In an interesting move, Kenya's government has announced that it will be using a blockchain based solution to allocate affordable housing to citizens. The government has said that it intends to use blockchain technology in order to allocate the 500,000 housing units in order to avoid corruption and ensure that those who are supposed to live in them, are allocated to them accordingly.
"Kenya will use blockchain technology to ensure the rightful owners live in government funded housing projects,” Charles Hinga, Principal Secretary of Kenya's State Department for Housing and Urban Development, is reported to have said when announcing the initiative.
Database vs Blockchain
Hinga indicated that the East Afrikan country's government intends to build 500,000 affordable housing units by the year 2022. Part of this plan is to subsidise and help citizens who earn less than approximately $992.
But we have to ask though, is it necessary to use a blockchain based solution?
Couldn't a SQL database achieve the same purpose with sufficient security implemented?
Hinga and his team have not released any specific details on how they intend to design and roll out this blockchain based solutiom, but judging on what was said at the announcement it seems the main problem that needs to be addressed, apart from the important task of making sure citizens have houses, is that of ensuring that the people who are supposed to be allocated houses, get them and the required registration of the properties in their names. If that is the main issue, then perhaps even a normal SQL database which records title deeds details would suffice provided the correct checks and permissions are put in place.
A blockchain solution, as Kenya's government wants to implement in this case is only as good as the data input. As much as the records would not be able to be modified once registered, depending on how the solution is implemented, the incorrect or fraudulent details could still be recorded initially thus defeating the whole aim of curbing corruption and making sure the correct people are allocated housing.
Although Hinga and everyone else who thought of this get full marks for thinking outside the box, and being innovative, they fail when it comes to solving the actual problem identified.
Unless at a later stage they reveal a fool-proof blockchain based solution for correctly allocating affordable housing, Kenya's government seem to have a solution that does little to solving the problem, a solution looking for a problem or technology solutionism as some would say.
Cover image credit: Counties In Kenya Start Implementation Of Affordable Housing. Construction Review Online