How Blockchain is Helping Half A Billion Africans Solve the Identity Problem

According to a World Bank Group report, over one billion people across the globe currently face the challenge of proving their identity and face document fraud.

Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia represent the vast majority of this population with over 800 million people lacking an official proof of identity. 

However, it is in Africa that the issue of document and economic fraud persists most with close to half of the population lacking access to verification of identities.

As such, over 500 million Africans have no formal documentation at all which creates financial barriers as they cannot open financial accounts, take up loans, or at times enjoy the social benefits from governments. 

Despite the high penetration of mobile financial services in the continent, the identification gap remains acute as mobile network operators (MNOs) need official documents to register their customers.

The lack of proper official documentation has resulted in increased identity fraud in the region as Africans look for ways to be financially included. 

Governments across the continent have worked towards implementing traditional identity verification models to curb the high rates of fraud but still face the challenge as fraudsters and scammers find new ways to circumvent these solutions.

Notwithstanding, traditional identity verification methods are subject to manual error and provide a frustrating customer experience. As such, governments in Africa are adopting the transformative potential of digital systems and blockchain to tackle document and identity fraud.

The implementation of digital solutions and blockchain-based verification management systems aims to minimize the number of cases relating to document fraud ensuring every citizen is properly and rightly given an official proof of identity.

These solutions could accelerate the scale and reach of digital identities that empower citizens and stimulate economic and social growth.

Nonetheless, the rise of digital verification solutions does not completely solve identity fraud, hence the need for AI-based blockchain solutions that provide more dependable processes.

One of the largest blockchain ecosystems, Cardano, is leading the charge on tackling the issues of document fraud across the globe, especially in Africa.

Additionally, Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano, has been leading a Cardano excursion in Africa in the past few weeks to create verification solutions adaptable to the continent. 

Charles Hoskinson and Cardano Tours Africa 

Over the past few years, Cardano’s founder, Charles Hoskinson has been on a mission to boost the adoption of blockchain technology across the world and every industry possible.

By combining the power of blockchain tech with philosophy, mathematics, and computer science, Hoskinson and the Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) team – the main developing team on Cardano – are aiming at minimizing document fraud and protecting users’ identities. Africa is first on their list. 

To this aim, Hoskinson is currently touring the continent to expand the knowledge and adoption of Cardano and the solutions it offers.

Shortly after touring Wyoming, he started an excursion to Africa with an aim to use blockchain technology to revolutionize how document fraud is handled across the continent.

The CEO of IOHK started off his trip in Zanzibar (a coastal town in East Africa) where he met with the 8th president, Hussein Ali Mwinyi. Moving forward, Charles plans to meet with heads of state from  South Africa, Kenya, and Burundi. 

Notwithstanding, he will also meet with startups building on the Cardano blockchain across the continent.

Hoskinson believes the continent is primed for the adoption of blockchain technology to solve bureaucratic issues affecting governance, economic growth, and technological progress.

With half the continent struggling with official documentation, document fraud, and counterfeit identities, Cardano aims to offer lasting solutions to this end. 

Solving the Verification Problem in Africa

One specific Cardano DApp, Blockademia is at the forefront of minimizing document and identity fraud, especially government documents, education certificates and IDs.

Launched in 2020, Blockademia is a decentralized information system that issues and checks the authenticity of official documents ensuring every document is legal, legitimate, and authorized by the relevant authorities. 

The platform plans to go global and the recent “Cardano trip to Africa” could be the right place to market the decentralized platform. Users from around the world can sign up on the platform and authenticate any kind of document including issued diplomas, certificates, title deeds, insurance policies, state documents, certificates of ownership, source codes, royalty rights documents in music and films, and other important documents. 

Blockademia leverages the immutable, public, and transparent features of Cardano to timestamp documents ensuring any change or alteration is recorded to avoid counterfeit documents from being posted on the platform.

Additionally, the documents are verified and signed by the relevant authorities to authenticate the realness of any document.

Using these blockchain features, Blockademia ensures the permanence and immutability of the issued entry containing document metadata and subsequent authenticity checks.

Our CEO @marin1602, who is the #Cardano ambassador for Croatia with @IOHK_Charles on #CardanoMeetUp in Plovdiv#blockademia #cardano #blockademiaACI #cardanocommunity #blockchain #blockchaintechnology pic.twitter.com/hPkOHjEED2

— Blockademia – ACI (@blockademia_aci) October 11, 2021

Blockademia is part of the global plans of introducing blockchain verifiable documents to the world, especially in Africa.

IOHK and the Cardano Foundation have already made a mark on the African continent by introducing IT classes to Ethiopia, alongside the country’s Ministry of Education.

This recent partnership also saw Cardano introduce blockchain-verifiable school IDs. This aims to verify every diploma and degree once the students graduate and to control fraudulent varsity and job application processes. 

Future of Verification in Africa

As a response to the rising rates of a lack of identification documents, counterfeit documents and document fraud, the continent is ever more embracing blockchain technology and the solutions it offers.

Nonetheless, most governments are implementing biometric technology such as fingerprint scanning, facial recognition and other biometric qualities to provide easy authentication. 

The African market looks ripe to embrace new technologies to solve their identity verification problem and boost the registration of citizens.

According to a 2020 report, “Biometrics – Global Market Trajectory & Analytics” by U.S-based research firm Global Industry Analysts, the African and Middle East markets are currently growing at a 21% annual growth rate and are projected to reach $10 billion by 2027. 

By integrating biometrics and blockchain solutions such as Blockademia, authentication and verification of documents will be made easier and information secured on an immutable platform.

Blockchains also address the issue of privacy better than traditional information management systems by anonymizing data and requiring permissions limiting access. 

With the support of Cardano and projects like Blockademia coming up, organizations, institutions and governments across Africa will eliminate document fraud and the identity crisis affecting the continent – to boost the economic and financial status of 500 million+ Africans in need of official documentation. 

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