Land As Defined By Ollennu Computer Science Essay

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It includes things on the soil which are enjoyed with it as being part of the land by nature, as for example rivers, streams,…growing trees or affixed to it like houses, buildings and other structures. It also includes any estate, interest or right in, to or over land or any other thing which land denotes… for example the right to collect snails, mushrooms on the land, etc., right of way, mining right, etc."

From the above definition of land, two aspects can be identified. First, land refers to the soil (physical land) and the fixtures (both natural and manmade) connected therewith the soil. Secondly, land refers to the estates, interests or rights that subsist in the physical land.

Apart from the above legal definition of land, different people see land from different perspectives depending on their interest at a particular point in time. To some, land is seen as a deity who can be worshipped. Others also see land as nature. To the economist, land is seen as a factor of production and to the investor, land is seen as a store of wealth that possesses unique advantages over alternative areas of investment (Barlowe, 1986). The value attached to land by an individual will depend greatly on his or her view about land. Thus while some individuals see land from economic standpoint, others see it as a social asset.

2.2 Land Ownership in Ghana

The concept of land ownership, according to Da Rocha and Lodoh (1999),

"…embraces possession of, and title to land. An owner of land is a person who can show that he and those through whom he claims title have possessed the land for so long that there can be no reasonable probability of the existence of a superior adverse claim. In showing this, he may rely on documents of title or on his own possession".

Sittie (2006) identifies two categories of land ownership in Ghana. These are customary lands and public lands. Customary lands, she says, are lands owned by stools, skins, families or clan usually held in trust by the chief, head of family, clan, or fetish priests for the benefit of members of that group. Private ownership of land can be acquired by way of a grant, sale, gift or marriage.

Public lands on the other hand are lands which are vested in the president for public use.

Larbi (2008) also identifies three categories of land ownership in Ghana viz; lands predominantly owned by customary authorities (stools, skins, clans and families), which together own about 78% of all lands; the State owned lands which constitute about 20% of all lands and the remaining 2% being owned by the state and customary authorities in a form of partnership (split ownership).

The World Bank's Project Appraisal Document (n.d) on a proposed loan for the Ghana Land Administration Project Phase 2 further identified four categories of land ownership in Ghana governed by both customary practices and enacted legislation. These are: (i) state lands, compulsorily acquired by the government through the invocation of appropriate legislation and held in trust for the entire people of Ghana; (ii) vested lands, belonging to stools or skins but vested in the state in trust for the people of the stool or skin or family from which it was vested; (iii) private lands belonging to stools, skins or family communities and held in trust on their behalf by chiefs, tendana, family heads [the appropriate traditional authorities]; and (iv) private lands given or sold as freeholds by stools, skins and families to individuals, corporations and institutions prior to the enactment of the 1992 Constitution.

Irrespective of the above distinctive views on land ownership in Ghana, it is clear that they all fall under three principal categories viz; private lands (which encompasses lands owned by stools/skins, families/clans and private individuals), public lands (which are vested in the president on behalf of the people of Ghana) and vested lands (which are owned partly by the state and partly by stools/skins).

2.3 The Concept of Land Administration

2.3.1 Definition of Land Administration

Land administration is the way in which the rules of land tenure are applied and made operational. Land administration, whether formal or informal, comprises an extensive range of systems and processes to administer: land rights, land-use, land valuation and taxation, information [emphasis ours] and an enforcement or protection component (FAO, 2002).

UNECE (2005) also defines land administration as "the processes of recording and disseminating information about the ownership, value and use of land and its associated resources". It further states that such processes include the determination of property rights and other attributes of the land that relate to its value and use, the survey and graphical description of these, their detailed documentation and the provision of relevant information [emphasis ours] in support of land markets.

From the above definitions of land administration, it is clear that central to land administration is the detailed documentation of land transactions and the provision of relevant information (records) on same.

2.3.2 Principles of Land Administration

Williamson et al (2010) identify ten principles of land administration as presented in Table 1 below:

Table 1: Land Administration Principles


LAS provide the infrastructure for implementation of land polices and land management strategies in support of sustainable development. The infrastructure includes institutional arrangements, legal frameworks, processes, standards, land information, management and dissemination systems, and technologies required to support allocation, land markets, valuation and control of use and development of interests in land.

2.Land management paradigm

The land management paradigm provides a conceptual framework for understanding and innovation in land administration systems. The paradigm is the set of principles and practices that define land management as a discipline. The principles and practices relate to the four functions of LAS, namely land tenure, land value, land use and land development, and their interactions. These four functions underpin the operation of efficient land markets and effective land use management. "Land" encompasses natural and built environment including land and water resources.

