In 2020, the African Natural Resources Centre (ANRC) of the African Development Bank (AfDB) launched its book entitled: “Rethinking Land Reform in Africa: New Ideas, Opportunities and Challenges”. The goal is expressed “to achieve a thought-leading policy platform and publication of inquiry, analysis and research for breakthrough progress in land reform policy”. ANRC was not sparing in its choice of contributors both numerically and in quality, with fourteen contributors comprising of Professors, Researchers, Policy Advisors, Historians, and Economists from different walks of life ranging from law to land management, political science, economics and taxation. The respective contributors are from diverse institutions within and outside Africa. The plausible implications of this are that not only does the book afford a broad analysis on the issue of land reform at different professional spheres, but it also offers both endogenous and exogenous perspectives.
Land Tenure Systems
Developing a policy framework with a view to improving the governance of land within the continent must prioritize tenure reform by recognizing and mainstreaming communal/indigenous/customary land rights. This departure from the initial obtaining policy approach that focused on titling and conversion of customary to modern tenure is critical for sustainable land reform in Africa as argued by Lorenzo Cotulla and Clarke. Rethinking land reform in Africa new ideas, opportunities and challenges assesses the progress that has been made in land policy reform in the continent within the decade that the Framework and Guidelines have been in place. It also explores opportunities and challenges as well as new frontiers in the land reform discourse. Importantly, one of the themes explored in the book is communal land tenure.
By bringing forward this interlegal sensibility, ALIC invites the investor to think of their own best interest in broad term and to take the time to understand already-existing, pluralist socio-legal expectations and practices. It also implicitly reminds the investor to take the time to build a relationship with local communities that is buttressed by an iterative understanding of fairness (a core tenet of commercial law). Without such a relationship and appropriate due diligence, ALIC in effect recommends to the investor and the local community to not pursue the deal – no one benefits from a land transaction that is only made possible by disrupting local people’s lives or dislocating them from their homeland.