Lands Minister worried about land shortage for housing

Nii Osah-Mills Minister of Lands and Natural Resource inspecting the Trimble no1 equipment.looking on are Dennis Belgrado(left)and Mr.Louis Darko(middle)The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Nii Osah Mills, has expressed the need to address issues of landlessness and access to land for income groups to build houses.

He observed that “in urban areas like Accra, the ever increasing land prices have compounded existing social and environmental problems and have left access to land a preserve for wealthy Ghanaians and expatriates”.

Nii Osah Mills was addressing the third Ghana Geospatial Forum and Exhibition which brought together, researchers, academia, policy makers and stakeholders to discuss the application of geospatial technology relating to the collection or processing of data that was associated with locations.

The application of geospatial technology has been occasioned by the growing population, expanding urban spaces, shrinking arable land, increasing food demands, water scarcity and climatic change, requiring the need to sense and monitor the dynamics of change.

Nii Osah Mills said efficient land management and administration system, was critical to building a strong and sustainable economy, adding that the system would “provide security of tenure and improve confidence among investors and provide security of tenure to all users and occupiers of land”.

He said despite the rich natural resource base of Ghana, land sector issues, especially difficulties in accessing land and insecurity of land tenure, had hampered investment and “hence become a setback on Ghana’s economic growth and development”.

“The statutory land delivery system, including land use planning, surveying, valuation and registration, and the traditional system that is utilized for the administration of land under customary tenure, have been too weak to deliver appropriate services commensurate with the demand,” the minister said.

“This unmet demand has resulted in inflationary increases in the prices of land. Indeed the rapid increase in land prices have in turn resulted in price levels which are on the verge of exceeding the present value of future in some streams of land based investment especially in agriculture,”Nii Osah Mills said.

In recognition of the need to provide support including infrastructure and policy direction to enable Ghana to use geospatial technologies, the minister said a new policy on National Spatial Data Infrastructure aimed at providing a common platform for the use of geographical information had been developed.

Nii Osah Mills said it was noteworthy that fishermen were using mobile phones with Global Positioning System in their fishing expedition, while farmers could read the weather through innovative applications in their handsets.

He said even though there was an increased awareness of the need to embrace geospatial technologies in the country, a number of challenges existed adding that “a wholesale diffusion of geospatial technologies without considering the socio-economic, political   and institutional backgrounds of each organisation in the land sector can be counterproductive”.

The minister said the effective use of such technologies required the establishment and development of networks among the geospatial community, including related land sector agencies, so as to encourage internal cooperation and support in all aspects of land policy and land administration.

By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman

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