Government will, this year, streamline the process of land acquisition, valuation and records consolidation as part of measures to create a business-friendly environment, which will increase investor confidence in the country.
In addition, and among other intended measures, the process of digitising all land records in the country-- a major intervention designed to reduce the turnaround time for land registration and eliminate corruption-- will also begin this year.
Consequently, a land reform conference slated for February is expected to bring together experts in land acquisition and management and other relevant stakeholders within the sector.
The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, made these known when he paid a surprise visit to the offices of the Land Registration Division of the Lands Commission in Accra on Tuesday to familiarise himself with their operations and discuss associated challenges.
"Ghana will not be able to move beyond aid if we don't tackle the issue of land title. There is so much land for which people cannot even extract any equity out of it because there is no proper title to it. That cannot and must not continue," Dr Bawumia stated.
He continued: "We have been living with this problem in Ghana for years, but we are not changing it. It is time for us to change the system. We cannot accept the status quo, and the directions of the President are clear: we have to bring change to this whole process of the acquisition of land.
"In many countries land is key in the development of the country, but in Ghana land is not part of the process in many cases, and that does not allow the development of the mortgage market. So we have come here to familiarise ourselves with the processes, and to discuss some of their challenges," he added.
Dr Bawumia expressed particular worry at the conditions at the records department of the Land Title Division and the seemingly disorganised manner of the land management process.
However, he said, a process was going to be implemented this year, where a land reform conference would be held to take some important decisions and to streamline the system thereafter.
"It is a very scary situation because there's not enough space there for them to keep the records, and you don't have these records in digital form so even finding somebody's file can take you more than a month. Sometimes some of the files--because of misfiling--cannot be found and they will tell you your file has not been found. So we have to change the process and this is why we are taking this whole issue of digitalizing our land documents in Ghana very seriously.
"The search processes, the consolidation of records, survey department, land title, you have all these records in different places; they are not consolidated. We can't continue the same way. This is the year we have to consolidate all the records."
Consolidating all such records, Dr Bawumia said, would, therefore, facilitate the development of the mortgage market and make it easier to undertake land ownership searches, adding that no modern economy could work without a well-developed mortgage market.
He gave the assurance that resources and personnel such as the Nation Builders Corps would be put at the disposal of the land agencies to help in the digitalization of all the documents.
Furthermore, he said, discussions would also be held with the Chief Justice to find ways to address the many conflicting judgments issued in different courts on land issues.
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)