Govt sets up blockchain taskforce

The government plans to leverage on the emerging blockchain technology gathering prominence around the world to structure the lands and education sectors.

This as the Ministry of ICT set up an 11 member taskforce headed by former information PS Dr Bitange Ndemo to explore the use of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence for development in Kenya.

The move come a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta stressed the need to keep up with changing digital technology trends to foster economic growth.

Speaking while unveiling the taskforce, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru said the team would offer a road map for the country’s engagement with new technologies.

“I want when people online search key words such as; entrepreneurship, venture capital funds, digital economy, E-commerce, media, logistics and distribution, jobs and employment, health and education; Kenya is always at the top”, Mr Mucheru said.

As more countries continue to move towards the adoption of blockchain technology, Kenya remains keen to not be left behind.

“It’s for 15 years but I have asked them to break into four year blocks. They have a task for the next three months to come up with a report and on various intervals they are going to let us know where they have reached,” the CS said.

Within the three months, the task force will critically review the pros and cons of the blockchain technology, its incorporation into government services such as service delivery and job creation and an implementation strategy with key performance indicators and clear delivery timelines.

“We need to create a single source of truth which we are working on as government where if you have a document that says you are who you are we can verify whether it is you or not,” he said

Blockchain technology has however greatly been associated with virtual currencies.

This has seen both the Capital Markets Authority and the Central Bank of Kenya warn against investing in such currencies saying they are unregulated and lack a legal framework.

“The CMA and CBK have cautioned people not necessarily to invest in those areas. They have not said it’s illegal so we cannot ignore it as a country but we cannot also rush into it…we don’t have to be the first mover but definitely not the last mover,” Mr Mucheru stressed.

Other members of the taskforce include; Steven Rotich, Juliana Rotich, Stephen Chege, John Gitau.

Mahmoud Mohamed Noor, Dr. Charity Wayua, Elizabeth Ondula, Fred Michuki, Michael Onyango, John Walubengo and Lesley Mbogo roundup the taskforce.

Additional reporting by Kepha Muiruri