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Technology

Ills that Blockchain can help remedy in Kenya

The technology can come in handy in the fight
The technology can come in handy in the fight against counterfeits. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The World Economic Forum has stated that by 2025, 10 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) will be stored on Blockchain and Blockchain-related technologies.

This indicates how the technology is rapidly gaining traction globally. However, in Kenya just like in the rest of Africa, the technology is just beginning to be understood.

Experts say people will learn more about this new technology as its usage expands. Then there is a new book, Understanding the Blockchain by Benjamin Arunda, a certified Blockchain expert, which gives a simplified in-depth overview of the technology and its uses in various sectors including education, banking, health, insurance, law, film, manufacturing, energy, mining and journalism.

“Blockchain is all about building and cementing trust in almost all transactions in life,” says Mr Arunda who is the head of education at Blockchain Association of Kenya.

“This is through peer to peer transactional relationships without an intermediary.”

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Mr Arunda’s book, which is apparently the first on the emerging technology in Kenya, spells out how the government can use Blockchain to prevent election rigging. To achieve free and fair elections, it can be used to create a tamper-proof system, eliminating voter fraud and providing an authentic record of votes cast.

In Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has hinted at adopting the technology in future elections to improve transparency and integrity of polls.

“Blockchain can also be used in the national identification and registration of citizens and foreigners where their data is put into a distributed public database which is impenetrable,” Mr Arunda, 29, says.

“It will help in cross-border controls and solve the immigrant juggernaut.”

The innovation is also key in setting up a Single Source of Truth (SSOT) regarding land ownership and transfer of property in Kenya. A distributed ledger like Blockchain has “public witnesses” called nodes who help to validate each transaction. This will put to end land grabbing and fraud.

The technology can also play a critical role in the education sector. Cases of certificate forgery and infringement of academic content copyrights can be stopped by Blockchain.

“It will help to create an e-portfolio for all academic credentials,” says the author who studied Bachelor of Commerce, finance option, at the University of Nairobi.

The author has also learnt about digital currency at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus, Javascript programming at Moringa school and ACCA at Strathmore University.

Blockchain, says Mr Arunda, enables the creation of a lifelong learning passport that can be used across the globe.

“It will allow for safe and easily accessible storage of files on a cloud and boost transparent fees payments and external funding,” Mr Arunda notes in his book.

In health, the author says Blockchain is what the doctor has ordered. Sometimes surgeries are done on the wrong patient because of “confusion of patient data”.

Blockchain, he notes, will enhance patient data privacy, interoperability and security of all healthcare data, making patients safe by boosting the professionalism of surgeons, doctors and nurses.

“The scandals we see in the health sector will also come to an end as well as malware and viruses that corrupt health data”.

Weeding out fake medicine from the supply chain will be a critical role of Blockchain, besides curbing the theft of public resources set aside for health.

Research has shown that 56 percent of healthcare providers worldwide are hopeful to start using Blockchain by 2020.

Banking and capital markets can also benefit immensely through speeding up and simplifying cross-border payments, preventing financial fraud and easing customer onboarding processes.

“This technology will block middlemen in the trading of shares, bonds and securities. It will offer an efficient platform for the issuance, transfer and management of private company securities in a manner that reduces costs,” Mr Arunda says.

Insurance sector can use Blockchain to increase efficiency in transfer and administration of funds and documentation of financial collateral such as letters of credit.

Research has shown that between 5 percent and 10 percent of claims in Kenya are fraudulent.

“Many insurance companies have struggled to manage risks and authenticate claims,” Mr Arunda says.

“Blockchain can be used to establish a claims model that is transparent, efficient and customer-based with the highest levels of trust.”

Insurers, he added, are able to obtain a clearer visibility and knowledge of their reinsurance contracts and exposure to risk.

The technology can also come in handy in the fight against counterfeits. Global statistics show that 8 percent of world trade is made up of counterfeit or pirated goods.

“Blockchain makes it easier to register each product with a unique cryptographic identity that cannot be changed,” says Mr Arunda. “Goods can be registered on the Blockchain before being registered into the supply chain network and assigned hash identities that will allow tracking. This will scare away thieves. “

Despite Blockchain’s promise of creating a global trust in every sector, the author says it is not a panacea to all socio-political and economic challenges. “Technology can be used to create trust, but even with the advancement of Artificial Intelligence, it cannot create empathy,” he says.

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