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Bitcoin Africa’s 2018 Cryptocurrency Outlook

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2018 Cryptocurrency Outlook

2017 has been an incredible year for cryptocurrencies. In 2017, we witnessed the price of bitcoin rallying from $1,000 to over $20,000 as the digital currency has finally gone mainstream as an investment. We also witnessed a massive boom in initial coin offerings, which have raised billions of dollars for new blockchain projects. In the past twelve months, we have also witnessed a massive jump in bitcoin adoption across Africa fuelled by increased global and local media coverage of the digital currency and the desire to make money with cryptocurrencies.

In this 2018 Cryptocurrency Outlook, we will discuss what the future will likely bring for digital currencies and blockchain technology in Africa in the coming year.

More Altcoin Investing

Bitcoin investing has boomed on the continent as LocalBitcoins trading volumes for countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa show. WhatsApp and Telegram groups have also become popular means of facilitating local bitcoin trade in countries where local exchanges are lacking. More and more Africans have been investing in bitcoin in the hope you generate a strong investment income and those who invested earlier this year were rewarded.

In 2018, there will likely be an increase in altcoin trading as bitcoin investors are now looking to diversify their portfolio and to invest in coins that have the potential to become the next bitcoin.

Leading African exchanges such ICE3X, Luno, and Golix have added altcoins such as litecoin and ether to meet the newfound demand for bitcoin alternatives. This trend will very likely continue in the coming year.

African ICOs

In 2017, hundreds of initial coin offerings were launched globally. However, only a small handful was launched in Africa and none of them managed to receive much attention nor raise a substantial amount of funds.

In 2018, we will see more local blockchain projects venture down the route of launching a token sale to fund their operations. Local entrepreneurs will have learned from the successes and failures of ICOs in the past year to launch successful token sales, which could result in the successful funding of truly value-adding African blockchain projects.

More Public Sector Blockchain Projects

In Kenya, there are already several public sector blockchain projects underway. From government bond issuance and electronic motor vehicle identification to healthcare data management, there are several blockchain trials happening in the East African nation while in Sierra Leone, there is a blockchain-powered ‘smart country’ project underway.

In 2018, we will likely see more blockchain adoption in the public sector across Africa. Areas such as land ownership, identity management, academic record keeping, and the electoral process are ripe for disruption by bitcoin’s underlying technology.

Tax Authorities Will Want Their Piece of the Bitcoin Pie

In light of the incredible increase in the value of cryptocurrencies, the tax authorities around the world have now woken up to the fact that they can be collecting capital gains tax on cryptocurrency investment income. This will also become the case in African countries with larger bitcoin communities.

In South Africa, the SARS has already announced that it plans to track digital currency trades to ensure that South Africans are appropriately taxing their crypto assets investment income. Tax authorities in other countries will likely follow suit in the coming year.

More Conferences and Meetups

2017 has seen an unprecedented amount of bitcoin meetups and blockchain conferences on African soil. Large conferences were held in South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria and regular meetups have occurred across the continent to encourage people to learn more about bitcoin and blockchain technology. Blockchain technology and its potential for Africa have even been discussed at a UN conference in Ethiopia.

In 2018, there will likely be more conferences and meetups as Africa’s interest in digital currencies, as well as blockchain technology, is growing.

Innovative Blockchain Solutions for Local Challenges

The year 2018 will likely also see more innovative blockchain solutions from local startups that address local challenges. From more local bitcoin exchanges that enable users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using local currency to bespoke blockchain solutions such as the ChamaPesa app, more local startups are expected to develop value-adding blockchain-based solutions for Africa.

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How Kenya’s ICT Ministry is Embracing the Blockchain

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Kenya's ICT Ministry

Kenya’s ICT Cabinet Secretary, Joe Mucheru, recently announced that his ministry is in the process of creating a blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) task force. The main objective of this task force is to promote efficiency and transparency in the public and private sectors.

The blockchain, which is bitcoin’s underpinning technology, is a decentralised digital ledger that securely and transparently records, stores, and transfers data in an immutable manner. Artificial intelligence (AI) allows machines such as computers to learn from experiences and carry out human-like tasks with the knowledge they acquire.

