Raphael Hokey (left), Head of Regional Operations Unit, Lands Commission, in a panel discussion with Lois Aduamoah-Addo (2nd from left), Programmes Manager, WILDAF; Mamaga Agumekorsiba V (2nd from right), Paramount Queen of Logba Traditional Area, and Dr Stanislaus Adiaba, Lecturer, UPSA. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Raphael Hokey (left), Head of Regional Operations Unit, Lands Commission, in a panel discussion with Lois Aduamoah-Addo (2nd from left), Programmes Manager, WILDAF; Mamaga Agumekorsiba V (2nd from right), Paramount Queen of Logba Traditional Area, and Dr Stanislaus Adiaba, Lecturer, UPSA. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

Customary lands need efficient management to curb litigation — Expert

An expert in land administration has called for more attention to be given to the efficient management of customary lands to reduce the myriad of challenges, including litigation, in the country's land sector.

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The Head of Regional Operations at the Lands Commission, Raphael Hokey, said rather than focusing more on the management of state lands by the Commission, the prudent way of sanitising the land sector was to throw the spotlight on customary lands, which constituted over 80 per cent of the country's total land area.

"The Lands Commission strictly only manages state lands, which is less than 20 per cent of the land area of this country. State lands are estimated to be 18 per cent; but if you take out roads, schools and other projects, which are not lands that can be allocated, you will realise that state lands will be down to a very small percentage, maybe less than five per cent," he said.

Dialogue

Mr Hokey made the call at a national expert dialogue on the guidelines for large-scale land-based investment in the country held in Accra last Thursday (May 16). The dialogue was organised by the Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), with the view to identifying and addressing the challenges with investment in large-scale lands.

It brought together both state and non-state actors in the land sector, including civil society organisations (CSOs), traditional rulers, ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and the academia.

Some MDAs at the event were the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, the Land Use and Spatial Plantation Authority (LUSPA), the Lands Commission, the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The dialogue was meant to establish transparent and accountable mechanisms for the governance and allocation of large-scale land-based investments and align land-based investments with the country’s sustainable development goals.

The discussants explored issues related to land governance, community participation, consultation, environmental sustainability and social inclusion.

Guidelines

Mr Hokey said customary land owners needed guidance just as those who sought to acquire those lands needed to do things right to avoid problems.

He noted that it was in a bid to address such situations that the guidelines for the acquisition of large-scale lands had been mainstreamed into the new Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036).

"The Act requires that if the land being acquired falls into commercial cate????, you need to hold a public forum with technical people on the matter, you need to take technical reports, including environmental protection agency report to ensure that the land use will not be injurious to the people; follow land use planning rules; publication in the offices of Lands Commission and the traditional council, among others, before it is forwarded to the regional and national Lands Commission for action," he said.

Collaboration

For her part, the Executive Director of GII, Mary Awelana Addah, said given that land played a crucial role in national development, it was important for stakeholders to collaborate to stamp out negative tendencies that affect effective land administration.

She said while it was obvious that the evolving dynamics of global food demand and economic development had escalated the demand for land on a large scale, it was also important for concerted efforts to be made to safeguard various interests.

“By fostering collaboration, we can effectively manage land in the country and ensure that it contributes positively to national development,” she said. Ms Adda called on state agencies in the land sector to provide transparent and accountable leadership in land management.

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