Practical Reasons Blockchain Will Help Developing Countries

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In almost all developing and emerging economies, it is natural for governments to provide basic services such as health, education and security. This does not mean governments have to do it themselves directly. It can be outsourced to third parties,  who may be profit or non-profit organizations.

A new research paper about Blockchain called: Unpacking the disruptive potential of blockchain technology for human development, illustrates that this is by design. Current implementation of blockchain technologies in undeveloped nations is on the rise. Having local regulations on cryptocurrency is providing conducive grounds for the use of technologies in legitimate ways that boost the lives of many. The following examples show how blockchain technologies could support a wide variety of government and other organization's programs and initiatives.

1. Easing the Provision of Government Services

Blockchain technologies can be used to improve government services that mostly involve the handling and management of documentation, which is a hurdle in third world countries, especially in the retrieval to edit or process final documents. Blockchain technologies are used in supporting the overall provision of most public goods and services,  mostly those that call for personal interaction and individual identification.

Today, it is evident that interaction between blockchain technologies and e-government are on the rise. The relationship is being enhanced by some blockchains startups such as;

Procivis- A Swiss-based startup that is about to launch a blockchain based application store to deliver premium government services to their citizens such as identity provision.

* Ukraine has recently signed an agreement with BitFury to support the provision of public services and other services to Ukrainians.

* Dubai has embraced the blockchain technology wave and is working on being a fully-fledged Blockchain City by 2020 as part of its ongoing Smart Dubai Initiative (SDI).

* Many blockchain startups globally are now supporting these government service sector and are already helping in countries such as Estonia and Philippines.

Hyperledger, a health sector concerned startup is initiating an inter-industry collaboration space to develop open protocols and standards for distributed ledger technologies.

Unfortunately, most of the education sector has not been interested in blockchain technology startups and consortia, except in E-learning.

2. Land Tenure Documentation and Processing

Land tenure streaming was the first area where blockchain technology planning and potential deployment sparked in a developing country.

The government of Honduras signed an agreement in 2015 with Factom, a US startup, to allow blockchain to manage their land title registration, and fight fraud and corruption in its relevant ministry. 

In 2017, initiatives were launched in Georgia and Ghana. In Georgia, a world-renown economist Hernando de Soto was inducted onto the advisory board of BitFury. They are the blockchain startup implementing this land tenure initiative. In Ghana,  a nonprofit blockchain startup called BitLand is using blockchain technology to manage land title deeds and resolve land disputes.  Another blockchain that is working with local institutions in Ghana is BenBen.

However,  Sweden is doing its own land project using blockchain deployments for developing countries and is facing complex challenges,  thus cannot engage blockchain startups as individual cases are unique and demand unique solutions.

3. Provision of Identity Services

For many blockchain startups, the identity provision is one of the most promising fields in assisting governments to successfully utilize applications from blockchain technologies. It is being used in the management of passports, birth certificates, wedding certificates, national and electoral IDs, and handling e-residence programs among many others. This fact is supported by the influx of the number of startups working in this area. Many startups are already working in the field such as; 

* OneID84 provides multiple-factor authentication and Single Sign-On services.

* Namecoin developed key technology for potentially protecting and authenticating personal identity, fostering freedom of speech and preventing surveillance.

However, Blockchain technology scalability limitations could prevent massive deployments in countries with large populations such as Mexico, India and China.

4. Enhancing the Freedom of Speech

Startups like FlorinCoin, MazaCoin and Publicism are promoting freedom of speech in several different ways. Florincoin has created Alexandria, which is a distributed ledger application (Dapp) aiming to be a decentralized repository of knowledge and information managed directly by end users. This Dapp has an application that is geared towards the preservation of censored digital content that quickly evaporates from the Internet. FlorinCoin has also enriched the blockchain by allowing the attachment of personal comments to blocks in the chain.

On the other hand, Publicism is effectively supporting journalists in countries that have strict censorship, and to cover what is banned by using pseudonyms to mask their identities. MazaCoin supports native and indigenous American communities through its platform to enhance freedom of speech and archive protest photos in their blockchain where they cannot be tampered or destroyed.

5. Participation in Anti-Corruption Activities

The aim of blockchain engagement in anti-corruption activities is to develop blockchain applications that will enhance openness in governments and transparency. Recently, the US National Democratic Institute (NDI), is collaborating with BitFury to promote anti-corruption activities with a platform called Blockchain Trust Accelerato.

6. Management of Electoral Processes

To eliminate civil strives brought about by flawed elections across the world, many governments are deploying and using of blockchain technologies to ensure that their elections are fair and acceptable. An example of a startup in this area is Follow My Vote that uses distributed ledgers to run voting processes, prevent fraud and identity theft. The advantage of using blockchains is that voters can verify their voting choices using their private keys anytime they vote. 

* Ukraine is using E-vox, an Ethereum-based distributed ledger for its local elections in a couple of towns. 

However, there are some drawbacks in using the private keys. For Instance, hackers can access them and use them in many different ways. Voters can loan or sell their private keys for monetary benefits. However, once it's accepted, people will have the opportunity to compare the blockchain system with internet voting.

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