As we could expect, Africa is now one of the strategic ground for the ‘Blockchain Revolution’ happening at a global scale.

At the heart of the process Africa will definitely benefit from the GBA AFRICA strategy & vision for 2020 ( under the leadership of Kayode BABARINDE from Lagos/Nigeria, Surv.Faith Titus from Port-Harcourt/Nigeria, Yann Cedric KOUAME from Ivory Coast, Mouad MISRAR from Morocco, Roselyne Wanjiru from Kenya ) which include three fundamental pillars:

 

These are some trends that happened late 2018 and during 2019 inside the blockchain space in Africa…

 

CORRUPTION:

On his first day in office as president of Tanzania in 2015, John Pombe Magufuli made a surprise visit to the Finance Ministry and berated officials who weren’t at work. It was the first in a series of steps Magufuli has taken that have won him popular support as an anti-corruption crusader even as his government clamps down on the media and critics. This November, his administration revealed that an unlikely partner had helped in cracking down on corruption.

Using blockchain technology, Tanzania’s government announced, it had weeded out thousands of “ghost workers” from the public sector, ending the monthly outflow of 430 billion Tanzanian shillings ($195.4 million) in salaries to employees who existed only on paper. The country is far from alone. From South Africa to Nigeria, Ethiopia to Ghana, many of Africa’s largest economies that have long grappled with endemic corruption are turning to technology to curb financial crimes, target services to those in need and help crucial economic sectors.

In July 2018, Nigeria’s customs service adopted blockchain technology — a digital ledger where financial transactions can be remotely stored and shared on multiple computer networks — confident that it will increase revenues by 50 percent by reducing corruption. In Ghana, where a majority of landowners are unregistered and lack title deeds, a local blockchain startup, Bitland, is working with local communities, using a digital ledger to build permanent and trackable land records.

Across the continent, in Kenya, the government announced in June 2008 that it would use blockchain to monitor the construction and distribution of 500,000 homes for low-income citizens by 2022. The South African Reserve Bank is experimenting with an Ethereum-based ledger technology for bank-to-bank transfers. In Madagascar, Ambrosus, a public blockchain and internet of things platform, is partnering with Premium Goods, a French flavoring company, to provide quality assurance to the global supply chain of one of the world’s most precious commodities: bourbon vanilla. This is the first time the vanilla supply chain has been digitized.

And in May, Hong Kong–based blockchain research firm IOHK joined with the Ethiopian government to help the east African country better monitor the supply chain of its signature crop, coffee, to help farmers earn more. This isn’t a fad, say experts, but a nod to the transformative potential of a technology that many African nations believe can help them leapfrog earlier tech transitions they’ve missed.

“Blockchain creates an immutable trail of information, allowing for the full traceability of every transaction,” says Dalton Kisanga, a professor of informatics at Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology.

The use of blockchain to curb corruption is, of course, not restricted to Africa. The United Nations has started to advocate the technology at relief camps for refugees to reduce pilfering of food and other resources. In the coffee world, Starbucks started a pilot project in March that lets farmers in Costa Rica, Colombia and Rwanda track their beans.

But while previous waves of digital technology entered Africa either late or in unorganized, chaotic streams — dozens of little-regulated crytocurrency exchanges have cropped up in recent years — for once the continent is at the forefront of adopting a new technology, and doing so in a planned manner. No other part of the world needs an unconventional fix to corruption the way Africa does, with repeated failures to end it. According to Transparency International, 36 out of the 80 countries perceived as most corrupt are in Africa.

The world’s fifth-largest coffee producer, Ethiopia depends on the sector to employ 15 million people out of 105 million. But 95 percent of the country’s coffee is produced in small rural farms. The unorganized nature of the industry has for years left farmers vulnerable to corrupt middlemen, while purchasers can’t guarantee the origins of the beans they’re buying. That’s what IOHK hopes to change through its partnership with the government, with each step of the process recorded in the digital ledger. Anyone with access can check where the beans originated and track all participants along the way. “Blockchain can be used to do some magical things to help coffee farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor,” says John O’Connor, IOHK’s director of African operations.

In July 2018, Nigeria’s customs service adopted blockchain technology — a digital ledger where financial transactions can be remotely stored and shared on multiple computer networks — confident that it will increase revenues by 50 percent by reducing corruption. In Ghana, where a majority of landowners are unregistered and lack title deeds, a local blockchain startup, Bitland, is working with local communities, using a digital ledger to build permanent and trackable land records.

