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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.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain Association of Africa, AfriPlains Digital And Blockchain Worx to Launch Blockchain Innovation Centres Across Africa

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Blockchain Association of Africa

South Africa-based Blockchain Association of Africa will collaborate with Afriplains Digital and Blockchain Worx to equip Africans with blockchain education, tools, and expertise to shape the continent’s future.

The Partnership

Africa Next Big MarketThe partnership aims to promote technology education, community outreach, and local talent in order to increase blockchain adoption across Africa. As a result, the three partners envision that these efforts will contribute business value to the continent.

To achieve this goal, the partnership will establish Blockchain Worx’s Blockchain Innovation Centre in Tanzania, South Africa, Rwanda, and Uganda.

The Chairwoman for the Blockchain Association of Africa, Yaliwe Soko, said: “Africa is no longer the Dark Continent, and everyone is looking at Africa now. Blockchain will ensure that Africans are now stakeholders in what the continent has to offer and it all starts with education. This partnership will ensure that the upcoming generation is equipped with the right skills and expertise to move the continent further.”

The Blockchain Association of Africa is an organisation that brings together blockchain stakeholders from across the continent to drive collaboration, innovation, and education while Afriplains Digital is a next-generation technology services company based in Tanzania. The company uses technologies like the blockchain to solve business and socio-environmental issues.

Blockchain Worx is a FinTech-RegTech venture with its headquarters in Singapore. Blockchain Worx offers solutions such as anti-money laundering transaction monitoring systems and securities tokenisation platforms.

The Blockchain Innovation Centre

The Blockchain Innovation Centre will help both private and public institutions to understand and leverage the blockchain.

The innovation centre offers a wealth of knowledge, ready-to-use development tools, and a set of PoC/demo applications that help institutions to deploy their own blockchain innovation labs in a short period of time. These resources help institutions with understanding the technology and building and evolving applicable use-cases.

“We are super excited to team up with the Blockchain Association of Africa and Afriplains Digital to deploy our premier Blockchain Innovation Centre solution across communities and local chapters in Africa. We truly believe that Africa has potential to lead the way for the rest of the world and showcase how to effectively leverage and make use of technological advances for sustainable and inclusive growth,” said Sumantra Naik, co-founder, and COO of Blockchain Worx.

The Potential of Blockchain Technology in Transforming Africa’s Economies

According to an article by Briter Bridges, blockchain technology could be what Africa needs to catch up with developed countries. While this impact is yet to be seen, interest in the blockchain across the continent is depicted through events, communities, blockchain trials, and government support.

Merlin Van Lawick, Director of Afriplains Digital, observed: “As the interest in blockchain technology gains momentum across Africa, […] it becomes imperative that we build the necessary infrastructure and ecosystem [to] create awareness, provide effective tools to develop skills and talent locally, and create innovative use-cases that are truly designed to solve the problems that we as African businesses and society experience.”

The Blockchain Innovation Centre could, therefore, be one of the steps that will help Africa to catch up with developed economies.

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Closing the Blockchain Gender Gap in Africa: An Interview with Blockchain Ladies Africa

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blockchain gender gap

Building permissionless, decentralised networks are some of the founding principles of the blockchain revolution. These networks allow people (especially those disadvantaged by the current system) around the world to build products and create wealth without the approval of gatekeepers.

Women are a huge proportion of the world’s population underserved by the current financial infrastructure, which would make their involvement in the blockchain industry the highest in the world. However, that is not the case.

Bitcoinafrica.io had an exciting chat with Doris Ojuederie, the founder of Blockchain African Ladies (BAL) and organiser of the biggest women’s blockchain conference in Africa, about the current level of participation of women in blockchain in Africa.

The Blockchain Gender Gap

Doris Ojuderie

Image by Blockchain African Ladies

There are thousands of blockchain projects mostly run and used mainly by men. But considering that blockchain projects are built to be used by diverse demographics, it only makes sense that the industry has a variety of perspective.

“Women participation in blockchain is improving, but we aren’t there at all. So many are yet to know that a technology like this exists,” Doris Ojuederie was quick to say.

She went on to explain that the main issue is that the majority of women are “not in places of information where they will obtain information about the blockchain tech,” and thinks participation is currently at just 35 percent.

