Blockchain Technology - Safeways Africa - Dr Sevila R and Mr Gatiramu left Source iLab
The Director of Strathmore University iLab Africa, Dr Joseph Sevilla, sign the agreement with Mr Fred Gatiramu, one of the founders of Safeways, for the use of blockchain in enhancing road safety in Kenya. [ Photo / Strathmore University ]

To boost road safety in Kenya, Safeways, a blockchain startup, has partnered with Strathmore University to use blockchain technology to enhance road safety. Blockchain technology refers to the use of double ledger technology associated with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

It is this aspect of blockchain is making the technology applicable in other industries such as aid agencies, supply chain management and road safety, since it is not easy to tamper with the technology’s double ledger system.

A November 2019 article published in the Ledger Insights notes that a Belgium-based company known as GS1 has, for instance, developed a blockchain “prototype” to track the life cycle of tyre treads, and thus boost road safety.

In Kenya, in February 2020, entered into a partnership with Strathmore University’s iLab Africa. “Safeways Africa means safer roads. Strathmore University is the leading when it comes to blockchain technology. We are at inception stage, the research phase of incubation,” says Mr Fred Gatiramu, a co-founder of Safeways Africa. “We believe that Strathmore University will create the opportunities for jobs, various apps and software testing.”

Mr Gatiramu, who has previously worked at the United Kingdom-based financial firm, Ernst & Young as well as PTA Bank, says Safeways has tested the idea for five years. It will partner with Strathmore University for three years to pilot and test drive the blockchain technology on roads which will, among other things, flag traffic violations.

To understand the issues on roads, such as the number of lives lost and the economic costs of road safety, Safeways Africa consulted a number stakeholders, such as the National Road Safety Trust led by Safaricom, General Motors and the Matatu Owners Association, as well as insurance companies.

The 2018 Global Status Report on Road Safety by the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that lack of road safety globally tends to affect either cyclists, motorcyclists or pedestrians. The most affected group is between five and 29 years of age. According to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NSTA), there were 28,276 Kenyans who lost their lives in 2019 on roads, 101 of them being pedestrians.

Blockchain technology stores information in permanent form but which is accessible to anyone with an interest through either a phone call or Short Message service (SMS).

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Typically, what would happen on the road is that when you see someone overlapping and you are not happy you can text the information. A road accidènt can be send via an e-mail or website or a reporting centre. Police can then pull out the data and act on it by raising a fine against the violator, send it to the incidence centre as raw data or have it edited for confirmation and routed to authorities who can take action and store it.

While the transport industry has various players, ranging from the police, passenger service vehicles (PSVs), the closest organisation that comes to Safeways in Kenya is Ma3Route, a site that gives information about traffic flow.

He says the MoU signing between Safeways and Strathmore University allows both parties to formulate a workplan to get funding.

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