Two companies dealing in coffee export in Ethiopia have joined forces to address the problem of unprocessed coffee export by utilising the blockchain. Bext360 have come together with Moyee to tackle this challenge through the distributed ledger technology.
In the last fiscal year, Ethiopia made $866 million from the export of coffee. However, the country’s supply chain is still very dubious with farmers not being paid what they deserve. If coffee was roasted, packaged and branded in Ethiopia, the country would have earned $2.7 billion. Currently, once the coffee has undergone the hulling process, the majority of the beans are then exported to Europe by freight.
“The French don’t export grapes they export a branded bottle of Moscato,” said the co-founder of Moyee, Shane Reilly. “This shouldn’t be any different for coffee growing countries like Ethiopia and Uganda. Blockchain removes the middle man and encourages trust because consumers know exactly what they are drinking, and where it has come from.”
With a roastery in Addis Ababa with local employees, Moyee expects the FairChain platform to be a game changer as 99.9 percent of the coffee is roasted in Europe. Bext360, on the other hand, has built a platform that allows for transactions to be monitored in real-time. They have partnered with a washing station in the Jimma Region of Oromia where coffee farmers usually take their cherries to sell. This is where the chain will start. There are photos of each farmer available online with information about the kilos they have brought to the station as well as the market price and what they are getting paid.
The Blockchain Coffee Process
As the coffee cherries go through the supply chain, they get assigned crypto tokens that will show the complete value added from bean to barista. As coffee goes through its lifecycle, each stage will lead to the creation of a new token that will represent the commodity in its new state. The blockchain-based platform, FairChain, will record everything from payments to roasting to freighting to pricing. Moyee will pay farmers a 20 percent premium which is meant to be a good start towards giving them a better wage.
“This is the next big step in a coffee revolution,” said Moyee’s Co-Founder, Guido van Staveren.
“Our platform changes things entirely. Crypto tokens enable us to pay farmers immediately and directly. Smart technology is being used to benefit the men and women who produce our coffee.”
Besides having a continuously growing list of records that are secured and connected using cryptography, the blockchain cannot naturally be modified without subsequent blocks being altered. Moyee and Bext360 are using the blockchain that was created by Stellar. Stellar, unlike the Bitcoin network, was designed to handle a large volume of cross-border micropayments.
“The Stellar blockchain is a way to compensate farmers more fairly for what they actually produce,” stated McCaleb. “Coffee cultivators load their daily haul, usually about 30 kilograms, into a machine equipped with sensors and optical recognition tech that sifts and sorts coffee cherries. This automated appraiser assigns each a grade based on quality (bigger and riper is generally better). The machine then links this output to special crypto tokens tracking the produce across its journey.”
Blockchain to Drive Transparency
Moyee’s partnership with Bext360 comes weeks after Starbucks announced they would be launching a pilot program known as “traceability technology” that will utilise blockchain technology into its coffee supply chain. The pilot program will involve select coffee farmers in Rwanda, Costa Rica and Colombia that is meant to “develop next-level data technology to log and share real-time information along the journey of coffee beans with the aim of driving positive impact to smallholder farmers within its supply chain”. This is after the coffee company was accused by Oxfam in 2006 of refusing to pay Ethiopian coffee farmers their wages.
In the recently made announcement regarding the launch of the pilot program, Kevin Johnson, Starbucks’ CEO said: “Over the next two years, we will look to demonstrate how technology and innovative data platforms can give coffee farmers even more financial empowerment. We’ll leverage an open-source approach to share what we learn with the rest of the world.”
As coffee production in Ethiopia is a deep-rooted tradition that goes back many centuries, Ethiopia accounts for approximately 3 percent of the global coffee market with 20 million people relying on it for their livelihood. However, the country only receives about 15 percent of the value in a bag of beans. And while the price of the commodity in question is increasing, the amount going back to the developing countries is squashed.
Groupon, one of the clients that Moyee recently signed, continues to show Moyee’s client base growth. As big organisations continue to push for fair business and sustainability, socially responsible products are getting more demand. As such, the blockchain presents a good opportunity for that responsibility to be monitored transparently and in real time.
Women in Blockchain: An Interview with Blockchain Association of Kenya’s Roselyn Gicira-Mwangi
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.
Since 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.
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 BitcoinAfrica.io.
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.
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.
Blockchain Game Gods Unchained Secures New Game Director and Introduces Debit Card Payments
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.
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.
If you are into blockchain gaming, check out our guide to the best blockchain games in 2019.
Kenya’s Blockchain Taskforce Releases DLT Implementation Strategy for Kenya
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.
The 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.
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.
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 BitcoinAfrica.io the need to tokenise Kenya’s economy. In addition, he had observed the importance of helping Kenyans to understand this process.
Target Implementation Areas
Some 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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