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5 Ways Blockchain Technology Can Help Africa’s Development

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blockchain technology can help Africa

Blockchain technology has garnered substantial global media attention since the beginning of this year. This trend can also be witnessed in the African media landscape who has covered this new technology intensively. In as much as the blockchain may not be the much-awaited savior in all aspects of human life (contrary to what some ‘over-zealots’ preach), there are several features and functions inherent with the technology that can go a long way to better the lives and societal systems of mankind.

In fact, there are several solutions that blockchain technology has to offer, which is desperately needed by the African continent to better the lives of its citizens and to increase the economic and social development of African nations.

Remittances

Blockchain technology through the use of cryptocurrencies or tokenized fiat currency can help reduce and even possibly eliminate the bottlenecks that pertain to traditional money transfer systems. The issue of delayed transactions with platforms such as SWIFT, Western Union, Money Gram and some mobile payment systems can be solved using blockchain technology as it is able to provide higher transaction speed than its peers. With blockchain, thousands of dollars can be sent from one point of the globe to another within minutes or even seconds. Additionally, the costs of these blockchain-based money transfers tend to be significantly lower than traditional systems.

By the end of 2015, it was estimated that yearly remittances of Africans in the diaspora back to the continent stood at a figure of $35.2 billion. The associated cost of these transfers, however, made up about 10 percent of the amount. This meant that a significant amount of those monies ended up with third-party service providers instead of getting to intended beneficiaries. Blockchain-based money transfers should have significantly lower fees and are peer-to-peer, which means that third-party institutions that rake out a significant chunk of the remittance can be eliminated since money can be sent directly from the

Blockchain-based money transfers should have significantly lower fees and are peer-to-peer, which means that third-party institutions that rake out a significant chunk of the remittance can be eliminated since money can be sent directly from the diasporan to his or her beneficiary.

Identity Management

The problem of proper identification and citizen data management seems to be a general debacle with most countries on the continent. Countries like Ghana and Nigeria embark on a regular vicious cycle of public sector payroll purging all in “efforts” to weed out “ghost names”. This issue can be effectively addressed if blockchain technology were to be applied.

Blockchain technology can neither be altered, manipulated nor can its data be erased as such its implementation in solving the issue of citizen identity in Africa seems like a very plausible option that should be considered by governments. By making use of cryptographic hashing and blockchain technology, individual citizens can be identified by a set of codes that will be almost impossible to hack due to the decentralised nature of the technology.

For example, US-based blockchain startup Civic leverage Bitcoin’s public blockchain to deliver identity management solutions for business and individuals. African governments can leverage the services of such players to not only solve their pestering public wage bill discrepancies, but it can be escalated to help address issues of citizen authentication and identification.

The Electoral Process

On a continent where election results and outcomes are often disputed, it is increasingly becoming important to have full-proof electoral systems to help keep the sanity of societies and communities. There have been several instances where disputed election results have led to violent agitations causing loss of lives and properties.

In the last elections that happened in The Gambia, for example, it was observed that voters made use of stones to cast their ballots, a process of this nature may not only be rife with inefficiencies, but it also goes against the ethic of privacy that should generally characterise an electoral process. Voters were expected to drop their stone ballots in containers for aspiring candidates much to the visibility of other voters and officials.

Blockchain’s public and transparent nature can be applied to electioneering just as with the case of citizen identification. Voters will be able to electronically cast their votes faster and results could be collated almost immediately with little or no disputes since the platform is practically immune to manipulation and data on it can be generally regarded as valid because the eligibility of citizens by way of age and other criteria can be assured.

Land Title Registration

The case of land and its attendant ownership issues is an albatross around the necks of most landlords and aspiring land owners in Africa. Blockchain technology comes in handy to help address this challenge and in fact, some African companies like Bitland are already contributing their quota in this regard.

With the power of blockchain technology, Bitland aims to streamline and automate the entire process of land registration to provide a better system of records immune to human manipulations and shenanigans. Bitland helps existing and aspiring land owners as well as other stakeholders with the services of surveying and recording of deeds onto Bitshares blockchain.

