Africa should be able to feed all her people without any problems, Benjamin Laag, Counsellor for Economic Cooperation at the Germany Embassy in Abidjan, said last week at the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa, in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire.
Laag emphasised the importance of good land governance as well as effective land administration and sustainable land management for Africa, a rich continent with vast agricultural and land resources, which spends over US$35 billion annually importing food from the West.
Laag said that, due to technological improvements in agriculture, as well as in geospatial sciences and other relevant land sectors, the tools were available to implement policies to ensure fair and sustainable land policies are enacted and implemented in every country on the continent.
Almost every person on the continent has been affected by corruption, Laag said, and very often the distribution and registration of agricultural and urban land is the reason for it.
"Addressing land corruption is an important but sensitive topic and this conference has the courage to talk about it," Laag said.
"We need African solutions to African challenges. And in this regard, Germany appreciates the huge effort that the AU is making through the African Land Policy Center and other AU institutions, to promote and implement the AU agenda on land," he said.
The conference, under the theme, "Winning the fight against Corruption in the Land Sector: Sustainable Pathway for Africa's Transformation," is being attended by land experts and officials, representatives of civil society, traditional leaders, UN agencies and related organizations.
The conference is a policy and learning event whose goal is to deepen capacity for land policy in Africa through improved access to knowledge and information on land policy development and implementation.
It follows the second conference held in November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Many African countries, including Rwanda, have taken up the task of reviewing their land policies and governance frameworks with a fresh perspective.
The African Development Bank has carried out or supported research in efforts to enhance land productivity, efficiency, and equity.
Earlier, Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, noted that the irrefutable conclusion from all this work is that sound land policy is critical to economic growth, food security, and poverty alleviation across the continent.
Boamah said: "It can catalyse growth in agricultural productivity through tenure security and protection of land rights, which can in turn enhance investment opportunities in land.
"Indeed, impact assessments have confirmed that recent land registration in Rwanda and land certification in Ethiopia have been associated with increases in investment in the land sector in both countries."
Tackle persistent challenges in land sector
According to Boamah, megatrends like climate change and growing urbanisation are only likely to increase investor interest in Africa's lands. In another 30 years, he said, fully half the world's agricultural land will come from Africa.
"But we will first need to tackle some persistent challenges in the land sector. We can be candid; many countries have not invested nearly enough in land policy development and governance. And so, land administration systems in many areas are characterised by poor infrastructure and management practices."
One clear consequence has been corruption, he noted.