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Go for blockchain and AI, forum urges Kenyan firms

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By FAUSTINE NGILA
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When blockchain experts met to critique the Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) task force report in Nairobi, it emerged that more opportunities than challenges exist in the use of emerging technologies to cure economic maladies.

Led by Blockchain Association of Kenya chairperson Roselyn Gicira, the team deliberated on the current situation in various sectors, problems witnessed, existing opportunities, expected results in one to five years and the duration needed for full adoption of the technologies.

The Prof Bitange Ndemo-led task force report presented to the government last month provides a number of recommendations on improving key sectors.

The discourse centred around possible application of blockchain and AI in governance, land and housing, finance, healthcare, food security, manufacturing and culture.

“In the manufacturing sector, a hyper ledger is needed to manage stock using synchronised inventory data mechanisms from the point of processing to shelves up to the point of sale,” said Mr Cyril Michino, adding that supermarkets’ use of physical stocktaking is inaccurate.

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Lack of traceability, data insecurity and immobility are the hindrances ailing the shipping industry as importers struggle to succeed in product recalls, leading to losses. This also creates a loophole for tax evasion. Mr Pablo Muigai, a developer, decried the poor state of shipping in Kenya, explaining how he witnessed a meat exporter lose Sh1 million simply because documentation done at the Kenyan airport had spelling errors from poor handwriting.

“I know a man who lost six containers of avocados just because his importer said they were rejects. There was no verifiable and trusted second opinion, something that blockchain, AI and IoT can solve,” said Johnson Gitonga, a blockchain enthusiast and writer.

Blockshipping was recommended to offer a Blockchain Container Register, which records who owns and operates the cargo in a safe and traceable manner.

In addition to the classical registration, the register is also able to convert the physical containers into tokens.

This makes it possible to log changes and transfer in possession of a container in a safe, transparent and traceable manner.

But this will come through research, experimentation and awareness in local dialects. “With streamlined regulation and public acceptance, gradual adoption will eventually graduate to full adoption,” said Mr Michino.

The team also called for inclusion of the technologies in the school curriculum as that is where the future is heading.

It was noted that grey areas still exist in the finance sector regarding regulation of digital loan apps, the cost of bank loans and cross-border payments.

“To solve this, the Huduma Act needs to be revised to ensure all Huduma Namba data is captured on a government blockchain to ease identity. Thereafter, mobile fintech solutions can be developed on blockchain by digitising assets using the Movable Property Security Rights Act of 2017,” said Amos Kinuthia from DLBRT.





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