KIGALI - Thirteen African countries intend to forge a common land policy, the Registrar of Land Tittles in the Ministry of Lands and Environment, Eugene Rurangwa has said.
He was speaking yesterday during a three-day consultative workshop at Hotel Mille Collines. Delegates attending are from thirteen African countries, which include hosts Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea Sudan and war ravaged Somalia. Others are Indian Ocean islands of Comoros, Seychelles, Mauritius and Madagascar with more fragile coastal land and disappearing forests.
The delegates are expected to come up with a common framework on land use in their respective nations.
Rurangwa who is also the director general of National Land Centre said the continental plan is aimed at providing a mutual basis for strengthening property rights among their citizens.
The plan is jointly supported by the African Union (AU), UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and African Development Bank (AfDB). So far two analytical reports on the continent’s land policy have been availed through the initiative.
The reports highlight the need for a regional (and probably continental) land use framework to strengthen land rights, enhance productivity and secure livelihoods among the citizens.
He said delegates will assess one of the reports on land policy in Eastern Africa.
The workshop is also expected to draw a roadmap for setting up relevant benchmarks, indictors and mechanisms to measure performance of land processes in the region.
Rurangwa said that for any change to come about, willingness is needed from all stakeholders for a compromise.
He was optimistic the workshop will come-up with common resolution that will be presented to lands ministers. Then, the ministers will deliver the compromised land framework resolution to the Heads of States for further deliberation.
Other Sub-Saharan African regions except western, Rurangwa said, are also taking the same step of assessing and harmonising their land policies. He said that such a move, which is to be first of its kind, will generate popular support in Africa and beyond for land reform programme.
“We are all concerned about the needed effort for harmonised African land framework to see what can be done to move our society forward.”
“Please exchange ideas clearly on the issues highlighted by this report for consensus recommendation” Dr Ahmadu Bebagana, from the AU, urged delegates. Dr Bebagana said that land policy and reforms are fundamental in addressing problem of poverty among poor communities still depending on Agriculture.
“Both add values to the tenants’ legal land rights,” he said.
He remarked that land is a primary asset for survival and development in Eastern Africa region and beyond.