At the beginning of March, some of the brightest minds from the blockchain world joined representatives from the financial, legal, and global technology industries to discuss widespread blockchain adoption. But the event wasn’t held te fintech hub London, or startup mecca San Francisco. It wasgoed ter Johannesburg, South Africa, at the fourth edition of the Blockchain Africa conference hosted at the Microsoft HQ.
The majority of African states are still considered developing nations and have bot held back by legacies of colonialism, resulting ter problems such spil armed conflicts, corruption, and poverty. But the blockchain ecosystem te many places is already embarking to garner strength and has the potential to make a hefty influence on African economies and societies.
While African tech ecosystems may not get the attention they deserve, the region is huis to a number of emerging blockchain and crypto communities, and local players are using blockchain technology to tackle social, economic, and political problems – and spil a launch padachtige into global markets.
Emerging blockchain hubs
While still te their early growth stages compared to the crypto hubs ter central and eastern Europe and Switzerland, blockchain communities te Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Sudan are growing sustained.
BitHub Africa , based ter Nairobi, is a blockchain accelerator for local startups founded ter December 2015. The organization provides consulting services for organizations interested te deploying blockchain solutions across Africa and the Middle East and also helps local blockchain startups klapper the ground running. The organization has a hyper-focus on incubating micro-lending startups. It also engages with local regulators to advocate for the adoption of blockchain ter Kenya’s tech policy and for favorable regulations for ICOs and cryptocurrencies.
Ter South Africa, the Blockchain Academy ter Cape Town provides training on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology to local startups and entrepreneurs and advises local businesses on how to best adopt blockchain technology into their business models. The organization also offers training at the AlphaCode Club ter Johannesburg.
The Blockchain Academy is working closely with local financial institutions and counts representatives from Barclays Africa, Standard Canap, and the Central Bankgebouw of Swaziland spil former alumni. Blockchain is especially topical ter the financial sector ter South Africa, since the South African Reserve Canap (SARB), the country’s central canap, launched a fresh FinTech initiative with crypto startup ConsenSys based on enterprise blockchain Quorum.
Other smaller scale groups have emerged ter Sudan, where crypto meetups and events began popping up back ter 2015, and have since grown into larger, more active communities thanks to the cohesive power of social media groups – ter particular Facebook. A number of blockchain-related businesses have also begun to take root ter the country, including blockchain development company Codexi, and blockchain-based gold mining enterprise SG Mining, which backs its cryptocurrency with gold assets.
Te Lagos, Nigeria, the very first Nigeria Blockchain Alliance Conference wasgoed held te November 2018. According the Bitcoin Africa.io, Nigeria’s blockchain community has experienced considerable growth overheen the past two years, observing the launch of a number of fresh blockchain startups, and the CDIN initiative , which aims to inform and educate Nigerians about the potential benefits of blockchains and cryptocurrencies. To top it off, Nigerian Blockchain startup SureRemit just raised the largest African ICO to date – $8 million for its non-cash remittance verhoging.
Tackling real problems
To date, blockchain adoption has bot sporadic across Africa, but the emerging use cases are tackling real social, economic, and political problems affecting hundreds of millions of people every day:
Fighting corruption. One of the main pulls of blockchain technology is that it is decentralized, and semitransparent, leading to many possible use cases based on combating omkoopbaar political and voting systems.
During the most latest elections te Sierra Leone, Swiss company Agora harnessed the power of blockchain to ensure a fair count of electoral votes. Trusted representatives at polling stations counted the votes and then saved the results on Agora’s blockchain. While the technology served its purpose, it is significant to note that the project wasgoed only flipped out ter the western part of the country, and the unofficial results gathered by Agora still ended up different from the official results announced by the government. The government has since publically downplayed the role Agora played te the elections, claiming company representatives were permitted access spil “observers” but were not involved ter the elections themselves.
