Government’s Computerization Efforts to Simplify Land Registration for Ugandans

Currently the Land Registries in the country run manual systems of records keeping which, as the number of records keeps growing, have been affected by problems of inefficiency, inaccuracy and lack of adequate internal controls.
The manual systems have been also been found to be prone to human error. For instance, issues of missing white pages have slowed down the registration process and wastes time of clients. The manual systems are slow to operate, laborious and unable to store large amounts of data efficiently.

 

In September 2003, a decision was taken by the Ministry to begin the implementation of computerization of the Land Registry. The aim was to address the shortcomings of the manual system, restore the integrity of the Land Registry and ensure modernization of Land Registry operations to meet the needs of a growing economy.

Before embarking on the actual computerization of the Land Registry, it was necessary to address issues of correct filing and reorganizing of all the registry records; cleaning and dusting; reconstruction of the torn and damaged records and vetting of all records in the manual system to identify and get rid of any forgeries or problem land titles.

What the Ministry has so far done

The Basic Computerization
The Ministry has already carried out the basic computerization of land title records. It involved capturing of the existing records in digital format into a computer database and, indexing of the records to facilitate searching and retrieval on the data in digital form.

This computerization involved data entry, indexing and scanning of Mailo land records for the Kampala, Wakiso and Mpigi Districts to ease search and retrieval of the land records in digital format. By May, 2009 all the Mailo land record data for the Kibuga, Kyadondo, Busiro, Mawokota, Gomba and Butambala have been entered in the Computer database.

A number of other tasks were carried out to support the basic computerization. These included:

  • Installing a telephone helpline (256-414-373511) to enable the public obtain help on Land Administration procedures and clarifications on queries they have on land transactions;
  • Training of Registry staff in basic computerization, customer care and database management,
  • Issuing of new Land administration requirements for submission of Passport photographs, e-mail and mobile number contacts, aimed ensuring that genuine and rightful  land owners and buyers are protected against fraud and fraudulent transactions;
  • An Information Guide on Services provided by the Ministry, to enable the public obtain information on which offices carry out land transactions, the official fees to be paid, the expected duration of the land transactions and where to lodge a complaint in case the undertakings by the Ministry are not adhered to;
  • The Ministry Website (www.mlhud.go.ug) was re-designed with online access to land transaction forms (which had been hitherto been difficult to access)
  • A Records Center for the first titles for all the Mailo and Freehold titles and other important historical documents has been established.  The root titles have been valuable for resolving land disputes and identifying forged titles and fraudulent transactions;
  • New one stop centre for Leasehold/Freehold Land Registry has been set up to streamline operations in that Registry.

This intervention on basic computerization has enabled the Land Registry to generate computer related information on ownership of plots as well as information on Mailo land transactions such as changes in property ownership and encumbrances thereon for the Districts of Kampala, Wakiso and Mpigi.

As a result of the basic computerization, there was substantial improvement in the delivery of land services. It used to take 3 to 5 years to register transaction. Now with the basic computerization and other initiatives, it takes 3 to 4 weeks depending on the type of transaction lodged.

In order to carry out comprehensive computerization, the Government with support from the World Bank, secured some funding through the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) towards the development of the National Land Information System (LIS).  The LIS is not only aimed at mere comprehensive computerization but is also aimed at supporting reforms to ensure an efficient and effective Land Administration System.

Development of a National Land Information System (LIS) will also enable expansion of land information access to key regional centers/districts. The following activities have so far been carried out:

  • The contract for detailed design and deployment of the LIS in Land Offices in 6 most active regional centers of Jinja, Mukono, Wakiso, Kampala, Masaka and Mbarara is under implementation and will be completed in about 20 months to enable electronic access of land records.
  • Design works for LIS have been completed and as part of this a Business Process. Re-engineering exercise was carried out aimed at creating a more efficient and effective workflow for the Land Administration System which will enable reduction in  the time and cost for carrying out land transactions.
  • The LIS software has been set up and tested;
  • Survey and mapping control infrastructure for LIS development is in place;
  • An Aerial survey was carried out to provide base map data for the LIS development process. Base maps will be used for checking, verifying and updating the situation on the ground.
  • High resolution aerial photographs for all the six urban areas of Jinja, Mukono, Wakiso, Kampala, Masaka and Mbarara have been produced for use in land administration, land use planning, planning of investment projects and other development programs in the urban areas.
  • Data conversion from manual land records into agreed digital format has been carried out. As part of this all the cadastral maps for the 7 districts of Jinja, Mukono, Wakiso, Kampala, Masaka, Mpigi and Mbarara, covering 60 – 70% of the active land market, have been scanned.
  • Data from various institutions has been incorporated in the LIS database: Administrative boundaries; Forest cover; Wetlands; Water bodies; National Parks; Reserves and Protected areas; Trunk District and Community roads. This will ensure integrated management of land information and ensure that there will be no unauthorized surveys in protected areas like Forests, National Parks etc.

The Comprehensive Computerization

After the basic effort, the Ministry is now moving towards the comprehensive computerization of the Land registry. So far, the Lands Ministry has done the following:

•    Construction and refurbishment of 12 Land Offices (Wakiso, Mukono, Masaka, Mbarara, Kabarole, Kibaale, Masindi, Lira, Gulu, Arua, Jinja and Mbale) to act as regional centres where land services will be taken nearer to the people, other than traveling to Kampala.
•     A Storage and Archival Center has been built in Entebbe for electronic backup copies for all land administration records.
•     A National Land Information Centre which is required to support the LIS is due to be completed by the end of September, 2011.
•    To increase the supply of qualified land administrations, surveyors and other land management staff, the School of Surveying was reopened and new Resource Center constructed.
•    Review of existing laws and development of new laws to support the computerization process.
•    Training and capacity building in support of the computerization started in 2009 and is ongoing.
•    Consultants have been hired to work with a team of other Ministry staff to undertake the vetting of the manual records in the Leasehold and Freehold Registries

Benefits of Computerizing the Land Registry

  1. The system will be more responsive to the needs and demands of the citizens and business clients;
  2. Computerization will prevent, reduce or eliminate backdoor transactions, forgeries and graft;
  3. There will be more efficient and speedy registration of transactions as a result of computerization;
  4. The problems of missing land records will be eliminated;
  5. There will be a decrease in the cost and space required for storing land records;
  6. There will be simplification of the preparation of disaster copies;
  7. There will be faster resolution of land disputes;
  8. There will be online access to the information in the Registry with reduced interfacing with the public which encourages soliciting for unofficial fees;
  9. the following problems which are experienced under the manual system will no longer happen:
  • Multiple allocations of plots;
  • Forgeries and altering of Land Documents;
  • Unauthorized involvement in Land Allocation;
  • Land Use Abuses;
  • Encroachments on roads and road reserves;
  • Wrong and overlapping Surveys;
  • Inefficient revenue generation and loss of revenue
  • Rampant subdivisions, amendments and falsification survey information on land titles.

 

  1. There will be reduction in  time and cost involved in land transactions;
  2. The LIS will provide built in security measures for ensuring accuracy, reliability of registry record and ensure integrity of land records;
  3. There will be easier identification and prevention of fraud and illegal transaction;
  4. The LIS will facilitate search and verification of title in the shortest possible time;
  5. The LIS will also facilitate monitoring and analysis of market and rental values of land and property; and
  6. The LIS will provide special online access to Courts, Banks and mortgage finance institutions.
     

Dennis Obbo
Ministry of Lands, Housing & Urban Development, Uganda
dennisfo@mlhud.go.ug

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