Africa's First Blockchain National Identity Scheme Launched in Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone has lauched a national identity system based on blockchain technology. The president, Julius Maada Bio, has said that his is the first African country to harness the technology in this way.
Identity records of all citizens have been added to a distributed ledger and the data will be available to financial institutions as a form of identity check. The number of unbanked in the country could fall dramatically as the online data will offer a simple verification process to start an account opening process.
Access to lending is the ultimate goal, with the president saying, "with the new National Digital Identity System, financial service providers are now able to efficiently verify the identity and ultimately the credit history of a customer wanting to open an account or access a loan."
The project has been implemented in partnership with Kiva, who say that over 80% of the population of Sierra Leone is currently unbanked, a trend seen across Africa. The Kiva Protocol aims to help people in developing countries access microloans, a system that will be made easier by the National Digital Identity Program.
Announced at the UN General Assembly last year, the project also partnered with the UN Development Agency. As well as the credit referencing potential, it is envisaged that government payroll will become more transparent and devoid of fraud and impersonation.