ICT cabinet secretary Joe Mucheru has established an 11-member task force to explore the use of distributed ledger systems, otherwise known as blockchain and artificial intelligence in Kenya.
The task force headed by former ICT Permanent Secretary Dr. Bitange Ndemo, has three months to chart a guideline that will determine the use of these technologies in Kenya, for the next five years and in continuous 5-year phases up to 2032.
“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,” said Mr. Mucheru.
The world is moving towards these two technologies with the world’s internet giants, Google, Amazon and Facebook fiercely engaged in a race towards dominating artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence, commonly referred to as AI, is the phenomenon of making machines and technologies able to perform tasks that would otherwise require human intelligence through machine learning.
Blockchain, on the other hand, has gained popularity as the technology powering the popular digital currency bitcoin.
Blockchain uses the distributed ledger system where for instance in the financial services sector, information on transactions is stored as blocks of data that are visible to multiple computers, each computer knows which block of information came before which and thus provide peer-to-peer security.
This ensures that every change in the system is visible to multiple people and if one tries to change the records, they are going to have to change every single one, which is next to impossible. This eliminates the need for having a third party to maintain accountability.
Blockchain and artificial intelligence have wide application areas; for instance in Ethiopia, artificial intelligence has been used to facilitate the tracking of Coffee through the ECXe-Trade platform, traceability that makes it easier for Ethiopian coffee to get international certification i.e. organic certification.
In Morocco, artificial intelligence is in use in the health sector to identify disease-causing genetic mutations in patients and identify the most appropriate care.
Blockchain, on the other hand could be God-send, especially for its ability to ensure transparency, imagine a situation where you buy land and it is immediately recorded in the land registry; visible to all authorized parties and cannot be changed without alerting all parties involved.
The potential for these technologies in Kenya is exciting- the things we could do, the systems we could improve or secure better, make processes more transparent and cheaper.
To reiterate this potential, the ICT Cabinet Secretary said, “I want when people online search keywords such as; entrepreneurship, venture capital funds, digital economy, e-commerce, media, logistics and distribution, jobs and employment, health and education, that Kenya is always at the top.”
Kenya stands to take a giant leap over other African countries should the task force find ways to efficiently and affordably integrate blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies in our existing systems.