World Bank’s US$35m boosts land digitization process

Discussions between the Government of Ghana and World Bank are far advanced aimed at releasing US$35 million towards digitization of 90 percent of records at the Lands Commission.

Ghana stands to benefit from the digitization process as the project seeks to remove all bottlenecks involving land acquisition and land registration.

Poor record keeping of land acquisition and ownership has been identified as a major challenge facing businesses in Ghana, particularly start ups and ongoing enterprises seeking space to expand their activities.

The land registration process currently takes an average of between 46 and 75 days and digitalization of the process aims to reduce this to 30 days at most.

So far, the commission has digitized 10 percent of its total records at five selected regional offices these being Accra, Tamale, Bolgatanga, Koforidua and Sekondi-Takoradi.

That 10 percent of funding for the entire project which was also acquired from the World Bank, and categorized under the Lands and Administration Project (LAP) 2 ended in February 2018.

It was to used to begin some level of digitalization and proper archival processes for the country’s lands.

Speaking to the Goldstreet Business, Deputy Executive Secretary, in charge of Corporate Services at the Lands Commission, Mr. Jones Ofori-Boadu confirmed that additional funding from the World Bank totaling US$35 million will soon be approved to take care of the remaining part of the project.

He revealed that the amount when released, will be used to carry out the remaining 90 percent of the digitization process across the country.

Mr. Ofori-Boadu explained that negotiations between the two bodies have already been completed and he expects that the funds will be released before end of this year.

“It is not finalized yet. We have only finished with the negotiations process. It’s up to the government to sign it. Once the approval is given, we are going to complete the remaining 90 per cent comprising the rest of the data that has to be scanned under the digitization project” he said.

Instructively, the Lands Commission has developed a software called the Ghana Enterprise Land Information System which will be used for the rest of the registration.

“The software will be used to process and manage date, and monitor the applications that come through the system,” he said.

Decentralization

Following the inauguration of board members of the Lands Commission in August 2017, President Akufo-Addo charged the new members to decentralize the work of the commission from regional to district level.

As to whether decentralization at the district level has actually started, Mr. Ofori-Boadu stated that it has not yet started due to funding constraints. The incoming World Bank funding will also address this, commencing the decentralization process which will significantly speed up the land registration process to the benefit of businesses and households alike.

Challenges

Regarding other challenges facing the commission’s operations, Mr. Ofori-mentioned staff strength as their major challenge.

“The volume of work keeps increasing, with less number of staff dealing with increased volume of work. We are trying to bridge that with technology, but you still need people to handle the equipment”, he stressed.

The Lands Commission has four divisions namely, Public and Vested Lands Management, Survey and Mapping, Land Evaluations and Land Registration divisions.

Following the passing of the Lands Commissions Act 2008, Act767, the four divisions were merged under one umbrella to effectively facilitate the work of the commission.

By Dundas Whigham