Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 65 - Page 47

FEATURE : BLOCKCHAIN
He pointed out that this is important because identification provides a foundation for human rights . “ An estimated 1.1 billion people worldwide cannot officially prove their identity and we simply don ’ t know how many of the world ’ s more than 200 million migrants , 21.3 million refugees , or 10 million stateless persons have some form of identification . Many of these unidentified people are African ,” he said .
Hamilton Ratshefola , Country General Manager , IBM , said Blockchain technology is changing the usual course of businesses in every industry . “ There are many exciting examples – from food safety , smart contracts , healthcare , education , cross border payments , to luxury goods – where we have seen this technology work and make industries smarter , more efficient , resulting in strengthened trust ,” he said .
Ratshefola pointed out that across the continent , Blockchain adoption is rising – and the industry is seeing this from both large enterprises and increasingly , individual entrepreneurs .
He said many business leaders are attracted to Blockchain , for the business model benefits . “ CEOs are recognising that Blockchain is useful for their businesses and more than half of mid-sized businesses and considering deploying Blockchain solutions ,” he said .
Bernard Bussy , Software Engineer at Andile , said Blockchain is an enabling technology that leads to other innovations that create the use cases businesses want . “ At Andile we currently use Blockchain technologies in building larger platforms . The users of the platform don ’ t necessarily see the Blockchain in action – it operates behind the scenes while they gain the benefits . There are numerous start-ups and enterprises globally and in South Africa working on Blockchain ,” he said .
Busy said the most well-known is probably the Blockchain development being done at major banks such as Singapore Central Bank and JP Morgan . “ As for its state in Africa , this isn ’ t easy to answer . But if we go by cryptocurrencies , the most popular current usecase for Blockchain , most African countries haven ’ t passed legislation to regulate and guide the industry . South Africa , Senegal , Sierra Leone and Tunisia are the few trailblazers in that regard ,” he observed . “ The South African Reserve Bank has also been very progressive around Blockchain , cryptocurrency conversations and has launched a number of initiatives in this regard .”
According to George , smart contracts that reside on the Blockchain ledger are a way in which trust in transacting with businesses in Africa can be
restored . “ For decades , foreign investment in Africa has been jeopardised by corruption , fraud and the misappropriation of funds . The advent of Blockchain – and the adoption of the technology across Africa – will have a significant impact in supporting Africa ’ s entrepreneurial spirit by providing transparency and accountability for all finance and service level transactions ,” he said .
According to Ratshefola , the financial services and telecommunications sectors in Africa have been early adopters of the technology especially in the areas of cross border trace and insurance . “ Globally we have more than 500 client engagements globally in Blockchain , touching industries like education , food safety , identity , insurance , luxury goods , supply chain management and trade finance ,” he said . “ Dozens of live Blockchain networks are currently running on the IBM Blockchain Platform , including IBM Food Trust and TradeLens to name just a couple .”
He said across the African continent the industry is seeing how Blockchain increases economic efficiency , security , transparency and simplicity – leading to less administration , duplication and friction in Africa . “ And the applications are endless , since virtually anything of value can be traced and traded without a central point of control – making it a big win for business on the continent as it entices all to participate in it and benefits all ,” he said .
Ratshefola said in Agriculture , IBM Research and agtech start-up Hello Tractor have developed an AI and Blockchain-driven platform for Africa ’ s farmers . This cloud-based service aims to support Hello Tractor ’ s business of connecting small-scale farmers to equipment and data analytics for better crop production .
“ In Kenya , Twiga Foods ran a Blockchain pilot to better process and expand the reach of , microloans
Mervyn George , Innovation Strategy Lead , SAP Africa
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