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Rwanda launches electronic land titles to boost efficiency

NLA said through a press release dated January 4 that it is introducing the electronic certificate of land registration or land title, known as “e-Title”, effective January 6, 2023.

Story by Emmanuel Ntirenganya

Rwandans are set to start accessing land titles online – a move that is expected to reduce the cost and time needed to get such a service, the National Land Authority (NLA) has announced.

NLA said through a press release dated January 4 that it is introducing the electronic certificate of land registration or land title, known as “e-Title”, effective January 6, 2023.

The development, according to NLA, is expected to eliminate the issuance of hard copies or physical land title deeds to citizens, but also across various sectors which usually need them to serve citizens in different capabilities.

Also, electronic land titles are going to change the way people perceive land services because there will be no need to make trips to the sector office or to the registrar’s office to pick the physical land titles. Rather, it said, after the application is approved by the Registrar of the Land Titles, the owner of the land will get a notification with a link to be used to download and save the digital copy of his/her land title.

“This means that the issuance is going to be done straight away after Registrar’s approval and people will get rid of days they used to wait for printout and transportation of printed titles from the districts to the sectors’ offices,” it said in the press release.

As the e-Title feature is now fully implemented and deployed, the Authority said the transactions that do not need to be processed by land notaries will be fully online on Irembo – the Government’s online one-stop service portal.

With this progress, NLA observed that Rwandans including those living in the diaspora, are able to enjoy the automated land services and instantly get access to their land titles at their fingertips through their devices, without making any single visit or involving third parties, which would necessitate the provision of the power of attorney for representation purpose.

Reducing the cost

The issuance of land titles has always been done only in non-digital format, namely on printed certificates, which is costly due to high printing expenses, and paperwork, NLA said. It added that there was a possibility of fraud as well as loss of title, which needs to be replaced at additional charges, and time constraints associated with the procedure to request its replacement. It explained that for each new title, citizens have to pay Rwf5,000. With e-Title, this cost will no longer be paid by the land owner but on top of this.

So far, a flat fee of Rwf30,000 is charged for land transfer fee, regardless of the value of the plot in question, something that Members of Parliament have been arguing should be revised to factor in the value aspect.

This fee covers the printed land title and the transfer of ownership. With this technology expected to save the Rwf5,000 printing cost, the land transfer fee could be Rwf25,000.

“The government will no longer pay for printer leasing fees, templates used to print the land titles out, and the staff involved in printing will serve in speeding up land services as the burden will be thrown away from them,” NLA said.

During the period of 2009-2013, NLA indicated, Rwanda conducted a countrywide Land Tenure Regularisation programme, which involved, among others, land demarcation and a land registry that is fully digital. It showed that the systematic land registration resulted in registering more than 10.4 million parcels and the issuance of 8.8 million of land titles to the landowners.

The New Times

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