Digital land records curb corruption—Experts

ICT experts are recommending that apart from implementing strong legal framework, harnessing technology and innovation would help solve corruption issues in land management and administration issues in the country

Currently land issues are contentious in Malawi with the latest being reports of the alleged dubious sale of Livimbo Community Day Secondary School in Lilongwe among other issues.

ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) president Bram Fudzulani said on Wednesday digitizing land records at the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development would help root out corruption in land management.

Fudzulani expressed concern that the record management at the department of lands leaves a lot to be desired in terms of efficiency.

He said embracing technology and innovation is a sure way of dealing with corruption and inefficiencies in land management.

Fudzulani cited the Livimbo case, which he said is being contentious because of the manual keeping of records that is failing to practically identify real ownership with fears of forgery of documents.

Said Fudzulani: “One thing the technology is able to do especially emerging digital technologies such as blockchain is to have a centralised place of keeping the title deeds and land certificates which can be accessed by any entity when centrally kept.

“Over the years, we have seen that a piece of land is sold out to several people because we don’t have publicly accessible information available to ascertain ownership. But if we bring in technology, we will be able to do away with corruption which comes about when people sell the same piece of land to several people manually.”

Fudzulani explained that using technology, the government will be able to know which land is developed or not developed, sold or not and manage it well.

According to him, the biggest challenge in the public sector has been the mindset change where people object to embracing technology because some of them use the manual system as cash cow.

Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development Symon Vuwa Kaunda said last week that government will work to enforce the existing legal instruments to deal with corruption issues in land management.

Land scams are not new in Malawi as many people, including Cabinet ministers and high-ranking government officials have previously been duped in their attempts to acquire land.

In 2018, Vuwa-Kaunda, then serving as one of President Peter Mutharika’s advisers, was duped about K1.4 million in a fake plot allocation by someone who posed as controller of Lands.

On Monday this week, African Development Bank senior vice president Charles Boamah urged African countries to act fast and purge corruption in the land sector by harnessing technology and innovation.

Boamah also called for the deployment of more financial and human resources to land policy development, especially in rural areas and among the most vulnerable.

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