The Politics of Land Tenure Reform in Ghana
The Politics of Land Tenure Reform in Ghana: From the Crown Lands Bills to the Land Administration Project
Joseph R. A. Ayee
Kwame A. Ninsin
TECHNICAL PUBLICATION NO. 71
He who owns land may use it for subsistence farming or for the production of cash crops while being free at the same time to sell his own skill and labour for whatever wage, salary or profit he can get. Deprive him of his land and you confine his range of choice to wage-earning or starvation … (Bentsi-Enchill 1964: 3). The issue of land reform has been raised several times since the colonial period but it is obvious that various efforts at reform have yielded very little in terms of concrete outcomes. In colonial times, there were attempts to resolve the contradictions of land tenure in favour of the state and British economic interests. The struggles over the proposed Crown Lands Bills and the use of the law (ordinances) and the courts to reform the land tenure system illustrated aspects of the politics of land tenure reforms in Ghana. The post-colonial state continued this tradition of piecemeal reforms, passing a flurry of legislation in the mid-1950s to the early 1960s, establishing land administration institutions and working through the courts to settle land disputes. This complicated the problems of land tenure even further. From the 1970s onwards, fresh initiatives were taken, starting with a review of existing land legislation. Several pivotal studies on land tenure were conducted and the debate on the direction of land reforms also intensified.