Web3 for the Nigerian Context
July 25, 2023 by Enwerem Udochukwu
What exactly is web 3 and how can it be applied to the Nigerian context with respect to Education, Finance, Healthcare, Entertainment, Production and several other aspests of the Nigerian economy?
The Importance of Context
The above question is important when you take into cognisance that this relatively new technology (web 3) did not originate from Nigeria and that we [particularly in Africa] have a culture of copying anything new from the [west] without putting it into the context of our own culture, values and challenges.
A Brief on web 3
Firstly, web 3 or Web3 as it is fondly called is the latest iteration of the internet which is build on the concept of decentralization. It gets its roots from distributed computing where resources and participants in a system can be physically distributed but still communicate, share resources and contribute compute power to carry out a computational task. However, Web3 incorporates several new concepts that are not found in distributed systems. Among them include the decentralization of trust, where no single entity or node in the system controls the activities of any group of nodes or the entire system; in this way all nodes acts as peers to each and every other node. Also, Web3 vigorously utilizes encryption and advanced cryptographic methods. Firstly, it uses this to ensure data stored in the system, however distributed it is, is also immutable. Also, the concept of public and private key pairs is used to ensure that assets on the system while being publicly viewable (using a public key) are only manipulable by the owner of the asset (using a private key); this ensures transparency and security at the same time.
Difficulty of Adopting web 3 in Nigeria
Regardless of the benefits which are evident in web 3, there are some attendant problems in adopting any relatively new technology in Nigeria:
- Firstly, the level of Education is the country is relatively low. Consequently, most of the pupolation do not understand the benefits the new technology which hinders early adoption.
- The level of Poverty in the country is also alarming. This further correlates with low literacy levels, inadequate access to information and inability to afford tools such as mobile devices and personal computer that provide access to these emerging technologies.
- The level of Corruption and Crime in the country is very high. While those who already have access to wealth engage in corrupt practices due to greed, those who are lacking of the basic necessities of life engage in crime due to poverty. These scenerios are synonymous and they affect the adoption of emerging technologies in the same way. For instance, a corrupt person may see the anonymity provided by blockchain technology as a means of committing theft while evading detection.
- Lastly, there is the lack of infrastructure to support emerging technologies. For instance, the current telecommuncation infrastructure in the country have proven to be inadequate with outages occuring on a daily bases. Also, the electricity provision by the government even though now privatised still has the problem of frequent outages and excessive high billing which most businesses can not afford.
The Way Forward
If all the above problems are addressed, there is a good possibility of early wide spread adoption of web 3 technologies. However, regardless of how effective we curb these problems, there is the important need of regulation if we are to apply web 3 to the Nigerian context. This will ensure adoption without breaking the existing laws in the country. Check my co-authored publication on Springer for some of the benefits of Regulation and some suggested strategies to employ: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-80216-5_18.