[Africa Tech Week] African countries eyeing blockchain technology
23-08-2018 13:03:15 | by: Nixon Kanali | hits: 1534 | Tags:

The use of technology in Africa's elections over the past years has continued to receive increased attention. During the last general elections in Kenya, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the electoral body mandated to oversee the elections deployed some of these technologies which ended up failing hence questioning the credibility of the elections. The commission has therefore been looking for new ways it can ensure transparency in future elections.     

This week, it announced that it is considering the use of blockchain technology to enhance elections transparency. The commission said this through a public notice under their  ‘The Commission’s Update and Activities and Electoral Reform Agenda,’. More African countries are also adopting this technology as well. In a previous article, we highlighted how Plaas, a farmers blockchain platform in Botswana is set to revolutionize Farmers Management System (FMS) in Africa. Zambia has also previously announced plans to plans to build a blockchain land titling program.

Mobile infrastructure in the continent also continues to receive support. This week in Congo, Global telecom tower infrastructure company Helios Tower invested in backbone sites to improve mobile infrastructure and connectivity in the country. In a previous article, we highlighted how Plaas, a farmers blockchain platform in Botswana is set to revolutionize Farmers Management System (FMS) in Africa. Zambia has also previously announced plans to plans to build a blockchain land titling program.

Still, on mobile infrastructure, Global music and video streaming platform TADAL this partnered with MTN Uganda to unveil a music streaming service in the country. In South Africa, Samsung announced that its mobile payment service, Samsung Pay will be available in the country. At the same time, Mastercard announced that it will start using Samsung Pay to promote digital payments. Mastercard has been at the forefront in promoting the use of digital payments in Africa. In recent articles, we have highlighted how the company has partnered with merchants in South Africa and other African countries.

In Ghana, the government has also been working hard to promote digital entrepreneurship. This week, through the Ministry of Communications, it implemented an ICT Innovation Project at the Accra Digital Centre under the eTransform Ghana Project. This came at a time when The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) was also rolling ICT projects across other African countries. Kenya, in a recent report we published here also challenged other African countries to unite on global ICT Agenda. The country's ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru has cited lack of a common stand on issues of interest as having hurt the continent in the past, slowing the pace of ICT development. This pace, however, continues to improve as major companies to invest and partner with African countries. Back in June 2018, for example, KT Corp, Korea's largest telecommunications company, announced it would expand its cooperation with African countries.

Even as these technologies expand, they have been faced with a lot of challenges. One of those challenges is SIM Swap fraud. In Kenya, Safaricom was so much affected by this. The country’s Director of Criminal Investigations George Kinoti in Kenya has assured the public that the fight against Sim Swap fraud is on course. Safaricom in a statement we published here said it was considering fingerprint biometric to curb this fraud.

Still, on Safaricom, the company opened a new retail shop in Busia, Western Kenya to carter for the increasing demand for its services in the region. Its integrated mobile platform for farmers, Digifarm also emerged top of the Shared Value Category in the just concluded Loeries Awards in Durban, South Africa. Digifarm offers farmers convenient, one-stop services to a variety of services and the company has set up Digifarm depots across Kenya with the recent one being in Meru.  

On matters e-commerce, in its quest to train the next generation of global entrepreneurs Alibaba Business School this week unveiled a program to train Rwanda universities on e-commerce. This was not the first time the company was being involved with African students and entrepreneurs. In June, in partnership with UNCTAD, Alibaba Business School brought together 29 African entrepreneurs to be trained in entrepreneurship.  This month we also published a report on Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma launching a $10 million ‘Netpreneur’ Prize for African entrepreneurs.

This week,Kenya Anti Counterfeit Agency also received $1.5 million to digitize its operations. The country also secured a slot in the  African Telecommunications Union (ATU) after Mr. John Omo was elected as the body’s Secretary General. In neighboring Rwanda, BBOXX, a next-generation utility, has launched a pilot to provide internet access for communities in Rwanda.