The president, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has charged the newly constituted 25-member Lands Commission board to do everything possible to change the negative course of land administration in Ghana.
Addressing members of the board after swearing them in to office at Jubilee House in Accra, President Akufo-Addo noted that Ghana’s land administration challenges have persisted for far too long and it is time to leverage technology and all other means at our disposal to correct the wrongs.
According to Akufo-Addo, “The framers of the constitution appreciated the importance of land to the socio-economic development of the country. All human activities revolve around land and thus access to land is one of the most important factors in the development of any nation.
“Regrettably, in spite of the various interventions by successive governments, most of the challenges in our land administration still persist, including dishonest sale of lands, poor record-keeping at the Commission, encroachment on public lands, and the fraudulent registration of lands,” Akufo-Addo said.
To buttress his point, the president asked: “Why should the same parcel of land be registered in the names of different people when the same Lands Commission is responsible for registration? Why should documents or files submitted to the Lands Commission mysteriously disappear when the Lands Commission ought to be the chief custodian of such important documents? Why should it take years to register just a plot of land?”
An efficient and effective land administration system, he said, would not give room for any of the rhetorical issues he had raised to occur.
“Our quest to transform our economy to bring about the much-needed development and prosperity cannot be achieved without effective land administration. Investors will be frightened away if they spend good money to acquire land as a major tool for production, only to realise that what they acquired is litigation that span years and sometimes decades,” he said.
The president also urged the new board to prioritise the digitisation of Lands Commission operations. He noted that digitisation is the fastest route the Commission can use to achieve the necessary reforms.
“As you take office, one of the things you must pursue aggressively is the digitisation of the records of the Lands Commission. Most of the reforms needed to build an efficient land administration may be within our reach if we are about to move away from manual registration to digital registration.
“You must therefore work assiduously to ensure that the digitisation programme works. Our target is to ensure that the registration takes a maximum of one month and, I dare say, the Ghanaian people will assess the success of your tenure by how far this objective is attained,” he said.
In his response to the task set out by the president, Alex Nii Kweite Quaynor, who will be chairing the board, gave his assurance that they will do everything within their power to improve land administration in Ghana.
“The word that will guide the Lands Commission board during its term is reform. The reform requires changes at various levels of the operations of the Commission.
“Members of the board of the Commission sworn in to office this evening have the knowledge and expertise required to carry out the planned reforms and are committed to doing so satisfactorily,” Quaynor said.
The Lands Commission was established under Article 258 of the 1992 constitution and the Lands Commission Act 2008 (Act 767) as a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. It may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
The current Lands Commission, as part of public sector reform programmes and the land administration project, was substantially remodelled by Act 767 to increase its efficiency and effectiveness.
The legally constituted sub-departments of the Lands Commission are its survey and mapping division, land valuation division, land registration division and the division with responsibility for public and vested land.
The Lands Commission manages, on behalf of the government, public lands and any other lands vested in the president by the constitution or by any other law, as well as any lands vested in the Commission itself.
The Commission also advises the government, local officials and traditional authorities on the policy framework for developing particular areas of the country to ensure that the development of individual pieces of land is co-ordinated with the broader development plan for the area concerned.
Some of the other functions of the Commission are to formulate and submit to the government recommendations on national policy with respect to the suitability of land use or the capacity to do so; to advise on and assist in the execution of a comprehensive programme for registration of land title throughout the country; to establish standards for and regulate the survey and mapping of the country; to provide surveying and mapping services where necessary; to license practitioners of cadastral survey; and to provide land and land-related valuation services.
Members of the board
The 25-member board has Alex Nii Kweite Quaynor, a nominee of the president, as its chairman. The members of the board include James Ebenezer Dadson, the executive secretary of the Lands Commission; Daasebre Osei Bonsu II of the National House of Chiefs; Anthony Forson Jnr, president of the Ghana Bar Association; Jonathan Allotey Abbosey, Ghana Institution of Surveyors; Ama Kudom Agyeman, representing the Bono East Region; Dr Prosper Basommi Laari (North East Region); Alhaji Mohammed Abdul-Haq (Upper West Region); Yvonne Adoley Sowah (Greater Accra Region); Kofi Dankwa Osei (Eastern Region); Mama Dzidoasi I (Volta Region); Nana Obonbo Sewura Lupuwura II (Oti Region); and Kwame Kwaasi Danso (Central Region).
The other members are Dr Isaac Obirim Kofi Sagoe (Western Region), Samuel Kofi Abiaw (Western North Region), Nana Nsuase Poku-Agyemang III (Ashanti Region), Nicholas Lenin Anane-Agyei (Ahafo Region), Isaac Kwadwo Amankwah (Bono Region), Dubik Yakubu Mahama (Northern Region), Dr Alhaji Adams Sulemana (Savannah Region), Jonathan Anaboro Angme (Upper East Region), Dr Kwadwo Yeboah of the Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority, Reverend Kwadwo Nkrumah of the National Association of Farmers and Fishermen, Henry Kwabena Kokofu of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Benito Owusu-Bio (MP), deputy minister of lands and natural resources.