For many African tech entrepreneurs, what’s also exciting is that, in several cases, it’s locally developed blockchain technology — like Bitland — that countries are adopting. “What’s truly exciting is that Africa is building whole new stacks of technology, infrastructure and decentralized applications that fit the continent’s particular needs,” says Jason Eisen, founder and CEO of Utu, a Nairobi-based blockchain startup.

One increasing need across the continent is land registration, as farmers and communities battle land grab by governments and domestic and foreign corporations. That’s where companies like Bitland and Ambrosus come in. By “providing standardized and verifiable land registries,” blockchain can allow farmers, homeowners and land tenants “to utilize a trusted and decentralized ledger to demonstrate ownership of their property,” says Angel Versetti, co-founder and CEO of Ambrosus. In southern Ghana’s Kumasi metropolitan area, Bitland is working with 28 communities to register land titles to a public blockchain — and hopes to expand the project nationwide.

Not everyone is thrilled by the adoption of blockchain technology by governments. After all, the technology comes with privacy concerns. Where’s the guarantee, wonders Tomitho Anthony, a Dar es Salaam–based lawyer and human rights activist, that “information may not fall into the hands of humans, who are by their very nature skilled cheaters?”

There’s also no guarantee that governments won’t withdraw from their embrace of the technology if increased transparency starts producing revelations about political leaders. Jim Yonazi, Tanzania’s deputy permanent secretary minister for works, transport and communications, says the government is “still researching to know its potential and its risks,” before it decides to roll out blockchain across sectors.

But other arms of the Tanzanian government are looking to blockchain as a savior, without waiting for a central command. The state-run electricity utility firm Tanesco is exploring the use of blockchain to track electricity production and distribution, hoping to enhance network transparency and reduce costs. “Blockchain is capable of breaking our existing value chain and making power generation and distribution even smarter,” says Esau Mwinuka, Tanesco’s managing director.

For leaders like Magufuli, whose street cred hinges on anti-corruption campaigns, turning back time won’t be easy. And by the time they do, digital ledgers might have recorded enough to embarrass the wrongdoers among them.

 

INNOVATION:

Every day, week, and month there’s a startup or business venture coming out of Africa. Within the many enterprises, there are some worth highlighting and shedding light on. One of them called Shamba Records ( https://shambarecords.co.ke/ ) where feature in the Top 25 African Business Innovations For 2019 ( https://www.modernghana.com/news/976349/my-top-25-african-business-innovations-for-2019.html ) by Tony K Ansah, Jr., M.P.A. who is a self-published author and a social entrepreneur based in Rhode Island, U.S.A. He has written and published several books and content via poems, quotes, fiction, non-fiction, blogs and articles. Tony has received national & international recognition from Face2Face Africa, Modern Ghana, SDG Philanthropy Platform and Alliance Magazine (just to name a few) for his articles about African business, culture, and philanthropy.

Shamba Records is a blockchain platform that uses artificial intelligence and data to collect harvest records of farmers. This was founded in Kenya. They’re not only helping local farmers with their harvest but also processing payments and issuing credit for them too.

 

KENYA: Red Cross launches blockchain for local currencies to stimulate economies

The Red Cross Societies of Denmark, Norway and Kenya have embarked on a two-year project in slums and rural areas of Kenya to create blockchain-based currencies to encourage people to sell and trade their goods and services and lend and borrow money, reports the Thompson Reuters Foundation.

The schemes are targeted at areas where people have low value goods or services which are often hard to value such as offering labor and teaching, and bartering is inefficient at a larger scale. With no cash to exchange, village-level loans had been recorded on slips of paper and kept in locked boxes.

The project will use blockchain decentralized ledgers to create ‘local currencies’ as a way to keep track of interactions and stimulate economic activity. It will operate as credits transferred by mobile phone meaning villagers can be paid for their labor and use credits earnt to buy other goods and services. Aid funding will also be injected into the system. Groups can pool resources within the scheme to create credit unions, all via simple feature phone apps.

The scheme is expected to be rolled out in MalawiZimbabwe and Cameroon in Africa plus Myanmar and Papua New Guinea.

 

CAMEROON: The Cameroon Blockchain Business Council Hosting the First Ever African Blockchain Day

The Cameroon Blockchain Business Council (CBBC) has launched the African Blockchain Day (ABD) themed ‘Digitize Everything.’

