Nairobi – In order to counter dubious land transactions, such as dual ownership, African-based startups are testing out blockchain technology in order to provide a more transparent and auditable process.
Land fraud is a major issues in pats of Africa. One common type of fraud is with the double ownership of land. Here cartels can collude with officials so to create parallel titles for areas of land that the criminal organizations wish to acquire illegally. Due to Africa’s troubled and colonial past, ownership of vast areas of land is often unclear and disputed. These practices are now being challenged by the emerging generation of African startups. Here blockchain technology is being harnessed in order to create tamper proof digital land registries.
An example of the application of blockchain technology to address issues of land ownership is in Kenya. Blockchains provide a mechanism to store vital data, like contracts and assets. This enables ledgers of digital transactions to be created, which cannot be adjusted. The initial role of the platform will be to provide a mirror reflection of the Government Land Registry systems.
An example comes from Peter Tole, who is the founder of a company called the Land Layby Group, a Nairobi-based real estate firm. The company is experimenting with blockchain. This is in the form of a private land registry, which will allow investors to purchase land and property in a secure way.
The new registry will use a cryptocurrency token termed the ‘harambee token’. The digital currency will work by rewarding participants for adding correct entries into the blockchain. The system will also penalizes those who make erroneous statements or records. The process starts after the first person to register a piece of land correctly is issued with 100 harambee tokens; following this, the second person or business receives 80 tokens; the third 50, and so on through a decreasing scale of token issuance.