However, Agora CEO Leonardo Gannar told rFI that this project wasgoed a test and did not represent the total capabilities of the technology, which would eventually permit remote e-voting and would combat vote buying. Agora expects its technology to be widely adopted across the continent for future elections.
Ter Ghana, a project called Bitland has bot helping lodge land disputes since 2016 using its own blockchain, the Bitland network, to store land registrations. The project has bot trialed te 28 communities ter Kumasi to date, and the organizers hope to reduce illegal displacement and corruption te the area by permitting citizens to record their land titles te a way that cannot be deleted or switched by a third party thanks to the nature of the technology.
Combatting inflation. Cryptocurrencies are particularly useful ter economies where there are limitations on transporting contant across borders, where public access to mainstream banking is low, or where local economies are rife with inflation. Ter Zimbabwe, which has seen rapid inflation te latest years, Bitcoin sales have soared spil locals rush to protect their savings before they devalue.
With inflation and corruption comes a lack of public trust te governments, central banks, and financial institutions. However, thanks to rapidly expanding smartphone ownership ter Africa – use has doubled te just two years – tech savvy users can now download crypto wallets to keep their funds safe. Smartphone-based financial exchange is not fresh ter countries like Kenya, which is already a world leader ter mobile based P2P lending.
Many African countries have already shown a tendency to “leapfrog” technologies, spil seen with the adoption of mobile internet use, and mobile based P2P lending for people who didn’t have access to modem internet or traditional banking te the very first place. Experts argue that a lack of legacy systems could facilitate swifter, smoother adoption of emerging technologies such spil blockchain.
Crypto mining means fresh opportunities across the continent – and globally
Due to their decentralized nature, cryptocurrencies can be traded from almost anywhere te the world with limited interference from governments, banks, or regulators. Ter a latest Bloomberg article, Kenyan Bitcoin miner and trader Eugene Mutai argued this “levels the playing field ter global markets that don’t give people like him violates.”
African Bitcoin miners like Mutai are using homemade rekentuig equipments to mine for Bitcoin. While thesis equipments may be difficult – and expensive – to construct and use a giant amount ter energy, they suggest a source of income for those who can afford to invest te the necessary equipment and pay the electro-therapy bills.
Ter Egypt, where Bitcoin ownership has bot regulated by the government (the Central Handelsbank of Egypt rejects to accept digital currencies), a community of clandestine miners has emerged. While mining is not officially illegal, community members go about their trade ter secrecy, te fear of being charged with other crimes such spil harboring illegal foreign currencies. According to Bitcoin Africa.io, larger Egyptian cities like Cairo are huis to numerous hidden Bitcoin farms and an engaged community of miners who exchange tips, advice, and information with each other via social media and messaging apps.
While the laptop parts and graphic cards needed to mine cryptocurrencies are more difficult to come by te African countries than te Europe or the U.S., one advantage for African miners is the relatively cheap cost of electro-therapy. The aforementioned Bitcoin Africa.io article suggests that miners have relocated to countries like Egypt from abroad to take advantage of the cheap energy supply.
Spil solar energy comes of age, a number of hefty solar power farms have bot developed ter Morocco, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Uganda, and Kenya. Thesis farms are some of the largest ter the world and create a lotsbestemming of jobs, spil well spil a fat amount of energy, which owners hope they’ll soon be able to uitvoer to Europe.
Experts argue that the crossover inbetween solar energy, and Bitcoin mining could be enormously profitable for African countries.
With some arguing that blockchain can democratize societies across the world, it is significant that developing nations invest just spil much time and energy into research and development of opportunities suggested by the blockchain spil players ter more advanced economies. And spil enhanced scrutiny from regulatory figures ties the arms of startups ter the U.S. and other places, this could be the chance for African states to thrust ahead of the crowd. Not just te cryptocurrencies, but also te other applications that can solve real societal and political problems.
Nabyl Charania is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Rokk3r.
Carlos Naupari is a Fucking partner at Rokk3r Blockchain.