The first day of the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA) North Africa series of workshops and conferences on The Academia-Industry collaboration in land governance: an emerging opportunity from profit-making to innovation which took place on June 27 in Rabat, Morocco, concluded with a plenary session on research-industry best practices in strengthening academia-industry relationships while meeting industry needs for Africa’s development.
The goal of the session was to discuss, share and disseminate the achieved knowledge for NELGA North Africa and contribute to the capacity development of partners in various domains that have direct linkage with land governance, land policies, and géoinformation technologies. It also includes how this knowledge can make its way into policy and land market spaces. All speakers agreed that land governance efforts are key to achieving the SDGs and African Union Agenda 2063 as land is linked to most development interventions and the academic support needs to be scaled up if sustainable development is to be achieved.
“A well-functioning land market together with high security of land ownership will lead to stronger economic development for Morocco, the North Africa region, and the continent” explains Prof Abdelaziz El Hraiki, Director of IAV Hassan II. He emphasised that essential collaboration with academia can address serious challenges thrown up by land tenure systems which can guarantee sustainable land resources management. The academia provides research insights which are captured in comprehensive frameworks. These frameworks are essential for sustainable development as they focus on best practices and research achievement which can be scaled and adapted to meet the unique needs of AU member states.
Joan Kagwanja, the Chief of UNECA’s African Land Policy Centre (ALPC), agreed with Prof El Hraiki and urged greater collaboration between academia and industry to bridge capacity, research and advisory gaps. The academia trains the policymakers, land professionals, decision-making authorities and other actors. It provides the necessary analysis that forms the basis of the evidence used to develop legal and institutional frameworks. “We identify a real gap between industry and the university. At ALPC, one of the ways we work to close the gaps is by looking at the land curricula across the continent. We have developed an AU endorsed guideline to close these gaps,” explains Kagwanja in addressing best practices for bridging knowledge gaps. She calls for better integration of research efforts within existing land development mechanisms.
In addition to highlighting the role of research in supporting the development of legal frameworks, Kagwanja spoke at length about the creation of the ALPC and the role of the African Union Commission and Africa Development Bank in meeting the AU Land Agenda. The AU Agenda 2063 and the SDG targets call for sustainable land governance. Without an enabling land environment, the continent will not be able to meet its development targets, especially around poverty, zero hunger, gender equity, climate and others, which affect the way resources are managed. Land governance remains a political, economic, health, conflict and development challenge that impacts other economic growth areas. Addressing land governance promotes sustainable development for the continent, she concluded.
NELGA is a program of the ALPC. The ALPC, created through a tripartite partnership of the UNECA, AUC and AFDB is involved in many projects that demonstrate the relationship between academia and research with policy and market spaces, including through NELGA. One of such spaces is the bi-annual Conference on Land Policy in Africa which brings together land stakeholders from across Africa and the globe to discuss new trends, opportunities and resolutions toward sustainable land governance and development in Africa.