Ghanaian blockchain company looks to verify land ownership

Bitland aims to use blockchain to safeguard land title registrations.

Bitland is a startup that aims to bring credible land title registry by the use of blockchain. It hopes to therefore alleviate issues of fraud and forged land titles. This is a one of a kind implementation of the technology in Africa and Bitland is currently working with the Ghanaian government.

Narigamba Mwinsuubo started the technology initiative in 2014 and was joined with Chris Bates as Chief Security Officer in 2015. According to Bates the launch of the company was inspired by economist Hernando De Soto’s belief that society can only accumulate wealth if it has protection over its land.

Land issues across Africa cannot be underestimated. They have been the biggest source of fights and court cases due to unreliable data on who owns land. These issues trace back to the end of colonialism where the scramble for ancestral land became intense.

In Kenya, efforts to have the land registry digitised are ongoing after years of land fraud, duplicate land ownership certificates and even in extreme cases land clashes.  

Bates, who is based in Indiana, US, states that the situation is the same in Ghana and rest of the continent. “In Ghana there is a major issue with land title registry. It’s one of the worst in the sense of there are areas where the government has no real registry. The chiefs are in control of most of the land.”

He explains that the local chiefs have knowledge on who owns which piece of land but that doesn’t serve as good protection since they could be influenced to change their mind.

“We thought that if there could be a blockchain based registry it would help develop the country and increase the wealth in regions that have chiefs controlling most of the land or there is no real protection of the titles from the government,” he tells IDG Connect.

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