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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.

Blockchain Technology

IBM, Ford, LG Chem and Huayou Cobalt Join Forces in Cobalt-Tracking Blockchain Project in Congo

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cobalt blockchain congo

Technology giant IBM, carmaker Ford, China’s Huayou Cobalt, and South Korean cathode maker LG Chem have partnered in a new blockchain project that is set to monitor the supply chain of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Making Cobalt Mining “Cleaner” in the Congo

The project is meant to help manufacturers ensure that children are not involved in the mining process for cobalt that is used in lithium-ion batteries and neither does it fuel any type of conflict, according to a report by Reuters. Responsible-sourcing group RCS Group has been overseeing the pilot project since December of last year until it was officially announced on Wednesday.

cobalt blockchain congoIn the past few years, companies have been put under pressure by investors and consumers to prove that no human right abuses occur when minerals are mined. However, this has been a huge challenge given that manufacturers had no way of tracking the entire journey of the raw materials.

The project will focus on the industrially mined cobalt in Congo and monitor the supply chain process of lithium-ion batteries that are used in Ford vehicles.

DR Congo, a country that is afflicted with political tension and civil war, has a huge concentration of cobalt that is needed in high volumes for electronic devices and electric vehicles. The outcome of the elections that were held in December are still being contested to date despite being Congo’s first democratic elections to be held in six decades and were geared towards change of power.

Blockchain-based Cobalt Tracking Platform

According to RCS Group, the IBM blockchain platform may be used to incorporate other minerals as well as give artisanal miners an opportunity to be part of a blockchain-based network of authorised participants in the future.

The pilot project, which is expected to end around mid-2019, will see cobalt from the Huayou’s industrial mine be placed in secure bags, recorded onto the blockchain and tracked from the mine and smelter to the cathode and battery plant owned by LG Chem in South Korea and then to Ford’s plant in the United States.

Minerals can be difficult to track given that they are often mixed with minerals from different sources in the smelting process. To counter this, the RCS project is expected to implement best practices by making use of the guidelines developed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

IBM also has plans to explore the probability of chemical analysis using artificial intelligence to identify the origin of cobalt and certify that clean cobalt was not fused with minerals that were sourced in an irresponsible manner.

Speaking to Reuters, the General Manager of IBM’s mining and industrial sector business, said: “There is no fool-proof method, but you have to keep the ball moving forward, to keep raising the level of accuracy. Blockchain has been proven to be a very effective technology in raising the bar.”

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Blockchain Technology

ConsenSys Partners With Black Girls Code to Teach Blockchain Coding to Young Women of Colour

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Black Girls Code

ConsenSys – the leading Ethereum development lab – has partnered with the non-for-profit organisation Black Girls Code to increase the number of young women of colour in the computer programming community.

ConsenSys and Black Girls Code to Teach Blockchain Coding to South African Girls

Black Girls Code

Image by BlackGirlsCode.com

With its focus centred on impacting young women with blockchain coding knowledge, ConsenSys and Black Girls Code have decided to create a comprehensive blockchain technical training curriculum that will cover topics such as cryptocurrency, the fundamentals of blockchain technology as well as solving for user experience problems. Through this, young women of colour will be provided with everything they need to make an entrance into the blockchain industry.

According to a recent report by Forbes, young women between the age 7 to 17 across Black Girls Code chapters in Oakland, New York City, Atlanta and Johannesburg, South Africa will be the focus of the training program.

This partnership program will represent the very first blockchain training program on a national scale for young women of colour.

The Black Girls Code Token

Using the black girls code token, these young girls will be able to practice what they have learned. They will use the token to create their own cryptocurrencies as well as their own smart contracts.

So far, about 60 students have been introduced to blockchain basics (from Solidity development to aspects of cryptocurrency philosophy) through the program.

Speaking about the effectiveness of the project, Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code’s CEO stated that:

“Our BGC tech divas have embraced blockchain technology with vigour and are excited by its potential to create equity and impact on a global scale. This partnership is an extremely important addition to an already vibrant ecosystem which will flourish by this influx of fresh ideas, perspectives, and insights.”

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CannaSOS Launches its Anonymous Cryptocurrency Wallet, PTPWallet, for Android and iOS Users

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PTPWallet

CannaSOS has completed the development of its PTPWallet – a hybrid cryptocurrency wallet that has been created to connect businesses and users in the crypto space. The mobile wallet was launched on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store and is now available for download.

CannaSOS’ Contribution to the Cannabis Industry

CannaSOSCannaSOS is a social platform for the Cannabis industry that hopes to change the way cannabis enthusiasts interact with their peers and businesses. The company developed the PTPWallet in order to address the need for a payment processor for the cannabis industry. However, a change in the company’s long-term objectives saw CannaSOS develop a wallet that would serve all industries worldwide.

Oleg Cheine, the President and Founder of CannaSOS Corp, said in a press release: “We are very happy and proud to announce that after 11 months of development, PTPWallet is finally live on Google Play Store and Apple App Store. We see the application bridging the gap in the retail sector; something that is crucially missing in the crypto industry.”

The PTP Wallet

The team behind PTPWallet considers it a “revolution”. This is based on the fact that the cryptocurrency wallet includes a centralised and decentralised technology that seeks to ease the use of its users. Although funds that are sent or withdrawn from the PTPWallet undergo the normal decentralised way, all transactions made within the wallet undergo centralised technology. This means that all transactions done within the wallet are instantaneous, fully anonymous and that the platform can process millions of transactions each second.

The PTPWallet has an inbuilt referral program and a game called ‘Drain the Bank’ that is akin to a lottery. In addition, the wallet provides users with the ability to build a business page as well as build a loyalty program that provides users with cash back in crypto for purchases they make. The wallet also gives users the ability to send digital currencies via email and SMS making it the only wallet with such a feature.

Cheine went on to add: “After conducting many surveys, businesses, for example, don’t really care about decentralised or centralised technology. They all want to use crypto but have to deal with slow transactions speeds and for there to be too much transparency – which could lead to potential hacker attacks or robberies. So, what we did is we incorporated both centralised and decentralised technology, flopped in a bunch of cool new features and now businesses are more connected with our users. The app is free to use and setup takes only around three minutes when you include the business page and loyalty program.”

CannaSOS gave users who installed and tested the PTPWallet 1,000 crypto coins for the first six days after it launched in order to celebrate the launch of the app. Users who download the app after the first six days will get 800 crypto coins for the next six days and the coin amount will keep decreasing.

The app is currently available on both Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

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