Kenya to Use Blockchain Technology on Affordable Housing Project

The Kenyan government is reportedly looking to use blockchain technology in an affordable housing project that’s set to help citizens who meet specific criteria. The government has claimed it’s looking to build 500,000 homes by 2020, which will go to individuals with low incomes.

According to local news outlet The Star, the affordable housing program is going to be financed by the National Housing Fund under the Finance Act of 2018, The act requires Kenyan citizens to contribute 1.5% of their base salaries for the fund – a sum that’ll be matched by their employers next year.

The country’s principal secretary of housing and urban development, Charles Hinga, has claimed the fund will raise 6 billion Kenyan shillings a month (about $59,000). Referring to the country’s shortage of affordable housing, Hinga stated:

Kenyans have lost trust in what the government does especially with housing and previous fiscal wastefulness of capital-intensive projects

Blockchain technology, The Star reveals, may be the government’s solution to the problem, as it’ll help address the trust issue by ensuring those who get the houses are those that truly need them, while giving them an immutable record that proves they own the property.

The technology is, in addition, going to be used to manage the project’s funds. The cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure, housing, and urban development in Kenya, James Macharia, stated:

Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects

Macharia reportedly suggested a lottery-like system be used as the best way to deal with the fact that even with the project’s goals, the need for affordable housing far exceeds the amount that’s available. Citizens eligible for the program are those who earn less than Kenya’s threshold for affordable housing, 100,000 shillings (about $990).

This is notably not the first time Kenya looks at blockchain technology as a solution to its problems. Earlier this year Joseph Mucheru, cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communications, set up a task force to “explore how blockchain technology can be harnessed to improve transparency and efficiency.”

The country’s central bank governor, Patrick Njoroge, has also claimed blockchain technology can improve services in the country. The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) itself, however, has warned against cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, and cited a lack of security and transparency as reasons to ‘blacklist’ cryptocurrencies.

Despite the government’s approach, the chairman of Kenya’s Taskforce on Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence Bitange Ndemo has called for the tokenization of the country’s economy. Per Ndemo, the government should incentivize the economy through incentives given to youth, which would be pegged to the shilling.