The Blockchain is known to be a disruptive technology which will change the way we do business positively and if adopted by the government, it will be great for the economy because of its transparent nature. Government organizations in some countries (Rwanda, UAE) are using blockchain to build trust, transparency, integrity and for keeping historical records through open, transparent and collaborative networks. It has the potential to bring security, efficiency, and speed to a wide range of services and processes in government MDA’s. Some countries are running pilots test such as Canada, United Kingdom, Brazil, China, United Arad Emirate, Estonia, United States, and India examining/exploring the blockchain’s broad utility as a basis for government service provision and procurement and developing individual blockchain-based applications for internal use but they are unique to the particular circumstances of a country or state across an expanding range of use cases and asset classes.
How some governments around the world are using blockchain
There is a growing list of governments actually using blockchain to improve public services in their individual country in their own unique way. Governments are exploring blockchain usage in land registration on every continent but Antarctica. The business events—the registration or transfer of a land deed or title—are the transactions that are recorded on the ledger, providing certainty for all stakeholders. The less complex but equally valued transaction of casting a vote is the focus of ongoing testing or completed pilots in New York, Texas, Denmark, Estonia, Ukraine, and South Korea, and planned in Australia for 2017 – Source: Deliotte Insights.
Dubai government is working on a smart Dubai powered by the Blockchain and they are developing a total of 20 use cases for blockchain technology to complement its existing operations. The Dubai Blockchain project will help Dubai achieve the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum thereby making Dubai the first city fully powered by the blockchain by 2020. This will unlock 5.5 billion dirhams in savings annually in document processing.
Rwanda has a huge interest in the Blockchain Technology and they made the obvious with the 2018 Rwanda Blockchain Conference Organized by Gulf Xellence in Kigali. Rwanda which is the world’s leading producer of tantalum used in consumer electronics such as smartphones and computers are using the blockchain technology in partnership with startup from the UK called Circulor for tracing the tantalum’s supply chain, the Rwandan Mining, Petroleum and Gas Board plans to make the production of tantalum more transparent with the help of the blockchain – Source: Coin Telegraph.
Estonia has been dubbed the blockchain nation because of its claims that it started experimenting with blockchain-like systems long before the invention of Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain. Currently, Estonia’s blockchain strategy is quite ambitious and includes plans to build the country’s national cryptocurrency called estcoin, an e-Residency program based around blockchain, e-health, e-identity, and I-voting among others. The program allows virtually anybody with access to the internet to become an Estonian digital citizen. This process radically cuts the red tape and minimizes the requirements for setting up a business in the country. Currently, there are more than 4200 companies that have registered on Estonia’s e-Residency and are therefore able to leverage the country’s blockchain-powered online government infrastructure and enjoy borderless transactions.
E-Residency is a core part of the Estonia growth strategy with the sector expected to generate EUR 1.8 billion by 2025. Estonia wants to use blockchain and estcoin specifically to accelerate the dividends of e-Residency – Source: diviproject.org.
There are quite a world government doing great things with blockchain technology, some of these other countries are Australia, China, United States, Japan, Canada etc.
Where can the blockchain be adopted in government?
The Blockchain can be adopted at the Federal, state, and local government levels because they are awash in data. In the early days most governments never trusted cryptocurrencies and by extension, the blockchain technology powering cryptos. But in Recent times, we have seen some worlds government adopting the blockchain and trained their eyes on the following risks and opportunities presented by blockchain technology,
Voting on the Blockchain
The blockchain can be used in preventing voting fraud. We can leverage on the technology to design the next generation of voting systems for a secure and transparent digital voting. There may be bumps along the way Securing elections requires securing the entire process. Some vulnerable parts of the electoral process include voter’s information, voter registration databases, election reporting systems and post-election audit.
Inaccurate election audit over an election can prompt calls for a post-election audit — comparing digital results to paper ballots. However, post-election audits are vulnerable to inaccuracy without proper voting machinery in place. Experts agree that reliable post-election audits are only possible with a paper trail. This means that voting machines that only record votes electronically (often via touchscreen) are not suitable for ensuring election integrity. But with the Blockchain and its immutability and incorruptibility can be used to achieve election.
