Zambia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the blockchain land registry subsidiary of American retail giant Overstock.
Under the agreement, Overstock’s Medici Land Governance (MLG) will work with the Zambian government on overhauling land ownership, allowing rural landowners to legitimize their estates and gain access to the financial world.
Medici Land Governance signed the MoU with Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources in Zambia Trevor Kaunda, to develop a program for systematic land governance within the country.
Overstock.com founder and CEO Patrick Byrne said in a statement that the project would help the country move toward a global economy that builds trust through technology.
“Such a registry would allow individuals across all socioeconomic classes to build equity and leverage it to their benefit, as it has done in the West for generations,” he added.
Zambia struggles with low levels of participation in formal land registry systems, which has hindered economic development in the country, according to the announcement.
This low participation is a major barrier to financial inclusion, and hence economic development, for approximately two-thirds of the world’s population.
Without formal ownership, individuals struggle to obtain access to credit and public services, while governments are limited in their ability to collect taxes, enforce property rights, and plan for economic expansion and innovation.
Using blockchain and other technologies, Medici Land Governance will create systems to collect and easily secure property ownership information.
“This momentous partnership with the Zambian Ministry of Land and Natural Resources has the potential to be a real, sustainable game-changer in reducing poverty and supporting economic development on a large scale,” said Medici Land Governance CEO, Dr. Ali El Husseini.
“At Medici Land Governance, we believe that the first step toward reducing global poverty is to build a secure and stable way to record land and property rights, and using our expertise in blockchain, mobile apps, and other technologies, we are building the technology that can do that. I look forward to a future where all land and property services — including utility payments, national and municipal tax collections, and mortgages — are managed on a secure, user-friendly system that provides equal access for all people.”
As part of the MOU, MLG has agreed to deliver to the Ministry certificates of title in digital and printed form November 30, 2018 to serve as proof of concept for a systematic, streamlined process to scale up the country’s land titling program.
Plans for the full scope of the project include developing a blockchain-based land titling program that includes a mobile platform and capabilities for mobile payments.
The platform will accommodate streamlined regulations and data collection to assist future government decisions around city planning and land use.