Land title registration is considered as the right way to secure land rights and avail lands for socio-economic development. However, high fees dissuade most land buyers from taking the appropriate steps to formalize their rights after purchase. Even in cases where land buyers follow through with the title registration process to the latter, there is some evidence that title documents are manipulated. This has lead to the increase in land dispute among chiefs, land owners, land buyers and landgaurds which has become the order of the day in Ghana.
Successive governments and international bodies including the World Bank have have intervened, in an effort to improve Ghana’s land administration with little success. The unscrupulous land dealings including multiple sale/purchase of the same land leading to incessant violent conflicts especially in the cities where lands are very hot commodities.
Findings from Ghana show that in addition to creating predatory economies for powerful land sector actors (e.g., chiefs and land administrators) to extort outrageous sums of money from land buyers, the heavy emphasis on land titling or lease registration undermines efforts at strengthening other less cumbersome, less costly and less corruption-laden aspects of land administration to improve property rights in the land sector.
Efforts are underway towards digitising land records in the country – a blockchain-enabled framework has been designed to solve the issues surrounding land acquisition, which, if built and implemented, will make the need for land certificate or land titling completely unnecessary in Ghana.
This could avail land owners adequate security of tenure even if they do not register their lands with the Lands Commission or if their lands are deregistered from the Commission’s records. The framework offers a less cumbersome, less costly and less corruption-laden but highly efficient mechanism for securing land rights.
This online blockchain-enabled process of land acquisition will address all existing issues. Land owners may initiate the purchase or sale of the land on the online blockchain-enabled land acquisition platform. Since the platform will contain the contact details (such as phone numbers and e-mails) of those who have interest in the land, the system will automatically notify them that someone wants to sell or buy their land in stage. It will also help solve land conflicts in Ghana – Unilateral sale of lands owned by multiple parties.
Land owners will not need land certificates or title documents to prove any of the above important elements that ensure land tenure security. This will help sanitize the land market. People who cannot afford costly indentures and other documents needed for acquiring land titles/certificates will still have their lands protected–they cannot be resold
Relevant stakeholders in Ghana and other African countries similarly situated can take the necessary steps to implement the ideas to improve land administration in the country and the continent.