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Uganda’s ICT Ministry Set to Appoint Blockchain Taskforce

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Following a successful Africa Blockchain Conference, held at the Serena Hotel Conference Center in Kampala, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance, said that his ministry will appoint a taskforce to explore how the Ugandan government can utilise blockchain technology.

The conference was hosted as a partnership between the Blockchain Association of Uganda and Uganda Blockchain TaskforceUganda’s Ministry of ICT and National Guidance with a wide range of discussion topics such as cryptocurrencies and digital assets, governance, cybersecurity, regulation and policy, risk and investment opportunities, innovation and technology among others.

Speaking at the conference during his introductory remark, Tumwebaze said: “I have agreed with the Blockchain Association of Uganda, that in the coming weeks, the Ministry will appoint an advisory task force of eminent people on blockchain to further assess the opportunities of the technology and challenges, and advise the government on how to harness the technology. Blockchain technology like any other innovation will successfully take root in Uganda. If you push technology away, others will adopt it.”

Blockchain’s Potential

According to PC Tech Magazine, the Chairman of the Blockchain Association of Uganda, Nkwame Rugunda, was quoted saying, that the “blockchain sits at the fourth stage of Industrial revolution and will significantly redefine our human and social progress because it addresses the critical underlying fabric that defines our human interactions which is trust”.

Uganda’s President, Yoweri Museveni, opened the two-day conference stating that it was necessary for blockchain technology to be studied in-depth to identify the risks and find ways of curbing the risks while enhancing the benefits.

Uganda Banks to Adopt Blockchain Technology

Following the two-day conference, the Uganda Bankers Association (UBA) announced that banks in Uganda will adopt the technology to help lessen operational risks and costs.

In an interview with the Daily Monitor, UBA’s Chairman and the Managing Director at Stanbic Bank, Mr. Patrick Mwehire, said that while the technology had potential risks, there were certain facets that can be leveraged in the banking sector. He said:

“Aspects such as data processing, settlements and payments [are good] and anything that reduces costs and risks is good for us.”

While Rugunda spoke on how the blockchain can fasten payment settlements as its secure, happens in real-time and all data is available on the blockchain, Mwehire spoke on how the technology can be utilised in settling inter-bank payments that typically take about two to three days. Mwehire went on to ask: “We [banks] face high operational cost of up to 70 percent. Therefore, if there is a way we can eliminate them, why not?”

The directive to form a taskforce by the Uganda Minister of ICT and National Guidance comes just three months after Kenya’s ICT Minister, Joe Mucheru, formed a taskforce that is meant to study how the Kenyan government can leverage the blockchain.

Blockchain Technology

vCargo Cloud to Implement Blockchain-Based Electronic Certificates of Origin in Kenya

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Blockchain-Based Electronic Certificates of Origin

Fintech company vCargo Cloud (VCC) has partnered with the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) to roll out blockchain-based electronic certificates of origin (eCOs) in Kenya to modernise a vital part of the country’s trade facilitation processes. The eCO platform by VCC utilises the blockchain, which will make it easier for various stakeholders to authenticate certificates.

Speaking of the partnership, VCC said that the partnership with KNCCI is proof that their blockchain-based platform is disruptive and allows for instant verifications of the eCOs, which results in improved efficiency, security and transparency in the authentication of trade documents. The move also comes after VCC unveiled a similar blockchain-based solution in Singapore in May.

An electronic certificate of origin (eCO) is an international trade document that certifies that goods in any given shipment have been manufactured from said country. Customs and traders usually request for eCOs in order to verify goods while banks request the same, among other documents, that are used in any trade finance transaction.

In an interview with GTR, Desmond Tay, VCC’s CEO said that their blockchain-based platform would be slightly tweaked to the needs of the KNCCI but it is similar to the one in use in Singapore. He went on to say: “After the success in Singapore, we have been trying to bring the blockchain eCO solution to other places around the world. We are in discussions with a few chambers in Africa and Southeast Asia and expect to see further expansion soon.”

Kenya was the next launch country for VCC seeing that they have an office in Nairobi according to Tay. VCC is also in talks with several other countries in East Africa as well as chambers in Japan, Myanmar and Sri Lanka regarding implementing its platform in those countries.

VCC is, however, not the only company rolling out blockchain-based solutions that are meant to boost trade in the African market. Two months ago, IBM Research, in partnership with Twiga Foods, launched a blockchain-enabled microcredit solution to offer loans to informal and small businesses within Nairobi. Blockchain startup Wala and trade platform Black Commodities have also joined efforts to unveil a cryptocurrency product financing solution that will provide 50,000 small-scale farmers in Africa with loans worth $10 million.

