Blockchain in Emerging nations
The majority of the world’s nations are in the bracket of emerging markets. This includes nations across Africa, South America, Asia, Middle East, The Pacific and subsets of Europe that have burgeoning emerging communities. It is therefore important to understand how innovations and developments such as Blockchain can appropriately impact the world. A technology cannot change the world without a true application and implementation in emerging nations where majority of the world resides in.
Emerging regions have a spectrum of varied problems: Africa as a region has a number of emerging nations with problems such as armed conflicts, corruption, and poverty. But the blockchain ecosystem in many places is already starting to garner strength and has the potential to make a huge impact on African economies and societies. The region has now become home to a number emerging blockchain and crypto communities, and local players are using blockchain technology to tackle social, economic, and political problems – and as a launch pad into global markets.
Blockchain Technology at a basic level is a way to structure data, and the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The breakthrough consists of concatenated blocks of transactions that allows competitors to share a digital ledger across a network of computers without need for a central authority. This is even more pivotal for emerging communities because no single party has the power to tamper with the records as the math keeps everyone honest. Forty of the world’s top financial firms are experimenting with the tech. By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Given the power of Blockchain, emerging nations can better areas of significant challenges that previous were impossible to properly tackle. This is even more exciting because these applications can be leveraged at grassroot levels because, Like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the blockchain works to use it and make a big impact.
March 2018 was Blockchain Month in Africa, showing real efforts by regions to build ecosystems. Blockchain technologies can create an economy that isn’t only about goods and services but that is also more open, inclusive, fair, and secure. A huge number of Africans are excluded from the global economy because they can’t open a bank account, don’t have a birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, utility bill, or because they just don’t have enough funds. Some African countries also have weak and unreliable currencies. The current vacuum for alternative means of payment in Africa is obvious. Blockchain technology can help keep accurate and comprehensive records of public expenditure, which are essential for tackling corruption and waste. By implementing blockchain’s tamper-proof record of transactions in both the public and private sectors, we could combat fraud and corruption across the region.
- Fighting corruption: One of the main pulls of blockchain technology is that it is decentralized, and transparent, leading to many possible use cases based on combating corrupt political and voting systems.
- During the most recent elections in Sierra Leone, Swiss company Agora harnessed the power of blockchain to ensure a fair count of electoral votes. Trusted representatives at polling stations counted the votes and then saved the results on Agora’s blockchain.
- Land dispute: In Ghana, a project called Bitland has been helping settle land disputes since 2016 using its own blockchain, the Bitland network, to store land registrations. The project has been trialed in 28 communities in Kumasi to date, and the organizers hope to reduce illegal displacement and corruption in the area by allowing citizens to record their land titles in a way that cannot be deleted or changed by a third party thanks to the nature of the technology.
- Combating inflation: Cryptocurrencies are particularly useful in economies where there are restrictions on transporting cash across borders, where public access to mainstream banking is low, or where local economies are rife with inflation. In Zimbabwe, which has seen rapid inflation in recent years, Bitcoin sales have soared as locals rush to protect their savings before they devalue.
- With inflation and corruption comes a lack of public trust in governments, central banks, and financial institutions. However, thanks to rapidly expanding smartphone ownership in Africa — use has doubled in just two years — tech savvy users can now download crypto wallets to keep their funds safe.
- Solar: African Bitcoin miners like Mutai are using homemade computer rigs to mine for Bitcoin. While these rigs may be difficult — and expensive — to construct and use a huge amount in energy, they offer a source of income for those who can afford to invest in the necessary equipment and pay the electricity bills.
- In Egypt, where Bitcoin ownership has been regulated by the government, a community of clandestine miners has emerged. According to Bitcoin Africa.io, larger Egyptian cities like Cairo are home to multiple hidden Bitcoin farms and an engaged community of miners who exchange tips, advice, and information with each other via social media and messaging apps.
- As solar energy comes of age, a number of huge solar power farms have been developed in Morocco, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya. These farms are some of the largest in the world and create a lot of jobs, as well as a huge amount of energy, which owners hope they’ll soon be able to export to Europe.
- Experts argue that the crossover between solar energy, and Bitcoin mining could be extremely profitable for African countries.
- Child Labour: Automaker BMW is working with a London-based start-up to use transaction-recording technology blockchain to prove batteries for its electric vehicles will contain only clean cobalt. Cobalt is in focus because around two thirds of the world’s supplies are from Democratic Republic of Congo, where roughly one fifth of cobalt is mined in unregulated artisanal mines. One organization has begun a project to work with the artisanal miners to use blockchain to prove they are not using child labor. Blockchain is to be used to try to track cobalt’s journey from artisanal mines in Democratic Republic of Congo through to products used in smartphones and electric cars. This gives manufacturers a way of ensuring the cobalt in lithium-ion batteries for products such as iPhones and Teslas has not been mined by children. Blockchain Tech could thus fight Child Labor and Human Rights Abuses in the cobalt supply chain; taking a cue from the diamond industry, the cobalt industry plans to use blockchain’s distributed ledger to offer some assurances for consumers.
With some arguing that blockchain can democratize societies across the world, it is important that emerging nations invest more time and energy into research and development of opportunities offered by the blockchain. The gains in addition to providing more financial transparency can empower citizens to better engage with economic growth of their nations. And as increased scrutiny from regulatory bodies ties the hands of startups in the U.S. and other places, this could be the chance for African states to push ahead of the crowd. Not just in cryptocurrencies, but also in other applications that can solve real societal and political problems.
Join us at the BlockChain Tech Summit this 10th May to learn from experts about to leverage this technology to impact your business, your nation or your community.