The event, which is slated to take place every October 10th annually, ‘aims to propel, uplift, and educate people on the latest technological trends in Blockchain technology as an inclusion tool, as well as share insights into revolutionary opportunities this technology offers, especially Africa.

The first ABD edition will be a 2-hour online digital event that will enable participants attend via a webinar. Representatives from various industries including finance, payments, energy, retail, real estate, legal, investment, venture capital, insurance, health, regulation, compliance, government, diplomacy, telecommunications, blockchain, and cryptocurrency are expected to attend.

According to the founder of ABD, Ernest V. Mbenkum:

“The Africa Blockchain Day comes to drive fruitful exchanges to inform, educate, and engage an inclusive blockchain ecosystem in Africa and across the world.”

Among key supporters of this initiative include the African Blockchain Alliance (ABA), the Blockchain Industry Association of Nigeria (BIAN) and the Chamber for Africa Diaspora Relations (CADR).

 

RWANDA: Blockchain School to Launch in 2020 for Devs, Professionals

The Africa Blockchain Institute (ABI) will open Rwanda’s ostensibly first blockchain school in 2020, offering five new courses for local developers, professionals and policymakers.

In an interview with Cointelegraph on Dec. 26, ABI Executive Director and GBA ( www.gbaglobal.org ) Chapter Lead for Lagos, Kayode Babarinde, revealed that the new school has five key courses in the pipeline: a blockchain essentials certification course, a blockchain developers’ course, an enterprise blockchain course, blockchain for lawyers and blockchain for impact.

 

SOUTH AFRICA: Bitcoin regulation

South African cryptocurrency exchanges are prepared for upcoming regulation, with Luno, VALR, and iCE3X stating they are in discussions regarding the future of cryptocurrency regulation in the country.

Currently, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has implemented a progressive approach to the regulation of cryptocurrencies, clamping down on its unscrupulous use.

Luno Africa general manager Marius Reitz stated that the SARB is expected to announce new cryptocurrency regulation proposals in the first quarter of 2020.

“Luno welcomes regulation and is working with the SARB and other regulators around the world,” Reitz said.

“We believe it will provide consumers of crypto with the comfort that the service they are dealing with is held to defined regulatory standards.”

Both Luno and VALR operate as if they are regulated, despite the lack of local regulation for cryptocurrencies.

Regulation around cryptocurrency and blockchain technology remains relatively undefined in South Africa, as in many other countries around the world.

In January 2019, the South African Intergovernmental FinTech Working Group – composed of the SARB, FIC, FSCA, SARS, and National Treasury – issued the Consultation Paper on Policy Proposals for Crypto Assets.

This paper aims to provide a regulated path for crypto-asset service providers in South Africa, including major exchanges.

In June, The Financial Action Task Force – of which South Africa is a member – also issued its “Guidance for a Risk-Based Approach to Virtual Assets and Virtual Asset Service Providers”, which provides a regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency industry.

 

NIGERIA: Africa’s First Stablecoin is Built on Binance Chain

Africa’s first stablecoin, the Africa Stable-Coin(ABCD) is backed by Nigeria’s national currency, the Naira. Also, the fiat-backed crypto is built on Binance’s native blockchain, the Binance Chain.

The crypto momentum in Africa doesn’t seem to die down. Budding startups are leveraging blockchain and decentralized ledger technology to create novel applications that will change the future of finance on the continent.

Africa Stable-Coin is the brainchild of Ghana-based cross-border money transfer startup Bit Sika. According to reports, the project was fulfilled in collaboration with Linovo Capital was unveiled just last week.  https://bitcoinist.com/africa-first-stablecoin-built-on-binance-chain/

 

Blockchain-based PAMs in Nigeria

In July 2019, Nigeria’s road transport union partnered with digital technology firm Blackblock Limited as well as companies involved in insurance and health care to launch a blockchain-based passenger manifest system (PAM). Traveling by road arguably dominates the interstate shuttling scene in Nigeria, as the cheapest interstate airfare in Nigeria often costs more than double the most expensive interstate bus ticket in the country.

A bus ticket from Lagos to Kano (a distance of about 980 kilometers) usually costs between 7,000 to 10,000 Nigerian naira ($20-$30). However, a plane ticket from Lagos to Benin (a distance of about 320 kilometers) can go for as much as 30,000 naira (about $80).

 

 

 

 

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