The Beninese city is in the process of digitising its land register. The change is in line with the land reform undertaken by the Beninese state to put an end to the challenges of traceability in land administration.
By Moussa Ngom
“The pressure on land is such that people buy [land] unsuitable for construction.” Moise Chabi, a lecturer at the University of Abomey, emphasises this issue in his account of the spatial mutations that have taken place in Cotonou’s peripheral localities such as Sèmè Podji.
Located in the east of Cotonou, the population of this town in the province of Ouémé, in south-eastern Benin, has grown from 27,000 inhabitants in 1979 to 400,000 in 2020.
Like in many African cities, inadequate laws, poorly kept land registers, corruption and fraud undermine land management, among many other problems.
In Benin, 7,770 disputes were registered in 2016 in the different courts of the country, most of them in Cotonou with 20% of the cases on land ownership.
“We can say that the project comes at the right time in the town of Sèmè Podji, and its implementation will allow us to solve the problems that undermine land administration,” according to Farid Salako, a local councillor and president of the permanent management committee for partnerships and projects of the Sèmè Podji local council.
The local ASToN coordinator, Landry Ahomadikpohou shares this sentiment. “For the time being, the meetings held with village chiefs, district chiefs, civil society and local councillors emphasise the need for this project, which will not only facilitate and give credibility to the work of the administration but can also serve the community.”