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Strengthening land tenure and property rights in Angola - Land law and policy:
Overview of legal framework

Robin Nielsen

USAID, ARD Inc, Rural Development Institute, Development Workshop

31 May 2007

SARPN acknowledges USAID as a source of this document:
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Since its independence in 1975, and most notably in the last decade, Angola has struggled to create a legal framework adequate to address the complex issues relating to the country’s land. In 2004, the country enacted a new land law1 that sought to strengthen perceived areas of weakness in prior legislation. The new law delineated and expanded a range of land rights available by concession and recognized some measure of traditional land rights. In 2006, the Government of Angola (GoA)2 proposed regulations addressing the land concessions portions of the land law, providing some detail on land rights formalization procedures, and expanding its expropriation authority.3 The regulations await enactment.

Despite these legislative efforts, fundamental gaps and weaknesses in the legal framework governing land persist, diluting the country’s ability to use its land resources to support economic growth, alleviate poverty, and enhance the livelihoods of the country’s population, including the marginalized.4 The following are chronic problems:

  • Angola lacks a comprehensive written statement of its land policy. As such, the country has no clear foundation of principles to consult in drafting new legislation, coordinating existing legislation, and prioritizing actions at national, provincial, and local levels.

  • The country’s main land legislation expresses objectives of social and economic development, environmental protection, and sustainable utilization of land, yet the content of the law does not support these objectives to the extent possible, and in some cases itself creates barriers to the achievement of these objectives––including economic development;

  • Implementation of the legal framework relies, in large measure, on institutions that have not been developed or lack capacity; and

  • The framework fails to identify and address the unique circumstances and needs of the economically and socially marginalized, thereby creating or fostering an environment that can further disadvantage and harm those groups.

  1. Lei da Terras de Angola (Lei 09/04, de 9 de Novembro) (“Land Law”). An English translation is attached as Appendix B.
  2. This paper uses the term “GoA” to refer to all levels and classifications of GoA authorities and offices, including those at the central, provincial, and municipal levels.
  3. Projecto de Regulamento Geral de Concessao de Terrenos (Proposed Regulations). An English translation of the proposed regulations is attached as Appendix C.
  4. In addition, many would argue (and have) that those provisions enacted are inherently flawed, especially from the perspective of the rights of the poor and marginalized. Discussions of the terms of the laws and regulations can be found in Development Workshop, 2005. Terra: Urban land reform in post-war Angola: research, advocacy and policy development, Development Workshop Occasional Paper No. 5 (Amsterdam: SSP); Terrafirma, 2005. Land Rights and Tenure Security in Kilamba Kiaxi, a report for CARE International, Angola (draft); and CARE Angola 2004. Transitional Program Initiative: Final Report to the United States Institute for Peace (October 2003-September 2004).

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