- Blockchain use cases for Africa
Just now·12 min read
Photo by Tech Daily on Unsplash
I got introduced to the crypto world in 2019, when I was working on the delivery of a speaking opportunity that was given to me as a member of ISACA. I was to speak on the next challenges of IT Auditors, in Geneva, in october 2019. It was an incredible experience, because for the first time, I had to speak in front of a public of European an American highly trained professionals, in English which is not my primary language. It all went very well.
The first thing I learnt in the cryptospace was the difference between cryptocurrency and blockchain. Simply put, the blockchain is a secure environment, and the Crypto is an asset built on that secure environment. Back then, in 2019, Ethereum was the leader of a different approach of Blockchain: smart contracts. As I were doing my research with excitement, I red somewhere that one must invest in crypto what one can afford to lose. So I put 25 US Dollars on Ripple on CEX and let it there, willing in two years I may recover it with some profits, and put so much effort in mining XMR (Monero) with a very old computer on which I installed Ubuntu. As the computer (too old) kept crashing, and as I had no means to buy a new one for the sake of my crypto adventures, I got discouraged and I quit. Time told me wrong, both on quitting too early and on my XRP price expectations but last month when it’s price bounced back 2–3 X.
I will recognize here that I did no further research on blockchain and Crypto after the ISACA EuroCACS 2019. Back to my country, I sticked to my routine and more than a year came by. What a foolish I was! So many developments that I just got unaware of. But as I’m tech passionate, I jumped back into crypto after having watched with great interest the youtube Video of MKBHD on Dogecoin in February 2021(Love you man!). I bought 25 USD of Doge on Binance. However, this time, I was really willing to learn more about cryptocurrencies and Blockchain. I started doing some research and fortunately I discovered very insightfull contents produced by Tony (JRNY Crypto) and Sheldon Evans. It was in their youtube videos that I first heard of Cardano. I also took really seriously the advice to do my own research. I did. And I found great projects in crypto so far. But of them all, Cardano is the one that caught all my attention. And there are two primary reasons to that:
- After the March Cardano 360 AMA, I was willing so hard to be part of this community. And the PLUTUS PIONNEER PROGRAM was such a good way to start. For me, the BEST Way to start. I’m learning Haskell, which I didn’t even know about, and I’m learning to write smart contracts! It is a tough journey, but I want the trophey.
Plus, I live in Africa. I am so thrilled to see a Blockchain project as big as Cardano putting so much effort in building value in Africa. Most of the time, news on Africa tend to picture our dear Continent as a jungle where there is no way to live happily. But hey, come visit. You may be surprised.
Before going any further, let’s do the presentations. I am a Chartered Accountant who love computers. Because of my passion, I put some of my time in learning programming languages. I spent an entire vacation sitted behind a computer to learn how to code PHP. But I forgot it all, I was not using it anywhere. As I embraced the auditing field, I did not want to become a long-life waterproof financial auditor. So I got certified in IT Audit. I learnt discipline by working more than six year at a Big Four. Even if I loved my audit work because being both IT and Financial auditor is a unique background, I wanted to specialize in security, Artificial Intelligence, Data, and Blockchain. Added to my Financial background, these disciplines are just magic, not for audit only, but more for Advisory. And I wanted to be an Advisor more than an Auditor. So I just jumped out of my beloved KPMG family to create an Advisory firm with my highly Finance passionate, Bank Director and CFA Chartered Brother in 2020. We named our Firm excellence and are positioning it as a leading name in Strategic thinking and Counselling in Africa. Wait for it. Learning is an exciting process. Learning in the IT field in 2021 is an exciting sprint. Things are evolving so fast! Yet, They are worth the running. Oh! And I live in a French speaking West African country named TOGO. If you did not hear that name before, we’re used to direct people by asking them: “You do know Adebayor the Footballer, right? — TOGO is his native country!”. If you don’t even know who Adebayor is, Google it for God’s sake! You’ll eventually find it between Ghana and Benin. My name is Kodjo. Or Yves if you like.
What I took from Cardano African last 29 April was a vibrant African community on the Cardano Blockchain. It is heart warming that we are included somehow in the web 3.0 revolution and won’t have to catch up ten years later! This is the magic of the internet. In my humble opinion, the reason Africa won’t be left behind this crypto rush is because all we need here is a piece of computer and our brains! We won’t need to build costing infrastructures with money (that we don’t even have!), and to some extent, we don’t need charity to succeed. We need to think, to learn, to follow the lead, to create, to add value. And with projects like Cardano that put trust in us, what more do we need?
