5 blockchain use cases in Africa

As the buzz around blockchain continues, we look at five use cases aiming to solve Africa’s persistent challenges.

Blockchain is slowly turning from a buzzword in Africa to the engine that will power great innovation in the continent. The movement of blockchain in Africa has transcended the usual cryptocurrency trade and is now being considered by various sector players for application across the continent.

In Kenya, the government set up a blockchain and AI taskforce to investigate and apply use cases for government services. The taskforce headed by the “father of broadband in Kenya” Dr. Bitange Ndemo, is already eyeing several sectors including education certificate verification, traffic management and financial transactions.

In Uganda, the government is already mulling the implementation of blockchain technology in its services. Vicente Bagiire Waiswa, permanent secretary of the Ministry of ICT in Uganda said that the country recognizes the move the world is making in implementing blockchain in various services. More specifically, banks will adopt blockchain technology where necessary to lower operational costs and risks, Mr Patrick Mweheire, the chairman of Uganda Bankers’ Association (UBA) and Stanbic Bank managing director said in an article in the dailies.

But the private sector and the startup community are already applying the power of blockchain to come up with great use cases that tackle many African problems. The following list is not exhaustive, but offers five examples of current blockchain implementation in Africa.


  1. Land management through Land Layby

It is no secret the messy land management in most African countries has made it harder for citizens to acquire genuine land parcels. This has meant that most communities are left poor due to lack of access to manage and develop their lands.

Kenya’s Land LayBy is using blockchain to verify land transactions and create a fraud-proof land registry in Kenya and Ghana, as a mirror that governments in the rest of Africa could emulate.

The platform, which shall be accessed using a special digital utility key called the Harambee token, will transform the way we buy and sell real estate by doing away with the hidden costs, unnecessary intermediaries, and reduce transaction time significantly. It will enhance data security and eliminate manual errors and duplication of verification processes,” the company said during its official launch in Kenya in December 2017.

According to company records, Land LayBy has offices in Australia, Ghana, UK and USA and is founded by Phyllis Gathura-Tole and Peter Tole.


  1. Reviving trade corridors with Binkabi

The majority of the trade happening across borders in Africa is still cash heavy. With exchange rates working against the traders, Binkabi comes in to ensure there are smooth verified transactions and loss of cash is minimized.

“It consists of a settlement system where buyers pay and sellers receive in their respective local currencies through Barter Block, a smart bartering mechanism. We will leverage blockchain technology to solve the trust issue in international trade, while keeping costs down for our members,” the company says.

The company has already identified its target areas for application, including reviving existing trade corridors. “Binkabi would help the company and Nigeria still maintaining importation of essential food items whilst not spending the country's dwindling USD reserves as a result in the collapse of crude oil price,” the company said. Verifying trade could prove useful for many traders who are not enveloped in the formal trade in various corridors.

The company is founded by Quan Le, Dr. Andrew S. Nevin and Manrui Tang.


  1. Tracing cobalt mining using Dorae

For a long time, the mining of cobalt in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been dogged with controversies. Some of the controversies alluded to cobalt mining fuelling conflict in the country or having child labour involved.

Dorae, a blockchain company directing to trace raw materials in various industry verticals, was given a mandate to trace cobalt from the country. “Its implementation solves the problem of the lack of trust between distant links in global supply chains,” the Dorae site says.

“Through adoption of the Dorae system, government and industry can combat issues such as child labour, regional conflict and environmental abuse, as well as increasing tax compliance and recalibrating the economics of supply chains to reward producers observing proper standards,” the company said after it was authorized to operate in the country.

The company is founded by Ricardo Santos Silva and Aba Schuber and has offices in Palo Alto, Grand Cayman and London.


  1. Creating a coffee supply chain in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government is working with Cardano, a subsidiary to blockchain company IOHK, to create a blockchain-backed supply chain for its coffee distribution.

“The country has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with fledgling cryptocurrency startup Cardano that will see developers use its blockchain in the local agriculture industry,” a media report stated.

Ethiopia’s coffee export makes up over 30 percent of the country’s export revenue and it is expected that traceability of the coffee would add value to the country’s coffee.

There has been little information on how the company and the Ethiopian government would establish this, but the application has the potential to benefit the agricultural sector across the whole of Africa.

IOHK is founded by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood.


  1. Raising funds for community projects through Finterra

Many organizations have assets -- such as land given by government termed as endowment assets. Unfortunately, it is hard for organizations to get funds to develop such assets and create income generating developments. Finterra, a Singapore-based blockchain company made its headways into Kenya last month to survey the African market for an imminent entry.  

Using blockchain-backed crowdfunding, Finterra will allow users to pledge money to any community-based project globally and be part of the investment community.

Hamid Rashid, CEO of Finterra, said that the company will allow small investors to take part in major projects around the globe and reap dividends once the projects begin to generate money. The company is currently piloting in Saudi Arabia, but has great hopes for the African continent.

Rashid is the sole founder of Finterra.


Opportunities are endless

Blockchain has endless possibilities, but especially in Africa where legacy technology can be easily replaced. More engineers who understand the technology are needed on board to create robust secure platforms. Beyond that, the government’s interest and eventual application of blockchain based systems could spur the IT industry to grow the use of blockchain in Africa.