Tanzania sets up crypto advisory team

Friday July 09 2021
bitcoin pic
By Elizabeth Edward

Dar es Salaam. In response to a rise in global popularity of the blockchain technology, Tanzania is now putting its experts together so they can effectively advise the government on its use.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) minister Faustine Ndugulile yesterday gave the ICT Commission 14 days within which it (the Commission) should set up a taskforce to advise the government on blockchain technology. Blockchain is among technologies behind the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4FIR) including crypto-currencies like Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency which exists without a central bank or single administrator. It can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.

So in short, the blockchain is a specific type of database. It however differs from a typical database in the way it stores information; blockchains store data in blocks that are then chained together.

It works in such a way that as new data comes in, it is entered into a fresh block and once the block is filled with data, it is chained onto the previous block, which makes the data chained together in chronological order.

Dr Ndugulile said in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the taskforce to be formed must involve not more than 10 experts.

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Almost two weeks ago, President Samia Suluhu Hassan urged the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) to prepare and study the cryptocurrency scenario around the world, saying it (the BoT) should be ready for changes and not caught unprepared.

In line with the President’s directive, Dr Ndugulile said in the taskforce will also advise the government on policy, legislation and guidelines to enable the technology to be used effectively.

Dr Ndugulile was speaking shortly after he held talks with ICT experts and their blockchain counterparts in Dar es Salaam yesterday.

During the talks, the experts described opportunities that may arise due to the use the technology.

Dr Ndugulile said the technology could be beneficial to the nation, noting that there was a need for it to be well understood and the country prepared for its adoption.

Along with advising the government, the taskforce will be responsible for providing awareness to government institutions that will be involved in the system, ministers and permanent secretaries.

Dr Ndugulile agreed to the idea of making Kigamboni a smart city for testing the use of the technology as suggested by one of the participants, noting however, that public awareness must be upped.

An expert in trade and blockchain Sandra Chogo suggested that there be a strategy aimed at raising awareness among young people in college about the fourth industrial revolution.

“The fourth industrial revolution is gaining momentum and every day, new technologies are emerging,” she said, urging the ICT Ministry to enable experts familiar with the technology to be used in educating the community on the subject.

Making a presenting on the topic at the meeting, an expert in blockchain technology, Dr Joseph Matiko, said that from the outset it was good for the government to allocate funds for model projects.

He said the technology could help to have a digital identity, verify documents and even increase the security of financial transactions in the country. “The blockchain can be a great tool for storing government information and even the preparation of important documents such as citizenship IDs, birth certificates, passports and even Taxpayers’ Identification Numbers,” he said.