Africa can improve governance structures with blockchain, says Jassy Kabanihiza Ebwanyu | The Guardian Nigeria News

Africa can improve governance structures with blockchain, says Jassy Kabanihiza Ebwanyu |  The Guardian Nigeria News


More than 60 years of independence and destructive governance remain a millstone on Africa’s neck that runs deep into the continent’s physique and its well-being. Graft, counterproductive politics, deception, lack of accountability and transparency are among the instances of bad governance.

Poor governance drives the prevailing failed states, abysmal economic growth, chronic corruption rates, insecurity, conflicts, capital and human resource flight. Our continent’s ineptitude in confusing this situation is a stain.

However, Jassy Kabanihiza Ebwanyu is confident that Africa has the potential to overcome governance issues and drastically improve the living conditions of its population. In an interview with MoveMint, the CEO of CryptoSavannah revealed how the continent is on the verge of using cutting-edge technologies such as Blockchain to unleash economic freedom and administrative efficiency.

Blockchain’s potential in governance

A graduate of the prestigious Makerere University Business School (MUBS), Ebwanyu says Blockchain can revolutionize governance systems in Africa, given the high stakes of clarity and security. She claims:

“Blockchain can be used to improve governance structures in Africa, given its high levels of transparency and security. For example, a Blockchain-based voting system is very transparent and secure. There would be fewer concerns about vote fraud and corruption.”

She acknowledges, however, that the challenge lies not in the technology itself, but in the cultural shift required for its implementation. While transparent voting is already gaining popularity in the private sector through Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) in Africa, its introduction into public systems requires a willingness to embrace transparency at a wider level.

The DAO is what runs Web 3.0. Moving this to the authorities is a cultural, but not necessarily a technological problem. “Are we willing to embrace that level of openness as a continent?” she asked.

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Maximizing benefits through public policy

When asked to provide guidance in assembling public policies to get the best benefits of Blockchain, Ebwanyu argues that it is not advisable to regulate technology as it keeps changing too often. It then requires the government to continue revising the policy.

However, it is the application of technology that requires regulation. Therefore, the focus should be on the application, not the technology.

“The application of the technology can involve so many things, for example, Crypto affects the way payments are made, and this is where the government can come in with the policy.” She communicated. “Governments can set up policies that encourage the use of Blockchain.”

Based on her experience with the country’s approach, she encouraged African governments to use Blockchain technology like the Ugandan government. They can also teach Blockchain in schools, like how the Ugandan government has added it to the ICT curriculum to promote the use of the technology.

Digital identity for inclusive participation

Ebwanyu, who has worked in technology his entire career and is leading CryptoSavannah’s efforts to build a digital identity system for Africa on Blockchain, emphasizes the importance of digital identity in enabling Africans to fully participate in the digital economy. The goal is to see billions of Africans engage in the digital economy to access appropriate digital identity that provides fair and equitable access.

She had this succinct narrative to support her point:

“For example, the population of Africa is 1.4 billion people. Africa’s GDP is $3.14T, and the market value of the top two technology companies (Microsoft and Google) is greater than Africa’s GDP, but the number of employees in these companies is not more than 500,000. The ratio between the number of people and the value created is not fair. The digital economy has enormous value, with Africa barely participating. A small part of Africa’s GDP comes from the digital economy.”

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She claims that one of the reasons why Africans do not participate in the digital economy is that we hardly have sovereign digital identities, and access is limited. Africans are currently consumers and not creators of these IDs.

The forms of identities we can access are not on our terms and are designed according to the time of consumption. Thus, the initiative exists to bridge this gap with self-sovereign identities, allowing Africans to access the digital economy fairly and profitably.

When MoveMint asked why build it on Blockchain, the former Orange Uganda employee pointed out the technology’s inherent command. “Blockchain is the technology that can sustainably and fairly provide access to digital identities as these are built on distributed ledgers,” she said.

Blockchain adoption and future prospects

Although more Africans are building Blockchain projects these days compared to five years ago, Blockchain adoption in Africa is primarily around Crypto as an application. With a long-term view of Africa embracing the technology in terms of other applications, Ebwanyu recognized Blockchain as a foundational technology that works in the background.

“This means that the more popular it is, the quieter it becomes. An example of this is the internet. It’s so central to our daily lives that the only time we come to appreciate this is when we go to places without internet coverage,” she articulated.

She predicts that over the next ten years Blockchain will become central to critical sectors such as identity and finance in Africa, where information must be shared by trusted parties with security of data. As digitization continues to expand, the demand for reliable information and data security will drive Blockchain’s infiltration into various industries.

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Address gender differences

The CryptoSavannah boss started getting involved in Blockchain in 2018 as part of the team that organized the Blockchain Africa Conference. Afterwards, she began managing various Blockchain projects, many of which have evolved into distinct companies under the Savannah group.

However, like other technology-related fields, the Blockchain industry is predominantly male-dominated. But Ebwanyu is not the type to feel a sense of not belonging since she has been groomed and trained in this role, and that is a challenge, given that there are very few women in this room.

“Africa has so many women, but their involvement in the technology space is significantly low. Yet this is the industry that drives the most value globally, and without participating we are chaining ourselves,” she says.

Stimulatingly, she revealed that in the Savannah Group, where CryptoSavannah belongs, they consciously nurture female leaders in the technology space. Nonetheless, Ebwanyu emphasizes the need for more initiatives to encourage women’s participation in the Blockchain and Web 3.0 industry, recognizing the immense value they can contribute to this rapidly evolving field.

Follow Frisco d’Anconia further Twitter to ask questions about Blockchain and Web3 technologies.


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