• Fri. Oct 22nd, 2021

In Africa, the blockchain for agriculture, pharmaceuticals, food supply chain and digital identity

Byeditorial

May 21, 2021

Cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology but blockchain technology goes far beyond cryptocurrencies by extending its potential of functions and applications in sectors that mainly benefit from its nature as an open source software. Which makes the technology freely accessible by anyone to create products and services with no access costs. Another feature that makes the blockchain interesting is its intrinsic decentralization, which prevents the centralization of data (and therefore power) in the hands of a single entity, but instead involves all those who are connected to the network, with peer to peer without the need for intermediaries. Finally, it is inherently safe. Characteristics that are transforming it into a privileged access key to mass digitization also in African countries, being able thanks to it to circumvent problems such as the dispersion of data, the difficulty of managing central archives and storing physical documents. At the end of April, the Ethiopian government confirmed that it had signed an agreement to create a national database for the documentation of teachers and students, which will provide identities to 5 million people in 3,500 schools, and will also serve to store data relating to the school career of pupils. Behind the database is Cardano, an open source project linked to the ADA cryptocurrency that aims to create a public blockchain platform for the management of smart contracts. The Foundation that supports Cardano is committed to working with governmental and non-governmental institutions for the implementation of traceability systems for people, drugs, food chains. For Ethiopia, Cardano fielded the Atala PRISM project, a decentralized digital identity system based on blockchain. An action that, through the school, will provide a digital identity to millions of citizens, and constitutes a first step towards financial inclusion through also Daedalus, Cardano’s electronic wallet. They clarify from Atala PRISM: “Current identity management mechanisms create significant risks and costs for companies, as these platforms store and protect sensitive information. Governments face inefficiencies in their paper-based bureaucratic processes, as well as personal data fraud. People have no confidence in how their information could be misused or sold to third parties without their consent. Atala PRISM solves these problems by enabling a new approach to digital identity where people have ownership of personal information and only share what is required with companies or institutions in a simple, secure and private way. ”The Cardano Foundation is present from time in supporting governments and non-profit organizations on African territory, and recently announced a collaboration with Save the children that allows the NGO to accept donations in ADA, which will be destined for the development of blockchain projects in Rwanda. Other governments are also moving to exploit the potential of blockchain, for example in the real estate and cadastral sector, overcoming issues related not only to logistical problems and the absence of registers, but also to abuse of authority, corruption, discriminatory practices against certain social or ethnic groups. For some years Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia have been using digitized management systems, which however already appear to be technologically outdated. Governments are therefore starting to look to blockchain as a solution to record transactions and changes of ownership in a certain and transparent way, also helping to improve access to finance.From June 28th these and many other issues will be discussed during Africa Blockchain Week , a cycle of conferences (virtual due to pandemic, and with free access) that will reflect on technological solutions for the future of the continent. Among the topics announced, a focus on payments (cryptocurrencies, digitization of money, use of alternative currencies for non-bankable subjects), blockchain projects for agriculture, the real estate sector, the health system.

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