As businesses witness a widespread adoption of blockchain technology, Kenya, like the rest of Africa, is just starting to figure out how to apply the technology.
Experts say blockchain adoption is slow in Africa mainly because people are just beggining to understand the technology. A new book, Understanding the Blockchain by Benjamin Arunda gives in-depth insights into blockchain and its use cases in critical industries such as banking, health, education, and energy.
Blockchain in Kenya
The book, which is apparently the first on blockchain technology in Kenya, talks about how the government can leverage blockchain distributed ledger to combat election rigging. By creating a tamper-proof system rooted on the blockchain, it is possible to achieve free and fair elections since it can provide an authentic record of votes cast. This helps to prevent vote fraud.
Last year, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), said it was looking to adopt the technology in future elections to improve transparency and integrity of polls.
Arunda, who is the head of education at Blockchain Association of Kenya said:
“Blockchain can also be used in the national identification and registration of citizens and foreigners where their data is put into a distributed public database which is impenetrable.”
He further added that the technology can also help in border controls and solve “the immigrant juggernaut”.
One of the key features of blockchain is its ability to provide a single source of truth. This means that the technology can store the present status of all transactions, allowing participants to investigate, and validate transactional entries in real time. Because of this feature, blockchain can be used to create a single source of truth regarding land ownership and transfer of property in Kenya. If implemented correctly, this approach will put an end to the land grabbing problem that has now become a national security threat.
In addition to land registry management, blockchain can play a huge part in stopping cases of certificate forgery and copyrights infringement within the education system.
“It will help to create an e-portfolio for all academic credentials,” Arunda said.
Arunda also notes that blockchain offers the possibility of creating a lifelong learning passport that can be used across the globe. This is because the technology allow for safe and easily accessible storage of files on a cloud. Moreover, it can enhance transparent fees payments and external funding.
In the health sector, the author highlights healthcare data and fake drugs as potential key areas blockchain can enhance. He notes that blockchain can improve patient data privacy and provide interoperability and security to health records. This will, therefore, boost patient experience as well as health care practice. Additionally, a blockchain-based supply chain management system for medicines can help verify the authenticity of drugs and weed out fake medicines in the market. In Kenya, blockchain can even help curb theft of public resources set aside for health.
Notably, recent research shows that 56 percent of healthcare providers across the globe will start using Blockchain by 2020.
Banking and finance
Banking and capital markets are also poised to benefit from blockchain adoption. The technology could help speed up and streamline cross-border payments, besides preventing financial fraud. Arunda says blockchain eliminates the need for middlemen when trading shares, bonds and securities. He added that the technology not only provides an efficient mechanism for issuing, transferring and managing private company securities, it also reduces costs for traders.
In the Kenya insurance sector, blockchain can help increase efficiency in the transfer and administration of funds. It can also reduce dramatically the documentation associated with financial collateral such as letters of credit. Using a digital ledger, insurance companies can establish a trustless claims model that is transparent, efficient and customer-oriented. This enhanced visibility also allows insurers to have a holistic view of their reinsurance contracts and exposure to risk.
With research showing that 8 percent of world trade is made up of counterfeit or pirated goods, blockchain offers the perfect solution to combat counterfeits. A blockchain supply chain system makes it easier to register each product with a unique cryptographic identity (hash) that cannot be altered or deleted. Once registered, organizations can track the product’s journey as it moves through the conduit. Therefore, blockchain can help improve transparency and ensure greater accountability within the supply chain ecosystem. The technology is already in use in the area of transparency, with some implementations already deployed, and a few more in the pipeline.
The World Economic Forum has projected that 10 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be stored on Blockchain and Blockchain-related technologies by 2025. However, a lot still remains to be done in order the fully realize blockchain benefits in any industry.
“Technology can be used to create trust, but even with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, it cannot create empathy,” Arunda concludes.
When it comes to emerging technologies, early adopters are usually the greatest benefactors. Kenya must not miss out on this wonderful opportunity.