History and Prospects for African Land Governance: Institutions, Technology and ‘Land Rights for All’ | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
March 2021
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© 2021 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Issues relating to land are specifically referred to in five of the United Nations’ (UN) 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and UN-Habitat’s Global Land Tools Network views access to land and tenure security as key to achieving sustainable, inclusive and efficient cities. The African continent is growing in importance, with climate change and population pressure on land. This review explores an interdisciplinary approach, and identifies recent advances in geo-spatial technology relevant to land governance in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). It discusses historical legacies of colonialism that affect the culture of its land administration institutions, through three levels of governance: international/regional, national and sub-national. Short narratives on land law are discussed for four Anglophone former British colonies of SSA. A wide range of sources are drawn upon: academic research across disciplines, and official publications of various actors, including land professions (particularly surveyors, lawyers and planners), government and wider society. The findings are that African countries have carried forward colonial land governance structures into the post-independence political settlement, and that a gulf exists between the institutions, language and cultures of land governance, and the mass of its peoples struggling with basic issues of survival. This gulf may be addressed by recent approaches to land administration and technological advances in geo-spatial technology, and by new knowledge networks and interactions.

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Home, Robert


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