TANZANIA and Uganda have resolved to work closely together on the management of land issues, especially the ones related to land reform implementation.
They reached the decision during meetings held over the weekend, when a delegation of senior government officials from Tanzania visited Uganda for three days, to learn firsthand, progress made on land reforms.
The delegation was led by the Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Policy and Government Coordination, Professor Faustine Kamuzora.
Others in the delegation included the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Humans Settlements Development, Ms Dorothy Mwanyika, and Coordinator of the Integrated Land Management Information System (ILMIS) Barney Laseko.
The ILMIS project which seeks to effect fundamental reforms and benefits in land management and security of tenure of land ownership in Tanzania, is coordinated by the Prime Minister's Office and implemented by the Ministry of Lands, Housing, and Human Settlements Development. The Project is funded by the World Bank.
Last week, on July 31, the first phase of the ILMIS Project which was being implemented on trial basis in Kinondoni and Ubungo Municipal Councils of Dar es Salaam Region for two years, came to a conclusion ready for a possible countrywide roll out beginning with the Ilala, Temeke and Kigamboni Councils, again in Dar es Salaam.
The neighbouring country of Uganda has been implementing a similar project for seven years now, and as is the case for Tanzania, their project is being funded by the World Bank.
Both countries started discussions and preparations on undertaking the project way back in 2005, but to some reasons, implementation was delayed, more so in Tanzania than in Uganda.
In a meeting with the Minister of State for Land in Uganda, Honorable Princess Persis Namganza (pictured), the delegation from Tanzania expressed its delight at being given an opportunity to learn from the experience of Uganda and especially on matters related to massive benefits of land reforms to the Ugandan people in the last seven years of the implementation of the National Land Information System in the country.
Prof Kamuzora briefed the minister on the policy efforts that Tanzania was undertaking in the important area of land reform under ILMIS, achievements that have so far been noted and challenges that the country has been facing in implementing such a fundamental change in land ownership.
Ms Mwanyika also sketched the actual implementation of the ILMIS reforms in Tanzania and emphasized the importance of both countries exchanging information on reforms as well as the experiences they had noted, which, while they will be quite beneficial to the people, were also new to both countries and were coupled by challenges.
She called for further cooperation between the two countries, saying that as neighbouring countries, decisions on land management in one country were likely to affect land ownership in the other.
The Tanzanian delegation also met and held talks with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Ms Dorcas W Okalany at the Ministry headquarters in Kampala. During the talks, Ms Okalany told the Tanzanian delegation that Uganda now believed that land was gold, a fact that for ages Ugandans and even other Africans did not know and appreciate.
She remarked: "The reforms we are undertaking will further benefit Uganda and other African countries and its people by enhancing the security of tenure of land ownership and even increase the level of investment on the continent.
For us, this reform process is very fundamental indeed." Information available from the World Bank indicates that it is only Tanzania and Uganda on the African continent that have moved furthest in issues related to land reform implementation.
Both Kenya and Ghana are at the initial stages. Besides the meetings, the Tanzania delegation was also given a detailed briefing on the implementation of the land reform efforts in Uganda by Ms Richard Oput, Coordinator of the National Land Reform Project in the country.
She also visited the Ministry Zonal Office (MZO) at Mukono, on the suburbs of Kampala, and the MZO in Jinja, Uganda's second largest city, to see the actual implementation of the land reform efforts in the country.