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CIO 100: Blockchain for more than just cryptocurrency

Ben Mann, IBM, COO East Africa,

Blockchain is "an open and distributed register that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent manner". To be used as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is generally managed by a peer-to-peer network that collectively adheres to a protocol for communication between nodes and validation of new blocks. Once registered, data in a given block can not be changed retroactively without changing all subsequent blocks, which requires the consent of the majority of the network. These are some of the attributes that make the blockchain perfect for cryptocurrency trading, but while this is a major use case it is not the only one.

This was clarified by Ben Mann, IBM, COO East Africa, during his presentation at the CIO 100 event in Naivasha, Kenya. Mann described blockchain as an "instrument to create trust", says it is underway and that the blockchain is used to create new networks and value in various industries.

He gave several cases of use of blockchain including:

agriculture

In 30 years, it is estimated that the world population will grow in the face of what our food supply can sustain.

IBM Watson IoT analyzes a variety of data such as temperature, soil pH and other agricultural and environmental factors to provide farmers with insights that can help them make better decisions and gather more crops.

Automotive sector

The intelligent vehicle era is here with car manufacturers looking to create engaging and connected experiences for drivers.

Autonomous vehicles can combine Watson technologies as the natural spoken language with the location and meteorological data collected by the IoT sensors to help passengers reach the required destinations, provide advice on places to visit and answer questions about their surroundings.

aviation

The aviation industry is working with IBM to provide decades of maintenance information at the fingertips of employees.

Using Watson's cross-analysis of various data, including previous problems and successful solutions, maintenance personnel can help diagnose problems faster and more securely, creating smoother flights.

Education

IBM is making big investments to help support a 21st century workforce in Africa. But the construction of new career types does not always require a four-year degree. Instead, they need fairly sophisticated IT skills in digital, cybersecurity, data science, artificial intelligence, cloud, and more.

The initiative, "IBM Digital – Nation Africa", offers a cloud-based learning and enabling platform designed to provide free skills development programs for young Africans, enabling digital expertise and nurturing innovation in Africa.

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