Addressing Challenges to Property Registration in Ghana

October 1, 2020

A robust land administration system provides opportunities to unlock the productive capacity of the land. In countries where a secured land title is guaranteed, land serves as collateral for small and medium businesses to access finance, sell a property, and support broader community development goals.

 

Over the years, Ghana has implemented several strategies, legal frameworks, and policies to improve the land registration system and property map index, which form key components of land administration. However, these strategies did not deliver a robust land administration system that provides clear information on property ownership, transfer of property, secure land title, and support land market development. Thus, the land market in Ghana is characterized by land title insecurity, encroachment of public lands, multiple sales of residential lands, high property registration cost, and general land market indiscipline. These challenges in the land market are associated with factors that delay unlocking the productive capacity of the land.

 

The Land Administration Programme (LAP) was implemented in 2003 to strengthen land administration, harmonize customary and statutory laws and minimize disputes associated with the land. The program contributed to strengthening institutional frameworks that streamlined land administration under the Lands Commission. The turnaround time for the registration of deeds was reduced from three months to two months and the turnaround time of securing land title reduced from twelve months to five months (World Bank, 2018). The program also supported the decentralization of title and deed registration, mapping, and establishment of Customary Land Secretariats. Nonetheless, digitization of the land administration, institutional synergies, effective parcel demarcation, transactional cost, and access to clear information on property ownership and security of title remain a constraint in land administration in Ghana.

 

These pitfalls in the land administration system have been identified by global benchmarks such as the “Doing Business Report” and the Quality of Land Administration Index as crucial to the effective registration of property and land governance in Ghana. Ghana is ranked 14th in Africa on the Registering Property Index, behind countries like Rwanda and Mauritius. The drawbacks in land administration in Ghana, if unresolved, will continue to affect the ease of doing business and culminate in a weak and uncoordinated land administration system which may worsen the land market indiscipline.

 

The findings suggest that the surest way to creating an efficient and transparent land market is through enhanced access to information, decentralized formal property registration systems, and building the relevant infrastructure to record and protect land information.