Clinton & de Soto

Bill Clinton Helps Ghana's Poor Gain Property Titles
(with an assist from his favorite new author, Hernando de Soto)

October 7, 2002
Posted to the web October 7, 2002

New York

Former US president Bill Clinton joined Ghana's president John
Agyekum Kufuor at the recent launch in Accra of a foundation to
help poor people register land and other property to gain access
to loans to improve livelihoods and promote development.

The Ministry of Justice established the Foundation for Building the
Capital of the Poor and is promoting reform of the country's
property laws.

The initiative is supported by UNDP and inspired by the ideas of
Professor Hernando de Soto of Peru, author of The Mystery of
Capital: Why capitalism thrives in the West and fails everywhere
else and head of the Institute for Liberty and Justice there, who
also joined in the launch.

The foundation plans to set up a regional training centre in Accra to
help other countries learn about its property reform programme. A
premise of Professor de Soto is that the poor often have considerable
property but lack title to it and thus cannot use their resources to

President Kufuor said that the foundation aims to bring all lands and
business assets into the formal economic sector through proper
registration. "This should make land bankable property and give
access to credit to title-holders," he said. "This could prove to be
vital part of the missing link that might help generate the prosperity
all yearn for."

Mr. Clinton, the foundation's patron, said that "the simple power of Soto's ideas" is that when people have a clear title to the
of a business and the place where they live, it enables them to borrow
money and to create their own banking system.

"You create your own lending system based on the identifiable
responsibility of people to repay the loan and their capacity to repay
the loan because these are their business assets and this is where
live," he said.

The role of Ghana's political leaders and the Government is important
for the success of the initiative, Professor de Soto emphasized, and
Government needs to clearly communicate the scope of reform.

Nana Akufo-Addo, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, pointed
out that the country's economy has slipped since independence 40 years
ago, with 40 per cent of the population below the poverty line. "We
believe it is possible to create progress and prosperity in our part
of the world so that in our generation, we can see the back of mass
poverty in Ghana," he said.

UNDP Resident Representative Alfred Sallia Fawundu said that property
rights is a governance issue. Having these rights can "transform the
folk into a potentially active economic agent, indeed a wealth
creator," he
said."We are talking about the direct link between governance and
creation and poverty eradication."