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Experts on land matters from across Africa have been challenged to strengthen land rights and digitalize land if growth on the continent is to be realized.
While giving a keynote address at the International conference on the Implementation of Land Information System which closed on Friday in Entebbe, land expert Frank Byamugisha told delegates from various countries of Africa that poverty elimination can be realized using land as a key factor of production.
“Extreme poverty can be eliminated from Africa given the abundance of its land and promising labour force. Sub Saharan Africa possesses half the world’s arable land. More than 200 million hectares. Africa has a growing and increasingly educated young population projected to exceed that of China by 2050,” said Byamugisha.
With such abundant land and plenty of labour, he said, there is no doubt that Africa has a comparative advantage in both land and labour which are the key primary factors of production.
While Africa does not have plenty of other factors of production such capital, technology and entrepreneurship, Byamugisha is optimistic that Africans can be mobilized across International boundaries using land and labor as a bargaining chip.
Byamugisha noted that some African countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda are on the right path having strengthened their land rights.
“Ethiopia is definitely on the right path and pace to achieve economic transformation. Rwanda is also following closely behind having strengthened its land rights and achieved an average growth rate of 8% per year in the last 15 years. So, Ethiopia is growing at 10% per year for the last 15 years and Rwanda growing at 8% per year in the last 15 years.”
“All of them base on being driven by strengthened land rights. Ethiopia and Rwanda have strengthened and protected their land rights through Nationwide programs of land certification and administration and deploying a wide range of technology packages.”
Byamugisha who formerly worked with the World Bank further said that using technology, Ethiopia and Rwanda have reduced transaction time and cost and linked their land transaction digital data with other national data system to reduce the cost of doing business in the economies.
He added that computerization of land administration systems is the way to go.
Meanwhile, on Uganda’s part the Permanent Secretary in Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Dorcas Okalany said that Uganda has introduced measures such as Land Information System (LIS) to curb such challenges.
“The Land Information System has enabled us to reduce the interface between officers and clients,” said Okalany.
The Land Information System which is a software version installed in all 22 Ministry Zonal Offices across the country, Okalany said it has reduced many land related challenges including Corruption.
The LIS system is not only wiping out corruption but also other land related challenges such as double titling, forgery of land titles among others.
The conference which was officially opened by President Museveni on Thursday was attended by hundreds of delegates from various African countries including Tanzania, Burundi, Kenya, Ethiopian, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Liberia.
Photos: President Museveni posing for a photo with Ministers Betty Kamya and Persis Namuganza and delegates who attended the conference on Thursday.