With high literacy, well–developed infrastructure and connectivity, Kenya is a natural choice for those who are just beginning to venture into the world of blockchain.
The road to progress
With M-PESA as a backdrop, the demand for technology solutions like blockchain has soared. Not just financial deals, but the technology has even revolutionized sectors like security, transport, health, insurance and motor vehicle in Kenya. Especially, businesses wanting to make a true social impact like providing more access to energy are the ones gaining more traction in the region. Such businesses seem to attract more investments and are launching quickly into the market like startups involved in micro-lending.
It is not just private Kenyan ventures that have taken an interest in blockchain. The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has announced that all vehicles running in the country will have an electronic motor vehicle identification service in which all vehicles will have an electronic sticker pasted on the windshields that will be detectable via special gadgets. The move will help in rooting out unsafe jalopies and help in the recovery of stolen vehicles. The data on the vehicles will be secured on a blockchain platform that is under development.
Kenya’s public health sector is installing a smart platform in all 98 public hospitals creating a shared hub where crucial data such as a patient’s history, hospital management and use of public resources will be monitored from the cloud-based database. A modernization programme being conducted by Japan’s Toyota Shusho Company and Kenya’s Seven Seas Technologies will eliminate the oft-tedious patient history re-writing exercise conducted every time someone visits a different hospital for treatment.
Yet, despite the government’s interest, blockchain and cryptocurrency are still meeting resistance from the nation’s financial regulators.
Patrick Njoroge, Governor of the Central Bank is a bit skeptical regarding the use of digital currencies saying “bitcoins operations are conducted on unregulated regimes that expose Kenyans to cyber fraudsters.” But financial market consultants have urged the government to change its stance and with the recent spate of developments, it seems the government is beginning to open up to the idea of blockchain and cryptocurrencies in general.
An optimistic future
With the ICT sector is growing exponentially in Kenya, a young and vibrant population with great ideas and companies Europe and North America and elsewhere to set up businesses in Kenya, the future is looking bright with a mix of good mix of good ideas and solid entrepreneurship. Kenya will go from nearly 6% connectivity to power the internet to 70% connectivity over the next decade. A tremendous leap that will benefit people in many ways, giving them access to services that were not available in the past. Blockchain technology has the potential to provide even more access to essential services for people living in the most remote areas.
Blockchain shows the potential to enhance transparency and reduce long-standing inefficiencies and costs within multiple sectors of African economies. From enabling micropayment systems to digital identity management to smart contracts, blockchain-based solutions can transform traditional or nonexistent technology infrastructures in African nations and drive a new era of more inclusive growth. Investors and companies that operate in rapid-growth markets should keep a close eye on these exciting new iterations of homegrown innovation.
It is clear that along with being the birthplace of mankind, Kenya will be the hotbed for new technologies. Corporates and governments are always on the lookout for avenues where they can get multiple points of view and witness different applications for blockchain that can be applied in many economic sectors.