ICF assists to simplify registry processes in Sierra Leone
March 31, 2016
In 2008 it used to take about 235 days to register land property in Sierra Leone due to laborious manual processes of recording land titles. Information about land was submitted by members of the public and stored as hardcopy paper archives resulting in long delays and high costs which in turn caused reluctance among commercial banks to accept property as a form of collateral for credit.
ICF saw a clear need to intervene and work with the Government of Sierra Leone to implement a reliable electronic system for registering land which was more secure, transparent and provided greater accuracy. Working together, ICF and the Government of Sierra Leone implemented the Sierra Leone Land Registration System Project.
This project aimed to streamline and automate procedures for acquiring land by establishing a Geographical Information System (GIS)-based land use cadaster system and creating a reliable electronic database for storing registered land titles. This database serves as a one-stop-shop for land parcel information and documentation. The project established a Central Unit for land registration and administration in the capital city Freetown and also instituted two satellite stations in the Western Region of the city.
The objective of the project was to increase overall certainty over property rights for all citizens of Sierra Leone, to stimulate the land market and facilitate improved access to credit. The project has now established a bases for effective urban land administration and management and the Government of Sierra Leone will aim to replicate this model widely across the country.
Through the Sierra Leone Land Registration System Project, ICF has helped the Government to reduce the number of days it takes to register property in the country to only 19 days for residential leases and 16 days for commercial leases, from the original 235 days. The project also reduced the number of procedures it takes to register land from eight procedures to only six. The cost of transferring land ownership also decreased from 15% to 10% of the property value.
In another project, ICF assisted the Sierra Leone Government to modernise the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG). As a result of the project, OARG procedures have been streamlined and administrative processes have been automated to reduce the time and costs related to filing and retrieving documents from the OARG. Three regional centres have also been established.
Commenting on the project Mariama Seray Kally, Sierra Leone’s Administrator and Registrar-General said that, “with the organisation’s help the office was able to conduct activities to create awareness around the new provision of registering a business as part of the overall project to modernise processes. The major component of the project was to automate all records stored at the office, which is in line with the President, Ernest Bai Koroma’s Agenda for change.” All records dating from 1985 onwards have been digitized.
As part of the project, the OARG has been connected to the Ministry of Land’s spatial database and the Fast Track Commercial Court (both of which were projects supported by ICF) to provide access to key information needed for land registrations. This has greatly helped to reduce the time it takes to process land transactions.
During the 2016 Africa Forum, the first Africa to Africa business Forum held in Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt earlier this year, delegates called for greater trust and cooperation between government and the private sector to improve doing business on the continent. Throughout the Forum, it was agreed that Africa’s long-term success is underpinned by the digital revolution, among other things.
Projects such as the Sierra Leone Land Registration System Project and the Modernisation the Office of the Administrator and Registrar General, supported by ICF are vital for Africa’s development and digital migration. ICF has been working with other Governments to create similar systems and processes in other countries in an effort to improve land registration and property ownership for more African citizens.
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