The Africa We Want: 2017 Conference on Land Policy in Africa

By Elisa Mandelli

Poster of the event @ALPC 2017.

The second edition of the Conference on Land Policy in Africa took place on the 14-17 November 2017 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on the theme: The Africa We Want: Achieving socioeconomic transformation through inclusive and equitable access to land by the youth.

The theme was aligned with the African Union declaration of 2017 as the African year of youth as agents for socioeconomic transformation. 65 per cent of the continent's population are aged between 15 to 35 years so inclusive participation of youth in decision-making and access to resources is key to unlock Africa’s economic potential (ALPC 2017). In this context, the conference aimed to create a space for presenting research findings on this topic and more generally on land policy and governance to draw the attention of African researchers, governments, parliamentarians, civil society, private sector and development partners on emerging land challenges and opportunities that need to be tackled in order to achieve the objectives of the development Agenda 2063.

Experiences have been shared across the conference sessions on the challenges faced by youth in accessing and controlling land. This is often due to land scarcity, cultural practices, unclear tenure rights, inadequate land polices or lack of implementation, corruption in land administration, youth’s lack of resources and motivation to engage in rural production as well as rural migration to the cities and abroad. Speakers, including the young representative Rachel Mwikali, have raised the importance of promoting youth inclusion in land governance and policy-making discussions in order to ensure youth socio-political empowerment and their participation in the elaboration of tailored policies and solutions. Edson Mpyisi, Chief Financial Economist at African Development Bank Group, highlighted that sales and rental markets need to be adapted to youth needs and arrangements, such as sharecropping, could be facilitated as mechanisms to provide access to land. Lessons learned on securing land tenure rights of marginalized groups have also been shared by IFAD-supported projects in Sudan, Malawi and other countries in East and Southern Africa (For IFAD staff these papers can be consulted in xdesk, external link will be available soon). Experiences have also been shared by the implementation of the IFAD regional grant on Mainstreaming Land Policy and Governance in the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) implemented by the Land Policy Initiative (see previous blog on this subject).

Speakers standing up during the opening discourse of Rachel Mwikali @ALPC 2017.

The conference was also an opportunity to celebrate the newly established African Land Policy Centre (ALPC). The ALPC has hosted the Conference and represents the institutionalization of the African Land Policy Initiative, a joint initiative of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the African Development Bank active since 2009. As highlighted by Harold Liversage, IFAD Lead Technical Specialist on Land Tenure during a donor roundtable discussion, “The creation of the ALPC is the formalization of the LPI Secretariat but the Land Policy Initiative could be conceived as something broader than the ALPC, it’s a coalition of stakeholders and actions oriented towards achieving good land governance in Africa. In a way the Land Policy Initiative it’s all of us”. 

As part of the multi-stakeholders network supporting the Initiative, IFAD, the International Land Coalition and the ALPC have jointly organized a pre-Conference Forum on the Contribution of Multi Stakeholders Platforms to Land Governance in Africa. The forum took place in Addis one day before the conference with the objective to provide a space for sharing experiences and perspectives among key stakeholders, especially civil society organizations (CSOs), engaged on land governance across Africa. Many of the participants joined the forum as members of ILC National Engagement Strategies which are country-based platforms that provide a framework for CSOs and other actors to interact and actively engage into land governance based on ILC's 10 commitments as well as on the principle of the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa (F&G) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Land Tenure (VGGTs). The Forum allowed to exchange country-specific challenges and priorities but also to link them up with regional and continental initiatives to foster inclusive and transparent land governance.

Overall, the conference and the forum have been successful in creating catalytic spaces for interaction and knowledge-sharing on land policy development and implementation in Africa. We are looking forward to the next edition!