Multiple land regimes: Rethinking land governance in Maputo’s peri-urban spaces


Africa’s increasing levels of urbanisation have significant implications for urban land. Growing populations imply that there is increasing pressure on cities to provide economic opportunities, housing, infrastructure and social services to existing and incoming urban dwellers. These activities take place on urban land, and much of the new growth occurs outside of the state regulatory and legal frameworks. Using survey data collected in Maputo’s peri-urban areas of Luis Cabral and Hulene B, this paper explores how ordinary urban dwellers access, hold, transact and manage land. These findings suggest that a land market that is technically outside of the legal system exists. Notwithstanding its illegality, these land practices are organised, comprising sophisticated local land management and regulatory systems. The low incidence of land conflicts in both neighbourhoods shows that these governance practices are relatively functional. Local practices are characterised by a complex web of social roleplayers, including family members, neighbours, local leadership structures and state officials all of whom lend credibility and legitimacy to the existence of a local land market. These findings challenge conventional understanding of formal and informal markets. It is argued that these socially embedded land markets indicate how urban territory is segmented and managed, and their existence also transforms the way we conceptualise formality and informality in African cities. This situation shows how informal urban economies are co-produced by state and non-state regulatory systems. These hybrid economies have implications for how we understand governance, markets and the role of the state in our cities.

Full Text

The full text of “Multiple Land Regimes: Rethinking Land Governance in Maputo’s Peri-urban Spaces” is featured in Urban Forum, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 65-83. It can be found at Springer Link (Access required)



Publication Type Journal article
Publisher Urban Forum
Year 2013
Author(s) Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, Lauren Royston, José Alberto Raimundo, Inês Macamo Raimundo
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