By Dotun Ibiwoye
The World Bank has said that it will cost Nigeria and other African countries about N6.75 trillion in the next ten years to address reforms and investments in communal lands that are individually owned as well as addressing weak governance and corruption in land ownership.
The Bank recent report made available to Vanguard noted that more than 90 per cent of Africa’s rural land is undocumented, making it highly vulnerable to land grabbing and expropriation with poor compensation.
According to the World Bank report, African countries and their communities could effectively end land grabs and grow more food across the region, and transform their development prospects if they can modernise the complex governance procedures on land ownership and management over the next decade.
Titled ‘How Africa Can Transform Land Tenure, Revolutionise Agriculture, and End Poverty’, World Bank’s Vice President for Africa, Makhtar Diop, in the report, said “Despite the abundant land and mineral wealth, Africa remains poor and improving land governance is vital for achieving rapid economic growth”.
Diop noted that addressing land governance would significantly reduce poverty and provide more opportunity for Africans, including women who make up 70 per cent of Africa’s farmers who are currently locked out of land ownership due to customary laws.
“The status quo is unacceptable and must change so that all Africans can benefit from their land. Africa could finally realise the vast development promise of its land over the course of the next decade by championing reforms and investments to document all communal lands and prime lands that are individually owned.
“Regularising tenure rights of squatters on public land in urban slums that are home to 60 per cent of urban dwellers in Africa, and tackling the weak governance and corruption endemic to the land governance system in many African countries, often favour the status quo and harm the interests of poor people.
Diop added: “Generating the political will of African governments to mobilise behind these land reforms and attract the political and financial buy-in of the international development community is the way forward.