AfDB participates as key African partner in Land Policy Conference in Washington

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The African Development Bank was well represented at the annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference in Washington, DC, with one of the Bank’s directors chairing three sessions during the event.

Issa Faye, Manager of the Bank’s Development Research Department (EDRE),and two members of the African Natural Resources Center (ANRC), Sheila Khama, Director, and James Opio-Omoding, Chief Agricultural Economist, attended the conference.

The Bank’s participation was as a partner in the Land Policy Initiative (LPI) alongside the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa, and as such representing the Africa Land Governance agenda.

This year’s conference theme was ‘Linking Land Tenure and Use for Shared Prosperity’. It highlighted the role of land tenure in the distribution of assets between men and women, generations and social groups.

While the AfDB and the LPI presented the African Union’s recently-endorsed Land Governance principles and guidelines on Large Scale Land Based Investments, many African countries reported on their progress on land policy reform, challenges and lessons learnt.

One key issue that emerged was how pressing was the need for land policy development in Africa given the pace of land acquisition for various uses including infrastructure, mining, tourism and agriculture.

Another was how to ensure that land administration systems in Africa were transparent and accountable and that judicial institutions must be set up to safeguard land rights and should function in the interests of all citizens.

Land valuation was the subject of a great deal of discussion, not least in the context of a proper valuation system leading the way to a viable land market and therefore a new source of revenue for governments through taxation. It was noted that land registration was the key to proper land valuation and that development partners could play a leading part in that effort.

The ANRC’s Sheila Khama chaired three events in total. On March 26, she chaired the session ‘Update on implementation of the AU declaration on land: Results and challenges’ as well as the debate on ‘How to deal with land rights in the context of mining investments?’. On March 27, she led the ‘Development Partners’ Platform Meeting on Land Policy in Africa’.

The ANRC was set up in 2013 within the AfDB with the aim of aiding Africa’s development through ensuring that African countries and their people receive greater value from the continent’s abundant and valuable resources. It advises and works with all relevant partners to achieve that goal of better returns from natural resources for the producing countries. Those partners include African governments, international institutions, regional organizations, industry bodies, regulators and the private sector.