Transparent Government Expenditure

Going against the grain of what is popular in the news about crypto-transactions being shrouded in secrecy, more often than not the opposite is the case. Bitcoin transactions are actually available on a public ledger and can be viewed by all. This presents an opportunity for unrivaled transparency and can be translated into the system of governance in Africa.

Being a continent that is plagued with government officials allegedly misappropriating public funds, it would be a milestone for African nations (as well as Western nations for that matter) to introduce blockchain technology into track government spending.

The introduction of blockchain technology into governance would help the ordinary citizen track government spending and know what their taxes are being used for. The blockchain would be able to fight public sector corruption way more effectively than any legislative instrument enacted by parliaments would. Government spending could be followed in real-time and past transactions could be quickly called-up without the need to wait for annual audit statements before resource misappropriations can be uncovered.

Governments across the globe are increasingly off-loading aspects of their operations onto the blockchain and it is only fair and progressive that African governments follow suit for the ultimate benefit of their citizens and posterity.

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Blockchain Technology

AI and Blockchain-Powered Project CareAi Could Improve Healthcare in Africa

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CareAi

CareAi is a project of the Joint Research Centre from the European Commission that has the potential to improve healthcare services in Africa through the use of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology.

The open-source solution provides intelligent and anonymous healthcare and can diagnose diseases like typhoid fever, malaria, and tuberculosis within seconds through the use of AI. The aim of the project is to reach out to undocumented migrants, ethnic minorities, and populations secluded from healthcare systems. The anonymous nature of CareAi also allows patients such as migrants to receive a diagnosis without worrying about deportation.

How It Works

CareAi is a machine featuring a finger prick and a lab-on-a-chip technology initiated by a Harvard University chemistry professor called George Whitesides.

To receive a diagnosis, a patient will have their finger pricked and the blood sample is deposited on the chip, put in the machine, and anonymised. Once this is done, CareAi’s AI-powered health assistant analyses the sample by referencing it to a wide range of medical and diagnosing data and then displays the results on a screen and provides a printout for the same.

The results come with actions that the user should take such as getting a prescription from partner chemists or seeing a participating NGO doctor that provides anonymous treatment and who can claim back payment for services rendered.

Additionally, CareAi correlates medical data with records of academic data and journals anonymously. The anonymised data is securely stored on the blockchain while smart contracts manage the rights, permission, and access to the stored health data.

Organisations use a distributed app to access the data through smart contracts. For instance, if a government wants to access the stored data for policy purposes, it has to buy tokens called CareAi Points. These tokens are then used to pay the participating healthcare NGOs and for machine maintenance.

According to a Medium article by Lucas Lorenzo, these points can propel “economic interactions in the form of a valued currency, locally and at scale; exchanging economic value and intelligent healthcare feedback for anonymised data.”

The Possible Applications of CareAi in Africa

CareAiAlthough CareAi targets refugee camps in Europe, the technology could also make a positive impact on the African continent according to the founder of cloud-based health records platform Medcera, Ndubuisi Ekekwe. He believes:

“[…] Products like CareAi could become catalytic when they begin to penetrate into villages and cities across the continent. If AI systems could handle some of the minor healthcare issues, the available healthcare professionals could focus on the most difficult issues.”

Ekekwe also says AI systems, such as CareAi, can enhance drug prescriptions where the medical history of a person is entered into the system. This enables the AI system to confidently prescribe drugs and connect the patient to the right pharmacy.

However, he notes that although AI and blockchain technology could change the healthcare systems in Africa, nations must invest in other areas such as training more healthcare professionals and installing electricity and clean water in all healthcare facilities. He also believes that the challenge of inadequate data has to be solved for AI to have a future on the continent.

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Kenya’s RideSafe to Receive $140,000 in Funding from Aeternity Starfleet Incubator

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RideSafe

Kenyan tech startup RideSafe is set to receive $140,000 in seed funding from the Aeternity Starfleet Incubator, which it partook in earlier this year.

