Rwanda has digitalized processing for land titles significantly reducing the period from two months to only five working days.
The country is making it possible for every land transaction to be conducted online as a way of wiping out queues at administrative offices and banks and also saving time.
“For a maximum of five working days, a buyer who fulfills required information gets the title lease,” says Odette Mpungirehe, Communication officer at Rwanda Natural Resources Authority/ Land and Mapping Unit.
For commercial properties, it is even much quicker because the title is obtained in one day, only at Rwanda Natural Resources Authority (RNRA) in Kigali. This institution has regular updates on maps, standard services and application forms on website.
Rwanda Online an ICT company has secured a 25-year contract from government to digitize all government to Citizen/ Businesses services.
“We are cutting off the time and resources it takes the applicant to have a valid title of land,” says Robert Manzi, an employee with Rwanda Online.
Through a web portal (www.irembo.gov.rw), it will be possible to make an online sale or subdivision of land, and to only go on appointment to the notary to make your transfer certified.
How it works
To start, an applicant needs to have an ICT gadget connected to internet then open www.irembo.gov.rw to sign up.
The web administrator proposes a username, which consists of first 13 digits of National ID. One is also required to propose a password. With the username and password, you can log in to an account created for you.
At this level, the platform shows Menus to guide the applicant including; seller details, parcel details and buyer details.
The menu has a provision for uploading attachments of title lease to be transferred and the IDs of both the seller and the buyer. There is also a provision for online payment of Rwf 27,000 including; service, notary and lease processing fees. The payment accepts traditional payment through the bank and Visa Card.
The information recipient-the sector land manager accesses all these details from this portal and screens them.
Through a short message (SMS), the officer gives an appointment to the seller and buyer to come and certify sell agreement.
According to Jonas Shema, the Executive secretary of Gikomero sector, there are more people interested in buying land in his sector. They register at least 40 transactions every day.
“In the past, applicants could come and find the land administrator away to the field. But now they will just have to go online and just wait for a feedback when everything is ready.”
Shema told KTPress the service will decrease corruption occurrences because there won’t be contact between service seekers and the provider.
In case of a disagreement, complainants can recourse to a dispute settlement mechanism that has been established in RNRA. Required forms to use to file a complaint or service seekers are available online.
Wise launch of a business in Rwanda
Land transfer/subdivision is just one among several services that Rwanda has digitalized, reducing the number of days and resources it would take an applicant to be served.
For example, to start a business, one needs to register online on the portal of Rwanda Development Board (RDB). Required documents, including a TIN number are obtained within six hours.
After registering a company, an investor goes straight into business, paying all taxes using online services and Mobile phones.
With a taxpayer growing to Rwf 20 million turnovers every year, they are required to register for a Value Addition Tax (VAT). This registration is also done free of charge at RDB.
Currently, Rwanda has close to 10,000 taxpayers on VAT.
Another relief to the investors in Rwanda is the suppression of non-tariff barriers.
Currently there are no more requirements for Cargo release order and transit documents at all borders.
Through the East African Electronic Single Window, a trader shipping goods from any AEC country member does clearance at first entry point and does not need to do more clearance on other borders.
Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) indicates that cargo clearance time through customs was reduced by over 85% from 11 days to just over one day, and the cost of clearance of goods fell by the same percentage from Rwf30, 000 to Rwf4, 000.
Building starts online
Construction documents were also digitized in a country where housing gap amounts to 300,000 units in Capital city only. A building permit in Kigali is applied for online and the approval is also online.
Previously, applicants were required to pay an application fee Rwf 60,000 ($90) and a printed certificate.
Now, the free permit will be issued within 20 days, with a digital signature.
According to officials at Kigali city Construction One Stop Center (OSC), the city issues up to 20 construction permits every month for structure of more than 2 levels and all public buildings.
Prior to obtaining a construction permit, even other requirements that used to cost the applicants a lot are now digitalized.
“Currently, there is no need to carry a bunch of building plans at OSC, because they can be signed online,” says Merad Mpabwanamaguru, in charge of urban planning and investment promotion at OSC.
According to Fred Rwihunda, President of Rwanda Institute of Engineers, “printing the construction plans was a nightmare.”
He said a bunch of 60 kilogram copies of plans was needed for an important project, and could cost up to Rwf 5 million.
Electronic applications are important in filing. They prevent loss of a client’s document while also allowing a quick service.
“In the past, a city engineer had to work on a hard copy, and then pass it to his three colleagues to go through it one after another. Currently, five engineers can work on the same document concurrently,” said Rwihunda.
All along construction, required services should be obtained without delay whereby for example, getting quotation for your power connection takes maximum 2 days.
Rwihunda recalls that it used to take several weeks to have a feedback of their applications from the then Electrogaz.
After construction, a proprietor will apply for occupation permit together with freehold title. These legal documents are obtained in less than 7 days.
Still in this construction sector, Rwihunda is thankful to city of Kigali for having removed topographic survey among requirements to obtain construction permit.
Basically, a topographic survey indicates the sloping of the land, plot delimitation among others. Yet, the construction plan by an architect and engineers is inclusive of this.
“Producing a survey report was in some cases creating duplication and mismatch,” Rwihunda told KT Press.
Rwihunda understands that the intention is to make the engineers more responsible; at the end of the day, it is a prerequisite to carry a final inspection of a property before building occupation.
Disputes are not strange when there is business, but the way to deal with them determines country readiness to support transparency and ease of doing business.
In this context, Rwanda judiciary introduced a System that integrates all justice stakeholders. The system can generate any required report, efficiently.
It can be a report on time to disposition, case clearance rate, age of pending cases and single case progress report.
It can also connect players in case including; litigants, court Clarks, judges and police.
Moreover, summons, orders and scheduling dates for hearing are sent electronically.
In case of any failure in business, modern law on insolvency which was recently published helps parties obtain their rights.
It belongs to RDB to offer advisory services on insolvency especially on re-organization of companies.