New dawn as land register goes digital

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.

Photo credit: PSCU

What you need to know:

  • At the click of a button, Kenyans will now be able to conduct land searches, apply for title deeds and sell land
  • The ‘Ardhi Sasa’ system is expected to ease title transfers and safeguard public land from grabbers.

Out with the old manual land register that has for decades aided cartels and sidelined the majority of Kenyans, welcome to the era of a digital land registry.     

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday launched the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS), being the culmination of years of digitisation of chaotic land records. 

The digitisation is expected to ease title transfers and safeguard public land from grabbers. 

The launch of the game-changing digital land platform dubbed Ardhi Sasa coincided with the opening of a National Geospatial Data Centre, an online depository that will contain all the land records in the country.

At the click of a button, all Kenyans, beginning with land owners and buyers in Nairobi, will now conduct land searches, apply for title deeds, sell land and do almost every transaction on land apart from solving disputes.

The system went live yesterday in Nairobi through the link https://ardhisasa.lands.go.ke/home. It will be rolled out across the country in phases, with 20 additional counties set to be on the platform by the end of the year.

Those intending to use the system will have to first register on the website. 

“A large part of the solution to the land problem is finally at hand. The Ardhi Sasa system gives impetus to all previous and ongoing reforms in the land sector by providing for the first time an updated and easily accessible database of land records,” said President Kenyatta after launching the system.

Most outstanding feature

“At the click of a button citizens will carry out various land transactions, drastically reducing human interaction, delays and all other inconveniences that Kenyans have had to endure in our land registries,” he added.

The most outstanding feature of the new system, and which will solve a major problem in land transactions, is that searches will be done in real time.

Additionally, those doing searches will see on a map where the property is located, its ownership, size and past records.

The current system that is being phased out is not only tedious, but also very frustrating and involves use of middle men. A search in the old system can take up to two weeks or much longer if you do not employ “brokers” to push it for you.

“The digital platform will also secure innocent Kenyans from exploitation by cartels, middle men and fraudsters. Perennial fraud, corruption and illegal land transactions will be a thing of the past,” said President Kenyatta, while expressing his commitment to ensuring that land fraud is finally eliminated.

“In addition, the Ardhi Sasa platform will assist judicial processes and provide investigative agencies like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and Directorate of Criminal Investigations with accurate and examinable data that they need to curb fraud,” he said.

In the new system, a digital cadastral map of the country starting with Nairobi will be made available on the Ardhi Sasa website with clear demarcations of public and private properties.

Kenyans will also, for the first time, search for sectional properties like apartments. A cadastral map is a comprehensive recording of properties located in a particular geographical area.

Provided loopholes

Part of the data in a cadaster includes details of ownership, precise geographical location including coordinates, dimensions of the property and its use.

“Ardhi Sasa was developed locally by a team of young Kenyan techies over a three-year period in a multi-agency government arrangement championed by President Kenyatta,” said a statement from State House.

In order to actualise the new system, the Ministry of Lands is currently converting all parcels of land registered under repealed laws to the Land Registration Act of 2012. Although the law has been in place for nine years, the country has not fully migrated to using the Act. 

This has left land transactions under various laws, which has provided loopholes for fraudsters. The need to have a centralised land registration process is part of the reason behind the creation of NLIMS.

Over the next one year, land registration processes in the repealed land registration laws will be collapsed into one, with all titles issued under the repealed laws cancelled and replaced with titles under the Land Registration Act, 2012. While all parcels of land will be migrated to the new regime, their ownership, size and other interests will not change. What will change, however, is the introduction of Registry Index Maps (RIMs) in place of the current system that uses deed plans. Effectively, it means that the RL Number, which has been in use since independence, will be phased out.

“The RIMs display all land parcels within an area as opposed to a deed plan that captures data on one specific parcel. It is thus easy to note any change or alteration,” said Lands Cabinet Secretary Faridah Karoney during one of her many stake holder engagement meetings to explain NLIMS ahead of its launch.

Some of the repealed legislations included the Government Lands Act (Cap. 280), the Registration of Titles Act (Cap. 281), the Land Titles Act (Cap. 282) and the Registered Land Act (Cap. 300).

“Each of these pieces of legislation created its own register making land registration complex. The confusion occasioned by the different regimes has become a breeding ground for fraud, delays in service delivery, centralisation of land services and threats to the right to property,” observed the CS.

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