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Interpreting Land Markets in Africa

By: Jean-Philippe Colin, Philip Woodhouse

Questions about land markets are central to development policy, as underlined in the 2008 World Development Report. In particular, markets in which land rights are transferred on a temporary or permanent basis are seen as playing a key role in the redistribution of land to more efficient users, thus increasing productivity and employment. In this view, any negative effects attributed to land markets, notably in terms of inequity and landlessness, result from failures in other markets, especially credit and insurance markets. In Africa, until late in the twentieth century it was these negative effects, and a perception of land as being relatively abundant due to low population densities in many parts of the continent, that influenced policy makers’ views.

Consequently, land markets received relatively little attention in development policy, except as a means of securing credit flows for agricultural development. Over the past two decades, however, a wave of proposals for land tenure reform in many African countries has raised questions about land markets as a means of allocating land that have profound political and economic implications, rarely addressed by previous research. This collection of articles provides an opportunity to explore the nature of land markets in Africa.
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Uploaded on: Sep 12, 2017
Last Updated: Sep 13, 2017
Year Published: 2010
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