Blockchain for Emerging Countries

Blockchain: Catalyst for Progress in Emerging Countries

It isn’t a surprise to see most Blockchain applications being developed in the tech-savvy western part of the world. But, Blockchain is also hailed as a revolutionary technology for the emerging world, where people can use a decentralised and distributed ledger to address challenges around governance, identity, health, financial infrastructure. Apart from the financial inclusion that cryptocurrencies offer to the emerging world, allowing more rapid and seamless transactions, there are many other benefits possible. Disruptors such as Senditoo, BitPesa, SELA and many others across Africa are using Blockchain to transform the way business is done.

One of the key features of Blockchain is trust, being a decentralised platform that isn’t controlled by a single authority, it creates a reliable and valid chain that the network can trust.  Many functions and transactions in emerging countries still follow paper-based operations for key activities, especially pertaining to government services. This can include activities like filing taxes, registering a company or recording property title deeds. It is the gaps in these paper-based models that give way to inefficient costly activities and trust-less governance. In places where the governments are unable to provide a reliable trust model, could blockchain be the solution?

Michelle Nsanzumuco, Surrey CoDE, University of Surrey

Michelle Nsanzumuco at the Oxford-Africa Conference, University of Oxford

Last month, University of Oxford held the Oxford Africa Conference, bringing together heads of state, business leaders, academics and other professionals, speaking on various issues revolving around Africa. As expected, one of the topics was around blockchain. Michelle Chivunga Nsanzumuco, Africa Advisor for the British Blockchain Association, Executive Education lead and member of Centre for the Digital Economy at the Surrey Business School, University of Surrey addressed the audience at the event, speaking about the potential of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) to transform business models and other aspects of society.

In our follow-up interview with Michelle, she stated “Countries in Africa can be well placed to tap on Blockchain to improve challenges revolving around transparency, connectivity and inclusivity, accessing transformational tools to support development and advancement, particularly among women and the youth. Blockchain, with its decentralised and robust infrastructure, could be the catalyst that tackles these challenges, becoming a fundamental transformational tool that promotes the progression of these countries.’’

Better access to inclusivity programmes, access to digital finance and more transparent supply chains can also enhance women’s economic empowerment. According to Michelle,  key sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing and mining, where women are significant actors, Blockchain can play a major role in improving efficiency, cost saving and food provenance enabling greater control, transparency and accessibility.

A key challenge to tackle, though, is the deployment of technology in areas where people have limited access to computers, the internet and sustainable network infrastructure. However, with the presence of financial services like M-Pesa in Kenya, and a growing usage of mobile internet, it isn’t an impossible challenge. Blockchain will not solve every single challenge but it can be a part of a package of solutions. As a technology, it has potential for scalability and compatibility with other technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT).

How can Blockchain be deployed to help the growth of societies in Africa and other developing nations? Michelle will explore this further in collaboration with a range of players.

For further details, please contact Michelle Nsanzumuco.

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About the Author : Muhammad Ali Ishaq

Impact Manager for the University of Surrey's Centre for the Digital Economy. His interest lies in digital marketing, analytics and entrepreneurship. He is also an amateur photographer. He tweets @iAliIshaq