Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Legal Pluralism in Africa: The Case of Zambia and Ghana

Baldarelli , Margherita (2018) Large-Scale Land Acquisitions and Legal Pluralism in Africa: The Case of Zambia and Ghana. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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The last decade saw an increase in foreign investor interest in the acquisition of agricultural land in the global South. This phenomenon has come to be defined as land grabbing, due to the controversial nature of land deals and their impact on the livelihood of rural populations. According to recent estimates, more than 60 percent of these acquisitions have taken place in sub-Saharan Africa, a region characterized by inherently pluralistic legal systems. In line with regional trends, Ghana and Zambia have been targeted by foreign investors interested in acquiring large tracks of land for agricultural purposes. Land tenure systems of these two countries are the complex outcome of hybrid legal orders that stratified over the centuries. In particular, the role of traditional authorities, i.e., chiefs, in land management is still prominent, as respectively 80 and 94 percent of land are regulated by customary law. By adopting a legal pluralist perspective, this thesis looks at the dynamics between customary and statutory tenure in Ghana and Zambia in light of contemporary land investment processes, which are critically discussed from a multi-disciplinary angle. By outlining land tenure systems, a legal analysis of the framework in which land investments are negotiated is provided. In particular, this thesis focuses on the process through which investors access land in Ghana and Zambia, by discussing the procedures and guarantees envisioned by national legislation and customary law. Together with a critical analysis of land legislation in the two countries, it illustrates large-scale acquisition cases and incorporates insights from empirical research conducted in rural districts. It then offers a comparison of investment practices in the two countries to illustrate the main challenges that large-scale land acquisition pose at the local level. This thesis contributes to the literature on land investments and to the broader global land debate by focusing on the pluralist nature of the land tenure systems of Ghana and Zambia and discussing empirical evidence of land acquisition practices.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:28
Subjects:Area 12 - Scienze giuridiche > IUS/02 DIRITTO PRIVATO COMPARATO
Uncontrolled Keywords:land grabbing, legal pluralism, land tenure, legal pluralism
Repository Staff approval on:10 May 2018 10:01

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