President Yoweri Museveni has had a public disagreement with Bank of Uganda Governor Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile and accused him of being unwilling to adapt to technological change.
The two were speaking during the Africa Blockchain Conference which opened at Kampala Serena Hotel today. The conference, organized by the Blockchain Association of Uganda, was reviewing the role of Blockchain technology in Africa’s transformation.
Blockchain is the world’s leading software platform for digital assets. It keeps a record of all data exchanges which is referred to as a ledger in the cryptocurrency world. Each data exchange is a transaction while every verified transaction is added to the ledger as a block.
But Mutebile told the meeting that Blockchain technology lacks the necessary prerequisites to work as a currency and that people who sell cryptocurrencies risk being banned when the bubble bursts.
He cautioned that no cryptocurrency that can match the legality of a national currency adding that the technology can only succeed in the presence of a legal provision to give a currency status to a crypto.
Mutebile argues that the emergency of cryptocurrencies should not divert Ugandans from the role played by Central Banks as stewards of public trust. He says the Blockchain enabled cryptocurrencies values only depend on the subjective beliefs of the traders which are less trusted. He argues that they facilitate money laundering and financing of crime.
But president Museveni, who politically advocates for ‘No Change’ took a seat in the audience as opposed to the usual high table and took the conference on a historical perspective on the evolution of money, saying there was a need to embrace technology advancement since it will enable quick service delivery.
Museveni said the government was to hold discussions on the Blockchain technology in order to come up with a piece of legislation that can guide its operation in Uganda.
Beyond its application in cryptocurrency, Blockchain is viewed as a revolutionary technology with the potential to change the way governments and institutions manage data as well as business.
Across the globe, governments and institutions are exploring possibilities of utilizing this technology beyond its current application in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. They are now looking into using this technology in management, insurance, payments, identity management, voting among others.
According to Dr Bitange Ndemo, the chairman of the Kenya Blockchain Taskforce, this technology can help the continent to fight drug counterfeits. He contends that 100 million Africans are affected by counterfeit drugs which can be checked through Blockchain technology that tracks a drug from a manufacturer to the consumer.
Noah Baalessanvu, the director of the Blockchain Association of Uganda told the conference that transactions made through Blockchain will be more trusted than the normal deals since it tends to do away with secrecy and making available data and information for people to use.
Baalessanvu notes that Uganda can benefit from Blockchain by fighting counterfeit drugs by consumers scanning the drug codes to track its authenticity as well as counterfeit land titles.