President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cabinet secretaries tour the National Geospatial Data Centre in Nairobi during the launch of the National Land Information Management System yesterday.


6,000 signed up on first day as hitches hit digital land record

What you need to know:

  • Lands Cabinet Secretary, Faridah Karoney denied that the system had experienced any significant downtimes.
  • Services offered on the electronic platform include property searches, transfers, order of titles and of plans.

Up to 6,000 Kenyans yesterday registered on the new online land management portal, even as lawyers and land experts faulted system hitches that delayed transactions and frustrated users.

Being its first day of use after Tuesday’s launch by President Kenyatta, the digital system known as Ardhi Sasa was yesterday marked by delays in registration of transaction accounts, which is the first step of using the platform. 

This led to difficulties in accessing land transaction services, conveyancing (land transfer) lawyers told Nation yesterday.

Services offered on the electronic platform include property searches, transfers, order of title deeds and of plans.

“The system has been problematic all day. We didn’t manage to process any transaction,” said a Nairobi-based conveyance lawyer who sought anonymity fearing a backlash from the Ministry of Lands officials. 

Lands Cabinet Secretary, Faridah Karoney, however, denied that the system had experienced any significant downtimes. She said that at least 6,000 users were registered. 

“The system is effective. It’s a highly available system and has not been down,” she told Nation. The CS said that before the Tuesday launch, the system had been undergoing tests for three months with ministry officials checking on its effectiveness.

Security features

They were also checking on the strength of the system’s security and administrative features in order to tighten loopholes. Ms Karoney added that the system will soon be rolled out in land registries in Kiambu, Murang’a, Kajiado and Machakos counties. 

To address the hitches conveyancing lawyers and other users experienced, Ms Karoney said the ministry will soon start a user education campaign on radios and other multimedia platforms. 

Lands expert Mwenda Makathimo asked the Ministry of Lands to integrate the services offered on the platform to the functions of county governments and the National Environment Management Authority (Nema) to enhance ease of use.  

Without integration, he said, some properties could be having conflicting data since both national and county governments will be having different data systems. 

Mr Makathimo said the system’s success “will depend on how it interfaces with other service providers not in the government such as planners, advocates, valuers, private surveyors and estate agents” whose work causes change of property ownership.

He stressed the government’s responsibility to ensure that the policy guidelines on land management are efficient, accountable and transparent. 

The development, which is the first phase of the National Land Information Management System (NLMS), is part of implementation of a policy paper Parliament adopted in 2009 on inefficiency in the land management information systems. 

Verifying documents

The Nairobi Land Registry  has since been closed to allow migration to the digital platform.

No manual records are being processed. The last documents that the registry processed manually were those received before the close of business on Monday. 

Another conveyancing expert, Mr Kamotho Njenga, said the ministry needs to strengthen the security features of the electronic platform to ensure it does not become a breeding ground of fraudsters and cyber criminals because not all Kenyans understand technology and electronic conveyance. 

“It may be prone to irregularities and the procedures of transaction must be well secured. There must be verifying documents and due diligence must apply,” Mr Kamotho said as he warned of possible sabotage by rogue and corrupt land officials.

Ms Jacqueline Munyaka, a land transfer practitioner, said that although the system is easy and straightforward, users will take time to be proficient. 

“I used the new system and realised that for a smooth transaction, all documents must be readily at hand, scanned and uploaded in the computer. It gave me a real-time response and has strict confidentiality,” she said. 

No human handling

She also discovered that the property owner must be available during the transfer, adding that conmen have been cut off in the technological development. 

“It’s easier than the paper transaction and there’s no issue of follow-ups because it indicates when the response for the transaction will be available. 

“No human handling or facilitation fees to get the work done,” she said. 

During the launch of the system in Nairobi, President Kenyatta said the electronic transfer will enhance ease of doing business in the country and protect land owners from exploitation by cartels, middlemen and fraudsters. 

Other land transfer experts and lawyers told Nation that they hope the new system will lower transaction costs. 

“The electronic system, which has no human interventions in the application for a transaction, has eliminated graft. 

“We used to pay between Sh500 and Sh2,000 to hasten applications such as a search. Without a facilitation fee a search could take more than a month,” said a lawyer who sought anonymity.