In the words of His Excellency President Uhuru Kenya, land is a critical enabler of all the pillars of the Big Four development agenda namely; universal healthcare, affordable housing, food security and manufacturing. The Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning formulated the Land Registration (Electronic Transactions) Regulations, 2020 vide a legal Notice 101 of June 2019. This was to provide a framework for the roll out of a system for carrying out of electronic land transactions. Further, the Business Laws (Amendments) Act of 2020 made amendments to existing legislation to facilitate the electronic registration of land transactions.
The Digitization process came along to give effect to Section 9 and 10 of the Land Registration Act, 2012. Section 9 gives the Registrar of Lands the mandate to maintain the register and any document required in the Act in a secure, accessible and reliable format including electronic files. Section 10 provides for the accessibility of information to the public by electronic means.
Digitization of land records means creation of a Document Management System (DMS) for all approved physical development plans. It also entails developing a system for the management for Land Titles documents which involves scanning, indexing and archiving deed files and land rent cards among other digital processes.
In April 2021, the National Land Information Management System was launched by the President. This is a digital land resource management platform named ‘Ardhisasa’ that is developed to enhance the security of land records, speed up land transactions, efficient allocation of settlement files, reasonable timelines in all settlement transactions and curb fraud and corruption. This has greatly reduced human interactions, delays and inconveniences that were experienced at manual registries.
Ardhisasa has also seen the production of Kenya’s first topographical map that has enabled the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning to embark in the process to digital migration. Also, it has seen the production of a cadastral map for Nairobi County. There is a process underway to replace the old title deeds with new ones where the landowner is required to submit an old title and a new one will be processed with a new title deed number as per digitized records. The process has been welcomed in Nairobi and may be phased gradually in other counties. Future titles will be uploaded in an online system where the payments to access the records can easily be made through online payment systems. This will make it easier for buyers to perform an online land search with a few simple steps.
While there has been an improvement in the land systems in Nairobi and Kiambu County, there is yet much that needs to be done to fully incorporate an efficient digitized land records systems. A full rollout of the programme will facilitate the resolution of the historical land injustices and will guarantee the sanctity of land titles just like in Rwanda. It will also substantially improve the quality and efficiency of the land registries services.
Article by: Wendy Kuyoh