The Task Force and Creation of Digital Jobs

According to a report by Kenyan Wall Street, the task force will comprise of “local blockchain startups, experts, academics, researchers, local ICT experts, various regulatory bodies, lawyers, and representatives from a number of corporates including IBM.”

The task force will be expected to promote and adopt the blockchain and AI. The comprehensive strategy, which is the guide for the task force, will research and test the different applications of the blockchain and AI. The government expects to use these applications to increase efficiency and transparency in product and service delivery. In addition, the task force will offer support to blockchain startups as well.

“We are an enabler, so we allow technology to create efficiency, transparency, and even innovation. I also want to make sure even as we look at the future, we are not left behind in such an area. For instance on the blockchain, […] or the hashgraphs. We want to be part of that growth. We missed out on the internet, [but we shall not miss out on the blockchain],” CS Mucheru stated during an interview with Citizen TV.

As reported by KTN News, CS Mucheru also mentioned plans by the ministry to create digital jobs for Kenya’s youth and to instill the relevant skills to enable them to work on digital tasks remotely.

The Blockchain is Slowly Going Mainstream in Kenya

The Ministry of ICT is not alone in its interest towards the blockchain. Several banks, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Lands are already testing the technology. Additionally, the governor of the Central bank of Kenya, Dr. Njoroge showed support for the technology during a press briefing last year.

But What of Digital Currencies?

Blockchain technology could be going mainstream in Kenya, but regulators are still adamant about digital currencies. However, a recent report by Citibank ranked Kenyans fifth as the largest bitcoin holders per capita in the world. These statistics could be an indication that bitcoin is also going mainstream.

In an interview with Citizen TV, CS Mucheru said that he is an advocate for digital currencies.

“I think [the Central Bank of Kenya has] a role and a responsibility to play and I do not think we are going to be fighting about it. […] Whether we want to be a part of it or not, it is not our choice; the world is already moving in that direction. […] We need to take that risk,” he stated.

While testing the applications of blockchain technology in the public and private sector is a huge step for Kenya, implementing these applications could have a great impact on Kenya’s economy. What’s more, continuous research and experimentation in blockchain technology beyond the five-year term of the current government should be prioritised.

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World Blockchain Summit to be Held in Nairobi on March 22-23

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World Blockchain Summit

Nairobi, Kenya will host the World Blockchain Summit on March 22-23 2018. The conference aims to connect global blockchain experts, investors, and startups in the space, to discuss the nature of blockchain technology and its many possible applications in various sectors.

Kenya plays a pivotal role in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space with a number of local startups leveraging the technology to offer financial services. In addition, various government agencies are experimenting with the open source distributed ledger technology in sectors such as transport, health and land for digital identity verification, proof of land ownership, and authentication of records.

Topics Discussed and Key Speakers

The conference will focus on a number of topics that are crucial to the development of blockchain technology in Africa along with use cases from other parts of the world. Some of the discussions will touch on the blockchain proof of concept, impact of blockchain technology in private and public sector, the benefits of smart contracts, blockchain disrupting retail and supply industries, and blockchain in healthcare to name a few.

The keynote speakers confirmed for the event are the founder of Naked Technologies Marco Robinson, marketing and communications expert, Danielle Di-Masi, Technical Consultant/Systems Integrator National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) Tunji Durodola, founder & CEO of Feelogical Solutions Muhammad Salman, and Michael Kimani, founder of the Kenyan Blockchain Association.

For more information about speakers read here.

Pitching Competition

In addition to the conference, there will be a pitching competition. Emerging startups from around the globe will have an opportunity to introduce their solutions by delivering a six-minute elevator pitch and compete to win the best blockchain technology idea. Selected companies will then compete in the Startup World Cup finals which will be held in 2019 in San Fransisco, for the grand prize of a $1,000,000.

The summit is also happening in nine other countries with government partnerships and private sponsorships. These include locations such as Moscow, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Frankfurt, Rio, the Middle East, with Philippines and Vietnam still at the planning phases. Event organisers Trescon Global have 600+ delegates, 40 speakers, 25 sponsors and 20 startup exhibitors who have been part of the previous events and are now expecting to get a similar response for the Nairobi Edition.

