How Blockchain Can Drive Advancement in Africa–Andrew Nevin

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Saturday, June 01, /  09.30AM  / Bukola Akinyele for Proshare WebTV

 

At a recent Technology Conference hosted in Lagos, Dr. Andrew Nevin, Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria, explored the theme “Blockchain, AI Digital Virtual Financial Assets and Other Technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and how it could drive economic advancement across Africa. 

Nevin made the point that in the adoption of Blockchain technology, Africa and Nigeria, in particular, must not neglect evolving technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, virtual reality, and the internet. 

He said that using blockchain technology can confirm transactions without the need for a central certifying authority; potential applications include funds transfer, settling trades, voting and many other uses. 

The economist identified the benefits, risks and potential applications of blockchain technology as follows:


Benefits   

  • Increased transparency  
  • Accurate tracking  
  • Permanent Ledger
  • Cost reduction


Risks   

  • Complex technology  
  • Regulatory implications 
  • Implementation challenges  
  • Competing platforms 


Potential Applications 

  • Identity management
  • Voting
  • Peer to peer transactions
  • Supply chain management
  • Smart contracting
  • Provenance/ traceability
  • Asset registration/ownership
  • Trade finance
  • Record management

Speaking further, Nevin noted that blockchain has as a core principle, decentralization, transparency, and anonymity. It is the former two principles that have a lot of applications in Africa in the areas of elections, financial markets and government finances. 

Africa, according to him, needs to take proper advantage of the fourth industrial revolution driven by digital technology. 

Citing the De Beers example, the PwC Economist said blockchain is used to ensure that diamonds are authentic, conflict-free and natural. According to Nevin, it provides a permanent, unchangeable record for every diamond registered from the moment the diamonds removed from mines. 

Nevin also highlighted the fact that the Nigeria Customs Service has improved its services by deploying blockchain for excise and tax collection. 

On the issue of using technology in trading commodities, he mentioned Binkabi as a platform for issuing and trading commodities on the blockchain. 

Nevin also highlighted the partnership between Interswitch and Microsoft, which has led to the launch of a blockchain based supply chain financing service, enabling SMEs to get financing to meet client orders. 

According to him, Artificial Intelligence is meant to solve problems as UBA has done with the LEO chatbot. Likewise, adopting blockchain will bring about greater trust among Nigerians because trust is one issue that people are battling.

“In the past, the cost of 3D printing was expensive, and the technology was available only to large corporations, but the development of desktop 3D printers has made the technology more accessible to small and mid-sized businesses and home users” Nevin said.

He highlighted the Benefits, Risks, and Potential Applications of 3D printing technology


Benefits

  • Speed to market
  • Fast and cheap prototyping
  • Enhanced innovation and R&D culture
  • Savings in labour, materials and transportation
  • Streamline supply chains


Risks

  • Cost of 3D printing
  • More choice is sometimes uncomfortable
  • User changes can be dangerous
  • Energy usage
  • Some 3D designs do not scale


Potential Applications

  • Healthcare and smart medical devices
  • Tools and end use parts
  • Prototyping
  • Bridge manufacturing
  • Supply chain optimization
  • Customized products
  • Remote location production

The economist noted that through blockchain technology, there could be more supported services to rural Nigerian communities.


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