Land Ownership: Ivory Coast
Land ownership in Ivory Coast is mainly governed by the 1998 Rural Land Law. Land in Ivory Coast is classified as
Land can be only be owned freehold by the Ivoirian government, public entities and Ivoirian citizens. Foreigners are only permitted to obtain land through leases. The registration of land is done at the Land Registry.
LAND OWNERSHIP LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN IVORY COAST
- The Rural Land Plan (Plan Foncier Rural, PFR) which was introduced in 1989 and financed by the World Bank was the first practical effort to tackle the complex issue of land tenure security in Ivory Coast.
- The pilot project was designed to “survey existing land rights and land use; establish the limits of each plot through investigations carried out at the village level; and develop technically and financially feasible methods for registration of land”.
- The Rural Land Plan and the Rural Land Management and Community Infrastructure Development Project (Projet National de Gestion des Terroirs et d’Equipement Rural, PNGTER), introduced in 1997 and also financed by the World Bank became the foundation for the current legal framework for land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire.
- The 1998 Rural Land Law (Loi relative au domaine foncier rural, Loi n°98-750 du 23 décembre 1998 modifiée), in addition to “three decrees and 15 implementation orders” instituted between 1999 and 2002, was targeted at improving land ownership security by modifying customary rights into private land rights governed by the state.
- The law pioneered the explicit recognition of customary landholdings, if only for a transitional period. The law made provision for an initial period of ten years after enactment.
- In 2017, the World Bank sponsored the Cote d'Ivoire Land Policy Improvement and Implementation Project in order to resolve the challenges associated with the 1998 Rural Land Law.
FREEHOLD, FOREIGN OWNERSHIP AND RIGHTS OF TITLE
- There are two land tenure systems in Côte d’Ivoire, customary and statutory. The customary system has always been dominant, it accounts for over 98% of the rural land in the country.
- Different communities have different customary rules, but the country has basic customary laws which are common in every part of the country. The statutory system is only applicable when land is being registered, and this has only been achieved for around 2% of rural land so far.
- The 1998 Rural Land Law, as revised by decrees, projected that by 2019 Ivoirian citizens who possess customary ownership rights to land will register their land and acquire a personal land title. Foreigners can acquire emphyteutic leases. Theoretically, the customary land tenure system will no longer be in use after 2019.
The major customary forms of land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire include the following:
- Rights of permanent use: These rights are the birthright of individuals who are descendants of the original occupants of a particular land. Such rights are passed from one generation to another.
- Rights to use and benefit from land: People who migrated from another part of Côte d’Ivoire as well as from other countries can acquire land from a “tuteur”, a local guardian and they repay with “token gifts and loyalty or, occasionally, with more substantial payment in the form of cash, product or labor”. Much of the cocoa and coffee in Côte d’Ivoire’s is produced by lands held in this way by migrants.
- Leasehold rights: People who have been granted leasehold rights to a particular land must enter into a formal agreement with the owner of the land. The leasehold rights are customary rights if the land is unregistered.
The major statutory forms of land ownership in Côte d’Ivoire include the following:
- Land certificate: Individuals who have a land certificate must apply for a land title after three years. This only applies to Ivoirian citizens.
- Freehold rights: Individuals who hold the right of title to a particular of land possess freehold rights. Only the Ivoirian state, public bodies and Ivoirian citizens are allowed to own land in rural areas.
- A land title right can be sold to another Ivoirian or passed on to descendants. The land can also be leased to foreigners or private companies, but cannot be sold to them.
- Emphyteutic lease: This type of lease is most secure form of land tenure for foreigners and it gives the holders of the land tenure rights for a period of 18 to 99 years which is heritable and alienable. Although they do not own the land, they possess all that is built and produced on the land.
- Foreigners are not allowed to have freehold ownership of land in Côte d’Ivoire.
LAND REGISTRATION PROCESS AND REGISTRY
Registering land in Ivory Coast involves six procedures:
- Acquiring a Location Certificate.
- Engaging the notary to solicit the record of the real estate rights before the Land Registry.
- Obtaining of a tax clearance by the notary.
- Preparation of the sale deed.
- Payment of all the required registration fees.
- Registration of the land transfer at the Land Registry.