Saturday, 24 March 2018

Land Ownership In Ghana

By: Unknown
Land ownership in Ghana connotes the legal rights one has over, in and to land. Land ownership means that a person is recognized by other relevant autonomous actors with no conflict of interest in the land as the legitimate and legal owner of that plot of land. 

Acquisition and registration of land is dependent on the type of ownership or control. According to Ollenu, there is no land in Ghana without an owner

Therefore, every land in Ghana is under the jurisdiction or care of someone. 

The forms of Land ownership in Ghana  are state, vested, stool, family and private or individual.

Public/ State Lands

These are lands which belong to all the citizens of a country but are however controlled by the government for the interest of the general public. With respect to the 1992 constitution, article 257, the meaning of public lands is given as:
“… Public Lands” includes any land which, immediately before the coming into force of this constitution, was vested in the Government of Ghana on behalf of, and in trust for, the people of Ghana for the public service of Ghana, and any other land acquired in the public interest, for the purposes of the government of Ghana …”
The above quote has given meaning to what public lands are, and their uses. With reference to the above, public lands has therefore been categorized to have two components, that is, State Lands and Vested Lands. The estimated proportion of public lands in Ghana is 18% - 20% of the entire lands in Ghana.
State Lands are therefore lands acquired by the state compulsorily for public purposes and for public interest. Government may acquire private lands for several purposes, and among these purposes is the one which has been briefly established in article 20 (1) (a) of the 1992 constitution. 

Such purposes of acquisition include “… in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning or the development or utilization of property…”. 

The principal statutes used in acquiring state lands is the State Lands Act, 1962 (Act 125) with amendment. Nonetheless there are some peculiar instances where lands affected by Administration of Lands Act, 1962, Act 123 (customary lands) are compulsorily taken by the state when necessary as per the State Lands Act, 1962. 

Upon the compulsory acquisition of lands by the state, all interests held in the said lands are extinguished and the legal title or interest is then vested in the president without any encumbrances.
With vested lands, the ownership of the said land is split into two: the legal title or interest and the equitable title or interest. Vested lands are therefore those lands whose legal interests are held by the trustee (the state) in trust for the beneficiaries (customary land owners) who hold the equitable interest. 

The main statute used by the government in vesting in itself private lands is the Administration of Lands Act, 1962 (Act 123) which vests private lands in the President on behalf of the people.

Private Lands

Private lands are those lands which are owned or occupied by private individuals. In other words, private lands are those lands whose ownership is vested in the private legal person. 

These private holders include stools and skins for the subjects; clans, families, corporate bodies and single individuals. Private lands are estimated to cover a range of about 78% - 80% of the entire lands in Ghana. 

Although private individuals are responsible for the management of these customary lands, as per section 267(3) of the 1992 constitution, the Lands Commission which is a state land agency, has been given supervisory and concurrency role in any conveyance or disposition or development of any customary land in Ghana
This has therefore limited the complete control of ownership of land in the country.

Stool or Skin Land

This may be described as lands that belong to a community as a whole, with the stool or skin of that community as the traditional symbol of the souls of the ancestors who originally owned the stool or skins and therefore the land. 

These lands were acquired through conquests, gifts and discovery. Stool or Skin lands are administered according to the principles of customary or native laws. The allodial or absolute interest is held by the chief who administers all the lands in trust and on behalf of his people. 
Thus, he uses such rights to distribute land to members of the community and strangers.

Family Lands

This is land that belongs to a particular family. The absolute interest is operated by the head of the family who uses the usufructuary obligations to distribute land to members of the family as well as strangers. 

As a rule in customary land law, the head of the family alone cannot alienate land unless with the consent of other members of the family.

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