Walk through the streets of cities, towns, and villages in Nigeria and you will see the signs everywhere, clearly erected in front of gates or painted explicitly on fences in colours that immediately grab your attention — This Land is Not For Sale. In Nigeria, having a land ownership deed is no guarantee that the land is really yours. Why? Because the government’s land ownership records aren’t trustworthy enough. Land disputes happen all the time. Sometimes, leading to violence and death.
According to data from Nigeria Watch, there were over 2,100 deaths from land disputes alone in 2018. Already, close to 100 have been recorded in 2019.
Apart from the violence and death that land disputes and a lack of a credible, trustworthy land ownership records cause, there’s also the restriction of access to loans and capital. According to the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance Africa, there is an estimated $100 billion worth of trapped capital in Nigeria, land that cannot reach access to financing in Nigeria.
How do we solve this problem? How do we unlock the capital trapped by poor and untrustworthy land registry records? One that is quickly gaining traction is the use of blockchain technology.
A lot has been said about blockchain. It’s often associated with cryptocurrency, but that’s not all there is to it. Blockchain technology can be applied in so many practical and immediately relatable ways — digital identification, supply chain monitoring, digital recordkeeping, copyright protection, and real estate.
Blockchain technology is quickly gathering buzz in Nigeria. By July 2018, Nigeria was already the 7th highest trader of bitcoin, transacting over 4% of the total volume. Also, big companies and brands like Dangote, Interswitch, Nigerian Customs Authority, Sterling Bank are already creating blockchain technology solutions. So, the concept of blockchain is not new to Nigerians.
However, using it to solve land registry problems is a novel idea and one company spearheading this innovation in Nigeria is Seso Global, a blockchain powered mortgage registry and real estate platform that connects stakeholders in a property market and enables them to make trusted transactions.
“Seso aims to provide trust and security in the real estate market to allow easy property sales and access to mortgages.
Seso allows users to query property information, contract land service providers such as lawyers and estate surveyors, apply for a mortgage and buy a property. Through our network of trusted property developers, we ensure a simple buying experience,” Phillip Jarman, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer, says.
Seso Global’s primary aim in Nigeria is to create a real estate boom that will provide opportunity and capital to the ending market in collaboration with key stakeholders such as the Nigeria Mortgage Refinance Company, a consortium of 25 banks and the Nigerian Ministry of Finance.
“We are confident we can succeed in Nigeria through our industry partners who are keen to see the growth of the mortgage industry. We have assembled a team from Nigeria and across the world with key experience to drive the solution forward. We seek to work with the people of Nigeria to build the mortgage registry and provide trust to the real estate market,” Dimeji Belo, Senior Vice President of Business Development, says.