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Library Angola and informal land tenure arrangements: towards an inclusive land policy

Angola and informal land tenure arrangements: towards an inclusive land policy

Angola and informal land tenure arrangements: towards an inclusive land policy

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Date of publication
December 2012
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Angola, like Mozambique, inherited its legal framework from the Portuguese Civil Code, which was not based on a traditional African concept of community occupation under customary law. With Portuguese settlement, large areas of land were appropriated for and incorporated into the colonial cadastre (the formally surveyed and officially recorded land boundaries of the land concessions granted by the state). After winning independence from Portugal in 1975 the new Angolan government, influenced by socialist principles, affirmed the constitutional role of the state as the owner of all land. The post-independence constitution thus declared the state to be the owner and manager of land. Laws published in 1991 and 2004 adopted the colonial cadastre as the basis of land titling.

This paper, based on findings from research into the urban land market operating in low-income areas in Luanda, recognises the intense pressure on urban land experienced as a result of urban in-migration during and since the civil war. It shows the inability of the formal market to provide means for poorer people to access land, transact it and secure formal title or legally defensible land tenure.

According to the study, efficient and equitable land markets are a prerequisite for well-functioning cities. Dysfunctional land markets caused by poor land development and management (including poor urban planning, slow provision of infrastructure and services, poor land information systems, and cumbersome and slow  land transaction procedures, as well as under-regulation of private land development) lead to unplanned development of land in the urban periphery.

The study finds that the complexity of the urban land situation in Luanda requires a diversity of responses, not simplistic solutions. Above all, there is a need to move from the current practices to improved forms of land management, counting on popular support and engagement – otherwise any new system will be doomed to fail. The recommendations that follow are guided by two overarching principles:

(i) that existing practices should be integrated into an inclusive land policy. The study demonstrates that the existing informal mechanisms to access land are well established and have a strong legitimacy among the peri-urban population.

(ii) that more functional and inclusive land markets are required and should be promoted. The wide impact of urban development emphasises the need to maximise the socio-economic benefit for the majority of people, and not only in the formal private sector.

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