Lately, in French West Africa, our currency, named CFA and tied to Euro, sparked debate because it remains, in 2021, highly dependent on France. At the time I’m writing these lines, 1 USD equals 546 and 1 EUR equals 655.957 of our currency. Add to this the effect of inflation and the devaluation gun that the IMF put on our head and almost fired one year ago, and you understand the inequality that currency power put on us. To be more specific, come in Togo with 500 EUR and you may live an entire month. In France, you can barely book five nights at a decent hotel with that amount of money. There are so many things to be done to leverage our economies, but no one can judge us before having to live with us and feel the crushing power of racism, war, inequality, greed, corruption, on our lives. Cryptocurrencies are, stealthly, breaking the barrier of currency for Africa nations. Don’t get me wrong here, where you put 100 dollars, I will have to put around CFA 54,572 + Transaction fees, which is a month salary here. But once I got there, we’re talking the same language. I will stake it, earn interest, be successful, and eventually, eventually, in the next coming years, power of money will no longer be a barrier for me. If we use ADA (Cardano) and COTI together, Europeans, Asians, Americans, will no longer buy our crops at a bargain price because their currencies are worth 1000 times ours. They will pay the right price. And our economies will finally have the opportunity to grow faster.
I won’t enumerate the important partnerships Cardano got in Africa. These projects are big for the continent and will, to some extent, help bridge profound gaps. They are just the beginning of something big, but their success and impact depends highly on our own willpower and determination. My biggest surprise was however negative reactions over the Cardano Africa event. Some famous newspaper had the announcements double-checked by the Ethiopian Embassy itself before publishing a word about it. I read lot of adverse comments on Twitter. I did not know how to feel about those negative reactions. Was it because of an all-special Africa event? It is easy to feel disgusted, but let’s earn respect by making things happen. For sure, positive thoughts surpass negative ones. I’ll give here a shoutout to the most dedicated Cardano supporter I ever know, who is Aleksandra Huk. She is more than an Ambassador of ADA and shows love and support on another level. I love her work and dedication and I carry her positiveness about Cardano and the high — great — phenomenal potential of Africa in this crypto era.
Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Africa is a big and beautiful continent with so many challenges to overcome. I can’t generalize here, because there are many environments with different realities. Yet, many african countries have some common grounds. Let’s name ten use cases of Blockchain in Africa.
A social security system for everyone: In my country, there is no extended social security system. Only registered workers have a social security number. The pandemic caused the creation of a circumstantial helping fund for the weakest class of the population, but the initiative did not last even one year, and those who benefited from it did not get any social security number. Plus, frauders entered the system. Togo is not the only country lacking a social security system. With blockchain, this gap could be bridged. It may take up to five years to implement in real life, and the simpler approach may be a two-steps population census during which all rural populations will receive their social security number secured on the blockchain, an associated ID, and a simple training on how to use it. This will drive social inclusion at a level never attained before and will help bank the unbanked. Take a closer look: with a well-established social security system, a minimum revenue help system could be created, and vulnerable population could be associated with a medical care system. For rural populations who did not have access to the formal financial system, receiving a minimum monthly crypto financial help will trigger interest and help them grow. A social security system is a big step toward financial inclusion.
A solution for transparent land management. Land management is decentralized in some countries in Africa, causing all types of situations. Imagin a cartography of lands stored on the blockchain, each piece having its unique identifier as an NFT. Once someone buys a piece of land, its token is tranfered to his/her wallet and the transaction tamperproofed by the blockchain. It will surely limit land and land certificate theft situations. Plus, all protected zones will be known by everyone. Land management will be highly simplified and efficient.
A solution for tax and customs management. Tax rules and customs fees could be written on smart contracts mandatory to subjected companies and individuals. No arbitrary customs fees in our countries or in common zones such as ECOWAS. Plus, every transaction is transparent, reducing corruption.
A solution to tackle corruption. Using a Blockchain solution will reduce corruption by essence, because all transactions are traced on a public ledger! Countries revenues diversion will be reduced by putting smart contracts on high value transactions such as taxes, customs rules, land management, administrative services, airport and maritime transactions, every customer paying directly by his/her wallet to the government wallet attached to the contract. Using human to human money transactions will be thus reduced to a strict minimum. Blockchain is a solution that could dramatically reduce corruption.
