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African Blockchain Initiative Put Student Government Election on the Blockchain



African Blockchain Initiative

While cryptocurrencies continue to face resistance from some African governments, the blockchain continues to be utilised in various ways with the latest one being in an election where the African Leadership Academy (ALA) ran its student government elections on the blockchain.

The move by the African Blockchain Initiative (ABI) was influenced by the need to revolutionise elections on the African continent. The African Blockchain Initiative is an educational initiative that aims to boost the understanding of blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies in the African continent through the services it offers.

The four founders acknowledged that the elections held this year at ALA were interesting based on the fact that they used the ABI voting system, which no one had access to – not even the founders – because of its decentralised nature.

Speaking about the decentralised network, ABI’s CEO, Cyril Michino said: “The internet is most centralised. That means all data goes down to a central point; if you’re on YouTube, all those videos are being managed by one central party. If you’re on Google or any social media platform, all that information and content you have access to is going to a central party. The problem with this is that power is being centralised to one party – it’s not just on the internet, it’s in banking, it’s everywhere.”

He went on to add that the blockchain is a technology that removes power from one centralised point and makes it accessible to everyone. “That’s why, when you talk about blockchain you talk about trust, transparency – because everyone gets access to everything – accountability and consensus; each and every person has a voice, and you get to have consensus on how to run things in a particular way.”

ABI’s Voting System

The Student Government elections at ALA gave the ABI team a perfect platform for the implementation of the blockchain, said Michino, who believed that one should “always leverage their sphere of influence”.

He went on to explain: “Cryptocurrencies are just a small part of the part to the whole blockchain puzzle piece. Blockchain can transform many things. Our big inspiration was to try to show that blockchain has other applications, other than just the bitware because that’s what most people know about it.”

Using their blockchain-based voting system allowed ABI to show how blockchain technology really works.

“We really wanted to find ways on how to implement Blockchain in the school, because a lot of people have challenged us, saying that ‘this technology may be promising and it looks cool – but how can we actually make sure it is implemented in the school, otherwise there is no impact?’,” explained Soufaih.

“We also used to think Blockchain is only used in big projects, and to actually use the technology, we have to think big,” he went on to explain. “But we really wanted to see how this technology works on a small scale, before going big. If you really want to convince your country to use Blockchain in elections, a simple proposal would be less likely to succeed because you don’t have any proof that this has worked, and no country will actually really trust the system if it has not been used before. So we thought of how we could simulate the experience within ALA, with the Student Government. And if it succeeds, it would have huge potential and we could probably convince schools and universities to implement it in their own student governments and, moving forward, to reach national elections.”

That is ABI’s main inspiration and motivation. The ABI team – with all except one member being Kenyan – used Kenya as a case example for the need to have a transparent and secure voting system in the African continent on the recent national elections that were held and marred with a lack of transparency and accountability which eventually led to their nullification.

Power to the People

“The biggest challenge for Africa is transparency. By using blockchain we want to give power to the people; to decentralise the power that the government can have, yet at the same time keeping it secure because everyone has access to the system, but no one has control. The ultimate dream is to see presidential elections on Blockchain – that’s where you have far higher impact and where there is far more at stake,” said Michino. “We were trying to see if this system could be modelled, starting on a compass, to start revolutionising elections on the continent.”

While the student government elections at ALA was small, it was definitely the right step towards achieving ABI’s goal of revolutionising elections in the African continent, said Soufaih.

“It played a role in lessening central power and reducing the role of the Electoral Student Council (ESC), who could oversee the process but not affect it in any way. So the impact is much less than, say, a president who is being privileged by an electoral body in a specific country, where it has much more impact on millions and millions of people. So in this simulation the impact may be limited, but it’s a very important first step for us.”

How it Works

Since there already existed a technological voting system in ALA, it made it easier for the ABI team as all they needed to improve on was the tech that was there. “The language we use is called Solidity.” explained Soufaih. “We wrote a smart Ccontract that takes into consideration many conditions and makes it possible for voters to actually vote – information is kept confidential, no central party has access.”

The elections started at 7 am and closed at 6 pm based on the fact that the system runs automatically. The results were then released immediately with everyone receiving them at the same time – from candidates to the ESC, ABI team and student community. Michino noted: “While voting is open, no one can tamper with the system. Using Blockchain, whenever someone votes, once that vote is in the system it can never be changed – no person in the middle can change it; nobody has power over anything.”

While the blockchain seems like a good solution to the transparency challenges in Africa’s election systems, there is a risk that the system can crash. To this, Michino answered: “Unlike central technology, where once you attack that server everything goes down, Blockchain saves information in every single ledger in the system.” He went on to explain, similar to bitcoin, downloading the application means that every single transaction has to be downloaded to your computer. As such, this makes it difficult to attack the system. However, if one system gets harmed, all the information is readily available on the other systems. “It’s also easy to know which one is corrupt and take it off the system – and It’s hard for anyone to crash a million systems at the same time,” added Michino.

