The future of Blockchain Technology in Africa
The emergence and adoption of blockchain technology over the years have sparked much interest in what promises lies within the notable invention. Cryptocurrencies are well-known as the poster child of this revolutionary invention.
Truly, blockchain technology is the bedrock of many cryptocurrencies and holds significant potential that a continent like Africa can harness. There are, however, a lot of non-crypto related aspects where Blockchain can equally be effective.
In these other sectors, blockchain technology can drive change, create employment opportunities and set Africa on a revolutionary leap.
But what is Blockchain, and what does its existence mean for Africa?
What is Blockchain?
A Blockchain is a form of decentralised ledger (a database) that secures a record of electronically distributed transactions. The blockchain allows the recorded information within its database accessible to its users. Blockchain uses cryptography in processing, logging, and verifying transactions made on the network.
Blockchain technology is designed in a way that makes it impossible to falsify, modify, or delete information on the network. This emphasises blockchain's transparency, security, and permanence.
It also allows users from across the globe to connect on its platform. The data recorded is secured with authentication to secure the privacy and internet security of its users.
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum as well as DeFi projects on the Ethereum network are some of the most famous use cases of blockchain technology.
However, due to its versatility, blockchain is now being utilised in various other sectors to improve efficiency, delivery and quality of service while promoting transparency. Spotify, for instance, secured a blockchain startup to solve copyrights issues on its platform.
Blockchain is still relatively new with most of its potential yet to be realised and implemented in Africa. Its features, however, show that it can help African nations bypass the limitations that have kept them underdeveloped.
There are certain areas that would help leapfrog Africa into a developed continent when Blockchain is implemented. We will consider a few here.
A number of African nations such as Nigeria, South Africa and Algeria have suffered a backlash of cybercrimes in the past few decades. Blockchain technology is designed to eliminate data tampering and falsification while keeping the data of its users secure.
When blockchain technology is implemented in the design of financial systems, as well as telecommunications industries, it has the potential to secure data, reduce tampering and protect the details of the citizens.
Business institutions such as investment firms would no longer have fears of data hacking and maintain their authenticity.
Buying and selling of products over the internet has not being fully embraced by many while some who have tried it have been discouraged because of how easy it is to buy counterfeit products.
Blockchain offers a solution: over a secure, decentralised network, products can be verified as original before purchase, thereby maintaining the integrity of the seller as well as building trust with the buyer.
Even though African nations practice democracy, the democratic process is usually tinted with electoral malpractice and misconduct. The electoral commission of these nations often face challenges with validating voters' information and ensuring a smooth electoral procedure.
A blockchain-powered electoral process will provide a smooth, free and fair election. The electoral commission would secure and transfer the information of voters across multiple systems in a limited space of time. They would be able to protect and maintain the integrity of the voting system.
In Sierra Leone 2018, a Swiss tech company, Agora, ran a technology test to confirm if Blockchain technology would mitigate electoral problems. The trial's conclusion was optimistic, noting that blockchain technology implementation would result in transparent national elections.
Financial transparency in Government institutions
Some of the pre-eminent features of blockchain are transparency, creditability, and security. Transaction history and records cannot be falsified, modified, nor deleted. A significant number of African nations are on the list of the most corrupt states. These features will make for a distinct revolution in Africa.
Budgets, the expenditure of government offices and officers can be tracked, ensuring transparency and eliminating corruption. It would be almost impossible to embezzle funds that should be utilised in the development of the nation. It would also encourage financial inclusion among the citizens and subsequently build trust between the government and its citizens.
The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, gave a mandate for the Kenyan Blockchain Association to launch a blockchain and artificial intelligence task force that will be responsible for creating a roadmap to help combat political corruption in the country.
Transportation and Distribution companies
The supply chain of a business, especially a distribution company, has to be top-notch to meet its many consumers' demands. Blockchain can be implemented to properly document and track supply chains from across the globe.
This would limit human error as well as eliminate manual labour and increase efficiency. Business institutions such as IBM have inculcated Blockchain technology in tracking and distributing its products to its numerous retail chains and shipping companies.
Real estate institutions, both government- and privately-owned, would be able to maintain, document, and protect the records of estate owners, land, or property deeds for years on end. Blockchain offers a digital platform to secure your land or property rights and prevent the falsification of data.
For instance, Bitland, a Ghanaian-based company, is using blockchain to build an "immutable, transparent and universal" land registry system that is helping to limit illegal displacement as well as land fraud in the nation.
Blockchain technology has been very effective in setting a foundation for cryptocurrencies. It isn't only limited to cryptocurrencies, though, and can be implemented in other areas of the economy. African nations require a transparent, secure foundation to rid their continent of corruption, malpractice, and more efficient systems.
Blockchain technology offers Africa this tool and many more as its potential are yet to be exhausted. The first step, however, is the increased adoption of blockchain technology across the continent. Once significantly wide adoption is achieved, then Africa can indeed reach its full potential as a continent.