The New Times (Kigali)

3 January 2013

Rwanda: Govt Seeks Amendment to Land Law

THE government wants to amend the law governing land use in the country to ensure transparency in land use, the Minister of Natural Resources, Stanislas Kamanzi has said.

The Minister, who tabled the bill before parliament, last week, told The New Times at the weekend that "one fundamental reason" for reviewing the old legislation is to address the loopholes in the previous organic law governing land use.

Once passed, the legislation will repeal the 2005 land use law.

Kamanzi explained that among other things, pertinent regulations will be established to ensure that investors acquire acreage that they actually need and not for wastage.

"People would access any size of land for investment without proper justification that they really needed that size of land. In the new bill, we will regulate that and say that, at least one can have a minimum of five hectares for investment and if it is proved that more is required, the Minister in charge can approve," he explained.

He added that it is also an opportunity to revisit some aspects such as those to do with land ownership.

"There are aspects to do with the right by foreigners to have entitlement to freehold land. Free hold is not a common practice in most regional countries. Free hold means entitlement for ever but under certain conditions," Kamanzi said.

According to the minister, once the new law is passed, foreign investors will continue to get free hold titles but with possibility, for example, of a share agreement in which Rwandans will own 51 per cent shares in a company.

The bill has a fourfold purpose. It will set fundamental principles to ensure that national land use and development planning will provide for the protection of the natural resource base.

The new legislation also seeks to promote social welfare of the population considering equal opportunities of access to social, economic and environment opportunities affected by land use development planning, according to Kamanzi.

It will ensure all Rwandans give views and participate in a transparent decision-making process on determining, processing, evaluation, revision and validation of national and local land use and development planning.

Article 9 of the bill stipulates that "before re-validating the Rwanda Land Use and Development Master Plan, the Minister shall publish and invite for public comment particulars of the draft Plan in the Official Gazette and in relevant media."

Before a public meeting on the draft, the Minister shall adopt a consultative and participatory process in evaluating and updating the Plan. This process shall involve consultation of stakeholders with an interest in land use and development.

According to Article 6 of the bill, all plans related to land use and development, physical planning, sectoral planning and others shall be prepared based on the Rwanda land use and development master plan.

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