For ABI, the next step is to take their voting system to institutions and schools across Africa. There have already been a number of schools that have shown interest in using their transformative system. Their end goal, however, is to have the system used across Africa for national elections.

“We know that not everyone has access to the internet, but they can have access to the Blockchain system at polling centers, where everyone can then cast their vote,” said Michino. “Whether this can be actualised within the next five or 10 years, remains to be seen, but it’s something we will definitely be pursuing in our Blockchain endeavours throughout our whole life.”

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Women in Blockchain: An Interview with Blockchain Association of Kenya’s Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi



Women in Blockchain

On June 22, 2019, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) elected a new chairperson during its AGM. Bitcoin Africa talked to the newly elected chairperson, Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi, to understand what the association has accomplished so far, what she plans to achieve as chairperson, and about women in blockchain.

BAK Achievements

Blockchain Association of KenyaSince it was registered in 2017 as a non-profit, the Blockchain Association of Kenya (BAK) has played a big role in catalysing the largest Kenyan community and network of people working in the blockchain space. According to Gicira-Mwangi, this is one of the achievements that is the “foundation and catalyst of everything that is happening regarding blockchain in Kenya and East Africa.”

BAK has been an inspiration and role model to other blockchain communities and networks in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Uganda. Furthermore, the association has grown its non-profit brand through the commitment and help of its community and network.

Current Projects

Through the guidance of a two-year strategic plan, BAK is currently working on several projects to promote blockchain awareness, adoption, and to expand the blockchain community.

“We are creating linkages with strategic partners to roll-out educational programmes for the public. The programmes will span from simple understanding and application of blockchain technology to actual courses for developers. We are also positioning the BAK as a platform to highlight all our partners’ activities to make it easy to plug into events whenever is convenient for them,” Roselyn said. “To get there, first we are working to get representatives in the different regions of the country to enable seamless representation for all Kenyans. This will lead up to a Blockchain summit at the end of the year hosted in one of these regions,” Gicira-Mwangi told

The association is reassessing its constitution and charter as it strives to grow its leadership, advisory, and board structure. A membership recruitment process for institutions, corporations, and individuals will follow this reassessment.

To support blockchain adoption, BAK has established working group forums to extract feedback and suggestions on how emerging technologies such as blockchain can drive development in the country at both levels of government.

Women in Blockchain

More than 50 percent of the people that reach out to BAK for a wide range of reasons are women, Gicira-Mwangi stated. As a woman in the blockchain industry, she believes that the diversity of players in any sector is crucial.

“My personal experience with Kenyan women is that they are keeping up with changes in technology and are keen to get a grasp on the future technological advancements and its impact on their lives. Women are also great networkers because they talk to each other about trends and events. Every other day, I get more women who want to be taken through Blockchain, its implications, and benefits,” she added.

Currently, women in Kenya are holding a wide array of positions in blockchain companies. They are trading and investing in cryptocurrencies, and increasing blockchain awareness to the people within their circles.

Future Plans

In anticipation of the rising demand for blockchain developers in the coming years, Roselyn plans to lead BAK in promoting the training of professionals in this line of work. Furthermore, collaborating with other regional blockchain organisations is another item on her to-do list during her term. Such partnerships could be used to promote blockchain awareness, increase blockchain innovation, and implement blockchain projects.

Gicira-Mwangi is passionate about emerging technologies and formerly worked as a programme officer at UN Women East and the Horn of Africa for eight years. Besides heading BAK, she is the director of Azuri Blockchain Consultants, a firm that connects investors with blockchain startups.

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Blockchain Game Gods Unchained Secures New Game Director and Introduces Debit Card Payments



Blockchain Game Gods Unchained
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Blockchain card game Gods Unchained has added Magic: The Gathering Arena Game Director Chris Clay to its team and introduced debit card payments. These two decisions aim to drive the game closer to mainstream appeal.

Experience and Achievements

Clay’s experience of more than 20 years in design and game development will be valuable to his new position as game director at Gods Unchained. His task entails prioritising visual designs, new features, and supporting community experience.

In his previous role at MTG Arena, Clay brought on-board three million active players and more than one billion games were played. According to a report by Dot Esports, MTGA – a digital collectible free-to-play card game published by Wizards of the Coast – grossed around $225 million.

Currently, Gods Unchained is the top-selling blockchain game of the year and with Clay’s help, the game could reach greater heights and attract traditional players.

“I believe blockchain represents a new frontier for game developers. Digital asset ownership on the blockchain lets developers support games and their communities in ways we have never seen before in electronic gaming. […] Blockchain is not just for digital currency; it is laying the foundation for a whole new digital economy,” Clay explained.

