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Registering property is one of the key procedures for transferring property from one party to another. Registration legally confers exclusive ownership, possession and rights in the property to the new owner from the seller or transferor and provides evidence of title to prevent unlawful disposal and facilitate transactions on the land.

Businesses and industries alike rely on this important process to acquire land for commercial purposes. As a result, the ease of transferring property is one of the metrics used to determine a nations ease of doing business.

African countries however, have often held the tail end ranks in the world ease of doing business report. One of the reasons for this is that transfer of property in most African countries is a tedious, some times expensive and bureaucratic process. According to the Centre for African Housing Finance (CAHF) annual housing yearbook, it takes as many as 230 days in some countries to register commercial property.

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The report, which compared the number of days it takes to register commercial property for African countries between 2012 and 2017, determined that Togo was the worst performer in terms of the ease of registering property. It takes about 230 days to register commercial property in the West African nation as of 2017, an improvement of just 15 days from 2012.

In Angola, the number of days to register property has remained the same since 2012 at 140 days, similar to Somalia. Another West African country, Benin, has also sidelined the need to reduce the number of days to register commercial property, retaining it at 120 days. Overall, it takes at least 50 days to register commercial property in 26 African countries.

Countries where it takes the shortest time register property include Sudan, Botswana and Rwanda where it takes 10 days and about 12 days respectively.

Most countries have improved since 2012 however, with Guinea-Bissau making the most improvement from 260 days five years ago to just 50 days in 2017. Senegal also made such improvements, reducing the number of days to register property from 175 to 75 days while Lesotho reduced the number of days from 100 to just 40 days.

In East Africa, Burundi reduced the number of days from 90 to 24, while Rwanda reduced the number from 48 to about 12 days. In Kenya, the number of days to register commercial property has been cut down from about 70 to 60.

According to the data, in most African countries have also reduced the cost to register financial property over the same period. As of 2017, Cameroon retained the highest cost to register commercial property which is 22% of property value similar to 2012. In most African countries, it costs between 10 to 15% of property value to register commercial property.

However, in countries such as Ghana, Rwanda, Sudan, Burundi, Malawi and others, it costs less than 5% of property value. In fact, in Rwanda it costs nothing to register property while in Egypt and Ghana it costs 1% and 2% respectively. Still in some countries such as South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya, the cost of registering commercial property has gone up.