CS Karoney: This is what you'll need to transact on land after digitisation

Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Completeness, integrity and accuracy.

If your parcel of land does not meet these three elements, then you will not be able to transact with it.

This is the threshold put by the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning in digitisation of records.

Lands Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney acknowledges that the process has not been smooth sailing.

“This was deliberate. It is very painful for our customers by the way,” she said.

“But we have come from a past where people inserted records in the file, plucked other records or stole a whole file – those kind of things.

“So we are saying for you to be able to transact with a land parcel, it must meet three elements: the record must be complete, we must be certain that there is a record of integrity that it (land) was acquired properly and it is accurate,” she said.

Ms Karoney was giving a talk on “The Digitalisation of Land Records in Kenya” during a Strathmore University alumni forum.

She said with the new system under National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) searches will be accurate.

“You know in the past when you would search, there was something called LIMS (Land Information Management System). That was a fake thing.

"You would search in the morning, it would say the land belongs to Farida, in the afternoon it belongs to Berita, by evening it is now belonging to Ibrahim, and you are at the Ministry of Lands.”

“So you go to court, there are three searches of the same property with three different owners.”

NLIMS was launched by President Uhuru Kenya in April 2021 to replace LIMS.

Ardhi House, Nairobi. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The CS said the Land Registration Act dictates that land parcels must be geo-referenced - there must be coordinates for the parcel's location to be known.

“I think that comes from our history. Previously, I would give you land and maybe, I have given you in Karura Forest. But in this system it is not possible to do so because we are geo-referencing all these properties.”

“It means we are giving it coordinates, like flying in a helicopter.”

The beauty of this system, she said, is that it cannot be operated outside the law. It has been built to comply with the existing law.

Land registry

For example, if one is registering an apartment, they must use the Sectional Property Act "otherwise it will not allow you to transact on that parcel."

"If one is registering land, then they use the Land Registration Act.

She said the ministry is almost done with the process of converting all land parcels to be under one regime – the Land Registration Act.

This process involves moving all land parcels registered using other laws among them the India Transfer of Property Act 1882, Government Lands Act(Cap 280), Registration of Titles Act (Cap 281) and Lands Title Act (Cap 282).

“How can we have a law of 1882 in 2022?”

Ms Karoney said once all other registers are closed, fraud and confusion emanating from parallel registration will be eliminated.

“Some people use different registration regimes to register the same parcel of land. That is how we see one land have five titles.” 

The ministry has already gazetted 84,000 land parcels set to migrate to the Land Registration Act 2012, with 64,000 of them having matured.

The CS detailed the progress in the Nairobi registry saying it now has 58,000 parcels.

National Geospatial Data Centre, Nairobi.  [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

“When we took the Nairobi registry live last year, we only had 19,000 parcels on the platform. Now we have close to 60,000,” she said.

“Over the years we have corrupted our data to the extent that it is taking so long to separate the wheat from the chaff.”

Nairobi has two registries: the Nairobi Registry and the Central Registry. While the former is live, the central registry is pending, Ms Karoney said.

“We are waiting for the gazette notice period to lapse so that we can fully migrate this registry.”

The central registry was permanently shut in June last year to pave way for online transactions through NLIMS.