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Bancor Set to Launch Blockchain-Based Community Cryptocurrencies in Kenya

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Bancor in Kenya

The Bancor Network has announced plans to launch a network of blockchain-based community currencies in Kenya. The launch of community cryptocurrencies is meant to help curb poverty through the stimulation of both local and regional commerce as well as increased peer-to-peer collaboration.

This new project will enable communities within the East African nation to create and manage their own digital tokens, through the utilisation of blockchain technology, thereby, closing the barriers that have historically existed to prevent the use of community currencies.

Will Ruddick, Bancor’s new Director of Community Currencies, will manage the project from Nairobi where he has lived for over a decade. He also runs a non-profit foundation known as Grassroots Economics, which oversees community currency programs in six different locations in Kenya that serves more than 1,000 local businesses and 20 schools. Ruddick, together with his team, will make use of the Bancor Protocol to expand Grassroots’ existing paper currency system into a blockchain-based network that intends to decrease poverty and build stable markets through the use of local currencies. Ruddick said:

“When communities have the same right as nations to create and manage currencies, they will unlock their full potential.”

Co-founder of Bancor, Galia Benartzi, said in a press release: “We have seen the crypto world generate roughly $400 billion for new currencies, and we believe the same mechanics can be applied to help communities create wealth on a local level through the use of blockchain-based community currencies that fill regional trade gaps, enable basic income and food security, and promote thriving local and interconnected global markets.”

Bancor’s Project Plans

Bancor in KenyaBancor will be seeding its first currencies by donating some of the capital it raised during its $153 million token sale in June 2017. The Bancor Network enables anyone to create digital currencies that contain one or more balances in a connected currency. This allows integrated currencies to be replaced with one another without the need for a counterparty. The currencies also have built-in mechanisms that are built to algorithmically calculate prices based on the supply of the currency and adjusts effectively to its use.

The Bancor Network is already being utilised daily to process more than $20 million conversions in digital currencies and is now set to be rolled out to disadvantaged communities across Kenya.

Plans for the launch of the project include:

  • First pilots in the two largest slums in Kenya: Kibera and Kawangware.
  • Grassroots will leverage its network of local businesses network to circulate the currency by giving discounts and additional benefits to customers who use it in their transactions.
  • As more people buy and hold the local currency, its market cap is expected to increase, hence create wealth and purchasing power for its holders.
  • Anyone will be able to buy and sell the community currencies (including community members) using other digital currencies or major credit cards with transactions processed via the open source Bancor Protocol, enabling users worldwide to support the communities from afar.
  • A balance in a stabilised “parent” cryptocurrency still under development will – at the start – be pegged to the Kenyan Shilling (KES) and allow for exchanges between the network of local currencies at algorithmically calculated prices.

Impact Investing Tools

In an attempt to build an alternative Grassroots Economics community currency network in Kenya about eight years ago known as “Bangla-Pesa”, Ruddick, an American-born physicist, was jailed by the Kenyan authorities. He would later relaunch the community currency network in partnership with the government of Kenya. Both he and the Bancor team have been vocal on the potential of community currencies to curb global poverty using a bottom-up approach for sustainable economic development.

This project is part of growing efforts from a wave of blockchain startups to use blockchain technology, smart contracts, and cryptocurrencies to build the next generation of aid and impact investing tools.

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Tanzanian Blockchain Community to Hold First Blockchain Event on June 30

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Tanzanian Blockchain Community

The Blockchain Tanzania Community has organised the first blockchain event in the country to be held on June 30, 2018, at the University of Dar es Salaam from 10 am to 1 pm.

The event will be a commencement seminar where Blockchain Tanzania will share its objectives, vision, and mission with the public and other stakeholders.

The Blockchain Tanzania Community brings together professionals, companies, academicians, and regulators such as the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

The organising chairman Rutazaa told BitcoinKe:

“As a community, we aspire to create an environment where youths will be inspired to engage and learn, investors favoured to invest, and regulators encouraged to fairly regulate, so blockchain, for what it is, can revolutionise our country.”

Tanzania is joining the ranks of other East African countries such as Uganda and Kenya that are embracing blockchain technology. For instance, Uganda is set to establish a blockchain taskforce while Kenya already has a functioning taskforce.

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