3.People and


LAS is about engagement of people within the unique social and institutional fabric of each country. This encompasses good governance, capacity building, institutional development, social interaction and a focus on users, not providers. LAS should be re-engineered to better serve the needs of users, such as citizens, governments and businesses. Engagement with the society, and the ways people think about their land, are core. This should be achieved through good governance in decision making and implementation. This requires building the necessary capacity in individuals, organisations and wider society to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.





LAS form the basis for conceptualising rights, restrictions and responsibilities (RRR) related to policies, places and people. Rights are normally concerned with ownership and tenure whereas restrictions usually control use and activities on land. Responsibilities relate more to a social, ethical commitment or attitude to environmental sustainability and good husbandry. RRR must be designed to suit individual needs of each country or jurisdiction, and must be balanced between different levels of government,

from local to national.


The cadastre is at the core of any LAS providing spatial integrity and unique identification of every land parcel. Cadastres are large scale representations of how the community breaks up its land into useable pieces, usually called parcels. Most cadastres provide security of tenure by recording land rights in a land registry. The spatial integrity within the cadastre is usually provided by a cadastral map that is updated by cadastral surveys. The unique parcel identification provides the link between the cadastral map and the land registry, and serves as the basis of any LAS and the land information it generates, especially when it is digital and geocoded. The cadaster should ideally include all land in a jurisdiction: public, private, communal, and open space.

6.LAS are


LAS dynamism has four dimensions. The first involves changes to reflect the continual evolution of people to land relationships. This evolution can be caused by economic, social and environmental drivers. The second is caused by evolving ICT and globalisation, and their effects on the design and operation of LAS. The third dimension is caused by the dynamic nature of the information within LAS, such as changes in ownership, valuation, land use and the land parcel through subdivision. The fourth dimension involves changes in the use of land information.


LAS include a set of processes that manage change. The key processes concern land transfer, mutation, creation and distribution of interests, valuation and land development. The processes, including their actors and their obligations, explain how LAS operate, as a basis for comparison and improvement. While individual institutions, laws, technologies or separate activities within LAS, such as property in land, a land registry, a specific piece of legislation or a technology for cadastral surveying are important in their own right, the processes are central to overall understanding of how LAS operate.


Technology offers opportunities for improved efficiency of LAS and spatial enablement of land issues. The potential of technology is far ahead of the capacity of institutions to respond. Technology offers improvements in the collection, storage, management and dissemination of land information. At the same time developments in information and communications technology (ICT) offer the potential for the spatial enablement of land issues by using location or place as the key organiser for human activity.

9.Spatial data infrastructure

Efficient and effective LAS that support sustainable development require a spatial data infrastructure (SDI) to operate. The SDI is the enabling platform that links people to information. It supports the integration of natural (primarily topographic) and built (primarily land parcel or cadastral) environmental data as a pre-requisite for sustainable development. The SDI also permits the aggregation of land information from local to national levels.

10.Measure for success

A successful LAS is measured by its ability to manage and administer land efficiently, effectively and at low cost. The success of LAS is not determined by complexity of legal frameworks or sophisticated technological solutions. Success lies in adopting appropriate laws, institutions, processes and technologies designed for the specific needs of the country or jurisdiction.

Source: Williamson et al (2010)

2.3.3 Advantages of good land administration system

Land administration as a process requires huge commitments in terms of capital and time. It is therefore required that benefits are reaped from these resource commitments. UNECE (1996) identified the following advantages of good land administration systems:

Guarantee ownership and security of tenure;

Support land and property taxation;

Provide security for credit;

Develop and monitor land markets;

Protect State lands;

Reduce land disputes;

Facilitate land reform;

Improve urban planning and infrastructure development;

Support environmental management;

Produce statistical data.

2.3.4 Land Administration in Ghana

Land administration in Ghana is regulated by both customary law and the government through state institutions.

Kunbun-NaaYiri II (2006) identifies that "the ownership or control of land under customary law starts at the paramountcy holding the allodial Title, followed by Divisional and Sub-Chiefs (appointed by the Paramount) who hold, "Customary Freehold" [sic] the indigenes hold usufruct interest in the land". Under the customary system of land administration, the appropriate traditional authority is vested with the power of controlling the alienation and use of any land under its authority.

The administration of lands by the government is done through the various land sector agencies. These include the Ministry of Lands, Forestry and Mines, the Lands Commission, the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands and other stakeholder agencies.

2.4.0 GIS as a tool in land administration

2.4.1 Definition

Geographical Information Systems (GIS), has attracted a host of definitions over the years. From those which have been complex in nature to those of a more simple inclination.

