NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya’s Ministry of Lands has commenced a computerization process after many calls for improved service delivery through the use of IT.

“The ministry had for a long time depended on a manual system of keeping records, which is cumbersome and time consuming,” said Minister of Lands James Orengo. “We have now started scanning, indexing and archiving some of the records.”

The automation process entails the use of geographical information systems that help in surveying and planning, Orengo told parliament during debate on his ministry’s 2008/2009 budget. The ministry was allocated 2.2 billion Kenya shillings (US$33.8 million) against the 5.6 billion shillings it had requested from the treasury.

“The amount is very little, considering the ministry’s role in resettling the internally displaced persons, staff training and management of all land data,” Orengo argued.

The ministry faces a long-term problem of falsified land ownership title deeds that are used to transact dubious deals. The manual archiving method has made it easier for crooks to steal the actual files, Orengo explained. “We have to purge the falsification of records from the ministry,” he said.

But Saidi Apale, a Kenyan ICT expert, wonders whether there is a government policy to guide ministries in the implementation of such complex computerization systems.

The government should have minimum standards on care and retention of personal information, as well as guidelines on how the systems should inter-operate in case of conflicting personal data, Apale said.