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Africa to Adopt Blockchain for New Digital Free Trade Area



Blockchain for New Digital Free Trade Area

Africa is set to adopt blockchain technology for Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa’s (COMESA’s) new digital free trade area (FTA). The digital free trade area is the first in Africa and is modelled from the Malaysian Free Trade Zone.

Blockchain Application in FTA

The blockchain will connect transacting parties and allow them to share ledgers in real time securely. Its application will also enable the production of an electronic certificate of origin that will be verifiable using national information technology systems.

“Gone are the days when we have had documents being presented physically at the border posts because with the digital economy you can do that from the country of export irrespective of where it is. The long queues that we see at the borders are needless,” Sindiso Ngwenya, Secretary General of COMESA, said.

Ngwenya also said businesses pay a lot of money to banks because of lack of trust, but with the use of the blockchain, this situation will change.

The digital FTA’s pilot program will kick-start with 15 out of the 19 COMESA members. As a result, SMEs and large enterprises from these African countries can trade through their smartphones and tablets.

One of the greatest benefits that COMESA will obtain from incorporating blockchain technology in the digital program is cutting down on costs. For instance, the African bloc will reserve up to $450 million in clearance documentation.

Digital FTA is a component of COMESA’s theme “Towards Digital Economic Integration”, which is inclusive of trade promotion applications that have already been developed. These applications are Regional Customs Guarantee Scheme, COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System, and an online platform for trade promotion and regional customs bonds.

“We are rolling out the Digital FTA in 2018, beginning with willing member states on the basis of the principle of variable geometry. The e-certificate of origin is a good practice around the world, but COMESA will be the first regional economic bloc in Africa to have it as a regional FTA instrument,” Ngwenya stated.

The African countries involved in the digital program are DRC, Zambia, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Rwanda, Kenya, Mauritius, Swaziland, Sudan, Uganda, Egypt, and Burundi.

The adoption of the blockchain is growing in global trade because it offers trust, faster and cheaper transactions, and enhanced security. Companies such as Maersk and UPS are already integrating blockchain technology into their activities for these reasons.

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Blockchain Technology

How CryptoCribs Could Economically Empower Africans



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Decentralised cryptocurrencies have gained a substantial amount of popularity among investors due to their high-profit potential in the past twelve months. However, the real power of the decentralised economy is that it can empower individuals in many never before seen ways by disintermediating central authorities.

An excellent example of a use case for decentralised digital currencies is the cryptocurrency-powered home sharing platform CryptoCribs, which enables homeowners to rent out spare rooms and apartments in exchange for cryptocurrency.

What is CryptoCribs?

CryptoCribsCryptoCribs combines the peer-to-peer element of the sharing economy with decentralised digital currencies to build the first “purely peer-to-peer electronic short-term rental system allowing rental payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through financial and reputational intermediaries like Airbnb.”

“The CryptoCribs project has the mission of liberating rental markets, empowering individuals and building a strong community. To achieve this mission, we want to break up the different intermediation layers in a step-by-step process. While CryptoCribs plans to act as an intermediary initially, our intention is to progressively disintermediate ourselves,” the startup states in its whitepaper.

The house sharing platform currently offers several different locations, including listings in South Africa, and there is a review system in place so that hosts and travellers can view each other’s reviews. The platform has all the traits of an Airbnb for cryptocurrency users, which provides the hosts in different countries with a new source of revenue that is not controlled by a company that takes a share of the rental profits.

CryptoCribs’ Potential in Africa

In Africa, renting out spare rooms or apartments on CryptoCribs could become a new way of financially empowering the local population. The fact that CryptoCribs hosts are being in cryptocurrency directly means that no money is lost to the sharing economy platform nor is the value of the payments affected by fluctuations in the local currency. In light of the volatility of certain African currencies, this is a major selling point for choosing CryptoCribs over Airbnb as a host. 

Moreover, the intangible nature of digital currencies means that a government cannot physically remove the wealth of a citizen. This paradigm shift is a monumental step forward in the social contract, providing an additional layer of financial security to individuals. This enables hosts to confidently use bitcoin without the fear that the actions of their government will interfere with their wealth acquisition. 

The Many Benefits of CryptoCribs

Recognition at a Universal Level

Many bitcoin users are travelling the world, which has led to a rising demand for bitcoin-accepting services in the travel industry. CryptoCribs is, therefore, a welcomed addition to cryptocurrency-accepting accommodation.

Moreover, since cryptocurrency is not bound by the exchange rates, interest rates, transaction charges or other charges of any country, it can be used at an international level without experiencing any difficulties. This can potentially save a lot of money for both travellers and businesses.

