Government will this year begin the process of streamlining the process of land acquisition, valuation and records consolidation as part of measures to move Ghana beyond aid, the Vice President of the Republic, H.E. Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has announced.
Among other intended measures, plans are far advanced to begin the process of digitising all land records in the country, a major intervention designed to reduce the turnaround time for land registration and eliminate corruption, while a land reform conference bringing together all stakeholders in the land acquisition and management sector is slated for the end of February 2018.
The Vice President announced these when he paid a surprise familiarisation visit to the offices of the Land Registration Division of the Lands Commission in Accra on Tuesday 13th February 2018, ahead of the Conference slated for February 28, to familiarise himself with their operations and discuss their challenges.
“Ghana will not be able to move beyond aid if we don’t tackle the issue of land title. There is so much land for which people cannot even extract any equity out of it because there is no proper title to it. That cannot and must not continue” Dr Bawumia underscored.
“We have been living with this problem in Ghana for years but we are not changing it. It is time for us to change the system. We cannot accept the status quo, and the directions of the President are clear: we have to bring change to this whole process of the acquisition of land.
“In many countries land is key in the development of the country (but) in Ghana land is not part of the process in many cases, and that does not allow the development of the mortgage market. So we have come here to familiarise ourselves with the processes, and to discuss some of their challenges.”
Dr Bawumia expressed particular worry at the conditions at the records department of the Land Title Division, and the seemingly disorganised manner of the land management process.
“It is a very scary situation because there’s not enough space there for them to keep the records, and you don’t have these records in digital form so even finding somebody’s file can take you more than a month. Sometimes some of the files – because of misfiling – cannot be found and they will tell you your file has not been found. So we have to change the process and this is why we are taking this whole issue of digitalizing our land documents in Ghana very seriously.
“Thankfully there’s a process that is going to be implemented this year, where we are going to hold a land reform conference and we are going to take some important decisions afterwards to streamline the system.
“The search processes, the consolidation of records, survey department, land title, you have all these records in different places; they are not consolidated. We can’t continue the same way. This is the year we have to consolidate all the records.”
Consolidating all such records, Dr Bawumia added, would facilitate the development of the mortgage market and make it easier to undertake land ownership searches.
“It will allow the mortgage market to develop in this country. There is no modern economy that works without a well-developed mortgage market, and this is where we want to bring change in Ghana. We want all these records across all the land agencies digitalized this year. We are going to put in place the resources and the personnel, such as the Nation Builders Corps. We will provide all these agencies with personnel, all these graduates to help in the digitalization of all these documents.”
Discussions would also be held with the Chief Justice to find ways to address the many conflicting judgments issued in different courts on land issues, the Vice President indicated.