Land Acquisition In Tanzania: What Foreign Investors Should Know

The strength of a land title in Tanzania may define the validity and security of an entire project, with significant implications on its bankability as a whole. Large areas of land in Tanzania are unsurveyed village land and foreign entities may want to access such land when investing in the agricultural sector. Various construction projects may also require access to village land for hydroelectric power projects, telecommunication tower installations or wind farms. The investment opportunities are undeniable but investors should be aware of the legal technicalities involved. This article addresses whether a foreign company can access village land in Tanzania and what the available options are.

In order to provide some context to this briefing note, it is important to define some of the basic terminology that is used.

For the purposes of land management in Tanzania, land is categorised into the following:

"general land", which is managed by the Commissioner for Lands. The certificate of a Granted Right of Occupancy ("GRO") can be granted in respect of this land. Further to that, a Derivative Right to occupy and use land may be created out of the GRO; "village land", which is the land within the area declared to be a village and is managed by the Village Council in which a Customary Right of Occupancy ("CRO") may be issued. The GRO or a Derivative Right to occupy and use land may only be granted over village land after conversion of the village land to general land; and "reserved land", which is land that is set aside under various laws for various purposes, including but not limited to forests, national parks, highways and hazardous land Land titles that can be issued in Tanzania

The following are the various land titles available in Tanzania:

GRO – means a right to occupy and use land under a long term lease of either 33, 66 or 99 years which is granted by the President in general land or reserved land for a period up to but not exceeding 99 years. A GRO is one of the highest forms of land tenure in Tanzania and effectively constitutes a 99 year lease from the Government. CRO – means a right to occupy and use land under a long term lease of either 33, 66 or 99 years which is granted by a village council. Derivative Right – means the right to occupy and use land created out of a GRO and includes a lease, a sub-lease, a licence, a usufructuary right and any interest analogous to those interests. A Derivative Right can be granted for a period...

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