Blockchain provides opportunities to improve government efficiency and develop the new economy

Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille and Minister of Economic Opportunities, Beverley Schäfer both gave key note addresses at the Blockchain Africa conference held in Cape Town today, focusing on the possibilities blockchain technology holds for the Western Cape.

Blockchain, the technology which underpins crypto currencies, creates a digital ledger which is stored in a shared network. The technology allows multiple users to access the information, but not to change it, so it provides a reliable and transparent record.

While still relatively new and largely untested, the technology has several applications in the government and the private sector that enhance the speed, efficiency and transparency of transactions.

Globally, blockchain is being used by governments to simplify the transfer of assets, thereby cutting down the cost and time involved in property transfers, car sales and other administrative processes. It could also centralise healthcare records, allowing doctors to access patients’ records and track educational outcomes throughout a child’s schooling career. Because the technology does not allow anyone to change the data, it also creates a system of trust, and has the potential to minimise corruption.

“The Western Cape Government is driving innovation and positioning the province as a global technology hub. Our focus is on developing the future economy and in order to do that, we need to embrace the Fourth Industrial Revolution and explore how technologies like blockchain can help us drive service delivery and economic growth.

Speaking at the event, Premier Helen Zille said: “We have to understand and incorporate the potential of blockchain to revolutionize our systems. New ideas require experimentation through private public partnership incubators or what we call ‘sandboxes’, to see how the regulatory environment can facilitate the development of a range of applications in a context of policy certainty. I look forward to seeing the Western Cape Government exploring these in years to come.”

Minister Schäfer and Premier Zille also met with several local and international players in the blockchain field on the side lines of the conference in order to discuss the various ways in which the technology is already being implemented.

In her speech, Minister Schäfer explored the potential of using blockchain technology and crypto currencies to help bank the unbanked and provide affordable, accessible financial products to the informal sector, traders and small businesses.

She also detailed how blockchain could be used to track agricultural products, thereby allowing retailers and even consumers to accurately track their food from farm to fork. International pilot projects have shown the potential of using this kind of technology to minimise the impact of food-borne diseases and outbreaks.

The technology could also be used in the tourism space in a range of applications from reducing ATM fraud to being able to easily track lost luggage.

More detail can be found in Minister Schäfer’s speech, which is attached.


Media Queries:

Bianca Capazorio
Spokesperson for the Ministry of Economic Opportunities
(Responsible for the Departments of Agriculture and Economic Development and Tourism)
Tel: 021 483 3550
Cell: 072 372 7044
Email: bianca.capazorio@westerncape.gov.za