Buy Your Ticket Now

Booking for super early bird tickets will close on 20th January 2018, and go for $295. Early bird tickets will close on 20th February 2018 and go for $495. Standard tickets will go for $695 thereafter.

For more information about the conference or to buy tickets, visit nairobi.worldblockchainsummit.com.

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How the Blockchain Can Prevent Drug Counterfeiting in Kenya

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Drug Counterfeiting Kenya

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a counterfeit medicine as “one which is deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to its identity and/or source. Counterfeiting can apply to both branded and generic products and counterfeit products may include products with the correct or wrong ingredients, without active ingredients, with insufficient active ingredients or with fake packaging.”

The port of Mombasa has been a point of entry for counterfeit drugs in Kenya and the East African region. According to a report by the Daily Nation, “the value of potentially dangerous pharmaceutical products sourced mainly from China and India is estimated at six billion Kenyan shillings.” The most commonly counterfeited drugs are antimalarials, morning-after pills, antihistamines, cough syrups, antibiotics, and viagra.

Counterfeit drugs are not only a health risk to patients but also increase the cost of getting better. According to IBM, over 122,000 children under the age of five in Africa die because of counterfeit anti-malarial drugs. Therefore, the IBM lab in Haifa, Israel is researching the use of the blockchain in preventing counterfeit drugs.

How the Blockchain Can Be Applied in the Pharma Supply Chain

The blockchain is a decentralised digital ledger that records and transfers data in a fast, secure, and transparent manner. When applied in the pharmaceutical supply chain, the blockchain tracks the drugs at each stage from the pharmaceutical company to the patient.

The IBM research solution involves a permissioned blockchain and a mobile interface. Every party on the network is certified and authorised to initiate an action and complete, track, and verify their transactions. Here is a breakdown of the different functions that the blockchain offers:

Trust: the blockchain comprises of a trusted network of pharmaceutical companies, delivery carriers, chemists, hospitals, and clinics. For example, the pharmaceutical companies on the blockchain are trustworthy and offer authentic drugs. Therefore, any person ordering drugs on the blockchain-based network is assured of getting industry-approved products.

Registration: every order that is made is registered on the blockchain for easy tracking and tracing.

Authentication: at each stage of the supply chain, a party’s’ identity is authenticated using the blockchain to enable him/her to carry out a transaction.

Verification: when drugs are being transferred from one party to the other, verification is important. That is to say that the blockchain will verify that a carrier has received the delivery from a pharmaceutical company by confirming that they are in the same location. Verification is also done by scanning the QR codes and the serial numbers of the drugs.

Recording: every transaction that takes place is recorded on the blockchain ledger. A record is taken when, for instance, the clinic accepts the delivery transfer from the carrier. In addition, the recording process ensures that the pharmaceutical company can check the delivery status of the daily orders made.

Ratings: ratings are given to carriers and pharmaceutical companies depending on their ability to deliver quality services and products to hospitals and clinics. Consequently, every party on the network will strive for high ratings in order to increase their chances of getting more business.

Tracking: the clinic or hospital that has made the order receives a tracking code to their phone via SMS to enable easy tracking of the delivery to their doorstep.

The Benefits of a Blockchain-based Pharma Supply Chain

Reduced health risks

The blockchain brings together a network of certified parties. That means that drugs are sourced from legitimate pharmaceutical companies that manufacture drugs according to industry standards. As a result, patients stay safe because the drugs they consume are also safe.

Decreased costs

Counterfeit drugs increase costs because they lack the active ingredient needed to cure diseases. However, authentic drugs work as they should hence curing patients within the expected time period.

Faster orders

The blockchain makes the process of finding trustworthy pharmaceuticals easy and fast. Additionally, a pharmaceutical company can view on the blockchain which carriers are available to make deliveries immediately.

Increased transparency

At each stage of the supply chain, parties authenticate using the blockchain and the drugs are verified through QR codes and serial numbers. In addition, every transaction is recorded on the blockchain and it can be traced and tracked. Therefore, the possibility of getting a different package from what was registered on the blockchain by the pharmaceutical is effectively non-existent.

The war against counterfeit drugs in Kenya might seem difficult but with the implementation of the blockchain in the pharmaceutical supply chain, it can be won. In a sector where it is difficult to know who you can trust and who you cannot, the blockchain creates trust.

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