Harnessing Blockchain in Africa

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr.

There are a lot of ongoing conversations and debates round cryptocurrency. I hear folks clearly new to the idea speak about it in awe. Some make plans to commerce and money out on this present revolution; whereas these astute sufficient to leap on the cryptocurrency wagon, when it was pretty new in Africa, pat themselves on the again.

The frenzy over cryptocurrencies equivalent to Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and quite a few others is paying homage to what existed in the course of the Gold Rush of California, the United States. About 100 and seventy-two years in the past, exactly in 1848, an enormous inflow of fortune seekers flocked to Sutter’s Mill on the discovery of gold in that area.

Interestingly, cryptocurrency is a world idea not sure by geography, economic system and is open to all. In truth, in accordance with the 2020 Global Crypto Adoption Index compiled by blockchain knowledge analytics agency Chainalysis, China, Nigeria, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, and the US are among the many top-ranking international locations which have adopted cryptocurrency.

With this development, I foresee cryptocurrency displacing paper money or some other typical currencies sooner or later. In this piece, I’ll focus on the facility behind cryptocurrency and that’s blockchain. In addition, we’ll see how harnessing it might probably revamp totally different sectors of the African economic system.

Beyond Bitcoin

Although blockchain expertise is sort of advanced to know, initially created because the ultra-transparent ledger system for Bitcoin to function on, many equate it with cryptocurrency. So, what is that this transformative expertise?

A blockchain is a database that shops knowledge in blocks which might be then chained collectively. As new knowledge is launched, it’s entered right into a contemporary block. Once the block is full of knowledge it’s chained onto the earlier block, which makes the info chained collectively in chronological order.

In different phrases, we are able to sum up blockchain as knowledge you’ll be able to solely add to, not take away from or alter, ergo the time period “chain” since you’re making a series of knowledge.

Also often known as revolutionary Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), blockchain expertise makes it doable for customers to watch a transaction and do enterprise with unverified companions barring the help of monetary establishments.

Its most unusual options are decentralisation and transparency. This implies that blockchains are consensus-driven, as such no single entity can seize management of the info. With it, you don’t want a trusted third-party to validate or approve transactions.

In addition, owing to its decentralised nature, significantly Bitcoin’s blockchain, all transactions might be transparently seen by customers who’ve a private node such that each one members can see transactions as they play out.

Blockchain expertise has advanced into one in all at the moment’s groundbreaking rising applied sciences. Having began out as a system used for monetary transactions, it’s now extensively utilized in different sectors and industries. Consider how the expertise can enhance the totally different sectors/industries in Africa.

How it impacts varied sectors

In Cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are inimical to the expansion of our digital world because the perpetrators themselves have gotten more and more refined. There’s a saying that determined instances name for determined measures; for ransomware and cyber assaults, blockchain expertise might be leveraged to finish hackers’ reign of terror. It affords knowledge safety towards unauthorised entry and tampering.

Since blockchain is a decentralized system, it might probably improve cybersecurity. It gives a safe and clear method of recording transactions with out disclosing non-public info to anybody. It is very excellent for various firms that collaborate of their cloud environments with out compromising delicate info as a consequence of safety, privateness, and different issues.

Also, it’s simple to identify malicious knowledge assaults with blockchain as a consequence of peer-to-peer connections, the place knowledge can’t be modified or tampered with.

In Education

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has inadvertently promoted the expansion of edtech in Africa. As on-line and distance studying grows, there’s a necessity to substantiate college students’ transcripts and faculty information. A blockchain-enabled system may very well be designed, enabling employers and different instructional establishments to trace scholar’s tutorial progress, entry their knowledge and transcripts.

This simplifies the method college students and graduates must undergo to ‘prove’ they really attended a specific establishment.

In Healthcare

Even because the pandemic rages on, the healthcare sector, along with its many different challenges, continues to grapple with learn how to retailer and hold particular person well being knowledge safe.

In Africa, one of many issues hospitals face is the dearth of a safe platform to retailer and share knowledge. Due to antiquated infrastructure, healthcare centres are susceptible to hacking.

Adopting Blockchain expertise will allow hospitals to soundly retailer knowledge like medical information and share it with personnel or sufferers. The information may very well be encoded and saved on the blockchain with a personal key such that solely approved people can entry them, thereby guaranteeing privateness.

In Voting

In democratic African international locations, the idea of a free and honest election is a fantasy as a sure group of grasping elites would all the time try to govern the voting course of. As such, many Africans, significantly Nigerians, have misplaced religion within the system. After all, why hassle if the outcomes of an election have been predetermined earlier than the precise occasion?

With its key aspect of transparency, it’s doable to make use of blockchain to construct a working fashionable voting system, lowering the personnel wanted to conduct an election and offering officers with almost instantaneous outcomes. Through it, the specter of election fraud shall be eradicated, thereby boosting voter turnout.

Consider this situation: a voting system may very well be operated in a method that each eligible citizen of a rustic could be issued a single cryptocurrency or token. Then, every political aspirant could be given a particular pockets deal with the place the voters would ship their token to the deal with of their most popular candidate. I ponder if this degree of sophistication might be mimicked in Nigeria.

In Supply Chain Management

Looking on the provide chain in lots of African international locations, one would possibly describe it as extremely fragmented. For occasion, earlier than a product might be delivered from producer to shopper, it might need to journey between 2 or extra intermediaries a lot that when it will get to the end-user, the fee might seemingly improve.

Since this cycle doesn’t favour the buyer, leveraging blockchain will get rid of the necessity for pointless center events. Hence, the time period peer-to-peer transaction.

The takeaway

From the foregoing, we’ve got explored the potential impacts blockchain expertise can have on varied sectors. The actuality is that, right here in Africa, the adoption of this transformational method of utilizing tech continues to be in its inception. However, we are able to hope that it’ll acquire momentum as this may speed up the expansion of our economic system.

CFA is co-founder of techbuild.africa, a platform chronicling  innovation & godohub.org, a social enterprise supporting innovation.

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