The Founder of CryptoHub and author of Crypto101 Chris Ani in an interview by CryptoTvPlus advised that the blockchain can be adopted for primary elections of political parties in Nigeria as a test subject before taking it to over 180million Nigerians in the general election, he made reference to the election of the African Leadership Academy student government elections where the blockchain was adopted in the voting/elections process for transparency. He also said that the blockchain can reduce election cost and save time.
A trusted government financial management system is needed in Federal, and State & local government institutions. Governments at all levels must plan and manage budgets, both large and small. Many governments continue to use outdated processes for budgeting, appropriations, and tracking that have not changed in over a century especially in Nigeria! And, while many other countries have digitized, the fundamental processes remain unchanged, but Nigerian government is yet to digitize their own activities. There is always excess waste and mismanagement of government funds, the blockchain can replace many of the middlemen who, sky-high budgets and massive inefficiency in government. It can keep a clear record of who received funds, who voted for, and encouraged wasteful spending practices could be cited as a point of reference when holding public servants accountable.
Customs and Border Patrol
There is always a lot of goods that come into seaports, airports, and through the borders of any nation and these goods are worth multi-million dollars. Many nations face great issues in customs, with some inefficient and corrupt custom officials slowing national economic activity and it leads to decline in the revenue of the government. The Nigerian Customs Service in 2018 employed the blockchain technology to combat most of the challenges that has plagued the organization. They adopted the Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service with the aim of building a trusted platform for the automation of Customs Excise Trade business processes and procedures. In 2018 the Nigeria Customs generated N1.2trn in revenue. Assistant Comptroller General of NCS Aber T. Benjamin said:
“This technology helps our organization to build global trust for Nigerian businesses through irrefutable data on goods manufactured in the country.”
Secure Data Entry
It is no news again that Data is one of the most valuable resources in the world today and Data Security shouldn’t be an afterthought. The blockchain has multi-layer security and real-time detection of potential breach which can be employed to protect the most sensitive data of government. The e blockchain can be used to protect sensitive data of government that does not need to be in the hands of just any government personnel. With the blockchain the issue ghost workers in government MDA’s can be eradicated. As more businesses, governments, and other institution adopt and experiment with blockchain, it is important to foster a community of shared learning to accelerate public sector competency with blockchain innovations that can be used to make government operations more secure, transparent, and efficient.
In Nigeria and most African countries the issue of corruption still remains a serious social and political problem. The plague of corruption has eaten deep into the Nigerian system because the structure of the country is designed in a way corruption will thrive. Corruption today is perceived as something normal in our society despite numerous attempts to combat it. It can include financial incentives (bribery) for providing services in the public sector and major corruption schemes at the top of the political elite.
Blockchain will allow citizens to oversee government spending records because provides an unprecedented level of integrity, security and reliability to the information it manages, it also makes it possible to track and trace transactions. The immutable trail of transactions can be used by law enforcement and government auditors and this is just the tip of the spear of what the government can achieve with the blockchain. Chris Ani in the same interview with CryptoTvPlus talked about tackling corruption with the help of the blockchain and he made reference to Dubai which wants all their government records and transaction to be on the blockchain by 2020.
There so many other aspects of government the blockchain can make great improve which includes taxation, identity management, supply chain traceability, corporate registration, replacing paper-based systems in government, health sector and lots more.
Blockchain technology is certainly not a magic wand to solve all of African’s problems, but it can help curb corruption and, as a result, restore some level of trust in government MDA’s and corporate bodies in our society. Governance around the world is increasingly coming under criticism digitally savvy citizens demand higher levels of quality, integrity and, most notably, accountability. Technologies like the blockchain enhance transparency as it.
At this point, it would be useful for the Nigerian government to consider how blockchain could bring about transparency and accountability in MDA’s, and how Nigeria can take part in the fourth industrial revolution for job creation and unlock new revenue streams using the technology.
Chike Okonkwo Project Manager @ Bitfxt,a Blockchain Economist and Cryptopreneur