TechInAfrica – With the development of blockchain technology, the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, who sees the potential of its application in property registration, had teamed up with 71point4 and Seso Global to pilot 1,000 properties across four sites in Makhaza, Khayelitsha.
The government-subsidized properties are yet to be registered with the Deeds Registry, and the team-up offers a solution in the form of a trial pilot project that will create a record of the house’s owner, which will be integrated to a blockchain. Updating the record will not remove the previous one. But it is not the sole functionality that the platform offers. Created by Seso Global, it records transactions too, such as sales and transfers out of deceased estates, as well as integrating with third parties who facilitate transactions, including mortgage lenders.
It has been mostly hard work for the parties involved. Founder of 71point4, Illana Melzer, elaborates on the initial door-to-door approach to understanding the background of each owner. “To create a register of property owners we first had to go door to door to find out who lives in each property and to establish how they came to be there,” she says.
“We hired a team of 17 enumerators and trained them to collect information and capture supporting documents. Thankfully we can leverage smartphone to collect the data, but it still requires a significant effort. It took us two months to cover these areas,” she adds.
Luckily, the tenants they approached were mostly the original owners themselves. “Where the beneficiary no longer lives in the property, we are in the process of tracing the beneficiary to confirm the information we have gathered on who owns the property. We will also be working closely with the City on a resolution process where ownership is disputed,” Melzer says.
Chief executive officer of Seso Global, Daniel Bloch stated that the pilot results are satisfying. “We think the solution we have developed is scalable and replicable,” he further adds. He also notes that while the Seso platform is available, the recorded transactions are currently done at the Transaction Support Centre, which is a walk-in housing advice office created by Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa and 71point4.
“But over time, we will record transactions through the Seso app,” Bloch concludes.