Blockchain technology: What is it and why should you know about it?

Blockchain technology – you’ve probably heard this phrase floating around lately, along with words like “Cryptocurrency” and “decentralization.” But don’t know what it means or understand what it could mean for the future.

Blockchain broken down:

A Blockchain is a string of blocks that contain information that can be shared with anyone. It is not owned or controlled by a central authority but rather a community of people who have been given access to that particular Blockchain.

The first block in a chain is called the Genesis block. A block is made up of three components: data, the hash of the current block and the hash of the previous block. The data inside the block is determined by the type of block that it is. A hash is basically a fingerprint, it’s a unique serial number that helps identify a particular block and what it contains. If someone changes something inside the block, the hash  of that block will change.

Blockchains are almost impossible to hack because when someone creates a new block or changes something in a block or chain, those changes are sent to everyone in the P2P (peer-to-peer) network to verify. If everyone in the network approves of the change, then a consensus is created and the change is added to the Blockchain. To tamper with a Blockchain successfully one would have to tamper with every block on the chain, redo the proof of work for every block and take control of more than 50% of the P2P network.

At home:

Ethiopia is a country booming with a vast amount of potential but its growth and progress is hindered by the country’s inability to grow sustainably, inferior ICT structures and keeping up with globalisation.

But Blockchain seems to be the answer to a lot of these problems. IOHK, the company behind the Cardano Blockchain has partnered with the Ethiopian government to explore how Blockchain technology could benefit the country. IOHK has offered to train 100 Ethiopian software developers in the Haskell programming language.

IOHK CEO, Charles Haskin believes that the introduction of Blockchain technology in Ethiopia could improve the efficiency of coffee production, in a country where coffee grows freely and is one of the drivers of the economy. The idea is that Blockchain technology will allow participants in the supply chain to track and trace coffee from its origins in the rural farm, to the wholesale buyer. The data stored on the Blockchain will be used to authenticate the origins of the coffee and what pesticides are present during production. The Blockchain would also be used as a pay point and place for farmers to access loans.

Other African countries are also starting to embrace this technology – Golix introduced the first Bitcoin ATM in Zimbabwe which allows people to buy Bitcoin using US dollars. Sierra Leone teamed up with Agora to test how Blockchain technology could make elections more transparent.

Blockchain has been touted as the next “big thing” in distributed computing; and this is partly true. The first thing though is that the concepts of Bitcoin and Blockchain need to be divorced from each other. A Cryptocurrency is only one application that can be built on Blockchain technology. A Blockchain enabled process can be far more than that and unlock value across a business value chain.

An interesting question for me is what can Blockchain do for your organisation’s brand?

With more and more African countries adopting blockchain technology, we’ll have to wait and see if this technology will transform this continent. What do you think, let us know in the comments section.

Cole Ndelu graduated from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography with a degree in Visual Communication. She is an internationally awarded photographer and is part of this years class of Design Indaba Emerging Creatives. She is a content producer at HKLM, specializing in social media management, PR and strategy.

Cole Ndelu

Cole Ndelu graduated from the Stellenbosch Academy of Design and Photography with a degree in Visual Communication. She is an internationally awarded photographer and is part of this years class of Design Indaba Emerging Creatives. She is a content producer at HKLM, specializing in social media management, PR and strategy.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: