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Land law in Ghana : contradiction between anglo-American and customary conceptions of tenure and practices

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Agbosu, Lennox Kwame
Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Land tenure Law and legislation; Land tenure Law and legislation Ghana; Right of property Ghana; Land conflicts Ghana; Agrarian structure Ghana; Land administration Ghana
Working paper, no. 33
It would appear that the English common law was grafted onto Ghanaian communal societies without taking into account the differences between the early nineteenth-century capitalist economic structures and the egalitarian communal institutions of Ghana. Both systems of law reflect distinctively different economic structures. That oversight laid the foundations for the conflicts between the customary law and practice and the Anglo-American common law, its notions and conceptions of tenure. The conflict that developed has become one of the most formidable obstacles to socioeconomic development in Ghana since colonial times. One of the objectives of this work is to shed light on the linkages between the exploitative capitalist sector and the traditional communal system. In the process, we hope to show that service by the traditional system of the capitalist sector of the economy lies at the root of economic underdevelopment in Ghana. If we achieve our objectives, then we should be able to demonstrate that legislative measures aimed at establishing a machinery for land registration can neither solve the problems of underdevelopment nor effectively eliminate the manifestations of conflict in the shape of litigation and economic underdevelopment. Instead, it would in its effect consolidate the usurpation and privatization of communal lands to be concentrated in the hands of a minority of the rich, speed up the pace of landlessness and social stratification, and lead to political instability. We seek to demonstrate that the present privatization policies, planned within the framework of the International Monetary Fund's and the World Bank's globalization schemes, would aggravate these problems and sharpen the contradictions.
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