Even this small number seems optimistic as data compiled by Coin.Dance suggests that women make up less than ten percent of engagement related to Bitcoin. Even in other areas of blockchain other than technology, like legal services, marketing, and sales, trading, or user support in crypto companies, there is still low participation from women.

Women Role Models And Awareness Could Bridge the Gender Gap

You cannot be what you do not see. Lack of women role models is regarded as one of the limitations to the representation of women in the blockchain industry.

“The very few women disruptors aren’t very vocal with their activities. Being vocal will motivate other women to love to learn about this technology,” Ojuederie said. Also, she gave mainstream media some knocks for doing too little in projecting the work of the few women building innovative projects in the industry.

Some women have been vocal about their work in the crypto industry though. Women like Doris Ojuederie, whose non-profit organisation (BAL) organises conferences, workshops, webinars, and online training for women and is currently offering a scholarship to women to become blockchain developers. Bitcoinafrica.io was at the BAL’s Blocktech Women Conference in Lagos, which provided women with practical skills in crypto trading, computer programming, and other opportunities.

There is also Alakanani Itireleng, founder of Satoshicentre, who is one of the pioneers of bitcoin in Africa, and Ire Aderinokun, the co-founder of peer-to-peer exchange Buycoins, who recently tweeted an opportunity for women interested in crypto trading, among many other women who have helped accelerate adoption on the continent.

Encouraging More Women

Ojuederie believes that the blockchain community could help women participate by:

  • Giving the few women disrupting the space more media coverage
  • Supporting and sponsoring programmes and events that encourage women participating in the blockchain ecosystem
  • Organisations should include a good percentage of women in their teams, as advisors, developers, and executives

If you want to learn more about women in blockchain and the work of BAL, visit Blockchain African Ladies.

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BanQu is Leveraging the Blockchain to Give Refugees a Digital Identity

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BanQu

BanQu, a software company focused on eradicating global poverty, is leveraging blockchain technology to provide refugees with a digital identity so that they can continue to take part in society.

Linking Refugees to the Global Economy Using Blockchain Technology

Refugees and displaced persons can continue to live their lives independently thanks to the BanQu blockchain-based solution, which allows them to store their information on a distributed ledger. That means that with their information digitally stored and accessible from anywhere, they can look for jobs, apply for loans, and run their own businesses, thereby, contributing to the host country’s economy.

Hamse Warfa got the idea for this solution after experiencing the refugee life in the Daadab Refugee Camp in Kenya. After escaping Somalia with his parents during the civil war at the age of twelve, Warfa knows how it feels like to have one’s life turned upside down so suddenly, Fair Planet reported.  His parents, once thriving business people, were now dependent on charity.

“I want all refugees to be able to build transaction-based economic identities that allow them to thrive, including getting loans, and accessing credit for things like businesses and eventually homes. BanQu is for the world’s poor, refugees, and stateless people so they can live their lives like the rest of us,” Warfa stated in an interview.

How it Works

BanquTo use the BanQu blockchain solution, a user creates a digital profile via a mobile phone where they enter their information. A third party, who must also be verified, verifies this information, which is then stored on the blockchain. A user can access his or her information at any time.

Users can also store their financial transactions, health records, education records, and credit histories on the BanQu app, thereby, enabling them to participate in the global economy.

Furthermore, the BanQu blockchain solution also benefits organisations and governments that interact with refugees. For instance, the BanQu platform allows governments to track aid resources that have been disbursed to the target population.

More than 25,000 people across four continents are using the BanQu solution and the company is striving to reach more than 100 million underprivileged people by 2028.

Dr Riby Okoth, a lecturer at the School of Security, Diplomacy, and Peace Studies at Kenyatta University in Kenya, said: “Having the refugees, for example, use their digital footprint to access financial services or job opportunities as the rest of the population not only reduces the culture of dependency but also opens up the global economy to more participants who are growing it rather than depending on it.”

According to the UNHCR, there are about 68.5 million people displaced from their homes and among them about 25.4 million refugees and approximately ten million stateless people.

With BanQu’s blockchain solution, these people could have the chance to live normal lives where they can access education, healthcare, loans, and employment.

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