Norway has supported the establishment of a property register in Kosovo over several years, by helping to build up a new agency, the Kosovo Cadastral Agency (KCA), because the sector in its entirety was attended by Serbs until the war in year 2000.
A functioning property register is necessary for social and economic development in Kosovo: It helps to secure investments in real estate, facilitates foreign investment, allows for loans secured by real estate and is essential for sustainable land management. The interest rate on mortgage loans in Kosovo at the time this project was initiated was approximately 13 %, compared with 3-4 % elsewhere in the Eurozone, partly because of the quality of the property register. Moreover, clear and secure property rights are essential for social stability between Albanians and the different ethnic groups in Kosovo.
With a few exceptions, the population and businesses in Kosovo were recently missing addresses. Only in a few small areas in the largest cities had been assigned an address number. There has been no postal service that delivers letters, bills and goods to residents and businesses. Water and electricity works and others who need to send out bills, each have their own delivery solution. The situation prevents effective police and rescue services. For persons not having an address it is also a challenge in relation to introducing visa-free access to the Schengen area.
Kosovo Cadaster Agency is central to addresses in Kosovo and has been under pressure to address the situation with regard to addresses. Since Norway was already with support for KCA, KCA with the Norwegian Mapping Authority if Norway could also provide support for a systematic introduction of addresses.The project "Addresses for people and businesses" established a new address system, including a digital address map linked to an address register, and with signalization of road names and house numbers.
The main addressing activities have been:
- Establishing strategy and principles for addresses
- Development of law for addresses, regulations and technical standards for signage
- The establishment of a digital map for all roads that are to be named
- Identification on map of all inputs that should have address number (funded by the EU)
- Specification and development of digital address register (financed by Norway + EU)
- Name assignment to roads (by the municipalities)
- Introduction of roads with associated names and all address numbers in the address register (performed by the municipalities under the guidance of KCA)
- Signage of street name and house number (financed by Norway + EU)
Norway has undertaken to finance the development of a modern IT-based solution for property registration. In 2014 the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs allocated a grant of 8 million Norwegian kroner to ensure sustainability in the IT systems at KCA. The Norwegian Mapping Authority has also focused on building skills and capacity within and outside of KCA, so that the IT solutions are sustainable when aid from Norway is phased out.
The IT solution provides better security, ensures uniform registration in all municipalities, and reduces corruption by ensuring that all changes are logged with reference to the person who made the change in the registry. The IT-system works towards a central database and thus establishing a connection for municipalities and users via the Internet. The roll out of the centralized, web based IT system to all municipalities was completed by mid 2015, and a KCA geoportal was developed.
A new address system for Kosovo ensures that all citizens and businesses have a unique road address. Legislation was adopted, as well as norms and standards for naming of roads, address numbering and signalization. A database containing data on the roads and identifying all segments of the road network was produced; and all entrances were identified, localized with geographic coordinates and assigned an address number. Most of the municipalities have completed the naming of streets and roads: 31 of 38 municipalities have approved road names, and 25 of these have installed road name signs. 11 Municipalities have installed adress number signs.
KCA shares the address data with the following institutions:
- Emergency Management Agency
- Civil Registry Agency
- Kosovo Statistics Agency
- Central Election Committee
- Prishtina Regional Water Company
- Kujtesa (Private company for TV and internet provider)
- Ministry of Infrastructure
- Ministry of Finance, Tax Property Department
- Radoniqi Regional Water Company (Gjakova)
The project has been successful. There is great interest from the municipalities, and among the population for addressing, and addresses are used for many purposes. For the first time, people and businesses can get mail delivered to their doorstep. Norway's contribution has been made visible through markings in several municipalities of completed signage.