Inderscience Publishers

Traditional landholding institutions and individual ownership of land rights in sub-Saharan Africa

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As first level suppliers, land is vested in indigenous corporate bodies like clans/families, tribes and chiefs in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The corporate bodies are called traditional landholding institutions. This socio-political arrangement of landownership has, however, been described as communal landholding which does not permit individual ownership of land rights and this, it is argued, impedes economic development. This paper critically examines the customary land tenure systems and concludes that they are composite with communal as well as individual landownership akin to what obtains in England. Traditional landownership systems in SSA do not appear to constrain individual ownership of land rights.

Keywords: traditional landholding institutions, communal landholding, property rights, individual ownership, land rights, sub-Saharan Africa, economic development, land tenure, land ownership

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