This is a Guest Post and does not necessarily reflect the thoughts and opinions of Techzim. We have a strong filtering process of what makes it to our blog and are confident that you’ll enjoy the article below.
Zimbabwe is one of the most interesting markets for tech products, I mean everything new arrives here last (usually). Now, the title of this article might have interested you, and believe me when I say there’s so much more we can do. What I’m going to be presenting here are some of the ideas that either I have come up with, or we have discussed with my friends at some point. For those who might ask if I’m not afraid of having the ideas stolen, well, I have one answer. To me, I can always generate more, so sharing a few with people in the hopes that they can help develop my country, it’s priceless. As a software developer, the only thing I hate is someone stealing my source code and claiming it as their own! So if you can implement the ideas below, you will earn my respect. Not because they are hard (cough, cough), but because you have the dedication required to change this country as a whole. If you are asking why I haven’t done it myself, well, mostly it’s because of laziness…(seriously)
So, what is this blockchain? It is a protocol (do not ask me what this means) in which data is distributed among computers, such that the data on computer A is the same data on computer B and so on (I mean the name says it all, block-chain). This data will be shared in such a manner that if you change the data on computer A, every other computer will be updated automatically. At it’s earliest implementations, the protocol was used in torrents where people could download movies, games and series etc. for free. And then came the age of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin, ethereum, etc. Now, I will not talk much about it since I assume that if you can read this article, then you can use the internet.
For those who might be asking how this protocol thing I mentioned can help Zimbabwe to improve (besides free movies, series and games), well, I’ll be getting into it now.
So, as I said earlier, there are many ways in which the blockchain can be used to change our economic and social position. I will start with the economy since it’s the hottest thing at the moment. Now, one of the reasons (from my view) why the bond notes are not helping much, is because they are based on a currency which might have no real value (yes! I know what I’m saying). The US dollar has its own inflation issues and since they removed the gold standard (in 1976), its value is now being determined by treasury notes and foreign exchange reserves (making it undependable). And then we used this currency to back our own currency-which-is-not-really-a-currency. To top it off, someone brought an idea to change this money into e-money (so you can use it on your phone, ingenious right?), which suffers from the same disease. Now, one of the applications of the blockchain in this kind of scenario, is to make a cryptocurrency based on the value of something, like gold, diamonds or agricultural produce (or maybe salt or goats or cooking oil? I don’t know).
This would help in the sense that the crypto-coin will be currency-agnostic (it really doesn’t matter what currency you use to trade it for). So you could trade it for rands, or US and the price would not change by much. And it would be cheaper to implement than returning a physical currency (e.g. Zim dollar). There you go, hopefully, that should solve the inflation problem.
The government wants to make a transport management system. This is a great idea, but imagine if you could have this system integrated with the Central Vehicle Registry via the blockchain protocol. What does this mean? Easy access to vehicle records, for the police at least. If someone crosses a red robot in Masvingo (and their offence is recorded), and their data was registered in Mutare CVR, when they get to Harare, the police there would know their offence and who they are! They would know where they live and the cars they own (maybe not so cool? Try to be positive!). The real help would be that this system would not suffer any down time (means there are no ‘the system is down’ excuses). Why? Because their servers are decentralized (or distributed), if one server goes down, there would be others, and they all have the same data!
Imagine if you could apply for a passport at the comfort of your sofa (or maybe someone else’s). If the Central Registry for births and deaths and the Passport Office were integrated on a blockchain system, that would mean your data is available anywhere. You would not have to wake up at 3a.m. to apply for a passport since the data is available anywhere in Zimbabwe. The blockchain would be really helpful in that, if you are in Binga or Mzarabani, you would not have to access your data from a computer (called a server) in Harare, but the one nearest to you. In other words, it would be way faster (unless the person who provides your network is jealous) and way easier than standing in a very long queue. Also, if this is integrated with the police records, checking your criminal record (if you even have one) would only take a few minutes (not weeks or months). This means your passport will be available earlier, and since the whole system is distributed, the computers (called servers) near you will be doing the processing of information so that the whole process becomes faster.
Another sector which could grow with the blockchain is the educational sector. Now, there are many schools and private colleges. If they could make their own integrated systems running on a blockchain, this means student results would be easily obtainable and validated. Not just that, students’ results can be aggregated and compiled online so that they cannot be changed. Students can also share homework, help each other in different subjects etc on the same platform but in different areas. As you can see, it’s very easy!
I could go on and on (and on again), describing the sectors, each and every one, from the financials to the transport to the agricultural and mining. I could talk about how we can use the blockchain to improve product distribution, insurance, payment etc., but hey, that would be a story for another day. There is a limit to what the human mind can absorb, according to study (which I do not know who did, but seems to be true). I wanted to give ways in which new technology could turn Zimbabwe into Wakanda (cough, cough, at least from my perspective), if you have watched the movie Black Panther. There are various ways in which you can improve the ideas and implement them (or ask someone else to?). If you think these ideas are interesting, and you would like to implement them or need help, you could always contact me and we can talk. Or maybe you want to implement them yourself, please, by all means , go ahead. There are no restrictions. A very great man once said, “Sometimes the only limitation is your imagination.” By the way, there are more from where those came from, so do not be afraid to try them (if you can, cough cough).
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