ICF projects address land registration and property rights in Africa
March 31, 2016
During the past few years the topic of land registration in Africa has been addressed numerous times. Recently, the Ethiopian Urban Development and Construction Affairs Standing Committee pressed for sound land registration systems in the country, to maximise efforts to upgrade the documentation of land registration systems.
Prominent political and business leaders have discussed the issues pertaining to land registration for the continent in an effort to improve overall processes of land registration in Africa. The intention is to ensure sufficient rights for both property and business owners. Property rights is not only a basic human right, it is also a necessity for countries to create a free market and drive improved economic growth.
As the procedures that govern land tenure in African countries are often complex, ICF’s goal is to find ways to simplify these processes. A modernised land administration and registration system will provide a range of benefits to African nations, as both individual and commercial property owners will be able to secure their property rights through simple and transparent methods.
The 2015 International Property Rights Index revealed that the African countries that attained the highest scores for property rights were (on an index scored out of 10) South Africa at 6.6, Mauritius at 6.1 and Botswana and Rwanda with the same score of 5.9. The ranks are based on three main components, namely: legal and political environment, physical property rights and intellectual property rights.
The index provides a comparative analysis using political and economic data from the countries. The report also clearly indicates that nations with strong property rights achieve improved national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita compared to countries without strong property rights. The benefits of proper land registration systems should never be overlooked. Land ownership also provides increased access to credit to the land owners, as the land can be used for collateral.
ICF has been involved in a number of projects aimed at promoting effective land registration systems in various African countries.
In Sierra Leone, for example, transferring property used to take an estimated 235 days, involve eight procedures and cost 15% of the property value. ICF worked with the Government of Sierra Leone to establish a land registration system which has reduced the number of procedures for transferring property from eight to six procedures. The project also resulted in reduced time to transfer property to 16 days for commercial property and to 19 days for residential property.
Rwanda is one of the countries doing very well when it comes to land tenure. According to the World Bank’s 2015 report How Innovations in Land Administration Reform Improve on Doing Business, Rwanda is the only country in Africa that has succeeded in documenting all rights to land. The Government of Rwanda made land policy reform a priority to clarify and secure land rights for all citizens and thus create positive conditions for economic development.
ICF has been involved in two projects with the aim to improve property registration and land tenure in Rwanda. The Rwanda Investment Climate Project improved land registration by creating an electronic Land Information Administration System (LAIS) to improve titling and boost mortgage registration.
The second project was the Rwanda Land Administration Enhancement Project which worked to integrate legal and spatial information into one database and to operationalize LAIS in all districts in Rwanda. As a result of these efforts, the number of days to register property in Rwanda were reduced from seven days to two. Rwandan citizens no longer have to travel to the Office of the Registrar of Land Titles in Kigali to transfer their land – they can now do it in their districts.
Being able to register land and protect property rights is a crucial factor for the development of any economy, with far reaching impact. ICF continues to be involved in the issues relating to property rights and land registration, as the demand for new projects to address these issues in African countries remains a high priority.
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