How Rwanda Fixed Land Challenges To Ease Doing Business



Reforms in Rwanda’s land tenure have propelled the country to become one of the most secure places to own land in the world, according to Prindex survey report published in September.

The World Bank in its Doing Business Report 2020, ranks Rwanda number 3 in the world for having made the most business friendly reforms in registering a property.

Twenty five years ago when Rwanda slipped into the genocide against the Tutsi, the land policy just like other policies, was very discriminative and largely caused constant rifts in communities.

The current government, in 2009, launched its land tenure registration as part of sweeping reforms to fix the land tenure system with objectives of achieving economic viability and social cohesion.

Rwanda is among the most densely populated places on earth with a 12 million people on a total surface area of only 26,338 square kilometers.

About 11.4 million parcels of land have been registered and owners issued with certificates which they can ably present as collateral in banks to obtain loans.

The documents also have helped in phasing out land related disputes.

“We have developed a paperless land registry replacing the physical stamp on land titles with an electronic QR code that can be obtained at the nearest land offices across the country,” says Grace Nishimwe, Head Of Land Administration Department at Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA).

According to Nishimwe, the phasing out of the physical stamp and adoption of QR code is aimed at eradicating forgery of land titles.

“For industrial and commercial properties, we have another reform where notarization of the transfer contract and registration of the transfer are being processed in the same place and thus the investor can get the land title in one day,” Ishimwe explains.

This is important for doing business and its implementation has eased the environment of doing business in Rwanda.

Ishimwe further explains that when “you have land and you can’t prove its ownership, there is definitely no security and the buyer cannot prove that you are the genuine owner. But with the first registration people have secured land rights and have been able to invest.”

For investors, documented land and existence of commercial court system have increased their trust and confidence in the country thus very attractive to doing business.

Finalize registration at the District Land Registry and obtain new deed

Agency : District Land Registry

The seller takes the authenticated sale agreement, the registration receipt and the certificate of good fiscal standing to the Land Registry and files a request of the transfer of property.

The documents to be provided are the following:
(1) Completed form to request the transfer
(2) Original property title
(3) The notarized sale agreement
(4) Copies of identification of the buyer and seller
(5) Proof of payment of transfer and notarial fees equivalent to twenty seven thousand Rwandan Francs paid into the bank account of the district where the land is located.

Once the request is made at the District Land Registry level, the document will be scanned and sent to the Rwanda Natural Resources Authority where it will be approved and the new title signed. The new title will then be sent to the District Level where the new owner will come and pick it up

All the  the processes can be conducted digitally on IREMBO, a portal that facilitates access to and payment for government services. 

“Before the introduction of the digital processes and the issuance of the QR Code to replace our signatures, it was very easy for people to forge our signatures or stamp and illegally acquire other people’s land,” says Esperance Mukamana, the Director General and Chief Registrar of the  Rwanda Land Management and Use Authority (RLMUA).

“It is also not necessary to have hard copies of your documents to process your applications,” she says.

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