Search and print in minutes: The wonders of digital technology in Ardhi House

REAL ESTATE |
Lands and Planning CS Ms Farida Karoney at the National Geospatial Data Center [Courtesy]

The government says its programme to digitise land records has been successful, with the process in Nairobi nearing completion.

The digitised registration system, Ardhi Sasa, has cut transaction time significantly and enhanced security of records against tampering, according to the Lands ministry.

For instance, it will take three minutes to do a search and 10 minutes to print a certificate of lease.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney said the Ardhi Sasa platform was introduced in February 2018 to promote efficiency and put an end to fraudulent transactions.

“We built this system for three reasons; to create accountability and responsibility in terms of land administration and management, increase revenue for government and to enable land owners to transact on their parcels of land by themselves, transparently, easily and efficiently,” she said during a tour of the digital registry at the National GeoSpatial Data Centre in Nairobi on Monday.

 “When we started the digitisation process in 2018 we were hoping to have everything digitised in two years, but we didn’t know how deep the land problems in the country were.

“Our target is to have digitised at least 50 per cent of the country’s land records by December 2022, which is the target we were given by the President.”

So far, Ms Karoney said, 25 million land records in Nairobi have been digitised and the process is gradually being rolled out to other counties, starting with Murang’a.

“Records at Ardhi House go as far as 1895. We currently handle about 800 land documents in a day, and 70 per cent of these are always passed for documentation on the digital platform,” the CS said.

“I know there have been major issues with both public and private lands and I can assure Kenyans that we will not have these issues anymore because everything will be in the Ardhi Sasa system. No one can transfer land to themselves, change ownership or tamper with land records in any way.”

However, despite its success in Nairobi, the digitisation has encountered challenges.

“The problem is the quality of our data,” Karoney said. “Because of the layers of fraud over the many years the ministry has existed, it is very difficult to separate good records from bad records.”

“The Nairobi registry has about 90,000 title documents but only about 40,000 are declared clean, meaning the customers can transact.”

For the rest, either the document was acquired by fraud and cannot be on the digital platform, the records are incomplete - meaning the government is not able to merge the document from all its departments - or the document is inaccurate.

In the past, it would take months, and in some cases years, for a file to be located or a single search to be done because there was no proper record keeping.

The digitital system has cut down this time by about 98 per cent, making it easier for officers to access records and verify ownership.

“In this system, an officer sitting at a computer can access any record they want. If an application for registration comes in, all the registrar needs to do is go to the platform and check. Is this property properly allocated to this individual, is it public land?” said the CS.

The Lands ministry is also geo-referencing all properties in the country, which means they will be able to tell the location of every parcel of land in Kenya.

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