Blockchain: A driver for social impact in Africa

SEP 12, 2021

With the features offered by blockchain technology, it begs the question why this disruptive technology isn’t adopted heavily across the continent of Africa as a driver for social impact. Could it be a lack of understanding of the technology?

With the challenges existing in Africa around corruption, lack of social justice and the lack of transparency in regards to humanitarian aid, blockchain is very well suited to help alleviate these challenges.

Recently, the United Nations was recognized for its use of blockchain technology in several areas such as in the disbursement of funds to refugees that have no access to a bank account or in the identity storage of same refugees. Another good reference in the drive for social impact was the most recent #EndSARS event that took place in Nigeria. Blockchain technology offered a platform to support social justice through the use of cryptocurrencies to support the protests.

The concept of blockchain for good is nothing new, as this technology has such an unequivocal potential that it has often been aimed at situations where good can be achieved, or at least featured. In fact, with the features offered by this technology such as immutability and security, just to name a few, one can make the argument that it is perfectly suited to operate in the space of charitable works.

Let’s take a look at a real use case where blockchain can be leveraged.

Corruption: One of the predominant challenges in Africa today is corruption. Conventional technology can help reduce corruption, however, the ability to tamper or alter records still exists. This is where blockchain makes a difference by it’s ability to apply immutability thereby records entered into the blockchain can no longer be altered. A perfect use case for the application of blockchain to address corruption is the BBC Africa Report that highlighted the plight of pensioners in Nigeria. Leveraging blockchain to provide identity storage and disbursement of funds as leveraged by the UN (see paragraph 3) can clearly address this issue.

There are other ways to leverage this emerging technology to achieve social impact in Africa such as in voting and humanitarian efforts. The lack of transparency and misappropriation of funds in the humanitarian sector is a huge concern and results in the lack if trust by donors towards NGOs. In 2012, former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said 30 percent of all U.N. development assistance was lost to corruption. Another good example in the case of lack of transparency was covered by Vikram Gandhi, VICE on HBO correspondent who travelled to Haiti to see what happened with the $10 billion in aid pledged after the earthquake that occurred about a decade ago. The episode aired at 11 PM EST on 24th April, 2015.

The ability to apply traceability and transparency to ensure donated funds go into doing the charitable work it’s meant to achieve will be a major boost for not-for-profit organizations and help gain the confidence and trust of their donors.

In the end, immutable, secure and decentralized blockchain applications driven by smart contracts can drive social impacts across Africa. The technology is ready. Are we ready to leverage it?

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