The Rwanda land ownership is regulated by the Organic Land Law of 2005.
There is no difference in the Law between Rwanda Nationals and Foreigners.
All land in Rwanda belongs to the State, the Districts and the Cities. These Public institutions then lease out the land to individuals or companies for a period of 99 years.

In Kenya, all land belongs to the State too. The Government allocates then leases the land to individuals or companies for a period of 99 years .
In Kenya, foreigners can only own 99 year freehold land.


The procedure is as follows:

An individual or Company duly registered in Rwanda visits District Office, and provides the below documents:

Proof of Identity[passport], Company Registration, Deed plan, Tax clearance certificate, sale/purchase agreement, previous title deed, property valuation report, marriage/celibacy certificate, land lease and transfer fees payment receipt.
This process costs approximately KES 14,000.
This procedure takes 7 to 19days from start to completion.


In Rwanda, the population is small compared to Kenya. The Rwanda Civil service is effective and very reliable, maybe due to computerization, better salaries and less work load than the Kenyan counterparts.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Lands employees use manual methods, have more workload and lesser salaries resulting to inefficiencies.
This results to a higher cost of obtaining title and a longer time-a minimum of 30 days.


In Kenya, only 20% of land is arable. 10% of the population owns most of the arable land.
In Rwanda, there are 390 people per Km2 of Land, thereby making it one of the mostly highly populated countries in the World.
In Rwanda, 24% of the population control 70% of the arable land.


With the promulgation of the new constitution in Kenya, foreigners are now allowed to own 99 year leasehold title land.
Land that was issued by the British Colonial Government in the early 1900s for a leasehold period of 999 years will also be affected.
This will now be reduced to 99 years.

In Kenya, the Land Control Board sets out the mechanisms to identify land ownership and advice/issue clearance on the same to be effected by the Registrar of Lands.
In Kenya, companies that have directors who are not Kenyan nationals are also not allowed to own freehold land.

Freehold land ownership is exclusively for Kenyan citizens.
After the promulgation of the new Kenya constitution in August 2010, all freehold land in Kenya owned by foreigners reverted to State ownership whereby the State can now lease the same the land to citizens and foreigners for a period of 99 years.

In Rwanda, there is no statute of law that discriminates against foreign ownership of land.


In Kenya, the Land Laws are very detailed and cover all areas of land ownership comprehensively.
In Rwanda, the Land Laws are not as detailed and very many sections are left out to a wide array of interpretation.


In Kigali, only approximately 50% of land is buildable. The rest is made up of rivers, marshland and very steep slopes. Therefore, the Local Authority encourages developers to build high density developments several storeys high. This is effected using zoning controls whereby areas are zoned for high density high rise constructions.

In Kenya, the Local Authorities discourage developers form constructing high rise buildings. Approval for a high rise building in Nairobi and its environ is a tedious process, with the Local Authority trying all ways and methods to scale a developer’s building to a lower density.

This has resulted to situations whereby developers have been pushed to a corner to use all ways and methods possible to obtain high rise approvals. The land price in Nairobi is very high; therefore, for developers to make a return on their investments, they have to build high.

This has resulted to creating avenues for corruption whereby developers fins that if they bribe the local authorities, they will be allowed to construct more storeys higher and in return, make a profit.

In Rwanda, it’s the other way round. The Rwanda Government encourages high density high rise construction so as to make maximum use of the available land. This way, there are no situations necessary to encourage developers to offer bribes since they are encouraged to build more storeys hence higher profits.

Architect Francis Gichuhi Kamau

Francis Gichuhi (692 Posts)

Architect Francis Gichuhi . B.Arch. University of Nairobi. Registered Architect, Kenya. Member, Architectural Association of Kenya. Contacts. email Telephone +254721410684


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