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Columnists

On ICTs, we are now on the right track

 mobile borrowing
Emerging technologies will make it possible to lower the exorbitant interest rates on mobile borrowing. 

On July 25, 2019, the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, Joseph Mucheru, launched the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence report.

The report details how the country can leverage emerging exponential technologies to solve some of the major problems the country is facing.

These include: endemic corruption, weak democratic and electoral process, ballooning national debt, exclusive financial systems, expensive transaction cost and poor public service delivery.

The fight against corruption can be minimised through use of blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI). These technologies are already being used by several governments to improve governance.

For example, after Spain slid eight points to become one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union, it started to leverage blockchain and AI after changing their anti-corruption laws. The change has started to pay off.

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The Scandinavian countries for example, have built blockchain-powered land registries to make the details of real estate transactions visible to all interested parties including the tax agencies to eliminate tax evasion.

Other governments using these emerging technologies to improve on transparency in their land registries include: Ghana, Georgia and Ukraine. We can therefore eliminate persistent racketeering in land registries by deploying Blockchain technology.

The new technologies could also be used to minimise controversies in our elections. We are optimistic that by 2022, we should at least use blockchain to manage the elections of Members of County Assemblies (MCAs).

The process will create ledgers for all political parties, observers and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission such that each interested party will have visibility on how the votes are trickling in and can be validated at the same time.

With a digital asset framework, the country can mobilize local resources and avoid borrowing expensive loans. For example, the construction of the Mombasa- Nairobi expressway could be an investment that Kenyans can crowdsource from contributing as low as Sh100 to as much as one can afford.

As it is at the moment, Kenyans have put billions of dollars in foreign cryptocurrencies whose utilities are unknown. These resources estimated to be at least 1.6 percent of the GDP are enough to help government reduce its foreign borrowings that largely consist of excess capital that is used to enslave us when we have the capability to support our development.

There is no doubt that digital money has caused a financial revolution in Kenya. Several studies confirm that digital currency has created unprecedented financial inclusion. Just a few years ago, only five percent of Kenyans had bank accounts compared to more than 90 percent who have had to open bank accounts through mobile phones.

Soon, the emerging technologies will make it possible to lower the exorbitant interest rates on mobile borrowing.

The fight to lower the cost of transactions has started in earnest. Facebook’s Libra is promising free transaction cost and targeting the bottom of the pyramid.

It is expected that other mobile money providers will lower their cost or build new business models that will eliminate transaction charges altogether.

These changes will continue to bring efficiency to the people. To take full advantage of these technologies, however, the government must embark on digitisation of records, develop data analytics capability, build a robust biometric identity system that is key to the success of a digital economy and ensure affordable broadband throughout the country.

Already much has been done through the Huduma Centers but more services could be added and greatly improve public service delivery.

The launch of the Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence Report will bring us closer to building a robust digital economy.

With it, Kenya will leapfrog several stages of development, solve many endemic problems and help Kenyans create new jobs and wealth.

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