Whether talking about nomadic bush men and staking out communities based the location of watering holes or the disparate quality of land management in India, former President of Botswana Festus Mogae and World Bank Chief Economist Kaushik Basu provided sharp insights on the complex interplay of land, development and poverty yesterday afternoon at the opening of the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference.
Mr. Mogae's candor about the lumbering process of reaching consensus at the international level on land policy guidelines and better transparency in land management and his view that action at the OAU or AU level may have been more expeditious was noteworthy:
"We know that there are many issues around each of these topical areas and that the way each one of them is handled has a direct bearing on access to land and efforts towards poverty alleviation in our countries. In the past five years, in Africa and in other regions, a number of initiatives have been started at country, sub-regional and regional levels to address these land issues more systematically and in an effort to develop transparent land governance systems. I wish to single out among these initiatives, the joint project on land reform and environment of the African Union, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank, because it has produced a number of positive guidelines on land policy, land laws, land registry, dealing with different tenures, opening up land to women, youth and ensuring that land goes to those who will put it to good use. Without in any way disparaging or seeming to diminish the immense benefit we have derived from collaborating with international organizations such as; The World Bank, The IMF, and developing partners, we Africans would be far advanced in our development if we had implemented half of the decisions we have been taking during the last 50 years in the form of resolutions initially at the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and now at the African Union."
To read the full speech, click here.
The webcast of Kaushik Basu's and Mr. Mogae's speeches, plus the ensuing question and answer session (where bush men, hired guns, and farmers as gamblers were all featured), can be accessed here.