Blockchain Technology for Records Management in Botswana and Zimbabwe

Blockchain Technology for Records Management in Botswana and Zimbabwe

Olefhile Mosweu, Forget Chaterera-Zambuko
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6650-3.ch003
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The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) has ushered in several emerging and disruptive technologies. Southern Africa's records management practices have for a long time been reported to lag behind in embracing new technologies. Several studies have revealed lack of requisite skills to manage electronic records while others still lament the un-procedural management of paper records. The intention of this chapter is, therefore, to initiate a discourse that challenges information management practitioners to embrace disruptive technologies lest they themselves get disrupted. There are several emerging technologies, but this chapter focuses on blockchain technology and its possible benefits for records management. Guided by the technology acceptance model, the study established that archivists and records managers in Botswana and Zimbabwe would adopt blockchain if it is easy to use and useful for records management. The chapter ends by proposing a model for the adoption of blockchain technology for records management.
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Introduction And Background To The Study

The adoption of new technologies is a fairly documented phenomenon. The use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in developed countries proliferated between the 1980s and 1990s. The same, however, cannot be said for countries in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) as they were left trailing behind, hence creating a global digital divide (Wamboye et al., 2015). By 2011, more than half of the global population used a mobile phone with 13% having access to the Internet (ITU, 2018). Although this shows growth in the adoption of ICTs, the SSA region still falls behind other regions regarding the implementation of ICTs. This chapter focuses on two Sub Saharan countries namely Botswana and Zimbabwe. Both countries have a strong ICT framework supported by national policy (ITU, 2018). ICTs facilitate relatively easy information capture, processing, storage, and sharing (Burke, 1992). In turn, this leads to the generation of huge volumes of digital, electronic as well as paper records, hence the need to adopt emerging technologies so as to better manage the large volumes of records.

According to Mosweu et al. (2017, p. 97): increasingly, public sector organizations are implementing records management systems with a view of improving service delivery. However, adoption and use of these systems have been found wanting. This has also been observed by Mnjama and Wamukoya (2007) who indicated that managing records generated by ICTs have been a major challenge for archivists and records managers in the public sector in Africa. At national level, both Botswana and Zimbabwe have adopted electronic records management systems. Mosweu (2014) and Mosweu et al. (2017) have investigated factors that affected the adoption and use of an EDRMS at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, using the Unified Theory of Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model as framework. Mosweu (2014) has reported the findings of a pilot study from an ongoing study whose findings revealed the adoption and use of an EDRMS was affected by computer attitudes, computer anxiety, social influences, facilitating conditions and performance expectancy. The eventual findings of the study as reported in Mosweu et al. (2017) showed that the four major UTAUT constructs accounted for 55% of the variance in explaining behavioral intention to adopt and use the EDRMS named the Document Workflow Management System. Empirical data indicated that key factors that affected to the low adoption and use of the system were technophobia, negative attitudes to system use, perceived system complexity and incompatibility with existing information systems as key factors contributing to low adoption and usage of the system.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Blockchain Technology: This refers to the collection of technologies that can be put together to ensure that distributed ledger mechanisms work securely and more efficiently. The identifying factors of Blockchain are that the process is politically decentralised, it does not have an infrastructural point of failure, it offers self-sovereignty and trust, and it is attack resistant.

Immutable: An immutable record object is one whose state cannot be modified after it is created, except through a ‘consensus’ mechanism involving all other participants. This implies that a records cannot be altered or deleted once it has been created, unless consensus is achieved.

Industrial Revolution: This refers to a period in which one or more technologies are replaced by other novel technologies in a relatively short period of time. It is an era of accelerated technological progress characterized by new innovations whose rapid application and diffusion typically cause an abrupt change in society.

Emerging Technologies: These are technologies whose development, practical applications, or both are still largely unrealized, such that they are figuratively emerging into prominence from a background of nonexistence or obscurity.

Database: A database is an organized collection of data, generally stored and accessed electronically from a computer system. It can also be described as a data structure that stores organized information. Most databases contain multiple tables, which may each include several different fields.

Cryptocurrencies: These are digital assets designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records.

Security: It refers to the protection of records against various forms of damage or threats of attacks. These include physical damages, external data breaches, unauthorized alterations and deletions amongst others.

Electronic Records: An electronic record is information recorded by a computer that is produced or received in the initiation, conduct or completion of an agency or individual activity. Examples of electronic records include e-mail messages, word- processed documents, electronic spreadsheets, digital images.

Authenticity: This is the concept of accepting a record as a true reflection of what exactly transpired. It refers to the fact that the record has not been tampered with or corrupted, either accidentally or maliciously, and can thus be trusted as evidence of transactions completed.

Integrity: A document has integrity when nothing therein has been altered, added or deleted; it represents exactly what was created by its author. Integrity means that records are complete and authentic.

Records Management: This refers to the management function signifying the management of recorded information arising from the performance of business functions throughout their life cycle i.e. from creation and capture, use, maintenance, and disposal.

Adoption: Adoption refers to the use of a newly implemented technology. It also means the same as Uptake. Adoption in the context of this chapter refers to the acceptance by individuals or institutions to use Blockchain technology in the management of records and archives in their custody.

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