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Are we ready for a pan-African blockchain strategy?

Blockchain technology can help ICT decision makers support Africa’s quest to establish a sense of community and distinct identity globally, and there is merit behind a pan-African blockchain strategy that would be recognised continent-wide and thereby avoid heavy legal costs in securing regional compliance.

This is according to collaborative market research released by German development agency Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and Africa-focused ICT and broadband initiative Smart Africa.

While there is still uncertainty around regulatory frameworks to govern blockchain, the two organisations believe the technology offers policy makers the opportunity to support economic and social development in Africa - and work with stakeholders to better understand the technology in detail in order to regulate it in order to drive innovation.

Some of the use cases highlighted include for digital payment (as either stablecoins or central bank digital currencies), public spending applications, peer-to-peer trading particularly in the energy sector, for digital identity (for land and academic credential ownership), and tracing supply chains.

Co-founder of blockchain based end-to-end B2B2C platform Coronet Blockchain, Shadrack Kubyane, offers perspective on supply chain application and says: “Take wine and coffee: these are just two of many products produced on African soil. But when following the supply chain dynamics closely, you soon find that real tangible monetary benefits are sitting elsewhere at shockingly cosmic proportions lining few pockets whereas those at the origin of the value chain barely eke out a living.”

He added:“Then take our mineral reserves as a continent: I would say Blockchain is a hundred years late to emerge onto the scene. Because from a supply chain perspective, there continues to be billions of US dollars in illicit outflows of currency that is masked under a cloak and dagger scenario, where Africa's mineral curse is playing out quite openly, where governments are at a loss to fully clamp down on what comes out of the ground versus the taxes paid.”

Kubyane says use cases are a must in Africa, and require a sense of urgency to take them to market and scale them ... “though implementing them would require a very locality-focused approach not a ‘one-size-fits-all’” citing the need to “tailor the use case to that locality - a glove fit approach.”

The research emphasises the need for internet connectivity and skills development to capitalise on blockchain technology.

It also suggests a blockchain service infrastructure to serve as a testbed for researchers, enterprises and administrations to run blockchain-based applications, and a pan-African concept for token classification.

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