The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) says an effective and efficient land administration system will help accelerate Ghana’s socioeconomic developmental agenda.
Professor Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh, Vice Chairperson of NDPC, said the making of a solidly developed nation would involve substantial amounts of land, which would be required for diverse development initiatives.
She noted that these included, infrastructural and industrial development, tourism development, and many other changes such as urbanisation and housing.
She said the discussions had been on the need to develop infrastructure extensively, however, one could imagine how many land owners, Government would have to engage in order to secure the land that is required.
Prof Manuh said this at the fifth National Development Forum, organised by NDPC.
The forum, which registered about 200 participants including stakeholders in Land Governance, was on the theme: “Long-term Development Perspective on Land Governance and Ownership”.
Prof Manuh said there were challenges to be surmounted even for the Government, saying records on land ownership were not good enough.
“Indeed, most lands are not registered, even when they have been sold to others,” she added.
She said there were many horror stories with regards to land acquisition, which citizens and non-citizens alike could recount about their experiences with the acquisition of land.
She said in some cases the land was sold many times over, and it was the fittest, the craftiest, or the wealthiest, who wins the battle for land.
“What you have paid good money for becomes yours only if you have the money to construct your project on it in the shortest possible time, and sometimes without the requisite planning authorizations,” Prof Manuh said.
She said in recent times the perils of uncontrolled land sales outside of a viable land use plan, had impoverished families for generations to come, as agricultural land had been sold for housing, in the Greater Accra Area, or for small scale mining and land excavation in other parts of the country, leading to destruction of farm lands and water bodies.
She said while the problems that land buyers go through were well known, little was known of the loss of stool lands and of trusteeship lands situations.
Prof Manuh said that in some cases the delay in or absence of registration of land assets by the stools that claim ownership, had led to individual families taking possession of what was stool land.
“To do nothing is to rob generations to come of the benefits of land ownership and management,” she added.
Professor Seth Opuni Asiama, Senior Lecturer, Department of Land Economy, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), called for the review of the Land Bill, which was currently before Parliament.
He noted that aside the Bill having lots of gender issues, it also did not touch on the management of customary lands, saying, customary lands constituted 80 per cent of lands in the country.
“You cannot have a Land Bill in the country that does not address customary lands. If it does not affect 80 per cent of the land resource in Ghana then what is the purpose of the law?” he quizzed.