The western media portrays Africa as a continent plagued with problems. The narrative has never been positive when it comes to the dark continent. So, Africa missed out on Industry 1.0, industry 2.0, or like missing out on everything else. What version of the industry is Africa on now? This is the same old narrative from the external actors to influence development.
What the plan for Africa now, is to be a pioneer on Industry 4.0 the fourth industrial revolution. However, remember that the story is that Africa has never caught on any of the previous industrial revolutions, so how can we best exploit this new phase.
Reaching the unbanked
From the internet of things to blockchain, ideas are springing up to improve the lives of people all over. This article is too small to cover everything, so let us box our thoughts on Africa and the blockchain.
Colonialization 2.0 is through the use of technology. Blockchain technology has been touted to be revolutionary in bringing trust and transparency to a trustless society. However, instead of promoting that aspect, those entrepreneurs are saying they want to bring cryptocurrency to the unbanked.
According to the World Bank, there are 1.7 billion adults in the world who do not have access to a financial institution or mobile money provider. More specifically, half of the world unbanked population lives in seven countries; India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Nigeria, Mexico, and Bangladesh.
Blockchain uses cases in Africa
Cryptocurrencies are not the answer to help the unbanked as technically they would still need access to an account to get onboard. Here are some real cases for blockchain in Africa:
- Birth and death registration
- Citizen identity registration
- Medical and drugs traceability
- Land ownership registration
- Education registration
- Moreover, government expenditure traceability
Africa does not need another cryptocurrency; there is initiative underway to create a single currency such as the Eco by the West African Monetary Zone. A single country should not undertake a blockchain initiative but similar to the Eco; a pan-African network should be created. Being a big advocate of permission-based distributed ledger in the enterprise, to generate trust and provide transparency, this DLT network should be publicly accessible for all preying eyes to scrutinize. The system should be decentralized and not owned by a single entity, as this would bring another layer of misuse. Citizen, through the use of the appropriate tools, should be able to query the ledger and find the relevant information. A fully decentralized continent where the people in public offices answers to the citizen.
Made in Africa
To avoid Colonialization 2.0, Africa has to build its solution and buy African. Fairtrade is not an African initiative. Let us create a decentralized marketplace where the farmer from Abidjan can sell to the grocer in Luanda. A distributed supply chain network powered by the blockchain built by African for all to see.
Above all, Africa should have a shared vision; made in Africa. This is a multi-phase project where all software and smart contracts will use an open source license. An ecosystem is then built to support it, in the same way, the internet powers e-commerce.
Industry 4.0 is an opportunity for Africa to take a seat on the world stage. The continent population is not unbanked as the western media make us believe to be. We do not need another currency controlled by external actors, which can destabilize governments and economies.
Transparency in public sector
Africans wants more transparency in governmental affairs and trust. Africa should build their solutions by leveraging revolutionary technology such as the blockchain. Made in Africa should be a continent-wide dream which can be accomplished as more investments are made.
Cryptocurrency does not fix any of the African issues, and most token based ICOs are scams. Let us build transparency first, and then the trust will naturally follow.