A discussion of the assumptions that underlie efforts to register land enables us to not only evaluate their validity across different contexts, but most importantly, to further understand how the low incidences of land registration might derive from very fundamental sources outside of differences in technology and approaches of recording. Building on existing literature and previous research in Ghana, this study has identified and evaluated three such assumptions, namely, land rights registration is desirable, all land rights are registrable, and access to the registration system is an administrative event. We analyzed each assumption in order to find out how they manifest in conventional approaches as well as what they imply for emerging fit-for-purpose (FFP) approaches. In the context of Ghana, we find that (a) there are variations in desirability across space (urban vs. rural) and among landholders; (b) many land rights are registrable, but not all, unless we accept a loss in meaning; and (c) access to the registration system can be an administrative event between surveyor/surveyed, but it is often a process of connecting multiple actors and practices. We conclude that close attention needs to be paid to scenarios where these fundamental assumptions fall short, in order to finetune them and redirect associated implementation strategies.
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