Ethiopia might be not the first place you think of as a hotspot for blockchain technology.
A predominantly rural country where only 15% of the population has access to the internet, Ethiopia is going through severe civil unrest in the north. Ethnic strife in the Tigray region recently led to thousands killed and millions fleeing the country as refugees to neighboring Sudan. The country is also experiencing local internet shutdowns.
Ethiopia is thus a good example of the gap between the ambitious goals of modern technology and the actual circumstances on the ground.
IOHK, the company behind the cardano (ADA) cryptocurrency, believes it can help bridge this gap. This week, IOHK announced it has partnered with the Ethiopian government to create a blockchain-based system to track student performance in local schools.
“It’s a hard country, so if we make it there we can make it anywhere,” said John O’Connor, IOHK’s director of African Operations.
‘A dream come true’
Local challenges do not appear to be deterring IOHK from its mission. “Life has to go on for the rest of the country,” said O’Connor.
IOHK is establishing a physical presence in the country, opening an office in the capital, Addis Ababa, and starting work on the large-scale blockchain ID project, which is expected to go live in January 2022, O’Connor told CoinDesk. At the moment, the core identity product, named PRISM, is ready, and other features, including classroom management, will come later.
In a video stream IOHK made on April 29, Ethiopia’s Minister of Education, Getahun Mekuria, spoke of the partnership, saying the “initiative is about bringing technology to improve the quality of education” in Ethiopia. Cardano is one of the top cryptocurrencies, the minister said, which is why “doing blockchain with IOHK is like a dream coming true” for him.
According to the minister, 5 million students will receive Cardano blockchain-based IDs...