One only needs to look at the current state of Eskom, SAA, the economy and the multitude of court cases and enquiries going on to know that South Africa has issues.

With all of the above going on and more, one might think that leaders should be focussed on solving the issues rather than talking about entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Speaking at the Blockchain Africa Conference 2020 in Johannesburg on Thursday, member of the Presidential Commission on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Mpho Dagada, said that this is indeed true, but in order to fix our big issues we need big solutions.

Of course, we could fix our existing issues before creating new ones, but Dagada says that technologies such as blockchain and artificial intelligence combined with data can help to address these issues too.

“South Africa needs to engage with new technology more than anybody else,” said Dagada.

“Two important issues we feel need to be addressed are reducing unemployment and increasing our GDP. Our strengths include our mineral resources, the fact that we’re a continental economic and political power house and our mature financial services sector. We are exploring how to leverage the fourth industrial revolution to amplify these strengths,” the commission member added.

One way we could use blockchain specifically to help increase GDP is by fixing the mineral resources sector. Dagada says that a resource like chromium could be put onto a blockchain with its purity and other important information enclosed. This could then be tokenised so that people from around the world are able to trade in the mineral easily.

This could be a great way to drum up investment that anybody could understand. It also doesn’t limit who can trade in minerals as the token itself contains the necessary information.

“If done properly we can have companies like Tesla plug and play into those systems and boost our economy,” says Dagada.

Education is vital

In order for blockchain to flourish in the country however, Dagada says that education is vital.

“To get everybody using a blockchain, everybody needs to be educated about how it works and to understand blockchain technology. The community must be active in educating people about this sector,” said Dagada.

Part of this, according to Dagada includes reskilling every South African so that they are able to understand and explore blockchain technology. This should be the mantle taken up by likes of SETA’s in various sectors.

The key point of Dagada’s keynote was that blockchain requires a multi-sectorial approach and buy-in in order to be fully successful.

For instance, Dagada says that government is looking at the issue of data and more specifically, data about its citizens.

“Who owns the most data when it comes to South Africans? Is it Google? Is it Facebook? It’s not government and we are looking for solutions which decentralise and distribute that data,” says Dagada.

“Government is asking serious questions about data ownership, monetising data and how data is used by organisations. As we all know, blockchain can help answer many of those questions,” the commission member says.

While Dagada didn’t go into specifics regarding projects on the go at the moment, it is good to know that government is actively engaging with and getting involved in the blockchain sector and that it recognises the potential the technology has.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]