Rwandans are set to start accessing land titles online, a move expected to reduce the cost and time needed to get such a service, the National Land Authority (NLA) has announced. The Authority noted, through a press release dated January 4, that it is introducing the electronic certificate of land registration or land title, known as “e-Title”, effective January 6, 2023. The development is expected to eliminate the use of hard copies or physical land title deeds to citizens, but also across various sectors which usually need them to serve citizens in different capabilities. Electronic land titles are going to change the way people perceive land services because there will be no need to make endless trips to the sector office or to the registrar’s office to pick physical land titles. After an application is approved by the Registrar of the Land Titles, it is noted, the land owner will get a notification with a link to be used to download and save the digital copy of his or her land title. “This means that the title is going to be done straight away after Registrar’s approval and people will not have to wait for days for the printed titles and it will cut cost for transportation of printed titles from the districts to the sector offices,” reads part of the NLA statement. As the e-Title feature is now fully implemented and deployed, the Authority said transactions that do not need to be processed by land notaries will fully be online, on Irembo – the Government’s online one-stop service portal. With this progress, NLA observed that Rwandans including those living in diaspora, are able to enjoy 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. Reducing cost The issuance of land titles has always been done only in non-digital format; on printed certificates, which is costly due to high printing expenses, and paperwork. It is also noted that there was a possibility of fraud as well as loss of title, which needs to be replaced at additional charges, and time constraints associated with the procedure to request its replacement. For each new title, it’s noted, citizens have to pay Rwf5,000. With the e-Title, this cost will no longer be paid by the land owner. So far, a flat fee of Rwf30,000 is charged for land transfer fee, regardless of the value of the plot in question, something that some Members of Parliament want revised to factor in the value aspect. This fee covers the printed land title and transfer of ownership. With this technology expected to save the Rwf5,000 printing cost, the land transfer fee could be Rwf25,000. “The government will no longer pay for printer leasing fees, templates used to print the land titles out, and the staff involved in printing will serve in speeding up land services as the burden will be thrown away from them,” NLA said. During the period of 2009-2013, NLA indicated, Rwanda conducted a countrywide Land Tenure Regularisation programme, which involved, among others, land demarcation and a land registry that is fully digital. It showed that 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.