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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

Blockchain Becomes Discussion Point on Nigeria’s 2019 Political Agency

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Blockchain Becomes Discussion Point

Nigeria’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Atiku Abubakar, has announced his intentions to develop a blockchain and cryptocurrency policy in an attempt to boost the country’s international competitiveness in this new technological field.

Presidential Candidate Wants Blockchain Policies for Nigeria

buy bitcoin in nigeriaAtiku Abubakar’s highly optimistic manifesto, Let’s Get Nigeria Working Again, stated his desire to build “a knowledge-based economy in which a highly developed ICT sector, with wide applications in commerce, education, health and other areas of human endeavour, plays a significant role.” One of the areas he thinks will play a vital role in achieving his plans is the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry as he outlined in his 2019 policy document.

If elected, he wants to create “a comprehensive policy on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies by the relevant government agencies.” However, the document does not provide any clue as to what the policy will contain except that he believes regulating cryptocurrencies can offer job opportunities for the Nigerian people and income for his government.

“According to the policy plan he laid out, a planned blockchain and cryptocurrency framework would be looked into by the administration. To what end? We can’t say for now…but the blockchain community believes it’s a step in the right direction. We have been broadly unregulated in the space in Nigeria,” Munachi Ogueke, co-founder of Nigerian start-up Cryset, told ITWebAfrica.

Ndubuisi Ekekwe, a prominent Nigerian professor and technologist, had also made a case for a cohesive roadmap for the blockchain. He explained that Nigeria could deploy the distributed ledger technology for the development of the nation. “It would be locally-flavoured focusing on areas where these technologies could help the nation,” he explained.

Many other African countries, like Kenya and Rwanda, have developed something close to a roadmap. Earlier in the year, the Kenyan government constituted an 11-member task force to explore the use of distributed ledger technology and artificial intelligence. The 11-member task force developed a roadmap and proposed creating a digital asset registry and a digital currency for the country.

Drop in Trading Volumes Should Not Deter Policymakers From Embracing the Blockchain

Cryptocurrency trading, which became significantly popular in Nigeria in 2017, has begun to lose its steam moving alongside the drop in the price of bitcoin. Leadership.ng reported that local trading volumes dipped to N1.08 billion in the second week of November. That is the lowest volume since September 2017.

Though prices of cryptocurrencies and trading volume have gone into a free fall, that should not deter the Nigerian government from embracing digital currencies and their underlying technology. Governments all over the world are still exploring the use of blockchain in specific industries and have started to develop regulations that encourage innovative solutions and can help guide the development of this nascent industry.

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Blockchain Technology

5 Ways Blockchain Will Transform the Gaming Industry

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blockchain gaming industry

In the last decade, we have seen the gaming industry being rapidly transformed by the introduction of new technologies which allow for immersive experiences, such as AI, VR, and AR. However, one of the latest of these emerging technologies — blockchain — is set to redefine the future of gaming by turning what has been seen as a leisure activity into a potential economic endeavour.

In this respect, blockchain looks set to disrupt the gaming industry, and enable a new way for players and developers to interact with gaming platforms. With nearly 70% of the American population playing video games, and with the gaming market forecasted to be worth more than $138 billion by the end of the year, how is blockchain set to transform the gaming industry?

1. Gamers will have full control of their virtual assets

Due to the risk of assets being duplicated, gaming companies often store in-game assets on centralised servers. However, this means that gamers don’t actually own their purchased virtual assets, and don’t have the capacity to buy, sell, or trade assets outside of the game. Currently, if a gamer wants to trade or sell virtual assets, they would have to do it through non-traditional means.

Blockchain allows full transparency and decentralised control of virtual assets, meaning players will have ownership of their virtual assets. They will be able to exchange these assets with other players, and for assets on other games, instantly. Gamers will also be able to use their virtual assets across different games, providing players with a more personalised video gaming experience.

2. Players stand to be rewarded for their interaction with video games

Through the tokenisation of platforms, players will be able to earn tokens for playing, reviewing, or sharing games on social media. Players will also be incentivised to provide reviews and feedback to developers, leading to the improvement of games available. Blockchain will allow players’ activities to be tracked, and for them to be rewarded accurately and instantly.

3. Blockchain builds gamer credibility and accountability

As the blockchain is an immutable ledger which records all transactions and allows players to use their account across multiple games services, gamers’ interactions, player history, and trading of in-game items are always tracked and documented. With these records made publicly available, a player’s reputation is tied to the blockchain, therefore encouraging good behavior within the community. This builds and fosters a safer gaming environment, giving value to those with credible reputations, and encourages transparency within the gaming ecosystem.

4. Better security for games

In the past, virtual goods ownership and trading was never fully possible. For example, the rare or expensive item players worked hard or paid for was often copied by fraudsters and resold, making their item neither unique nor as valuable.

Blockchain prevents the trading of illegal virtual assets on the black market, as well as the hacking and stealing of keys, by creating an immutable ledger of that item and who it belongs to, making duplicating impossible. After all, the original purpose of blockchain was to irrefutably prove ownership of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

5. Transparent and faster payments to developers and gamers

UltraBlockchain technology will allow players to purchase items or games faster while ensuring their payments are secure. Developers are increasingly having a hard time selling their software outside of app stores, which result in large commission fees and loss of control over their own customers. Blockchain makes it possible to process nano-payments and for developers to get paid instantly, enabling developers to quickly reinvest money in their game launch marketing.

Meanwhile, gamers will have access to a range of new revenue opportunities, with proof-of-activity potentially earning gamers free swag.

This guest post was contributed by Nicolas Gilot, Co-CEO of Ultra, a blockchain-based, game publishing platform designed to put an end to the current PC game market status quo.

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IBM Egypt Continues to Locally Invest in And Develop Blockchain Solutions

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IBM Egypt

IBM Egypt General Manager, Wael Abdoush, stated that the technology giant will continue to locally invest in and develop blockchain solutions in light of the promising economic reforms that are being put into place in the North African nations.

Blockchain Technology in Egypt

Abdoush stated that IBM is ready to offer blockchain technology in the local market as IBM seeks to develop technological solutions to meet customers needs in line with the government’s economic development plan. That includes the Egyptian government’s 2030 plan of digital transformation.

blockchainIBM offers continuous online training of graduates and employees on its platform called Digital Nation Africa. It provides the required skills and training to deal with the latest technologies, such as the blockchain, AI, Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics. According to Abdoush, “the main mission focus is to spread the digital transformation and lead more of our clients on the path to becoming Cloud and Cognitive digital businesses.”

Regarding offering blockchain technology solutions in Egypt, Abdoush says it is only natural since it is now a global phenomenon. He said: “There are many bodies which can benefit from these solutions and applications, and several generations can use the Blockchain technology. IBM is a global leader in Blockchain, as we believe this technology will revolutionize business as the Internet did in the 1990s; and there are several authorities in Egypt that have already taken steps towards relying on this technology in their work.”

The Law and Blockchain

Abdoush believes that the Egyptian market needs to develop the existing legislation in order for them to keep up with the continuous technological developments rather than create new laws. In the recent past, the attitude towards cryptocurrencies has been less than welcome in Egypt. It seems, however, that the acceptance of the blockchain by the Egyptians mirrors that of the world. Adoption of blockchain technology with better regulatory and operational framework seems to be the path Egypt is taking.

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