SHIKANDA KAWANGA and CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka
“IF THERE is one common dream for the average Zambian it is the desire to have a successful business. It’s only natural to be excited about being your own boss someday,” says unemployed Alice Dube, aged 30.
Ms Dube, however, shares that deciding to start a business is one thing, but being able to secure capital to fulfil one’s dream is another.
She notes that collateral provides guarantee for a loan application, and without it, a business plan remains just a good dream.
Ms Dube owns a house which she inherited from her late parents, but she cannot use it as collateral security for a loan because the property has no title deed.
“The few attempts I have made to acquire a loan, I have been requested to provide collateral, but I don’t have title deeds to show proof of ownership of the only property that we have,” she said.
Ms Dube is just one of the many unemployed youths in Zambia who would like to venture into the entrepreneurship world but have failed to do so due to lack of collateral for a bank loan.
Collateral refers to a piece of property that a would-be borrower pledges to a lender to help them secure a loan.
In a nutshell, collateral is key to accessing affordable loans and it puts the potential borrower in a better position to borrow from a commercial bank.
This is one of the reasons why the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has embarked on a process of decentralising the issuance of title deeds.
Government is also rehabilitating a national titling centre in the Lusaka showgrounds in a quest to improve service delivery and make it easier for Zambians to acquire title deeds.
Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Jean Kapata says her ministry will this year issue 300,000 certificates of title to land owners countrywide.
Ms Kapata hopes this will encourage Zambians to register their properties.
“We want to call upon Zambians countrywide to pay for their land so that we have all the properties in this country on title,” she said.
Ms Kapata said for the ministry to meet the set target, the national titling centre needs to be rehabilitated.
She said Government last year set aside K11.7 million to start the implementation of the titling programme in the two pilot sites of Madido in Chongwe and Kamwala South in Lusaka.
“The pilot project we had in Madido and Kamwala South has since ended. We will now roll out the project countrywide. For those that did not get their titles deeds under the pilot project, they will still get (them) as this process is a continuous one,” she says.
Ms Kapata said Government is confident of issuing 300,000 certificates of title this year because the machines being used can print 15,000 title deed certificates per minute.
She said the systematic registration of all property in the country will provide security of tenure to all property owners and also enable Government to generate more revenue.
Ms Kapata has since urged the contractor of the national titling centre to speed up the rehabilitation works.
“Make sure you complete these works on time because we want all the payment processes to be done at this centre. But in the meantime, people can pay for their land at the ministry,” she said when she visited the site recently.
As at October last year, 11,165 certificates of title were issued against the annual target of 15,000, the minister said.
She said 4,093 certificates of title were issued to women in an effort to respond to the goals of reducing developmental inequalities, poverty and vulnerability among women.
Ms Kapata said the issuance of title deeds to individuals and investors both domestic and foreign could create jobs and bring in non-tax revenue from properties.
About 4,500 properties without certificates of title have been identified and the Ministry of Lands is in the process of issuing title deeds.
Ms Kapata said the positive impact of this programme accrues to both Government in the form of non-tax revenue and to the property owners in form of empowerment and security of tenure.
“Both of these are objectives being pursued by Government as part of its developmental agenda,” she says.
And surveyor-general Joseph Minango said the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources has a well-equipped printing press worth €1million. He said this department is ready to issue 300,000 title deeds this year.
Vice President Inonge Wina is of the view that when women have security of land tenure, it gives them confidence of obtaining investment capital from financial institutions.
“Ownership of land, especially when it’s titled often gives women dignity and influence over finances at household and community levels, including access to credit, improved agriculture productivity and the overall wellbeing of the family,” Mrs Wina said.
Government is aware that land is an important factor of production as it provides the basis for national development.
It is also a fact that there cannot be meaningful development without an efficient and effective land administration system.
It is therefore gratifying that Government is determined to improve land administration, including giving citizens security of land tenure.
SHIKANDA KAWANGA and CATHERINE MUMBA, Lusaka