A remarkable solution to Africa’s land rights question is gaining traction in Northern Ghana.
By registering land titles on a block chain style database Africa Youth Peace Call (AYPC) believe that they can put an end to the confusion regarding, and the resulting below-par productivity of, land in Africa.
The group are leading the charge to push the use of block chain technology to demonstrate proof of land ownership in Northern Ghana, an area that, despite having some of the richest arable land in the country, is home to Ghana’s poorest citizens.
“Northern Ghana covers 31% of Ghana’s landmass making it the largest region; that is also very fertile for agriculture production,” says AYPC president Afrikanus Kofi Akosah. “It has got the highest water volume in the country. Ironically it’s one of the three poorest regions in Ghana.”
Existing land ownership practices in the area inhibit locals from leveraging their land to start businesses or provide security for its dependants. Africa Youth Peace Call claim that the mobilisation of block chain technology could solve these issues at minimal cost and with minimal involvement from centralised institutions.
Says Akosah: “With sound policy, [Ghana] could easily become a food basket & manufacturing zone, especially in agro-processing.”
A block chain is essentially a public ledger of transactions. This means that its concept can be applied to all sorts of stuff, on top of its Hollywood application of enabling cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to function.
“The block chain offers a lot of opportunities,” Akosah says, “and we are exploring things like business incorporation on the block chain & starting businesses like money transfer, betting, paying bills & school fees.”
As a public ledger, a block chain can also be used to demonstrate proof of ownership in an area where few possess land titles and acquiring land titles is a bureaucratic nightmare.
Considering that the potential to apply block chain tech across Africa is enormous, Africa Youth Peace Call organised a major ‘boot camp’ convention on the subject last week, with crypto-community luminaries Roger Ver, Steve Horowitz and Susanne Tarkowski Templehoff all attending.
Liberating Northern Ghana Economically: The Blockchain to the Rescue brought together the people of Northern Ghana, the area’s “traditional” rulers and BitNation, an international collaborative community promoting tech-enabled DIY governance.
The boot camp ran from May 31 through June 5. Participants were given tips on entrepreneurship and education on the socio-economic benefits of a “secure private property regime”, land titles, corporate incorporation, smart contracts – and how block chain technology might be able to deliver all of the above on the cheap.
Akosah became aware of block chain technology in 2011, when a Facebook friend from the US donated two Bitcoins valuing $60 to his organisation.
“Those were the days you had to wait for three days to download a wallet. In fact, I was curious & decided to research about it. Instantly I realize [sic] this will help Africans immensely in engaging in cross-border trade and even banking which many Africans have no access.”
While his organisation is yet to provide any quantitative proof that the block chain will work in practice, Akosah is completely convinced that, if implemented properly, the technology could revolutionise Africa: “It’s an unprecedented opportunity to free millions of people from poverty.”