A solution for knowledge conservation. Early in April, Cape town’s university burst into fire, loosing valuable historical data. Lots of historical books and documents could be preserved and maintained by using a blockchain-based solution. Plus, maintenance fees could be partially covered by low access fees on the blockchain. A Blockchain-based solution could also broader the audience of such an important library. Museums also can be created with each art piece minted as an NFT with embedded historical data. The first African Global Museum may be an NFT gallery with many sections representing each country and its history and art pieces. What a massive historical encyclopaedia it would be for the Continent! Even when tourists are not able to travel as it is the case for most of us now, they could easily discover and admire important pieces of art and even buy limited copies minted as NFTs. It is a bright horizon for african art.
A reliable Stock exchange at a continental level. There are many stock exchanges on the continent, which are specific to some zones or countries. I see in Decentralized Finance (DEFi) a way to facilitate access to Stock exchanges to more companies, and access to investment to more individuals and companies. A really interesting development that is happening in the crypto world is the tokenisation of companies’ stocks on crypto exchange platforms. Binance did it for Coinbase and Tesla. I am a strong supporter of a DEFi platform that will allow us to invest in crypto assets, stocks and NFT with our own currencies, thus avoiding change fees that apply when investing using Dollars or Euro, and allowing each african to enter the crypto world with low investments. This is one of my personal projects on the Cardano blockchain.
A more robust medical system. Do we have medical records in Africa? I don’t know what each country does on the medical segment, but I surely know that it is deficient in a majority of African countries. That explains why most african leaders have to travel far from their countries to receive specific treatments in Europe or Asia or America. Some countries such as Morroco have the best reputed medical systems on the continent. Medical system is a vast project here and so many things have to be built, starting with confidence of populations. I think that starting to build and maintain medical records on the Blockchain will be very cool. Those records could be used everywhere accross the continent and will be granted access only on a need basis by their owner: the patient. With such a system, my choices of desired treatments, my allergies, my medical backgrounds, will no longer be inexistent information! And doctors will treat patients with much more precision. A robust medical system could be coupled with a social security project for bigger impacts: vulnerable layers of populations may be granted free access to better hospitals and treatments, and our life expectancy in Africa will grow as a result.
Driving more value to farmers and growers. As I already stated, bridging the gap of currency inequality will bring value to farmers. What will also bring value to farmers and growers is showing them how to be autonomous and efficient, and how to use the financial system at their advantage. In 2021, many projects are supported by african governments because now we all finally understood that there is no such a thing than food self-sufficiency. How can Blockchain help achieve theses goals? Remember the “bank the unbanked” thing? Financially educated farmers will build sustainable farms. Building a global fund that will take up to 1 to 2 percent on every tax declaration paid via the blockchain and distribute 60% back as a reward for highly productive farms will be a catalyst for such initiatives. The remaining funds will be used to construct green energy supplies such as solar powered drillings, greenhouses, and even lights for villages. These are examples of what could be done to empower agriculture and livestock breeding in Africa by building value on the Blockchain.
Building trust on the educational system. When schools pop up everywhere delivering papers that could not be used anywhere, trust in the educational system decrease. That is what happens everyday in our environment. Many degrees are not recognized and some people invest lots of money to finally discover their diploma is a simple piece of paper with no value. Building trust in education is building a strong base by creating curricula and accreditations for highly qualified schools. It also means facilitating access to learning materials and making sure what is being delivered is adapted to the existing and upcoming job market. That is what Ethiopia begins by signing up 5 millions learners on the Cardano blockchain. Allowing people to verify instantly what are the accredited schools, what are the job opportunities available for a given learning path, and what are the growing openings, could be achieved with the blockchain. Automatically and transparently allowing grants, fellowships, or discounts for students with high achievements is another advantage of building an educational system on the blockchain. Allowing those with low incomes to learn equally with others is another value blockchain could bring to the educational system in Africa.
A Frictionless ID Management system. Finally, all these improvements will not be done without an excellent ID Management system. Social security and ID are highly related. What is very important to me is privacy management in an all-inclusive world. Having the choice of which information to disclose and when, and having a real control on one’s identity.
- Date of publication:
- Tue, 05/04/2021 - 13:41
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