Blockchain platform to ease service delivery in East Africa
“We’re going to discuss this among ourselves. The policy will come from the results of the brainstorming from other sessions in Cabinet,” President Museveni said at the opening of the Africa Blockchain Conference Kampala.
However, this was a sharp contrast to the Central Bank Governor, who expressed scepticism especially of the cryptocurrency component of the technology, saying that unregulated, cryptocurrency is more or less a Ponzi scheme.
Uganda’s Minister of Information Communication and Technology, Frank Tumwebaze told the conference that a taskforce will be created to study and advise the government on how best the technology can be deployed in Uganda.
Already, the Kenyan government is working on a blockchain database known as the Single Source of Truth (SSOT) which will become the primary reference for all land transactions, as it looks to weed out fake title deeds from the land registry, in its first potential mass application of the technology.
Speaking in Kampala, the chairman of the Kenya Blockchain Taskforce, Prof Bitange Ndemo said that the technology will bring about efficiency in government, reduce corruption and increase employment opportunities in African countries as well as tax collection particularly VAT.
“We want the economy to work using technologies like blockchain. By creating guidelines for the responsible and practical use of a digital asset framework throughout the African continent, we can promote enterprise development and trade,” he said.
Rwanda is far ahead of its peers in the East African Community as it established the Blockchain and IoT Centre of Excellence in partnership with Swiss cybersecurity WISekey in early 2017, a project aimed at leading the country in becoming more digitised to enable secure transactions, digital authentication and legally- binding signatures.
Mineral-rich Democratic Republic of Congo is also planning to begin tracking cobalt from artisanal mines through to products used in smartphones and electric cars using blockchain, in order to identify the cobalt mined by children, potentially helping to decrease in child labour.
Blockchain is already being used in the diamond industry where gems are given a digital fingerprint which is then tracked as gems are sold, giving a forgery-proof record of the source stones.
Experts say blockchain technology can work for almost every type of transaction involving value, including money, goods and property. Its potential uses are almost limitless: From collecting taxes to enabling migrants to send money back to family in countries where banking is difficult.
But some say that it will do to banking what the Internet did to media: It can be used to give access to financial services to billions of people around the world, including those in the Third World countries who do not have access to traditional banking. A case in point is the Bitcoin, which allows anyone to send money across borders almost instantly and with relatively low fees.