Tech 7 May 2018

Cecille de Jesus

Kenya looks to blockchain tech for settling land disputes

The African country is moving forward with their blockchain initiative.

In February this year, under Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s orders, the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is set to explore blockchain technology and Internet of Things (IoT) for their potential benefits in different facets of the African country’s economy. The initiative shall focus on the president’s “Big Four” agenda: manufacturing, affordable housing, universal healthcare, and a food security plan.

“Digital technology will also support efforts to increase food security by playing a key role in agricultural value chains through better access to inputs, more reliable weather and crop information, tracking of counterfeit inputs, more transparent access to markets, and fair pricing,” Kenyatta said. “Digital technology also underpins a range of agro-financing services that are essential for equipping smallholder farmers across the country,” Kenyatta said.

This was a major turn for the country, which has been warning its citizens of the risks of cryptocurrencies. But with Joe Mucheru, a former lead at Google who happens to be a strong advocate of allowing and regulating cryptocurrencies, sitting as Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, it looks like the country has begun starting to see things beyond negative stigma.

President Kenyatta seems to have warmed up to the technology quite well. He even added that the government should also ensure that education supports the necessities of the emerging technology. “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.”

Now, the government is expanding their blockchain initiative and looking at blockchain technology as a potential solution for identifying fake land titles and settling land disputes, serving as a “single source of truth” (SSOT). Kenya has been suffering from an epidemic of counterfeit land titles, as con men take advantage of the developing economy growingly attractive investment asset.

“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.

Land Layby Group, a blockchain start-up based in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, has been working on the same issue, although there is no clear partnership between the firm and the government. “I see most African governments adopting this (blockchain) technology that will revolutionize land registries,” Land Layby Founder and Chief Innovation Officer Peter Tole said.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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