Blockchain is a high-integrity database that can be updated without intermediaries or third parties

Blockchain Strategy – Did Kenya Drop The Ball?

By John Walubengo

Kenya launched its Blockchain strategy with much fanfare in 2019 and then went deadly quiet. Three years later, a lot has happened in that space, both globally and locally, worth reviewing. 

But before then, please go through a previous blog to get a basic understanding of Blockchain and how it differs from Cryptos amongst other buzzwords. But in a nutshell, Blockchain is a high-integrity database that can be updated without intermediaries or third parties, while Cryptocurrencies are just one example or application of Blockchain.

It means Blockchains have many application domains, but the crypto domain, perhaps because its money related, tends to hog all the media space whenever the word Blockchain crops up.

Global stage

What has happened on the global stage over the last three years has been a mixed bag. In the Cryptocurrency space, several significant scandalous events have emerged where owners of cryptocurrency exchanges have disappeared with client money while others have filed for bankruptcy.

One recent one was the collapse of the FTX Crypto exchange, then one of the world’s largest that collapsed in the space of ten days, with users and investors losing billions of US dollar worth of their investments.

Despite the turmoil in the general crypto space, much continues to happen under the buzzword Decentralized Finance or DeFi. In DeFi, we have new fintech apps running on a Blockchain, receiving deposits and issuing out loans or credit to users without a third party – a Banking institution.

Also, not to be left behind, a lot of the less glamorous, non-financial Blockchain-related projects are being implemented worldwide. They range from the global push to have Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC) to creating digital identitieseducational certificates and land registries on a Blockchain.

Local Stage

Back to the domestic scene, what has been happening or not with Blockchain? Only a little has happened in the public sector since the launch of the Blockchain strategy three years ago. 

Other than the Capital Market Authority launch of their regulatory sandbox that has promoted innovation around fintech applications on blockchains, there is little appetite for mainstream government ministries and agencies to venture beyond having copies of the KE Blockchain strategy.

The Central Bank’s invitation for stakeholder input on their Central Bank Digital Currency strategy also went quiet after triggering some interest and buzz from blockchain and fintech communities.

Within the private sector, however, Kenyans continue to engage and experiment with both Blockchain and Crypto projects with global brands like BinanceLocalbitcoins, and local brands like Bitcoin.ke, amongst others trying to keep the Blockchain and Crypto Agenda ongoing.

However, there may need to be more. Unless the government wakes up and implements the recommended blockchain projects in its report, there is only so much the private sector can do to push the Blockchain agenda forward.

Let’s hope the new regime will take a new look at what role Blockchain systems can play in some of its projects – including but not limited to the likes of Hustler Fund, addressing the integrity challenges and scandals at Lands, NHIF, IEBC, Fake Educational Certificates amongst others.

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John Walubengo is an ICT Lecturer and Consultant. @jwalu.

 

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