Disrupting the Land Economy in Africa Through Blockchain

All instances of corruption are injurious to Africa’s land administration and management. Trust gaps in the process of determining, recording, and disseminating information about land ownership are getting wider. Investigations of fraud and corruption drag for years while land is rendered a dead asset. For example, Kenya has a massive land size of 582,464 square kilometers of which 97.8 percent is land, and the rest water. Land holds a central position in Kenya’s social, economic, and political history. The need for an organized, incorruptible and immutable land administration and management system has never been more urgent.

Since the land administration in Kenya was established in 1897 to support land registration for colonialists during the 19th Century, it has remained relatively the same, in paper format. Lack of a modernized registration system is to blame for the rise in land disputes for the obvious reason that records are centralized and most of the land in Kenya remains unregistered. Records –where registered - can be altered to the tune of the one with the fattest purse and those community elders who retain tacit information about land can easily forget, become deceased, and the information is lost until the community reaches a consensus as to who owns which plot of land. A recent proposal by the Ministry of Lands in Kenya aspired to establish a digitalized Land Information Management System (LIMS) to address these challenges, but has failed to materialize.

However, technological advances in the last two decades have made it possible to increase the transparency and accountability of land related information. Blockchain technology possesses the key to unlocking the potential of the land economy of Africa, and reduces the rate of corruption in land administration and management. Land LayBy has created an Ethereum blockchain land registry platform, Land LayBy Listing (LLL). The LLL land registry blockchain platform will be accessible using the Harambee Token (HRBE), a utility token that employs cryptography to ensure that transactions are secure. By tracking land data, LLL would act as a deterrent for bribes in the public and private sector, which would increase development impact.

The adoption of the platform and continued use of the HRBE token provides a distributed ledger system made of land data blocks chained together and managed by a peer-to-peer network (P2P) collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once land and conveyance information has been recorded, it cannot be altered for it would require altering all subsequent blocks holding that same information. The data is stored in multiple computers thus reducing the risk of data loss. With encryption, the confidentiality of data is maintained. Because LLL is a public ledger of all HRBE transactions, it is searchable and can be used to track all land transactions.

Events that would affect the management of information like electoral violence, dysfunctional servers, power rationing, natural disasters, and other forms of disputes that would interrupt the flow and extraction of information from the platform, would not adversely affect the management of information on LLL because accessibility will be ubiquitous.

Land owners using the platform needn’t be physically present in Kenya to access information on the platform. The platform and the land information collected are accessible from any location. Smart contracts inherent in the LLL land registry platform contain logical clauses programmed in the code triggering processes according to the terms of contract. These terms could define the conditions to be met to release funds, dates from which they can be made available, and so on. Honoring the contract helps prevent unauthorized transactions and speeds up the land processing on the platform through automation.

The Land LayBy Listing platform will prevent fraud and corruption, reduce the costs of enforcement thanks to easily accessible information and faster crosschecks, and help supervise implementation and monitor efficiency and effectiveness of spending, increasing development impact for land owners and the government at large. Transfer of ownership during inheritance deliberations would be made easier for all parties because the transfers will be done instantaneously and on the platform without the time and money it normally takes to resolve ownership disputes in those cases as those involved could interact with each other on the LLL platform.

By having a decentralized source of information, users of land registry information have a common platform in which they will all play a role in building. It will add to the empowerment of future generations enabling owners to make better decisions about their land knowing that the information will be secure and would come from a trusted, incorruptible, and immutable source. It is an innovative endeavor that seeks to disrupt the land economy of Africa as we know it.

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