Bitland: putting land on the ledger in Ghana
Monday 04 April 2016
A new blockchain-based initiative in Africa aims to stamp out corruption and free up trillions of dollars in locked capital for infrastructure development.
Blockchain technology is extremely powerful, offering huge advantages of cost, transparency and reliability thanks to the immutable nature of decentralised ledgers. However, these benefits often fail to resonate due to the markets targeted and the way in which they are communicated. That's something OpenLedger-based organisation Bitland aims to change.
Bitland puts the human element back into crypto by bringing blockchain technology directly to the people who stand to benefit most. The organisation will provide services to allow individuals and groups to survey land and record title deeds on the Bitland blockchain – providing a permanent and auditable record – as well as acting as liaison with the government to help resolve disputes. The project is being piloted with 28 communities in Kumasi, Ghana, with the intention of expanding across the African continent.
By creating an immutable land registry, Bitland puts the power of the blockchain into the hands of ordinary people
Education and infrastructure
Bitland is both informing citizens about blockchain technology and about how the technology can change their lives for the better. Bringing clarity to land ownership rights is a big step in its own right, since it has the potential to reduce corruption, but it could also open up trillions of dollars in locked capital (since land that doesn’t have a functional title cannot be used as capital, and securing a mortgage to build or purchase homes is therefore not possible). In low-income countries like Ghana, people are concerned with basic needs and infrastructure such as running water and paved roads. The Bitland team will use blockchain technology to help accelerate infrastructure development by freeing up capital – without the corruption and abuses of power that have plagued such projects in the past.
With regard to its own infrastructure, Bitland cannot rely on existing local services, since rolling blackouts are the norm. They therefore plan to set up solar-powered Bitland centres that will function as hardware hubs for the Bitland Wireless Network. These hubs will double as education centres for locals to learn about digital solutions and how to get involved in the project.
Cadastrals: the currency of Bitland
The Bitland team is using the OpenLedger platform as the basis of their blockchain infrastructure. ‘OpenLedger is built on top of the BitShares platform and its MIT-licensed Graphene blockchain technology,’ explains Ronny Boesing, CEO of crypto exchange CCEDK – OpenLedger’s Danish registrar. ‘BitShares was recently confirmed as a partner with the Microsoft Azure BaaS, and the Bitland project reflects the vast number of opportunities emerging as more mainstream companies realise that this is what they have all been waiting for to maximize income and future communication. As more organisations join the OpenLedger/BitShares platform, you can be sure that this Decentralised Conglomerate will exemplify the future of global economics.’
Bitland will issue a digital currency called Cadastrals, which will act as the entry token for their blockchain platform. ‘To get through the first year of operations, the team has allotted 20 million Cadastrals to be used in an ICO to establish the first operational Bitland Center,’ says Larry Christopher Bates, Bitland’s Chief Security Officer. ‘The ICO will be hosted by Danish exchange CCEDK, and the funds will be held in escrow on the Openledger platform.’ The Bitland Fund will collect network fees and any money taken into the main reserve and redistribute them to projects within the Bitland communities, thereby directly funding infrastructure provision, with oversight from the relevant governments.
As the Openledger platform is developed further, it will add the capacity for a voting system to be part of the Bitland project – enabling communities to become directly involved in decision-making. ‘The OpenLedger team is very excited to be adding Bitland to the Decentralised Conglomerate,’ continues Boesing. ‘Now, the infrastructure of the OpenLedger system will grow to include real estate, commercial property investments, and development of third world countries as part of its future plans. As Bitland plans to work with governments around the world to register land titles on the OpenLedger blockchain, the ecosystem will represent not just smart contracts, but smart cities. The OpenLedger platform will help bring transparency to nations where corruption has been the main impedance to progress, and further it will allow remittance and investments to flow into underdeveloped areas without big companies taking a large cut. The Bitland project is about more than registering land titles: this is the first step to bringing true democracy and meritocracy to the world.’
Ultimately, people will be able to use their mobile devices to register a plot of land with GPS accuracy, file a claim, register a dispute, sell or purchase land. As well as the transparent and immutable nature of the blockchain, OpenLedger allows smart contracts. This removes the need for trust, so that microloans can be issued and government contracts fulfilled on a platform that tracks progress and distributes funds accordingly. After the first phase of the project is complete, the idea is to use Bitland to encourage governments and private organisations to offer smart contracts to give people the chance to invest in development. Organizations such as Kiva already have established methods of issuing microloans, and realise rates of over 90% repayment.
To purchase Cadastrals, you will need to create an OpenLedger account. You can then deposit bitcoins and send them as Open.BTC to the Cadastrals escrow account, ccedk.escrow. The following video is a good introduction to getting started with OpenLedger:
This article was sponsored by Ronny Boesing and CCEDK
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