Using Nigeria as a typical example, every piece of land is claimed, whether on record or not. Besides lands found almost in the middle of nowhere, ancestral ownership and transfer of such remains an unbroken tradition in defining the ownership of landed properties.
There have been numerous cases involving the claim of property between the nation state and the local custodians. This occurs mostly when there is the need for the government to acquire such a property for the purpose of development or infrastructure. Most of the time, conflicts arise due to the certification of the true ownership of such lands and suggested compensation plans.
Christopher Bates of Bitland says that using Blockchain-based registries to keep records of land titles in rural areas is what his company initiative is all about. He adds that this will help governments at all levels to maintain a proper inventory of their real estate. He goes on to say that this is happens even though most rural areas are usually without high speed Internet and, in many cases, without electricity.
“Our initiative is focused on a full stack solution which brings local physical infrastructure in the form of Bitland Centers that have solar-powered wi-fi networks, as you cannot have Blockchain solutions without the Internet, and you cannot have the Internet without electricity.”
First official ICO and partners
Bitland has announced its first official ICO which is slated to begin on August 22 2016. Bates says that the ICO is targeted at raising between 4000 and 5000 Bitcoins to outfit the first Bitland centers located in Ghana and Nigeria.
He explains that as the global operations are scaled up, Bitland is looking to get government contracts to fund the future centers so that the governments are the ones funding the development and not the populations that they are trying to protect. In other to achieve this target, Bitland is partnering with OpenLedger, CCEDK, and officially have Kottackal as an external auditing partner to audit their operations.
Bates explains that OpenLedger is the backbone of what is called a “Decentralized Conglomerate”. An ecosystem that allows companies like Bitland to make use of Blockchain technology without having to worry about not having a team to ensure that the technology is kept updated.
“As a decentralized exchange, OpenLedger allows digital currencies to be exchanged with each other as well as with fiat currencies. CCEDK is a partner who help with marketing and PR. They have a team of specialists who make B2B and B2C contacts, as well as produce literature and content related to the projects using OpenLedger. Kottackal is a company in India that helps tech companies enter the market and get prepared to scale with the global market. We are hoping that having them as auditing partners will help Bitland move into markets outside of the African continent with ease.”
Blockchain-based land inventory for Western countries
Bates also hints to Cointelegraph that his company will be meeting with government officials in another country next month, and while the name of the country cannot be disclosed at the moment, Bates says that it is a Western country not in Africa.
“We are looking to get the pilot in Ghana testing the software on the ground by October, and looking to have the center in Nigeria starting to be outfitted before the end of the year. We are semi-finalists in the Venture Clash competition in Connecticut and will be finding out next week if we make it to the next round.”
Christopher Franko, Blockchain expert at Borderless Technology, agrees with the viability of this venture but also recognises the inherent bottlenecks that may be encountered. Franko explains that basically, the Blockchain is a method of immutable record keeping. He says that any sort of data, or record of value transfer, which could benefit from being stored in a trustless environment would be a really great use case for the Blockchain e.g. currency, governance services, votes, and property ownership.
Franko says to Cointelegraph:
“Creating tokens that represent property ownership is entirely valid. This is actually one of the things we plan to do with the Borderless.tech platform as well. It is going to be interesting to see how they handle fractional transfers of property. Say I own 100 acres of land, but want to sell only 1 acre or even 0.002 acres, how fine-tuned can we make this transfer using their system? Also, what I am concerned about is, in the past we have seen other digital assets try and tie themselves to real life assets like precious metals only for it to not turn out too well. Another thing that concerns me, is how they plan to compete directly with the governments in the areas. Are they working with or against? With Borderless, we plan to create supplemental services that lower the cost and create bridges from the legacy record keeping systems to the new trustless Blockchain system, so that nation states can offer a better service to their citizens and citizens, in turn, have direct access to their registry entries.”