There has been an overwhelming amount of media attention and talk surrounding blockchain over the past years. It has been rallied as a solution to such a broad array of problems that it is increasingly difficult to fully tell what the technology can or cannot do, let alone develop a reasoned and sensible approach to using blockchain.
One of the unique aspects of blockchain is its high number of people who support it – folks who believe blockchain can solve everything from making elections free and fair to cutting the nation’s debt.
To this end, about a year and a half ago, precisely in Feb 2018, the Ministry of ICT, through its CS Joe Mucheru communicated that it had created a task force that was going to examine the use of the blockchain and artificial intelligence in the country.
Headed by former ICT PS Bitange Ndemo, the task force, whose works were echoed by the ICT PS Jerome Ochieng’ during his various meets with the media, has finally released a report that highlights the different facets the technologies can be used to improve service delivery to the people of Kenya.
The report, which is available online for those who want to study its lengthy details, recommends some compelling use cases.
To begin with, the findings discuss the need to leverage blockchain and AI to fight corruption, which the Ministry defensively acknowledges has been a concern in Kenya, among other emerging economies. The focus of the recommendation is based on the openness and transparent nature of blockchain.
“We have made recommendations through the CBK that a framework for a formal digital currency should be created to recognize the flow of money, identity of people, among others, to safeguard the integrity and transparency,” noted one of the taskforce’s members.
Secondly, it is recommended that blockchain and AI will play a key role in cutting the nation’s national debt via digital asset frameworks. Ideally, the state has the capacity to take advantage of local resources to create cryptocurrencies to raise capital rather than burdening itself with debt.
The report asks the government of Kenya to develop a digital asset framework to enable citizens to raise funds through Initial Coin Offers (ICO) ‘as a strategy to help local investors put their resources in cryptocurrencies underpinned by the utility of local resources.’
Furthermore, the report says blockchain can be used to bolster election fairness through fast tallying and providing real-time polling results, and by extension, strengthen democracy.
Additional use cases are diverse, but the task force recommends notable applications in financial inclusion, payments, better public service delivery, improved agriculture, and food security, as well as the net outcome of the technology in achieving the Big 4 Agenda.
“These are recommendations that have come from the industry. We will definitely examine and support them,” said CS Joe Mucheru.
It is, therefore, worth noting that these are mere recommendations that will undergo further scrutiny before any decision is made.
Truly robust deployments of blockchain need a blend of blockchain’s specific advantages and use cases that enable the realization of these benefits, followed by dedicated hard work to get it right and applied in businesses.
We look forward to the realization of this goal as the Government examines the recommendations.