Rwanda has conducted a successful national wide Land Tenure Regularization programme undertaken during the period of 2009-2013 which implied land demarcation, adjudication, parcels digitization and land registration parcel by parcel, making every land record kept in a land registry which is 100% digital. The systematic land registration resulted in registering more than 10.4 million parcels and issuance of 8.8 million of land titles to the land owners.
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, paperwork and security of the titles especially possibility of fraud as well as loss of title which needs to be replaced at additional charges and time constraints associated to the request of the replacement of title procedure.
Effective form January, 6th 2023, the National Land Authority (NLA) has introduced the electronic certificate of land registration, known as “e-Title”. This will eliminate issuance of hard or physical land title deeds to citizen but also across various sectors which usually need them to serve citizens in different capabilities.
Electronic land titles (e-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, 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.
As the e-Title feature is now fully implemented and deployed, the transactions that do not need to be processed by land notaries will be fully online on Irembo and Rwandans including those living in 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 provision of the power of attorney for representation purpose.
The government and land owners share the cost of land title printout where for instance for each new title, citizens have to pay 5,000 Rwf. With e-Title, this cost will no longer be paid by the land owner but on top of this.
The government will no longer pay for printer leasing fees, templates used to print the land titles out and staff involved in printing will serve in speeding up land services as the burden will be thrown away from them. However, anyone who will need to get a printed copy due to outstanding circumstances shall make a special request to the National Land Authority with highly motivated reasons and obviously pay the corresponding cost.
The advantage of electronic land title also will be the smooth access to other services such as financial services, building permits, justice services, tax clearance, fertilizers and agriculture services as well as other transactions requiring land title as a triggering document.