Columnists

Business to enjoy gains of digitised land information

faridah

Land Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Last week saw the Lands Ministry demonstrate the National Land Information Management System (NLIMS) to the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) and Kenya Developers Association at the KNSDI building at Survey of Kenya.

This was part of a series of forums that the ministry has been holding to sensitise internal and external stakeholders about the imminent launch of NLIMS.

During question time, the expert at it was challenged to prove that the demo wasn’t a mere theoretical pitch.

So, with random land reference numbers provided, abracadabra, he quickly displayed the specifics and locations of the corresponding properties in Nairobi’s CBD.

He could have easily provided the owner particulars, but that would have been inappropriate. The point had been made. That, for once, we do have some GIS-based live system linking up the parcel maps to their corresponding attributes for Nairobi County, even if this is still work-in-progress.

This was familiar technical craft for me. But I felt happy and fulfilled that for once, the Lands Ministry is moving us from the endless talk about the digitisation of land records and creation of an integrated land management system to reality.

This brings us closer to the few African nations that have harnessed the power of technology for their land administration and management. The power in such systems is real and tremendous. It makes it possible and easy for policy managers, technical officers and ordinary users to access, interrogate and transact with land parcel information real-time.

It saves on time and reduces transaction costs. It also deals a body blow to irregularities and graft in land management.

So, we await the official launch eagerly. We also encourage the ministry to, once happy with Nairobi, extend the system to cover other parts of Kenya.

Landowners and the real estate industry cannot wait for the moment they will be able to log into the system and conduct business without having to travel, and without any human interaction.

But even as I laud the Ministry for the progress so far, it is fair to point out that this is tough technical work. I did a dummy of such a system for my Master’s degree project years back…and for only a small section of Nairobi city.

It’s rigorous and punishing work, taking plan after another, feeding coordinates and attributes of each land parcel into spatial frames and databases, then linking them.

Data collection

Therefore, for the hundreds of thousands of registered land parcels in Nairobi, the data collection, input and cleaning required to create the system demonstrated last week must have called for humbling sacrifices. So hats off to the officers who’ve been at it.

There will be challenges; particularly when the system goes live for use.

Technical and legal issues will pop up. But I encourage Cabinet Secretary Farida Karoney, and her team, to handle them as they come.

Kenya cannot let up on this progress. It is the sure bet forward.