26September2017

Land Reforms in Kenya and around Africa

This blog focuses on issues of land reforms in Kenya and around Africa and related matters

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Listening to the escalating debate on the migration to digital television, one gets a feeling that our policymakers are yet to appreciate the realities of our country.

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I have in the recent one month had to twice answer the question whether I think devolution in Kenya will succeed. The question has been posed from a land governance context. It is quite revealing and should get us thinking. I must admit that Kenya would make great social and economic gains if land governance was successfully devolved. Kenyans who have had to visit Nairobi’s Ardhi House from Mombasa, Garissa, Nyeri, Kisumu and other places around the country know how hard the experience. The costs are high; the frustrations trying. Devolution would make it possible for land owners and users to transact at county level and protect their common public and communal land much more effectively. Failure is therefore a very bad option. But the devolution of land governance faces a great challenge from technical capacity and awareness gaps at county level. One also hopes that the emerging county level land institutions will build effective linkages for efficiency and synergy in service delivery.

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If Kenyans hadn’t taken interest in County land administration, it’s time they did. In August, Kajiado County declared a six-month moratorium in all land transaction. Many land transactions, some running into multi-millions, were put on hold. Kiambu County has also slapped a fiat to stop land transactions such as change of user, extension of lease, approval of development based on share certificates and subdivisions into minute plots. Professionals and investors have complained. They hadn’t seen this coming. Other Counties may come up with caveats to land transactions within their jurisdictions too.

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Escalation of highly paid public offices

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I was pretty thrilled in one of the London pubs years back as Kenyan after another bagged gold, silver or bronze in a Commonwealth Games meet held in the Far East. In some races, the entire set of medals went to Kenyans. But in my excitement, I had forgotten this wasn’t home when a towering chap from the Midlands in England, as if issuing a decree, loudly said, “It’s high time these Kenyans were kept off these middle and long distance races during Commonwealth Games. At this rate, our Athletes will die off without ever winning medals!” The pub went aflame with cheer.

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