Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have been identified as effective tools to curb runaway corruption in Kenya.
Speaking on Thursday while receiving the Prof Bitange Ndemo-led report on Blockchain and AI, Information Communications and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the technologies can help Kenya tackle main problems like corruption, land fraud and election disputes.
“Blockchain and AI provide an unprecedented level of integrity, security and reliability to the information it manages, reducing the risks associated with having a single point of failure," said Mr Mucheru.
“I feel it is a report I can forward to the President comfortably knowing that it covers the many important areas that we as a country must address for technology to move us forward.
“ I have been sued for not releasing the report. People can now know officially that the report has been handed over to me and that we can now release it to the country and to the world,” said the CS.
Blockchain is a distributed and decentralised ledger technology (DLT) that chronologically and publicly records all transactions in a network. The digital ledger is held and updated by anyone who takes part in maintaining the network. This doubles to be a peer-to-peer platform that eliminates intermediaries, thereby creating trust.
"There is no transaction that can successfully join the chain without being validated by the nodes. New transactions create a complexity that locks out hackers. For any hacker to succeed, they must hack every 'block' and there are millions of them. It is an immutable technology,” said Mr Benjamin Arunda, the author of Understanding the Blockchain, when he spoke to the Nation.
Mr Mucheru also said all sectors featured in the Big Four Agenda will be positively impacted by these technologies. However, taking full advantage of these technologies will not be possible without digitisation and supporting technologies, such as Big Data, Data Science, the Internet of Things (IoT), coupled with 5G network internet speeds expected to land in Kenya by 2025.
The release of the report also indicated that the fight against corruption can be won with the introduction of Blockchain and AI that have been heralded as game changers in fighting corruption since Several governments across the world have embraced the use of technology for improved governance.
The CS said that he is excited by some of the proposals in the report like the likelihood of having an electronic election come 2022. “This means that by midnight of the Election Day we can know who has won, which will be great if it comes to pass,” he added.
Government spokesperson Col (Rtd) Cyrus Oguna said that Blockchain is tamper proof and will be key in enhancing government processes.
“The report is based on instruction by the President to the CS to put together a task force mandated to look at block chain and AI and to see how the country can be able to move in the direction which the rest of the world is moving,” said Mr Oguna
“We have been having problems with elections in Kenya and through the creation of the Huduma Namba the developing of the trusted identity will help in the creation of many solutions,” said the taskforce chair Prof Ndemo.
He explained that political parties will be receiving the election results as they stream in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and by the time the results are announced the political parties will have known the winner, thus reducing electoral disputes.
The report also indicated that other countries that are using Blockchain and AI to fight corruption include: Ghana, Georgia and Ukraine are looking to reform land registry by building immutable title systems on blockchain to prevent fraud and enable the banking industry to have confidence on land assets.
“The great challenge is now passing the information to the political class and explaining to them how this is going to work. If people can be able to trust technology like M-pesa then we should also trust technology to deliver free, fair and transparent elections,” posed Mr Mucheru.
He hailed the report’s recommendation to have a digital register saying that if someone has charged their land title deed with one bank and want to get a better interest rate from another bank then they don’t have to go through the same process again since one bank can pass the information to the next one making it easy to get loans, mortgages and other financial services.