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Blockchain for Fair Distribution of Housing, Kenya’s Promise in the Aftermath of Large-scale Corruption

Turning to blockchain in attempts to fight corruption, Kenya has stated that it has faith in emerging technologies to tackle the issues of theft and misuse of public funds.

The Kenyan government’s new housing project, in which it has plans to publicly fund the building of 500,000 living units raises sceptical eyebrows amongst the population, with good reason.

The figures that illustrate the degree of corruption at governmental level make sorry reading, with public departments taking bribes at an alarming rate. A recent Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) report published this month, indicated that the numbers of those paying bribes to receive a range of government services have risen to 62% from 46% over a period of two years.

The recipients of bribes from the public include local elders with 17% of respondents to a recent survey saying that they have been forced to pay bribes to community heads. The police were high on the list at 16%, and other services and departments taking bribes included the Registrar of Persons, the County Health Department and the National Ministry of Land.

The new housing sector comes with its own set of problems though, and also a history of corruption following a National Youth Service scandal, in which 40 civil servants and 14 private sector officials were arrested for the theft of $78 million from the project’s funds. However, the Government is now planning to put a halt to the rising figures of corruption and misappropriation of funds lost to such projects by employing blockchain in its latest move.

The Kenyan Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence Task Force was established earlier this year to focus on blockchain and how the technology could be utilized to improve outcomes in the public sector. The group included local blockchain startups, experts, researchers and members of Kenyan regulatory bodies.

Speaking at a recent meeting on affordable housing with the World Bank in Nairobi, Housing and Urban Development Principal Secretary, Charles Hinga, said, “Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government-funded housing projects.”

The National Housing Fund under the Finance Act of 2018, to which Kenyans contribute 1.5 percent of their salary, will be responsible for the new blockchain-backed building project, with further financial support from employers.

In June, decentralized liquidity network Bancor, in partnership with the non-profit foundation, Grassroots Economics, launched a network of blockchain-based community currencies in Kenya aimed at combating poverty. The project seeks to stimulate local and regional commerce and peer-to-peer activity by enabling Kenyan communities to create and manage their own digital tokens.

Recently, Kenyan Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence task force chairman Bitange Ndemo said that the government should consider tokenizing the economy to deal with “increasing” rates of corruption and uncertainties.

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