including traditional rulers from around Africa are participating in the conference in-person and virtually.
By Emmanuel K Dogbevi, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
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