In Kenya, one of the easiest ways to get around is through motorcycles known as “boda bodas.” This subsection of the transport industry has been largely unregulated, creating a myriad of risks for riders and commuters alike. It is, therefore, quite likely to find riders creating associations or small social groups for their collective interests and pooling their resources and support in order to secure solutions for financing, health, and insurance.

RideSafe is a startup that has stepped up to provide health solutions for riders in real-time in case of accidents. Many riders are exposed to hazardous conditions daily. Hence, there is a need for robust solutions to safeguard their wellbeing.

Æternity Starfleet Incubator

RideSafe

Image by RideSafeApp.com

Earlier this year, RideSafe participated in the Aeternity Starfleet Incubator, which is specially designed to empower startups that seek to leverage blockchain technologies. From an initial round of 60 participants, RideSafe qualified for the shortlist of 17 teams, among which Vite and Utu were the only other African startups to participate.

Asiimwe Benson, the CEO of RideSafe, revealed in an interview that he met the Aeternity team at the World Blockchain Summit in Nairobi in early 2018, where he got an opportunity to sign up for the incubator and funding. With the $140,000 prize, the CEO intends to expand operations to serve more riders nationally; ultimately targeting the masses. The funding will also be used to build capacity and secure technical support.

Nikola Stojanow, the CEO of Aeternity Ventures, remarked that the finalists of their training program demonstrated passion, dedication, and far-reaching potential through their ability to take counsel and fine-tune their business models and road maps for best practice.

The ten teams that made it through Aeternity’s incubator have paved the way for other teams and startups to learn and gain meaningful experience in sustainably innovating solutions based on blockchain technology.

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Coinfirm Partners with KAD ICT Hub to Launch Africa Blockchain Lab in Nigeria

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Africa Blockchain Lab

London-based blockchain regtech company Coinfirm and Nigeria’s KAD ICT Hub have launched the Africa Blockchain Lab with the aim of taking up companies focused on creating blockchain-based services and products for African economies.

The new hub based in Kaduna, Nigeria is especially interested in companies that are focused on financial inclusion and has already accommodated one such startup called Kora.

Kora, founded in 2017 by Dickson Nsofor and Maomao Hu, is a blockchain-based infrastructure for an inclusive financial system. According to the Inclusive Growth Forum, “the Kora Network will provide access to identity, secure storage, money transfer, and marketplaces on a low cost, universal access platform accessible via SMS/USSD on feature phones, or with internet access via a mobile app, enabled by blockchain technology.”

CoinfirmCoinfirm’s co-founder and CMO Grant Blaisdell said in a press release: “A Silicon Valley out-of-the-box solution approach has generally not worked in regions such as Africa; it requires a ground-up, organic approach. Coinfirm has already successfully built leading blockchain solutions, the largest structured blockchain database and coverage, and the first blockchain lab for Central Europe. Now, working with KAD ICT Hub, who share our vision of bringing transformative, blockchain-based solutions to African markets, and who have the local knowledge and expertise, we are going to do the same in Africa.” He added:

“We want to work with and provide opportunities for African entrepreneurs working in one of the most exciting and disruptive fields today while bringing our own solutions like our AML/KYC Platform and AMLT Network.”

The KAD ICT Hub

Launched in 2017, the KAD ICT Hub based in Kaduna, Nigeria is an IT innovation hub that receives support from the Nigerian government.

Africa Blockchain LabCo-founder and chief executive of the KAD ICT Hub Yusuf Bashir said: “[…] The transformative potential of blockchain is enormous, and we are confident that, working with Coinfirm, we can provide the testbed and support for today’s leading African blockchain companies, giving them the opportunity to become global leaders. Here in Kaduna, Nigeria’s third-largest state in terms of population, and leading learning and innovation hub, we are extremely fortunate to have a governor who is not only supportive of what we are doing but had ensured we are backed by the Kaduna State Government.”

The hub has been working with Trudatum, Coinfirm’s blockchain-based data document verification platform, which Poland’s largest bank PKO Bank Polski has recently started to use. Additionally, Trudatum could be used in Nigeria to securely store documents in government institutions and universities.

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