Some of these definitions include:

"a system for capturing, storing, checking, manipulating, analyzing and displaying data which are spatially referenced to the Earth" (DoE, 1987 as quoted in Maguire, 1991)

"any manual or computer based set of procedures used to store and manipulate geographically referenced data" (Aronoff, 1989, as seen in Maguire 1991)

"an information technology which stores, analyzes and displays both spatial and non-spatial data" (Parker, 1988, as seen in Maguire1991)

"a powerful set of tools for collecting, storing, retrieving at will, transforming and displaying spatial data from the real world.(Burrough 1986)

" GIS is a system of hardware, software and procedures to facilitate the management, manipulation, analysis, modeling, representation and display of georeferenced data to solve complex problems regarding planning and management of resources" (NCGIA, 1990)

From the above definitions, it can be realized that emphasis is placed on the use of technology in GIS as well as the implementation of data, usually of a geographical nature, which mainly involves its collection, storage, analysis and interpretation.

In the definition of GIS, four main approaches can be adopted. These are mainly the process or function oriented, application, toolbox and database approaches (Cowen, 1988).

The process or function approach is typified by the definition put forward by the Department of Environment (DoE, 1987) which defines GIS as a system. This brings to mind the implication of a defined and systematic process of implementing GIS structures and processes. It emphasizes on the capture, storage, checking, manipulation, analysis and display of spatially referenced data.

The application approach seeks to define GIS on the basis of the problems which they are used to address, that is to say, where the GIS are applied. Although there seems to be a disparity amongst the different problems which GIS can be used to solve, they are linked via the fact that similar technologies and methods are used to solve them (Maguire 1991).

The toolbox approach which is mainly advanced in the definition by Burrough (1986) focuses on the generic aspects of GIS, that is the ability of GIS to provide users with a set of tools with which to manipulate geographic data (Maguire, 1991).

The database approach sees the GIS as a database system. As such its ability to collect, store, analyze and give out data is essential to its core functions (Tai On Chan, 1997).

2.4.2 Elements of GIS

GIS comprise four basic elements which operate in an institutional context and are namely computer hardware, computer software, data and liveware.

The computer hardware element includes the machines used in the running of the GIS. This ranges from the basic personal computer to high performance workstations to large mainframe computers. These provide a means for the input, storage, analysis and output of data. In addition to the standard peripherals, the use of scanners, digitizers and plotters vastly improve the GIS experience (Maguire, 1991).

There is now a great deal of GIS based software available to the general public. The software is an essential part of the GIS as it serves as the main spine of the system. The software is essential in the interpretation of the data which is entered into the system. Due to the presence of different users with different needs, there are different GIS software to meet these numerous needs. These software range from the simple and free to more complex and expensive types. Examples of available GIS software includes ArcGIS, MapInfo , ArcSDE and ArcMS.

The next element of GIS is the data. This is often regarded as the most crucial aspect of the GIS. It is also quite expensive to collect, store and manipulate data due to the large amounts needed to solve problems (Maguire, 1991). The improved methods of data collection, such as remote sensing and satellite imagery, have led to an increase in the total amount of collectible data.

Finally is the most important element of GIS, the liveware. These are the people who handle the data and run the GIS software (Maguire, 1991). Without skilled and well trained personnel, no GIS project would be achieved. It is therefore essential that persons with the requisite knowledge are employed so as to ensure the proper application of the data.

2.4.3 Application of GIS

GIS can be applied in a variety of means and by a variety of people and organizations. This is due to the fact that it provides a means of collecting, storing and analyzing data which is fundamental to the generation of solutions to problems. This is made possible due to the fact that most human problems can in some way be linked to geo referenced data and as such GIS provides the perfect platform to analyze this data.

In Ghana, many governmental as well as private organizations have introduced GIS concepts and technology in their daily work, mostly through development projects (Karikari et al., 2005). It has been introduced to the various regional LC offices through the LAP.

2.5.0 Land Administration Project (LAP)

The government of Ghana, in 1999 launched a National Land Policy to "regulate the country's complex land administration system that is guided by both enacted legislation and customary practices" (Larbi 1995). The policy identified several challenges in Ghana's land administration system and land ownership in Ghana. The challenges included a weak land policy, absence of up-to-date base maps for effective planning, weak land administration system characterized by fragmented and uncoordinated public institutions, lack of participation in policy formulation processes, indeterminate customary land boundaries. These have resulted in inadequate security of tenure, difficult accessibility to land and a general indiscipline in the land market characterized by land encroachments, multiple sales of land, haphazard development and disputes, conflicts and endless land litigation (National Land Policy, 1999).

