By Max Patrick Ocaido
KAMPALA. President Yoweri Museveni has welcomed the adoption of Blockchain technologies in a bid to stir economic transformation in Uganda and Africa at large.
Museveni was speaking at the inaugural Africa Blockchain Conference held at Kampala Serena Hotel which brought together policy makers, industry leaders, academia, entrepreneurs and blockchain enthusiasts across over 20 countries.
During the conference, Museveni welcomed Blockchain technology with an opinion that the new system removes opaqueness in business and replaces it with total transparency since members have open access to books of accounts.
“These Blockchain members are people who trust one another and they are like universal SACCOS. The members have access to ledgers because we are aware how businessmen are inflicted by business secrets,” Museveni said.
He added, “The beauty about this technology is that if I am in Kisozi and I want to sell my 100 bulls then everyone could verify since there is open data.”
According to Kwame Rugunda, chairman of the Blockchain Association of Uganda, blockchain technology reduces uncertainties and would help curb problems associated with land tenure system in Uganda such as land grabbing and fraud through duplication of land titles.
“This technology will also be of benefit in improving healthcare because it helps deal with counterfeit drugs. With blockchain, you are able to track a drug from its manufacturing area, which hands handled it, its temperature and others. We can scan a drug and if its chain of production is not found then that drug is possibly counterfeit,” Rugunda said, adding that over 100 million Africans are affected by counterfeit drugs.
He added that blockchain will also make identities more efficient other than one person having several identity cards such as National ID, Driving Permit, Google ID, Facebook ID among others.
Blockchain technology can also be used for supply chain management, asset tracking, real estate, media, and music among others.
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However, Museveni warned that blockchain technology should not be a substitute to the basic existing sectors, but rather the new technology should enable goods and services move faster.
“When we get new technology, we sometimes tend to get lost and forget to keep in touch with the basics. So each new technology should be an addition to the existing frameworks and not a replacement,” Museveni said.
He listed 4 important sectors that should not be replaced. The sectors include; Agriculture where he called for need to use new technology to spur commercial farming. The other sectors are Industry where goods come from, Services and ICT.
“So when you are talking about new technologies then it should not substitute sectors which produce goods and services, but rather enable things faster,” he warned.
Earlier on, Bank of Uganda governor, Emmanuel Mutebile said that blockchain technology is a revolutionary technology which has the potential to change the way people manage data as well as do business. He however, warned about emergence of cryptocurrency which he says lacks prerequisites to work as a currency.
“People who sell cryptocurrency risk being banned completely when the bubble busts. Therefore, the emergence of cryptocurrency doesn’t render Bank of Uganda useless,” Mutebile said.
Mutebile’s submission did not go well with President Museveni who asked the governor to consider being a little more liberal and flexible.
“I encourage Mutebile to be more inquisitive about blockchain technology, not to be dogmatic. Paper money has its value because of the trust people attach to it. Bitcoin and blockchain technology can also have value if people trust it,” Museveni said.
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank.