One of the most iconic publications in modern history – Time Magazine – has just published its 50 Most Genius Companies list, and representing blockchain technology is Bitland, the (literally) ground-breaking land-registry website that allows even the poorest African and Indian landowners the chance to lay claim to what is often their very lifeblood.
It’s no great surprise to learn that in the majority of second and third world countries, the clarification of land ownership is an issue. But while there are cases of bogus ownership, more often than not, people with a legitimate claim on a piece of land, by birthright or marriage or even purchase, will one day discover that what is their sole source of food/income/survival land can be easily taken from them with little or no recourse by unscrupulous corporate developers.
While in the movies, such actions are usually accompanied by a cheque for a substantial amount of money, in reality these owners – who are often illiterate and barely educated – are swept aside without any compensation.
90% Of Ghanaian Land Is Unregistered
Despite the fact that it is a former British colony, and one of the African nations with a high standard of education, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that 90% of the land in Ghana is unregistered. According to anti-government activists, this situation suits corrupt local authority figures perfectly, as it provides little legal recourse to owners if their land is taken from them and handed to a wealthy contractor who has made a generous donation to said local authority.
This has resulted in a volatile situation where literally hundreds of Ghanaian families that have owned land for generations, have had it “legally stolen” from them, because it was never formally registered.
Out of this chaos was born Bitland, a website so innovative and evocative that Time Magazine has just listed it among their “50 Most Genius Companies.”
Bitland is the brainchild of software programmer and developer and Ghana resident Narigamba Mwinsuubo, and it uses blockchain technology to create a public record of land ownership which is irrefutable. Once the ownership of a piece of land is verified by one of Bitland’s operatives on the ground, that ownership is documented in a format that cannot be altered retroactively – by committing it to the Bitland blockchain ledger.
Bitland creates smart contracts for property owners, which as well as ownership, lists how the land came to be theirs (inheritance, via marriage, purchase etc), and if the land has since been leased to a second party. To list new owners on the blockchain, Bitland uses a combination of GPS coordinates, a mapping system, PGP keys, and a timestamping service.
Right now Bitland currently operates in seven African nations and in India. It also supports some Native American communities in the United States. With proof of land ownership a massive issue throughout the developing world, expect Bitland to grow and develop into as familiar a brand in third world counties as UNICEF, the Red Cross and the World Wildlife Fund. .