Kenya is toying with the idea of adopting new technology that will make land cartels thing of the past

So rampant is land fraud cases that most Kenyans confidence in the sanctity of title deeds has been eroded with some stating the titled deed is not even worth the paper it has been printed on.

So rampant has the vice been that most Kenyans confidence in the sanctity of title deeds and security of tenure has eroded with some even stating that the titled deed is not even worth the paper it has been printed on.

As a result the few ‘daring’ Kenyans who wish to own land normally resort to rogue services of brokers and advocates to handle the land process and in the process get swindled with high fees and fake titles.

However all this is set to change soon, if Kenya embraces blockchain technology, a  trusted digital database with the records being protected by codes (cryptography) and free from human error, editing or removal.

“This will not only increase security but will also help fight corruption by distributing the maintenance of records to all parties involved, rather than to a few. By allowing participants to see who owns, sells, and divides land, the technology will enhance verification and transparency,” said Mr Lyford-Smith, technical manager, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

The technology can document clear ownership and transfer footprints, weeding out cases of fraud.

Blockchain technology is already in use in several developed countries such as Sweden, Georgia, and Hondurus helping  link an individual’s land/property with his or her details.

Since last year, players in the technology sector have been exploring the application of blockchain beyond virtual currencies.

Locally, the government in December 2016 said it was running pilot projects to keep track of educational records and land transactions.

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), in its latest report, Blockchain and the Future of Accountancy, said the land registry, for example, can benefit from this technology, especially in provenance and transfer of ownership of assets.

“The technology can create a clear and permanent record of ownership and transfer of ownership, which can facilitate additional liquidity in the economy,” said Mr Lyford-Smith.

In Honduras for instance, blockchain could help weed out corruption with tamper-proof land title deeds, while in Georgia, the government has worked with blockchain start-up BitFury to implement a blockchain-based system for land registries.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning upgraded its electronic management system to ease the processing of transactions, a move that will see all the required fees and duties paid online through the ecitizen portal.

“For your land to be listed on the ‘manage property’ page, you are required to validate it with your local land registry with your original title or certificate of lease, your original Identity Card (ID) and Kenya Revenue Authority pin during working hours,” said Lands principal secretary Nicholas Muraguri.

While introducing the blockchain technology will not be  a walk in the park since the existing systems are already very complex, Kenyan can nonetheless reap abundantly once the system is in place, it is long overdue to say the least.

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