In response to the above challenges and to translate the policy document into solid action, the government in 2003 introduced the Land Administration Project (LAP). The main goal of the project is to consolidate and strengthen land administration and management systems for efficient and transparent service delivery. It is a long-term (over 15 years) commitment by the Government (Karikari et al., 2005) "to improve security of tenure, to simplify the process of acquiring land, to develop the land market, and to foster prudent land management by establishing an efficient system of land administration based on coherent and consistent policies and laws" (LAP 2002).The project has four components, with each having its sub-components, as have been outlined below:

Component 1 - Harmonizing Policy And Regulatory Framework

Legislative review to harmonize land and land use laws

Support to the Judiciary to reduce backlog of land cases and establish sustainable system for quick adjudication of land cases through the establishment of Land Courts

Development of ADR capacity to facilitate land dispute resolution

Inventory of state acquired/occupied lands for policy formulation on compulsory acquisition and compensation

Participatory approach to policy formulation and policy review processes

Component 2 - Institutional Reform and Development

Restructuring public land administration agencies into a One- Stop-Shop for efficient delivery of services - Land Valuation Board (LVB), Survey Department (SD), Land Title Registry (LTR) and Lands Commission Secretariat (LCS) are to be merged under a new Lands Commission

Decentralizing and strengthening land administration services to the district level

Strengthening customary land administration through Customary Land Secretariats (CLS)

Strengthening private land sector institutions

Strengthening land administration and management training and research institutions

Component 3 - Improving Land Titling, Registration, Valuation, Land Use Planning And Land Information Systems

Development of Cadastre and Land Information System

Improvement in Geodetic Reference framework

Improvement of deeds registration system

Community-based land use planning and management and orthophoto mapping

Establishment of National Land Valuation database

Pilot projects in demarcation and registration of allodial land boundaries

Pilot systematic land titling and registration

Component 4 - Project Management, Human Resource Development, Monitoring and Evaluation

Project Management Structure

Land Policy Steering Committee

Land Sector Technical Committee

Land Administration Programs Unit

Development Partners Coordination

Human Resource Development

Monitoring and Evaluation System and impact assessment

Communication, consultation and participation

Component three sub-component one of LAP makes provision for the introduction of GIS in land information system (LIS). "LIS and GIS have similar meanings in terms of analytical functions and other operations performed on the data" (Karikari, 2006). However, the principal focus of LIS is on the land parcel while the architecture of GIS is concerned with mapable features (Meltz, 1989). In an attempt to improve LIS in Ghana, there has been several literature that looks at how to integrate GIS into LIS. Tagoe, et al., (2011), Karikari (2006), Karikari et al., (2005), Sagoe (2005) are just a few that have touched on introducing GIS in the lands commission for records management. These literature failed to address how GIS, after its introduction, can be managed, updated and maintained.

So far under the LAP, there has been an introduction of a prototype software application package called LANDADMIN for the Accra Lands Commission Secretariat. The prototype software was developed using ArcView 3.2, the Avenue scripting language and Microsoft Access database. This software has been replicated in the various regional LC offices which Kumasi LC is not an exception. "The prototype software has selected features that handle routine land administration tasks such as the design of quick maps for field inspections and the generation of site plans to be included in leases. It also provides lessees' general and billing information, rent demand notices and searches, personnel and secretariat information, clients address lists, rent positions and rent demand notices on state land in Microsoft Access. The design of this software is technically appropriate, given the socio-economic environment of the intended beneficiaries. This is because, careful attention has been given to tasks normally performed by the LCS, with the view of having a user-friendly interface that is menu-driven and that properly represents the LCS work processes" (Karikari et al., 2008).

So far as the usefulness of the prototype software is concerned, its integration into LC has not been without weaknesses. The application of GIS must conform to existing practices and their procedures simplified using expert systems and numerical models where appropriate (Lai et al., 1996). For land administration, as with other areas, there is the need to provide interfaces that are user-friendly, very secure and interactive. Until pragmatic approach is used in the practical design approaches arising out of the need to integrate spatial and non-spatial data in a reliable, easy-to-use, and cost-effective way, such a technology is bound to fail.

The major problems to be overcome in implementing GIS in the lands commission will be organizational, managerial and human based.GIS diffusion is affected not only by the nature of GIS itself but also the structure of an organization and the interplay of the two (Campbell, 1996). Therefore, a successful implementation of GIS depends very much on how an organization is prepared to reinvent this particular form of technology within its organizational setting.

One of the key opportunities that GIS offers the LCS is the conversion from paper to digital records, helping to stop the loss of essential land records due to neglect, purposeful destruction or removal by recalcitrant staff members.