Meeting highlights benefits and challenges of blockchain technology in Africa

A meeting held to discuss interests of blockchain technology in Africa ended in Ethiopia on Friday. Along with many participants from different countries hearing how the technology could help less developed regions.  And also the challenges in its application.

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The technology, they heard, has breakthrough potential but they would need huge investments and solving of security concerns. The Chief of the New Technologies and Innovation Section at the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Kasirim Nwuke said at the end of the meeting.

He explains,

“We have learned harnessing this technology will require huge investments and that careful evaluation by member States. The firms requiring not only to determine the suitability of the technology. Since it is to help mitigate identified needs but also return on investment”.

Weekend’s report indicates that Bitcoin was selling for as much as $14,000 in Zimbabwe so there are many use cases in Africa already. South Africa banks have reported increased need for blockchain application. There is a lot already going on about blockchain in Africa including through Blockchain conferences.

However, for now, application of blockchain tech in Africa has many challenges in security, privacy, legislation, control and even cultural issues. For instance, it is quite complicate and requires massive expertise to link physical products with digital features. Other problems include those of internet connectivity and integration hurdles. Massive changes would be needed.

“Put differently, blockchain solutions require significant changes to existing systems,” said This is an effort that is not only technically demand but also complicated and expensive.  Further, we have to replace our current ways, notably, Near Field Communications, of linking physical products with digitization.”

Also Read: Bidorbuy South Africa sets on high level with Bitcoin

Discussions at the meeting showed that there are many areas of application for the technology including supply chain, shipping logistics, food production, luxury manufacturing and pharmaceuticals. It can also help with financial inclusivity, building social and solidarity finance and bottom-of-the-pyramid business efforts. As well as identity registration and civil registration.

Blockchain can also help users transfer small amounts of money globally, boosting financial services remittances and small-scale international trade. Applications such as mobile bitcoin, property records, legal contracts, and dis-intermediation of financial institutions are highly dependent upon supporting legislation and or regulation, they heard.

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David Kariuki is a journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions including cryptocurrencies. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Hypergrid Business, Cryptomorrow, and Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review magazines.

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