Game Payments

As an Ethereum-based esports game, Gods Unchained has been allowing its community to purchase booster packs using ether. Users now have an alternative payments option of debit cards. This move could help the game to reach a wider audience by appealing to traditional players.

“To date, blockchain games have provided a niche group of individuals a fun and experimental game ecosystem of NFTs. But now is the time for mainstream adoption. We need these games to show value, and we do not want ‘blockchain’ to sit as just another buzzword. Gods Unchained will become a game that any person can play, regardless of their blockchain familiarity. And the fun of the game will not be predicated on the underlying tech,” stated Gods Unchained co-founder Robbie Ferguson.

In a press release, Gods Unchained announced the rebranding of Fuel Games to Immutable. Immutable is the creator behind Gods Unchained.

Last month, Gods Unchained launched its beta version enabling more players to experience blockchain-based gaming. The game also debuted its gameplay trailer in 2018.

If you are into blockchain gaming, check out our guide to the best blockchain games in 2019.

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Kenya’s Blockchain Taskforce Releases DLT Implementation Strategy for Kenya



Kenya Blockchain Report

Kenya’s Blockchain and AI Taskforce released its first report to the public since the ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru launched the body in 2018. The report depicts an implementation strategy for the adoption of these two emerging technologies that will steer Kenya to the fourth industrial revolution.

Implementation Strategy

Kenya Blockchain ReportThe report, titled Emerging Technologies for Kenya: Exploration & Analysis, has stipulated an implementation strategy based on blockchain technology and AI that will solve challenges such as financial exclusion, corruption, high public debt, inefficient public service delivery, food insecurity, and high transaction costs.

Furthermore, the report will guide the government in attaining the Big Four Agenda, which encompasses affordable housing, food security, manufacturing, and healthcare.

The Chairman of the taskforce, Bitange Ndemo stated: “I am confident that this report will guide policymakers in their efforts to stimulate an efficient and resilient economy with respect to the digital transformational technologies, especially with the realisation of the Big Four Agenda.”

Some of the implementation strategies are as follows:

  • Digital Asset Framework

The Blockchain and AI Taskforce has proposed a digital asset framework that will guide companies wishing to list a cryptocurrency on an exchange. According to the report, the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) is looking into how to regulate initial coin offerings (ICOs) by using the authority’s legal framework and the forthcoming regulatory sandbox.

The digital asset framework is meant to help small and medium-sized enterprises that are unable to raise capital through IPOs to have the alternative of using token sales.

  • Digital Currency

The taskforce had earlier announced its proposal for a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), which would facilitate financial inclusion and low-cost transactions.

With 90 percent of Kenyans already using mobile money, credit cards, and bank transfers to make transactions, adding a CBDC to the existing digital economy could be a seamless process.

To introduce a digital currency in Kenya, the taskforce acknowledges that the country first requires a regulatory sandbox and the tokenisation of government fiscal operations.

  • Tokenisation

Another proposed strategy is the tokenisation of the economy which could help to solve unemployment issues. The unemployment rate in Kenya is one of the highest in the world and the taskforce envisions a platform where work is exchanged for tokens to tackle this issue. Service providers will use the platform to build a work marketplace, store data, and manage transactions.

The Ajira Program, an initiative created to enable more Kenyans to work online, will adopt this proposed strategy. Using the Ethereum platform, Ajira will offer inter-person and inter-service settlements and payments. The initial stage of creating the Ajira platform is ongoing. A flagship service called Ajira Machine Learning (AML) is currently running on this platform. The AI-based service links crowd workers to digital tasks.

AML offers human language interfaces in African languages and pays people for teaching the AI to translate these languages.

The Chairman of the blockchain taskforce, Bitange Ndemo, had mentioned in an interview with the need to tokenise Kenya’s economy. In addition, he had observed the importance of helping Kenyans to understand this process.

Target Implementation Areas

blockchainSome of the target implementation areas for blockchain and AI include the Ministry of Lands, Huduma Centres where important documents are issued, and the Ministry of Transport.

In the Ministry of Lands, illegally duplicated title deeds are a common issue. With blockchain technology, the land titling process will become transparent and secure.

Moreover, the blockchain will enable Kenya to build an efficient public service delivery system where digitised documents are sharable between various government offices and where Kenyans can trace the payments they make for services.

The Ministry of Transport can build a public transport model based on a sharing economy. This model is then built on a blockchain to ensure that all relevant stakeholders in the transport sector are part-owners and that everyone benefits.

“The Organisation would determine which participants would form part of the networked nodes that would run the validation software as well as the consensus mechanism. Typically, the network of participating nodes would include stakeholders with specific roles and mandates within the ministry and across the transport sector,” the report reads.

The taskforce believes that the proposed strategies and solutions in this report will propel Kenya’s economic development. Additionally, the ICT CS Joe Mucheru illustrates his commitment to have the entire contents of the report executed and to gain the backing of all stakeholders in making these recommendations a reality.

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