The Elimination of Fraud

Cryptocurrencies cannot be counterfeited or reversed arbitrarily by the sender as is the case with credit card charge-backs. Africa loses billions from fraud every year, which drastically impacts the economy and hinders growth. However, through the use of cryptocurrencies instead of traditional payment methods, the chance of fraud is greatly reduced to the benefit of both the host and the renter. 


CryptoCribs can financially empower even those without access to bank accounts. There are approximately 2.2 billion individuals with access to the Internet or mobile phones who do not currently have access to a bank account. These people are primed for the use of digital currencies and they could start hosting immediately as they do not require a bank account or a Paypal account like it is the case for Airbnb. 

If you have a spare room or apartments you can rent out, you should consider CryptoCribs as it could provide you with a new source of income where you receive the entirety of the rental income and you alone have control over the payments made in cryptocurrency.

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Blockchain Technology

Cryptocurrencies Can Boost Financial Inclusion Experts Agree



Cryptocurrencies Can Boost Financial Inclusion

During the Blockchain Africa Conference in Johannesburg this month, experts concurred that cryptocurrencies could boost financial inclusion and increase economic activities in emerging markets.

Globally, two billion working-age adults are excluded from formal financial services while only 34 percent adults in Sub-Saharan Africa had an account in 2014 as indicated by World Bank data. According to industry experts, financial exclusion is caused by lack of trust, high costs, and inaccessible formal financial institutions.

“The reason a lot of these systems are broken here is [that] consumers do not trust them,” Wala CEO Tricia Martinez said.

“There is a lot of corruption [and] there is a lot of fraud. You always have a middleman monitoring and managing everything. One has to trust [that] a bank is actually going to take care of my money and not take it away. […], she added.

To increase financial inclusion, the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) developed high-level principles that will help governments promote financial inclusion digitally. One way to do this is through technologies such as cryptocurrencies.

The Wala platform, for example, uses a crypto-token that facilitates fast micro-payments to any place in the world at zero fees. Martinez said in order to solve the challenges of cost and access, Wala turned to the blockchain, which has enabled them to offer a zero-fee financial system to consumers.

Another company using the blockchain said consumers can invest in the real estate sector through their platform to create wealth. The property investment firm, ProsperiProp, aims to enable consumers to make investments with as little as less than a dollar on property tokens.

“Property tokens earn interest or appreciate as the property value appreciates. It earns income as that property earns income. So suddenly, you have this massive ecosystem of value that we have created for this person,” ProsperiProp founder Llewellyn Morkel stated.

The Information Barrier

Both Martinez and Morkel agree that education is imperative to help ordinary consumers understand the opportunities digital currencies provide. Moreover, education helps consumers to understand how to access these services.

As much as the digital currency conversation has been taken up by mainstream media in Africa, a lot of people are still struggling to understand the concept. Martinez and Morkel recommend that experts should use less technical language when educating consumers about digital currencies.

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Blockchain Technology

Kenya’s 4G Capital to Issue Tokenised Bond



Tokenised Bond

4G Capital, a Kenyan microfinance and training company based in Nairobi, plans to become the first financial institution to issue a tokenised bond using decentralised digital currencies.

According to the Financial Times, the planned issue size of the bond is $10 million and the planned coupon will be 10 percent annually. The sale of the bond will take place next month and will be targeted at institutional and qualified investors who can purchase the bond using either bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH).

The company’s digital tokens will be issued by Finhaven, a Canadian blockchain startup, which is tasked with forwarding the US dollars to 4G Capital and paying investors their monthly returns in either US dollars or cryptocurrency. Finhaven claims that investors in the bond will possess the same investor protection as if investing in a traditional bond.

According to 4G Capital CEO Hennessy-Barrett, this tokenised bond issuance is partly driven by the high cost of capital in Kenya, which makes it difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to raise funds.

“There’s a big gap in the market for small African businesses to raise working capital,” he stated.

Mic Kimani, chairman of the Blockchain Association of Kenya, said: “What cryptocurrencies are doing is acting as a bridge to new sources of funding, to elsewhere in the world where there is more capital.” He, therefore, considers the tokenised bond by 4G Capital as “the most logical use of cryptocurrencies”.

Moreover, Hennessy-Barrett hopes that the tokenised bond issuance will help to put cryptocurrencies into a better light in Kenya as local regulators have so far been rather cryptocurrency-unfriendly even though the government is embracing the blockchain.

Hennessy-Barrett hopes to “demonstrate best practice so the benefits of this technology can be understood and shared”. He also said: “We’re very sensitive to regulators moving at the speed they’re comfortable at.”

If successful, 4G Capital’s tokenised bond could reign in a new era of startup funding in Kenya and other emerging market countries where small and medium-sized businesses suffer from a lack of access to affordable funding.

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