Blockchains like Cardano stand to revolutionize financial services throughout Ethiopia, a country with largely underdeveloped banking and identity solutions for its 117 million residents. With its Africa special set to air April 29th at 16:30 UTC, cryptocurrency research and engineering company IOHK made headlines announcing it would be partnering with the country’s Ministry of Education to create a national ID and attainment recording system.
According to an article by City A.M., the partnership will implement blockchain-based solutions to improve education and employment opportunities across the east African nation. The solution will provide a digital verification system used to validate grades and monitor academic performance while reducing fraud. In short, the initiative will provide students with blockchain-verified qualifications that employers can use to reliably screen job applicants. The move undermines reliance on third-party agencies and aims to increase social mobility among a notable rural population.
If successful, the initiative could accelerate the adoption of blockchain-based solutions across the continent. IOHK’s African Operations Director John O’Connor told City A.M., “Ethiopia’s blockchain-based education transformation is a key milestone on IOHK’s mission to provide economic identities and employment, social and financial services for the digitally excluded.”
“After five years of R&D, Cardano is now mature enough to underpin a blockchain solution which can scale to serve an entire national population. This project could light the touch-paper for a wave of third-generation blockchain innovation across Africa and the developing world, bringing vital services to those who have previously been cut off from them.”
The World’s Largest Blockchain Deployment
The Ethiopian ID system will be based on Atala PRISM, IOHK Media Tweeted Tuesday afternoon. The largest blockchain deployment in the world, the solution will be rolled out to 5 million students.
The system will also maintain secure records for 3500 schools and while supporting 750,000 teachers in record-keeping and lesson planning.
To put the stats into perspective, Twitter user @sunnycardano noted that Uniswap, the most widely used Ethereum dApp, logged about 617,000 users over the last 30 days according to dappradar.com.
Atala PRISM and a Digital Africa
The underlying platform, Atala PRISM, is a sovereign identity and credential verification platform built on the Cardano blockchain. The mobile app version allows organizations to store and share credentials easily and privately. It does so by creating decentralized identifiers (DIDs) on the Cardano blockchain that are thereby used to sign credentials.
According to IOHK founder and CEO Charles Hoskinson, Atala PRISM was years in the making and designed for serious, government-scale initiatives. In the future, the platform can be further developed to provide anonymized proof of qualifications or credentials. For instance, enabling event-goers to prove they are 18 or older without presenting an ID containing sensitive information such as an address.
According to the Atala PRISM website, the solution further allows users to maintain control over their identity and manage how their personal data is used. As such, it can help ease users’ concerns over trusting third parties with sensitive information while simultaneously expediting messy bureaucratic processes surrounding identity.
Atala PRISM also addresses problems inherent in centralized digital identity systems. More specifically, it overcomes data harvesting and fragmentation issues by relying on Cardano’s Decentralized Public Key Infrastructure (DPKI), which allows records to be instantly verified.
Overall, the identity solution partnership is part of Ethiopia’s National Digital Transformation Strategy. Among other ambitions, the plan seeks to develop a data-driven, dynamic, and transparent education system. Moreover, a successful implementation may become a blueprint for other developing nations aiming to create inclusive digital economies.