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Summer 2009
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A Synopsis of Articles 1 and 2

The Ghana Title Registry Pilot

Corporate Initiatives Development Group; Esri Business Partner International Land Systems, Inc. (ILS); Opportunity International; and Esri initiated a 2008 pilot in the African nation of Ghana to develop a land titling process and GIS-based land records system that would formally recognize the landownership of the poor. Currently under way in Ashaiman, one of the poorest sections of Accra, Ghana's capital city, the pilot has made remarkable technological, social, and political progress in less than a year.

Most of Ashaiman's 400,000 residents are squatters who occupy or lease lands owned by the government-run Tema Development Corp. To date, the pilot has involved the operators of private schools in the area. Due to the demand for private education services, many of these low-income school operators are seeking loans to expand their buildings to make room for more students.

Prior to the project, Opportunity International of San Diego, California, was already in the process of introducing the school microloan concept to Accra. Acting as the "trusted broker" in Ashaiman, Opportunity International is working with the school owners in the pilot to assist them in the titling process and demonstrate the mutually beneficial links that can be forged between formalized land registration, microfinance, and poverty alleviation.

For the pilot itself, ILS had the task of implementing a fully functional GIS-based land recording and registration system where none existed before. The ultimate goal is for this system to be handed off to the government to award official titles. Beginning in mid-2008, ILS began installing its MultiCadastre platform, an enterprise cadastral management solution created with ArcGIS geospatial tools. This off-the-shelf product integrates landownership information with an accurate parcel cadastre in a digital environment to support a variety of land registry functions.

The geodatabase was loaded with a high-quality topographic map and GeoEye IKONOS satellite imagery of Ashaiman. ArcWeb Services provide access to 3D models and additional geospatial data that serve as base layers for the parcel cadastre. SAMBUS Company Ltd., an Accra survey company and Esri international distributor in Ghana, used Trimble GPS receivers to capture the parcel location and boundary coordinates at each participating school. In late November 2008, the team installed a Trimble NetR5 GPS base station to provide real-time differential correction.

While field surveying was progressing, loan officers from Opportunity International were interviewing the school owners and gathering documentation related to their use of land the schools occupied. At first this information was collected on paper, but later the process was converted to digital point-and-click data entry on the screen of a Trimble GeoXH mobile GIS device. Digital photos and videos of the school operator and the site were taken as part of this discovery process.

By the end of 2008, the adjudication process had been completed for 30 private schools in Ashaiman. The land registry system now contains the legal information and documentation required by the Ghana Ministry of Lands for official titling. This information is linked to the parcel cadastre so that title and lease documentation, as well as photos and video, can be accessed simply by clicking on the appropriate property on the registry map. The information is sufficient to award the schools a paralegal title that is recognized by Opportunity International as valid for microfinance lending.

The Ghana Ministry of Lands has watched the pilot closely and expressed satisfaction in seeing what was once a laborious manual adjudication process fully automated. The ministry has indicated it will formally recognize the land titling process and begin awarding official titles after Tema Development Corp. provides lease documentation to the school owners. Tema is generating these lease documents, which is the last step in providing official land tenure recognition for the school owners.

More Information

For more information, contact Peter Rabley (e-mail: prabley@landsystems.com) or Craig DeRoy (e-mail: craigderoy@cox.net).

See also "Evaluating Ghana Pilot Project Results, Part 3."

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