Land tenure in many African cities involves complex relationships among customary tenure, informal markets, and state monopolies. Urban land reform is on the agenda of many African countries and city governments. Chinese municipalities, on the otherhand, have captured the values created in land regularisation from private investors in order to finance social infrastructure.
African cities face a challenge because the majority of the residents operate in the informal land economy where tenure security is weak. With uncertain property rights, those with lower incomes cannot offer property as collateral in order to access housing finance. Still, poor households invest in their properties despite insecure tenure. Evidence has shown that the quality of housing and shelter would improve significantly with greater land security.
The Africa-China Urban Initiative seeks innovative ways of securing land tenure in urban areas that can engage private investments (including that from China) in incrementally transforming informal land markets so that they benefit the poor.