Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, November 26, 2019 (ECA) – Africa needs to rethink how it uses its land resources to ensure there is optimization and innovative use which will help spur the economic transformation of the continent, says Ali Mufuruki, Chairman and CEO of Infotech Investment Group LTD of Tanzania.
Speaking at the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa, Mr. Mufuruki said, a more positive future for Africa’s people hinged on how its leaders are able to concentrate on things that really matter, in particular focusing on job-creating investments.
Land, he said, was critical to economic growth, food security, and poverty alleviation across the continent but titling was not as important as was being advocated for by many in the land sector.
“I feel that far too much has been invested in trying to correct historical wrongs and dislocations that occurred because of violence, climate, and accidents over the year. In our efforts for restitution we seem to have thought that the solution to our problems is parcelling out land to individuals because naturally human beings like to accumulate, and the bigger the better,” said Mr. Mufuruki.
He said not everyone was interested in farming, adding the continent’s abundant land resources could be used optimally for other income generating investments in tourism and mining for example.
“Subdividing land to a billion people may not be useful as not everyone who wants land has the ability to turn it around economically. Some people just need housing. With the new distributive elite within our countries, land has become nothing more than just an instrument of political and social control,” said Mr. Mufuruki.
He said Africa has overlooked that there is more to land ‘than having a piece of paper saying you own the land’.
“In Germany for example, land is a source of tremendous wealth for society, not just individuals as we see in Africa. That is why in Europe if you use land in a way that harms others, people have the right to sue you,” the Tanzanian businessman said.
He said it was sad that Africa with 60 percent of the world’s unused land was the hungriest.
“How can we be land rich and still be poor. Are we looking at the wrong things - is land distracting us from addressing the real issues,” he asked, adding the problem of land corruption would not be solved by giving land titles to the people only.
As per the Framework and Guidelines on land policy in Africa endorsed by member states in 2009, the African Land Policy Centre advocates for documenting all bundles of land rights on land parcels to secure the rights of those that have a claim on the land. These rights include ownership, land resources shelter, etc. The documentation of land rights emphasis extends to communal lands and goes a long way towards tackling the rights of women’s access to land.
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