A former Nigerian president says Blockchain could be the solution Africa has been looking for when it comes to combating corruption.
Delivering the keynote address at the recent 2018 Africa Downunder Conference hosted by Murdoch University, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo spoke of a continent calling out for transparency, accountability and the need to fight illicit financial flows.
Every year, African countries receive billions of dollars of foreign aid, and yet three quarters of the population are still living on less than $2 a day.
And while the continent is rich in minerals and resources, this wealth has often failed to trickle down to its people.
Child labour, conflict zones and poverty – these are the scenes that have plagued our screens and newspapers for decades.
But Obasanjo is hopeful Blockchain could change all this.
“Blockchain can help in the area of corruption,” Obasanjo told Coincast TV.
“It deals with the quantity and quality of what you are taking from the source through to the receiving end… and the payment cannot be tampered with.”
As the current co-chair of the African Progress Group (APG), which advocates for equitable and sustainable development, Obasanjo is focused on generating evidence-based policies and initiatives that can transform the continent.
Although the future of blockchain was still relatively unknown, he said it had so far shown compelling cases, especially across Africa’s mining industry.
“Blockchain completes an audit chain,” he said.“It will no doubt bring about accountability and transparency between buyers and sellers, and reduces the cloud of fraud and improves logistics visibility.Click To Tweet
“I think people will gradually see the advantages, and when they see these advantages they will embrace it (blockchain) more and more.”
Africa is already embracing blockchain – whether it’s farming in Kenya, cobalt mining in South Africa or the Democratic Republic of Congo’s diamond trade.
And Africans are trading crypto too.
According to Coin Dance, Nigeria is currently ranked seventh in the world when it comes to trading bitcoin, with US$258 million being traded to date, accounting for 4.07 per cent of all bitcoin trade.
South Africa isn’t far behind, rounding out the top 10 leaderboard, with US$98 million.
Murdoch University honorary fellow and special advisor to the APG, Maximilian Jarrett, said we were only at the beginning of realising what blockchain could do for Africa and the world.
“If you want to certify a supply chain to make sure there’s no conflict minerals or child labour involved, blockchain being the distributed ledger that it is, has that potential,” Jarrett told Coincast TV.
Digital currency, Jarrett said, could also give people a financial identity – no longer needing official documents to open an account.
“Blockchain has great potential to assist governments and individuals in addressing challenges in such things as not having a birth certificate and therefore not being able to open a bank account,” he said.
“When you say fighting poverty in that sense, it’s really quite huge.
“I want to create wealth for the farmer, for the market woman, for the woman who is trading, for the young entrepreneur – blockchain can do that.”
With the right leadership and educators Jarrett said Africans could be at the forefront of the adoption and application of blockchain technologies.
“It’s not a case that we as Africans are just receivers; as far as technology is concerned that’s where the younger generation of Africans can co-create with their peers in Silicon Valley,” he said.
“Africa has one of the highest mobile telephony penetrations anywhere in the world and we’re market leaders, not just in the use of the phone, but in the way we use the phone – like for banking.
“If Africans have been so ready to adapt that, I see no reason why we cannot in a very effective way adopt blockchain to our different needs.
“Technology is meant to serve a purpose and assist us as human beings to transform our societies.
“If blockchain can help us do that, and I think it can, we should be getting on as fast as possible to make sure we use this technology to the best (of our ability) because it also has a dark side – we should use it for the light.”
This story first appeared on Coincast TV.