How to Reinvent the Land Ownership Regime in Côte d’Ivoire?

How to reinvent the land ownership regime in Côte d’Ivoire?

Who are we?

Audace Institut Afrique (AIA) is an Ivorian independent, non-political, and non-profit think-tank created in 2009.

Our mission

Through its publications, seminars, conferences, research, willingness to collect innovative, multicultural and multidisciplinary ideas, AIA stimulates the political debate by making contextualized proposals with respect to reforms based on free market and the growth of economic freedom, private property, the rule of law and individual freedoms. AIA works also for the strengthening of civil society through debate-meetings, and an important training schedule for students.


Private property is still an incipient concept in sub-Saharan Africa. Whereas in Europe, private property emerged a long time ago and is therefore structurally rooted in mentalities, Africa has remained committed to collective property. It is only after they gained independence, and in the context of the structural adjustment programs of the International Monetary Fund, that African States, particularly the States of Sub-Saharan Africa, adopted policies of land registration and institutionalization of State ownership rights.

In Côte d’Ivoire, the Ivorian State used land reform as an instrument in the promotion of agricultural and rural development. The formalization of ownership rights on agricultural land aims to increase security for rural populations and allow an increase in investment and agricultural productivity.

However, since its independence Côte d’Ivoire has experienced recurring land conflicts that successive governments have unsuccessfully attempted to settle. To resolve this issue, the State of Côte d’Ivoire passed a law on land ownership in 1998. But this law did not provide the right solutions to land issues. Several obstacles continue to limit effectiveness of the Ivorian land ownership regime.

The first obstacle is an ongoing conflict between custom and modern law. In an African environment where devotion to custom remains significant, modern land law sought to address this tension by acknowledging customary law. However, in practice, custom is frequently incompatible with the law and the diversity in such custom prevents the legislator from taking their specificities into account when devising legislation.

It is to be further noted that law and public policies are often at odds with reality and don’t sufficiently take into account people’s aspirations.

Moreover, security of tenure with regard to land rights is another issue. It is the duty of the State to guarantee land ownership rights to any citizen. In a context of State failure (in 2014, Côte d’Ivoire ranks 14th/178 in the failed States index – Index Fund For Peace), the rule of law is weak and the justice system less effective (justice scores 3.1/10 in the Fraser Institute economic freedom index – this evidences true legal chaos and a lack of independence not allowing sound protection of private property).

Adoption of the 1998 land ownership law and of additional legislation aiming to promote access to property in November 2013 reveals the State’s willingness to find solutions to the rural land ownership issue. However, reforms undertaken by the State very often entail repetition of past mistakes, which results in no significant progress in the resolution of the rural land ownership issue.

The President of Côte d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, addressing the Ivorian diaspora during a trip to France, stated that the law on land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire must be reinvented. Less than 4% of rural land is registered. This demonstrates the limitations of the system. It is therefore necessary to rethink this issue thoroughly, keeping an open mind in considering foreign experience in similar environments as well as locally-sourced and multidisciplinary ideas, research and analysis, to understand the underlying issue and make contextualized and innovative proposals which may subsequently inspire neighboring countries facing similar issues.

The purpose of this project is to provide an opportunity for the formulation of innovative ideas to reinvent the rural land ownership regime in Côte d’Ivoire.


The main objective of the project is to provide a framework for an overall review of the rural land regime.

This objective comprises the following two sub-sets:

  • Generating and gathering innovative ideas aiming to overhaul the land ownership regime
  • Setting up a platform for stakeholders in rural land ownership to review the ideas gathered in order to identify the ones to bring forward.

Expected Results

  • Gathering ideas, analysis and multicultural and multidisciplinary research to form the basis of a creative rethink of the issue;
  • Setting up a platform for stakeholders in rural land ownership to work towards reinventing land ownership rights with a completely open approach.

 Key initiatives and methodology

The project will be carried out in three key steps:

Ideas Competition

A competition for ideas around the theme of “How to reinvent land ownership rights in Côte d’Ivoire?” will be launched in August 2014. This competition will be open to researchers from partner institutions of Audace Institut Afrique (CIRES, CIDD) as well as any researcher with an interested in rural land issues and proposals for anti-conformist and non-conventional solutions thereto. Innovation will be given priority.

The goal of the competition is to trigger a comprehensive review of rural land issues and thus encourage researchers to produce new ideas without any taboo for a credible and comprehensive reform of the rural land ownership regime.


How to reinvent the land ownership right in Côte d’Ivoire?

Exchange of multicultural and multidisciplinary ideas

The main objective of this event is to gather analyses relating to land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire. It will be a place of exchange of ideas and information resulting in a reform toolkit in relation to rural land ownership rights in Côte d’Ivoire.

Panelist profiles include: Lawyer, judge, sociolinguist, geographer, surveyor, winners of the ideas competition, Ivorian research centers, Big Data specialist, AIA’s English think tank partners specialized in land ownership in weak States and AIA’s Indian think tank partner specialized in property rights.

Participant profiles include: Researchers, field operators, public authorities, civil society stakeholders in rural land issues and any stakeholder in the Ivorian land regime who is likely to add to the discussion.

The diversity of panelist profiles will ensure a comprehensive, complete and modern analysis, leading to a new and effective land ownership regime.

The workshop will not be the place to devise precise proposals or specific actions aiming to resolve the land ownership issue. The goal of this initiative will be to generate new ideas to be considered in the reform of land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire. These ideas will constitute the toolkit for a working platform to be organized upon conclusion of the workshop.

Creation of the “Land Ownership Reform Platform”

This collaborative structure will emerge from the workshop. The main idea will be to set up a platform bringing together strategic public and private sector stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire’s land ownership regime. The primary objective of platform discussions will be to improve the context for land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire and devise simple, affordable and secured access to property rights.

This platform’s initial role focused on ideas generation will evolve toward advisory and proposal services, research, assessment, communication, promotion and facilitation of land ownership.

The project aims to create a permanent framework for ideas review and exchange, dialog and cooperation as well as information and training on topics directly relating to land ownership.

This structure will have to be highly reactive with a flexible operation, as is the case of the Coalition Against Counterfeiting, Piracy and Fraud which AIA created in coordination with private businesses in 2014 (including Uniwax, Unilever, Microsoft and other businesses affected by these issues).

Our partners (temporary list)

Ivorian Center for Economic and Social Research (CIRES)

ATLAS Research Foundation

Network for a Free Society


Our vision

Freedom as a remedy against poverty

Posted in Africa, Cote D'Ivoire, Countries, Highlights.

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