Blockchain is distributed ledger technology that underlies cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
The potential of Blockchain technology in Kenya
In 1991 Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stometta described it as a way to tamper-proof digital documents using timestamps.
In 2008, blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto as a public transaction ledger for Bitcoin. It is a secure system that relies on establishment of trust among users through protocols, cryptography and computer code.
It allows transactions within large peer to peer networks without centralized management institutions.
Blockchain has the potential to make organizations and processes that use it transparent, democratic, decentralized, auditable, efficient and secure.
It is likely to disrupt industries across all sectors of society in the coming decade.
In this article, we shall explore the industries that have over the past shown great significance to the public, banking, government and the electoral process.
Blockchain, being the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies, has the potential to link billions of people all over the world, from both third and first world countries, with no access to traditional banking.
Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin allow individuals to send and receive money across borders almost instantly at a relatively low transaction fee without middlemen.
In a banking industry characterized by exploitative practices, the blockchain has the potential to liberate individuals from the harsh, exploitative nature of financial institutions and opaque nature of how money is really created through the Fractional Reserve Banking system, which is in nutshell, highway robbery(this is a topic for another day).
The decentralization of this sector will allow a fair way of distribution of resources and moreover protect the vulnerable individuals from exploitative processes through the distributed ledger.
Bank customers will be privy to as much information about the transactions as the banks. This will increase efficiency through transparency.
The government systems and tools of administration can be described as complex at best and Orwellian at the worst.
Even with the digitization of services to online platforms such the Huduma Centres, the issues of opaqueness, inefficiency, bureaucracy and corruption still characteristically plague many of the processes of public service provision.
So much rot has been uncovered in the public procurement processes on platforms such as IFMIS.
Blockchain has the potential to provide transparent, easily auditable and efficient systems to manage transactions in public procurement more so in tendering of public services.
By using this technology, the government can store and display public documents in a way that is visible to all for scrutiny. Dubai is a good example of governments taking this step with its plans to put its government documents on the Blockchain by 2023.
This technology can be used for voter registration and identity verification of eligible voters.
It can further be instrumental in vote counting and ensuring only the legitimate votes are counted and no votes are changed or removed without the approval of all in the network.
This will enable the creation of a corruption proof, publicly viewable ledger of reported votes.
Being in a third world country, where democratic processes are highly prone to abuse by clandestine shadow systems of private interest, will be a huge step in making elections fair and democratic.
Democracy Earth and Follow my vote are two startups aiming to disrupt this inefficient and expensive process by creating blockchain based online system for nations.
This technology is by far the technology that will allow common citizens to take control of the processes that are key to achieving a society that is based on fairness and equality. A wolf cannot lead sheep to green pastures anymore than sheep can lead it to prey.
The foregoing is an Opinion Article submitted by Peter Karuga to Pulse Live Kenya for publication, it does not necessarily represent the position of the publisher.
Peter (pictured) is an economist and data analyst with a love of philosophy.
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