Five years after the launch of the Network of Excellence on Land Governance in Africa (NELGA), some 20 representatives of the network gathered in Windhoek from 27-30 September 2022 to discuss progress in implementing the African Union (AU) Land Agenda. Many agreed that much progress had been made in building the capacity of institutions of higher learning and research to enhance training and research that responds better to the demands of member states. It is now essential to focus on scaling up curricula development, training, research and dissemination of knowledge on priority issues.
The planning and review meeting offered an excellent opportunity to take stock of how NELGA capacity building, data repository, knowledge management, and policy engagement actions support national and regional land gaps and priorities in meeting the AU Land Agenda. The meeting, convened by AUC-ECA-AfDB’s African Land Policy Centre, marked the first official internal gathering of the continental network since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The members commended the outcomes and wealth of knowledge from years of work, especially on policy engagement, and encouraged members to develop plans that facilitate engagement with key decision makers, including all arms of government, civil society, etc. In planning the future of the network, members called on ALPC, its technical partners, GIZ and the nodes to develop agreements among all parties to facilitate operations and ensure result convergence on land governance priorities on the continent. Participants called on the NELGA secretariat to develop a continental research agenda and policy dialogue framework based on identified priority areas by the AU.
The meeting hosted by Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), the NELGA node for Southern Africa, had participants from NELGA regional hubs, implementing partners, academic institutions, GIZ as a technical partner and international organisations. The nodes showcased strides in developing new academic programs, two journals hosted by NELGA North Africa and East Africa, research centres, and land governance innovative tools in the land policy spaces across West Africa, East Africa, North Africa, Central Africa, and South Africa.
The ALPC Coordinator Joan Kagwanja celebrated the achievements; encouraged integrated and participatory approaches to land governance issues, emphasised the network’s importance in meeting the continent’s needs; and called on NELGA to undertake action research that would address emerging land issues and whose results and recommendations could be presented at the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Water and Environment The meeting also examined preliminary findings and provided inputs to the NELGA strategy to ensure the network remains sustainable and scalable.