Technology is valuable only when it is adopted and used for solving real issues. A public network can be adopted by individuals but it does not mean that an institution or even government cannot decide to use it as well. It has happened. Ethiopia decided to adopt Cardano.
Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa which provides a strategic dominance as it is close to the Middle East and its markets. With more than 112 million people, Ethiopia is the second-most populous nation in Africa after Nigeria and it has the fastest growing economy in the region. However, it is also one of the poorest countries, with a per capita income of $850 per year. Ethiopia’s economy experienced strong, broad-based growth averaging 9.4% a year from 2010 to 2020, Ethiopia’s real gross domestic product growth slowed down to 6% in 2020 due to COVID-19. Mainly construction and services industries accounted for most of the growth.
The consistent higher economic growth brought with it positive trends in poverty reduction in both urban and rural areas. The government has launched a new 10-year perspective plan which will run from 2020 to 2030. The plan aims to sustain the remarkable economic growth achieved under the Growth and Transformation Plans while putting more emphasis on the private sector. Ethiopia’s main challenges are sustaining its positive economic growth and accelerating poverty reduction, which both require significant progress in job creation, as well as improved governance.
Key challenges are related to political disruption, associated with social unrest. It could negatively impact growth through lower foreign direct investment, tourism, and exports. Further, limited competitiveness constrains the development of manufacturing, the creation of jobs, and the increase of exports. The government aims to expand the role of the private sector through foreign investment and industrial parks. It should help to make Ethiopia’s growth momentum more sustainable.
Education is a necessary prerequisite to ensure improvements in living standards and future economic growth. Ethiopia expanded access to quality primary education over the last ten years. There has been a significant expansion of the general education system, increasing from 7.1 million learners in 2000 to 26 million in 2019. As a result, net enrollment rates in primary education and secondary education have increased to about 95% and 25% respectively. It is necessary to improve the quality and equitable access to education to address issues including high dropout rates and low learning outcomes, especially for girls. In addition, technical and vocational education is supported together with training and higher education sub-sectors through its regional projects. The aim of the government and support education programs is to strengthen selected institutions to deliver quality postgraduate education and build collaborative research capacity in the regional priority areas.
Ethiopia improves its education system via a partnership with IOHK
The needs of Ethiopia and Cardano match nicely together. Ethiopia needs to be more digitized and has a special strategy for that with the name Digital Ethiopia 2025. Cardano is a global operating system that is ubiquitous. Ethiopia’s government decided to start with the digitalization of the education system. Education is a key focus area when a developing country is to ensure stable growth and improvement of living conditions.
A crucial component of the solution is an identity management system called Atala PRISM. It has been developing for a few years and it is also used in Mongolia. Atala PRISM is able to create a decentralized identity (DID). Working with the identities of real persons is very useful and it will find utilization in many industries. As a matter of fact, many people living in Africa do not have access to government services just because they do not have ID. Regarding the banking loans, it is the very same story. Without ID and financial credibility, which is mostly based on historical records, a fair banking loan is mostly an unreachable dream.
Cardano and Atala PRISM will be used to build a national education tracking system. DID will be created for all participants of the education system which is 5 million students and 750 thousand teachers. The solution will be able to track attainment and digitally verify grades. It will enable authorities to create tamper-proof records of educational performance across 3,500 schools. Tracking will help to analyze under-achievement in education and allocate resources more effectively. Effectivity of the resource distribution will be ensured by the education tracking system. As it will not be possible to manipulate data so easily thus the distribution will be based on the real results.
It must be said that the Atala PRISM DID solution will run on the public Cardano blockchain. It is not a private version as we can often see.
The solution will reduce fraudulent university and job applications as students will have tamper-proof qualification records in a digital form. It will be possible to easily verify the qualification without third-party agencies. Students will have the qualification always with them even if they travel abroad as their DID and qualification records will be on the Cardano blockchain. Potential employers of Ethiopian students will have certainty that applicants really achieved the education they claim. The qualification can be verified not only in Ethiopia but also anywhere in the world. It will be easier for abroad employers to hire qualified applicants. It can be said that Ethiopians will become the first global citizens. They will have a globally verifiable ID that will include their tamper-proof qualification. One day, it will be a standard to have identity, money, qualifications, wealth, tickets, and other things, in one device always with you.
80% of Ethiopians live in rural regions. The Ethiopian government plans to provide students and teachers with tablets and a dedicated internet network. Students will have access to higher education, their academic records, and later to employment.
It is just the beginning
Using Cardano and Atala PRISM is just the beginning not only for Ethiopia but for other countries in Africa. It is a huge achievement that is seen across the continent. Having an Ethiopian Minister of Education in a live show and seeing him talking about Cardano is an unprecedented event in the crypto industry. He clearly explained why Ethiopia needs blockchain and not other solutions. It can spark an interest and other countries might be more willing to collaborate with IOHK. It is estimated that the Africa Special show has seen around 100,000 viewers.
Providing an economic identity is a very important mission in countries where people do not have ID and are digitally excluded. DID can give people the possibility to have access to education, employment, and banking services. Developing countries do not have services that we, people from western countries, are used to utilize every day. Cardano can bring crucial digital services to people living in Africa that do not have them at the moment. DID is the key to establishing a seamless connection between developing and western countries.
Ethiopia will start with the education industry but it is planned to use the solution in other industries such as agriculture, healthcare, transport, manufacturing, and tourism. IOHK is already discussing a blockchain-based digital transport ticketing system in Addis Ababa. It is highly probable that other countries will want to have a similar solution that the IOHK team is deploying in Ethiopia. Spreading to other industries is also inevitable. The big advantage is that once all tough problems are resolved in one country the solution is ready to be deployed in other countries. It will be much easier for others to use Cardano services. Moreover, the Cardano network is naturally global so all countries will be immediately inter-connected.
We can imagine that Cardano will be used for issuing national currencies and building a new generation of voting systems. Central Bank Digital Currencies are around the corner and choosing Cardano to issue national currency can be a natural choice for many developing countries. Cardano is not a cryptocurrency and it is more than obvious after Africa Special. It is a global operating system for people that wish to use it to improve their living standards, freedom and provide them with access to the digital world. The ability to provide a micro-loan from western countries to developing countries will help a lot to the development of Africa. It will be not only easy but also secure, thanks to Cardano and Atala PRISM.
Ethiopia will become the biggest user of public blockchain technology in the education sector. Other sectors are just a matter of time. Do not expect magic to happen tomorrow. The deployment will take time. We can see fruits after a few years when the first generation of students finish studies and will apply for a job via DID and digital qualification. Let’s hope that in the next decade, we will see many countries building services on Cardano.
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