Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for ICT Joe Mucheru has established a taskforce on blockchain and artificial intelligence. The 11 member committee is now tasked with coming up with a roadmap on the utilization of distributed ledgers and artificial intelligence technologies for the next 5-15 years.
The taskforce will be in place for three months and is expected to give recommendations to the government on how it can leverage of the new technology as it implements an ambitious development plan known as the big four agenda. Other key milestones have been set for 2027 and 2032.
The government is keen on using emerging technologies as it seeks to deliver an ambitious development plan over the next five years.
The Cabinet Secretary noted that the ICT sector was growing fast. “In the ICT field, one year is almost equivalent to five years in the real world so we are breaking it into five-year periods so that we are able to take bite-sized chunks,” he said.
Support from Highest Office
President Uhuru Kenyatta has previously asserted the country cannot be left behind when it comes to new technologies. Barely a day earlier he had directed the Cabinet Secretary to form a taskforce to hasten deployment of blockchain and IoT technologies.
“We need to better understand the opportunities for Blockchain Technology, the risks of cybersecurity and the essential education and skills that our young people will need to make new technology work for them,” he said while addressing a meeting on the digital economy.
This comes ahead of the World Blockchain Summit to held in Nairobi towards the end of March.
Blockchain is being trialled across the world for diverse areas as supply chain management to developing secure voting systems.
“It is true the previous industrial revolutions have passed us by. This time I hope the fourth industrial revolution driven by digital transformation will not leave Africa behind,” the president said.
There are no laws today to do with that (blockchain). We are hoping that this taskforce is going to give us guidance as to how to handle these areas,” the Cabinet Secretary said while launching the taskforce.
The East African nation is an ICT innovation hub in the region and is better known for Mpesa – a popular mobile money transfer service.
Blockchain technology makes immutable records possible once created. These are distributed across millions of computers across the world hence hacking is impossible. Every transaction is verified by several nodes.
Single Source of Truth
In Kenya’s context, the blockchain technology could be especially useful in keeping impeccable land records. Land titling is a particularly contentious area where corrupt individuals have taken advantage to manipulate title deeds.
“At the moment, there are people who come up with fake title deeds and all manner of things. We need to create a single source of truth which we are already working on as a government,” Mucheru said. “If you say this is your piece of land, we should be able to verify whether this is true,” he added.
The government has previously announced plans to digitize land records but none has come to fruition.
Other possible applications include cybersecurity, public service delivery and financial services. Mobile banking has brought more financial inclusion but a large part of the population remains unbanked.
The taskforce will be headed by Bitange Ndemo, a former ICT Permanent Secretary credited with bringing transformation in the sector during his tenure.
Members of the committee are drawn from the local tech industry, the academia and research institutions.