10 Ways Blockchain Technology Is Solving African Problems

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Blockchain Technology
Blockchain is being used to clarify land ownership in Ghana. Photo – MassiveSmallCollective

Blockchain technology is providing solutions to longstanding problems that have plagued Africa and Africans, with the decentralized digital ledger opening up new applications in social, economic and political areas.

The technology enables a continuously growing list of records to be linked and secured using cryptography.

Blockchain technology is helping to remove fraud and corruption surrounding land ownership in Ghana, and it’s making energy more accessible in African remote areas. The first blockchain elections were held in Sierra Leone earlier this year.

Here are 10 ways blockchain technology is solving African problems.

Verification of land ownership

Through companies such as BitLand, Blockchain is being used to clarify the land ownership issue in Ghana, which is open to corruption and fraud due to the fact that verifiable ownership paperwork is not available. The Ghanaian real-estate market is rife with fraud in the form of multiple title deeds for one piece of land. The Ghanaian government has enlisted local tech startups to develop blockchain systems that can offer landowners the necessary paperwork that can be verified and trusted, according to Cryptoslate.

Boosting access to energy

South African-based blockchain startup, The Sun Exchange, allows anyone in the world to own or lease solar panels used to power African businesses and communities; earning them a solar powered income. The exchange allows for collaborative solar finance using blockchain.

Increased access to digital payments

Companies such as BitPesa, Wala and SureRemit are using blockchain to cut the cost of and increase access to digital payments, making sending money in Africa even more affordable than through mobile money services such as M-Pesa.

Improving healthcare

Blockchain technology is improving maternal care in Tanzania thanks to a partnership between nonprofit organization PharmAccess and blockchain startup AID:Tech. The resulting blockchain platform allows for the collection, identification, and verification of digital health data to make women’s antenatal care safer and more effective, according to BitcoinAfrica.

Counting election votes

Sierra Leone showed the value of using blockchain as a tool in politics when the country used blockchain technology to count votes during their recent parliamentary elections at the beginning of the year. Thanks to the system, which was put in place by Swiss tech firm Agora, the crypto service allowed for a fair and transparent election, according to Quartz.

Connecting producers directly to wholesalers

Avenews-GT is a decentralised ecosystem for agricultural trade, providing a digital trading platform based on blockchain technology. Developed in Israel but with applications that can assist farmers in Africa, this startup connects food wholesalers to food producers directly, reducing distribution costs, creating financial security, and providing chain transparency.

Putting a stop to conflict diamond trade

The world’s biggest diamond producer, De Beers is testing blockchain tech to create a virtual ledger of diamond sales, tracking the diamonds through the cutting, polishing and manufacturing process to a final retailer, ensuring that the final cut diamonds are not fakes or conflict diamonds. The platform will be officially launched later in the year, according to Techcentral.

Better contracts for farmers

Social network blockchain company FaceCoin offers a smart futures contract platform that helps farmers and the unbanked on the continent through token offerings. Food Asset Coin Eco-System, as the program is called, allows investors to issue tokens to African farmers which can be used to purchase fertiliser products from distributors, according to iAfrikan.

Bypassing traditional investors to raise capital

The technology also means that startups are able to raise funding via cryptocurrencies, with initial coin offerings (ICOs) allowing cash-strapped firms the opportunity to bypass more traditional investors and raise money by selling digital tokens. This has been the case with the likes of Wala and SureRemit.

Empowering the unbanked to buy property

Land LayBy, a Kenyan real estate firm with a tech arm, develops land and sells lots to Africans living in the diaspora.  The company is planning to launch its first digital registry in Kenya, which will be supported by Harambee tokens, a cryptocurrency that facilitates land option contracts. These contracts have been validated since 2014 and allow local residents to own land without the need for bank loans, paving way to the unbanked community, according to Medium.

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