Bitland, a U.S.-based platform for real estate registration, is introducing a digital land registry system based on blockchain in Ghana, where about 78 percent of
land is unregistered.
Bitland’s database will be useful in countries where there is no reliable system of land ownership in the event of a dispute, or to obtain loans for property investment, according to a report in ITWebAfrica.
The company says it can securely record real estate transactions with GPS coordinates, written description and satellite photos. This will help guarantee property rights compared to the disorderly systems often in place that expose landowners to corruption in some countries.
“Our initiative sets out to explain to rural people the benefit of working with their government, registering land titles officially and, in turn, the benefit of being able to utilize the mobile application to do these things,” said Christopher Bates, Bitland’s Cchief security officer, in a presentation at Netexplo 2016.
The application will bring transparency to the process by keeping a public ledger that is attached to the Bitcoin blockchain, Bates said.
Blockchain technology, which underpins bitcoin, functions as a powerful decentralized ledger that records every transaction and stores information on a global network that cannot be interfered with, according to Forbes.
A number of banks think blockchain technology is ready to be leveraged in areas
including exchanges and remittances. Blockchain offers huge advantages in cost, transparency and reliability thanks to the “immutable nature of decentralized ledgers” said Ronny Boesing, CEO and founder of Danish cryptocurrency exchange CCEDK, in a Forbes interview. Boesin is one of the pioneers behind the new initiative.
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Globally, there have been calls to adapt the use of blockchain outside fintech based on the belief that its discovery is as dramatic as the creation of the Internet, ITWeb reported.
The British Commonwealth earlier this month said it plans to develop a Blockchain app to combat cross-border crime using a secure messaging system to help law enforcement and prosecutors.
This week, NGO ID2020 and the U.N. set a goal to provide identities to the estimated 1.5 billion people without access to proof of legal identity. The distributed-ledger technology, blockchain, is a possible solution.
About 90 percent of land in rural Africa is undocumented or unregistered and the lack of a single ledger increases property fraud, costs governments more to investigate, causes undue eviction and impedes foreign investments, Bates said.
Bitland’s goal is to provide services that let individuals and groups survey land and record title deeds on the Bitland blockchain, providing a permanent and auditable record as well as acting as a liaison with the government to help resolve disputes.
The project is being piloted with 28 communities in Kumasi, a city in southern Ghana, population 2 million. The intention is to expand across Africa.
Ghana has been trying for 17 years to solve its land dispute problem, but corruption and
nepotism have plagued every area of the public sector, making it hard to consolidate the land title tracking system, Forbes reported.
Bitland wants to register land titles to a public blockchain, so that ownership is not
only public – but immutable. In this ecosystem, land could be held as equity, as currently no banks are really willing to lend against unregistered lands, according to Forbes.
“Since Ghana has been trying to solve this problem, it’s a natural place to start trying to
implement these types of solutions,” Bates said.
Bringing clarity to land ownership rights will open up trillions of dollars in locked capital, Boesing said. Land that does not have a functional title cannot be used as capital and securing a mortgage to build or purchase homes is not possible, he said.
“The Bitland team will use blockchain technology to help accelerate infrastructure development by freeing up capital – without the corruption and abuses of power that have plagued such projects in the past,” Boesing said.
The team plans to build solar powered Bitland centers in Ghana that will function as hardware hubs for the Bitland Wi-Fi network and protect it from power outages. These hubs will double as education centers for locals to learn about digital solutions and how to get involved in the project, according to Forbes.